Tonight, the Elizabethton Twins season gets underway. They will attempt to end this season the same way they ended the 2012 season. OK, maybe not in quite as dramatic fashion as requiring a walk-off, extra inning grand slam, but the goal will again be to win an Appalachian League title. Long-time manager Ray Smith, along with long-time hitting coach Jeff Reed and second-year pitching coach Henry Bonilla, have built a bit of a dynasty in Tennessee.
The 2013 roster is quite interesting. It is full of 2013 draft picks from the college ranks along with some intriguing prospects that have been working in Extended Spring Training in Ft. Myers since March. I’m certain they are ready to get some ‘real’ games under their belt.
Here is a look at the initial 2013 Elizabethton Twins roster (which is a bit bigger than the full-season rosters). Be sure to check out the Rosters & Payrolls page here at Twins Daily
THE PITCHERS (19)
Brandon Bixler (21, 2013 16th
round) – The lefty from Florida Gulf Coast was not listed yesterday among signings, but he is on the Elizabethton roster. He walks many and strikes out amny, but he has a very good fastball and solid curveball and changeup. He just needs to control them and he has a chance.
Josh Burris (21, 2011 17th
round) – Drafted out of LSU-Eunice in 2011, Burris has a tremendous curve ball. He signed late, so his pro debut came last year with the E-Twins where he went 7-0 with a 1.75 ERA in 36 innings. He walked 21 and struck out 40. He spent about a month of the 2013 season in Cedar Rapids where his ERA was just north of ten. In 10 innings, he struck out eight, but he walked nine and gave up 11 hits.
Andrew Ferreira (22, 2012 ) – The lefty from Harvard pitched in 10 games last year after being drafted. In 10 innings, he walked seven and struck out 13.
Dallas Gallant (24, 2010 23rd
round) – Gallant pitched in Elizabethton in 2010 and was 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He missed all of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery. Last year, he rehabbed and then started the season with five scoreless innings in E-Town before pitching in nine games for Beloit. However, he had another injury and has been rehabbing in Ft. Myers since. He’s likely a guy that will move quickly once he gets a few innings under his belt.
Brian Gilbert (20, 2013 7th
round) – Signed out of Seton Hall, the right-hander has a very good fastball. He was a reliever in college and certainly will maintain that role at least this season.
Carson Goldsmith (22, 2012 28th
round) – Drafted last year out of Northwestern State in Louisiana (where he and Mason Melotakis were teammates), Goldsmith pitched in three games for the GCL Twins before injury.
C. K. Irby (21, 2013 10th
round) – Drafted out of Samford, Irby will start the season on the DL. He was a reliever in college until this year. He has a fastball that touches 95, but sits more in the low 90s. He also has a curveball and changeup. He will be given a chance to start at some point.
Felix Jorge (19, signed in 2011 from Dominican Republic) – Jorge is 6-2 and a lanky 170. After signing, he went 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in nine games in the DSL. Last year in the GCL, he went 0-3 but posted a 2.34 ERA in 12 games. In 34.2 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 37.
Yorman Landa (19, signed in 2010 from Venezuela) – Landa and Jorge have followed about the same path. Landa pitched in 12 games for the DSL Twins in 2011. He was 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA. In 32 innings, he struck out 31 but walked 26. Last year in the GCL, he pitched in 10 games and went 1-3 with a 2.43 ERA. He struck out 27 in 33.1 innings, but he still walked 20.
Kuo Hua Lo (20, signed in 2012 from Taiwan) – Just 5-10, Lo is a fairly advanced pitcher. Last year in the GCL, he went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 11 games. In 39.2 innings, he walked just seven and struck out 33.
Austin Malinowski (20, 2011, 16th
round) – Malinowski was Minnesota’s Mr. Baseball in 2011 for Centennial HS. He gave up a scholarship to Arizona to sign with the Twins. In the GCL last year, he went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 11 games. In 31.2 innings, he walked 11 and struck out 32.
Andre Martinez (20, 2012, 6th
round) – Martinez was set to sign for over-slot last year ($260,000), but his physical showed something in his left shoulder, and they agreed on an $80,000 bonus. He pitched in six games for the GCL Twins. In 14 innings, he walked nine and struck out 11.
Tanner Mendonca (21, 2013, 17th
round) – The righty from Cal State – Sacramento is 6-4 and lanky. He has a fastball that has been clocked up to 94 mph and needs to work on his breaking pitches.
Ethan Mildren (22, 2013 12th
round) – Drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh, Mildren is a more typical Twins pitcher. He has a fastball in the low-90s and three other pitches. Generally is a ground ball pitcher.
Luis Nunez (21, signed in 2008 from Dominican Republic) – It’s been a slow process for Nunez. In 2011, as a 19-year-old in his second run in the GCL, he went 5-0 with five saves and a 1.67 ERA in 32.1 innings. He walked just six and struck out 37. Last year in his first season in Elizabethton, he posted a 5.09 ERA and walked 17 in 23 innings. He struck out 21. The lefty throws hard.
Brandon Peterson (21, 2013 13th
round) – He was a very good closer for Wichita State this past year. He could become a starter in the Twins organization. He has a low-90s fastball and a slider.
Hein Robb (21, signed in 2008 from South Africa) – The lefty has pitched in a couple of WBC’s already for his home country. He spent two seasons in the GCL. Last year, he pitched in 13 games for the E-Twins (8 starts) and was 2-4 with a 3.74 ERA. In 41 innings, he walked 14 and struck out 38. He made three starts for Cedar Rapids (0-0, 7.59 ERA, 9 BB, 10 K in 10.2 innings), but was sent back to Elizabethton earlier this week.
Randy Rosario (19, signed in 2010 from Dominican Republic) – Rosario is a hard-throwing left-hander. He went 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA in the DSL in 2011. Last year in the GCL, he went 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA. In 38.1 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 42.
Tim Shibuya (23, 2011 43rd
round) – Shibuya was the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 when he went 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA. In 73.2 innings, he walked just 11 and struck out 70. He made 15 starts in Beloit a year ago before experiencing shoulder pain which required surgery last fall. He has been rehabbing in Ft. Myers since ,and like Gallant, he could move quickly once he proves his health.
Zach Granite (20, 2013 14th
round) – He was Seton Hall’s centerfielder and leadoff hitter this year. He’s not a big guy, but he has a knack for getting on base and has very good speed.
Romy Jimenez (22, signed in 2009 from Dominican Republic) – Jimenez started the 2013 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, but he hit just .095 through 21 games so he was sent back to Elizabethton. Last year with the E-Twins, he hit .347 in 35 games, until a knee injury ended his season.
Kelvin Ortiz (21, signed in 2008 from Dominican Republic) – Ortiz is talented but to this point, he hasn’t hit well at any level. In the DSL, he hit .181 and .264. He’s been with the GCL Twins the last two years and hit .189 and .221 (each year getting over 110 at bats). This is a big year for him, obviously.
Jake Proctor (22, 2012 14th
round) – Proctor is a very talented athlete that the Twins drafted a year ago from Cincinnati. He was considered a Top 200 type of talent in the draft, but he was hurt before the draft and slipped. He was recently cleared to play and hopefully it won’t take him too long to get back into the swing of things.
Dereck Rodriguez (21, 2011 6th
round) – The son of future Hall of Famer, Pudge, Dereck has a very strong arm and has all kinds of tools. He hit just .156 in 29 games in the GCL after he was drafted and hit .263 last. He started out on fire, but a hamstring injury derailed his season. He will likely get this year to see what his offensive potential could be, but no one should be surprised if he starts pitching if it doesn’t go well.
Carlos Avila (23, 2013 34th
round) – Cal State Dominguez Hills’ shortstop, Avila has good range.
Bryan Haar (23, 2012 34th
round ) – The San Diego native was drafted out of the University of San Diego a year ago. He hit .250 with 11 extra base hits in the GCL last year. He was 1-2 with a double in one game with the Miracle earlier this season.
Javier Pimentel (19, signed in 2010 from Dominican Republic) – Pimentel got a nice upper-six figures signing bonus when he was signed as a 16-year-old. His bat has not yet caught up to his talent through. In 2011, he hit .220 in the DSL before hitting .167 in 28 games in the GCL. Last year, he returned to the GCL and hit just .198.
Rory Rhodes (21, signed in 2007 from Australia) – I’ve got to be honest, I don’t get this one. Last year, the rule was changed so that each organization could have three players get a fourth year in the rookie leagues (for the Twins, this means GCL and Elizabethton). Rhodes played in the GCL in 2009 and 2010. He has spent time in Elizabethton in 2011 and 2012. Maybe there is another new rule? Anyway, the 6-9 first baseman does have some power potential. Last year at Elizabethton, he hit .262 with eight doubles and six home runs.
Tanner Vavra (23, 2013 30th
round) – The son of the Twins 3B coach, Vavra starred at Valparaiso and in the Northwoods League. Blind in one eye, he has hit and hit each year, overcoming a lot to prove people wrong. He hopes to do that again in pro ball.
Logan Wade (21, signed in 2012 from Australia) – The Brisbane native is a switch-hitter who hit .234/.301/.371 with 11 extra base hits in 124 at bats.
Ryan Walker (21, 2013 18th
round) – The Twins drafted the Texas Arlington shortstop who hit over .300 this season.
Bo Altobelli (22, 2012 21st
round) – Signed out of Texas Tech last summer, Altobelli hit .230/.277/.262 with two doubles for the E-Twins. He’ll return to work with some very talented young pitchers.
Mitch Garver (22, 2013 9th
round) – The Twins drafted Garver following his senior season at New Mexico this year.
Bryan Santy (22, 2012 30th
round) – Santy hit .296/418/.389 in 19 games with the GCL Twins a year ago after being drafted from the University of Washington.
Stuart Turner (21, 2013 3rd
round) – The 6-2, 220 back stop was drafted earlier this month from Ole Miss. Known more for his glove, he should be able to put up some solid power numbers in the Appy League.
My observations - I see this roster and it's not terribly exciting. There are some really exciting pitchers that are young and came from the GCL last year... But overall, this roster looks a little older than normal to me. I get that Gallant and Shibuya are just there rehabbing and getting a few innings before moving, but I see a lot of 22 year olds and think it speaks to something more. I think the change in the draft rules mean fewer high school kids being drafted after the 5th or 6th rounds, and more college players drafted and signing. They're not really in a position to be in the Midwest League yet, and they have to fill the roster, so it's a great opportunity for them to learn the pro game and the program. Also, frankly, there are a LOT of 2013 draft picks on this roster and we don't know very much about them. We don't know if they got some steals or really much at all. So, I'm of the impression that this is a potentially down roster, but I guess we'll find out starting tonight.
From now until late August, the Elizabethton Twins will be playing games with the goal of improving their skills while at the same time continuing the winning tradition that Ray Smith has established in the hills of Tennessee.