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  • Wilkin & The Kids: Twins 9, Orioles 2

    Wilkin Ramirez has had to demonstrate a lot of patience in his career. The 28-year-old finally made his way onto an Opening Day roster last year, only to have his season shortened by a concussion and ended by a broken tibia. But the Twins were patient too, re-signing him this offseason. Maybe he could surprise them again, like he did last spring training?

    Or maybe it shouldn't be a surprise any more. Surrounded by Twins prospects in the late innings of a tie game with the Orioles, Ramirez delivered the decisive blow: a three-run blast over left center in a staggering ninth inning. The kids surprised too, finishing with a 9-2 win after being handed a 1-2 deficit in the late innings from the starting lineup.

    "I didn't have to start managing until I got the starters out of here," joked manager Ron Gardenhire. "That's what I just told those guys. 'You guys are in here high-fiving, but we didn't do nothing until you guys got out of the game.'"

    That's not entirely true. Vance Worley started the game and got some good things done: specifically, he threw strikes. Determined to put a miserable 2013 behind his, he's come into camp completely healthy, lighter and with confidence in his arm slot, which is something he couldn't say last year. He threw two scoreless innings, although he was helped by an over-the-outfield-wall catch by Darin Mastroianni. Ron Gardenhire liked what he saw.

    "I liked what he did," said Gardenhire. "He had a good angle going down. He threw some really nice tight breaking balls that were down in the zone. Worked fast. Was throwing it over. They hit a couple of balls on him, but he went right at them."

    The teams traded runs in the fourth. Ramirez picked up the first of his four RBI on a single that drove in Chris Colabello (who had been walked for the second time). But the Orioles responded with their first run when Aaron Thompson misplayed a dribbler off the bat of Nelson Cruz that plated Nick Markakis.

    The Twins fell behind in the 6th inning. Trevor May had recorded four outs and Gardenhire liked what he saw, specifically the changeups May was throwing. Unfortunately, Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who hit 53 home runs last year, liked what he saw too. "I elevated one that [Davis] elevated right back," reflected May. The solo shot put the Twins into a 2-1 hole.

    It turned out OK - the pitching prospect was just setting the table for some of his minor league teammates. Infielders Danny Santana and James Bereford both played on the AA New Britain Rock Cats with May last year. In the eighth inning they worked together to tie the game when Beresford singled and Santana drove him home with a triple.

    That ended up being a precursor to the fireworks in the final frame. Top prospect Byron Buxton lit the fuse and nearly provided a memorable explosion. He hit a rocket line drive that cleared the center fielder's head and bounced (sigh) OVER the wall for a ground rule double. Had it not, fans might have seen a rare inside-the-park home run on a ball in which nobody stumbled or took a odd bounce. Buxton was rounding second base as it cleared over the wall. "I would have liked to have seen him running that thing out," mentioned Gardenhire. "After it bounced out, I was kid of disappointed."

    That feeling likely dissipated quickly. Buxton was driven in two batters later by prospect Max Kepler before Ramirez's rocket shot. With just 70 games of big league experience, Ramirez is looking to surprise people the same way he did last year coming out of spring training. "He's pretty sure of himself," says Gardenhire. "Confident, confident young man. He's healthy. He made my team last year doing the same thing and he knows what's at stake here, so he's coming out and ready to play."

    The kids continued to follow his lead, including Santana, whose locker was right next to Ramirez in the visiting clubhouse. Santana hit his second triple of the game later in the ninth, driving in two more runs. The speedy shortstop has left an impression with Gardenhire. "As I've told people, this guy's pretty exciting. He's got jets. I'm pretty confident when he walks up to the plate something is going to happen."

    Plenty happened today, even if Twins fans had to wait until the late innings for it. It's only fitting that it was Wilkin Ramirez leading the charge in a game in a game that required patience.
    This article was originally published in blog: Wilkin & The Kids: Twins 9, Orioles 2 started by John Bonnes
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Wilkin Ramirez was one of my favorite people to talk to. He has such a passion for the game, and it comes through. This is fun to hear. He's always been a decent hitter. It's too bad he got hurt last year.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      I liked watching Ramirez last season. A lot of fun to watch.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I was trying to figure out if there is any way for him to make this team. I think there might. Collabello isn't a lock, and Ramirez provides RHed power.

      I also wonder a little bit about Mastroianni making it. Didn't Ramirez play a little CF last year? I have to tell you, Mastro looked pretty bad in CF today. I know Ramirez isn't a CF, but I wonder if Mastro is any longer, too.

      Add to all of that Kubel's slow start and I wouldn't be shocked if Ramirez finds a way onto this roster. It's not totally unthinkable.
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      One way Ramrez makes the team is if Willingham is traded. MLB reported that Seattle is still looking for right handed power but is out of money. Wonder what they would give.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I was trying to figure out if there is any way for him to make this team. I think there might. Collabello isn't a lock, and Ramirez provides RHed power.

      I also wonder a little bit about Mastroianni making it. Didn't Ramirez play a little CF last year? I have to tell you, Mastro looked pretty bad in CF today. I know Ramirez isn't a CF, but I wonder if Mastro is any longer, too.

      Add to all of that Kubel's slow start and I wouldn't be shocked if Ramirez finds a way onto this roster. It's not totally unthinkable.
      IMO Mastro is not needed at all if Pressly makes it. Ramierez is a nice story and all, but there really should be no way he makes a roster over Kubel. Kubel has close to a decade of major league and minor league success under his belt, while Ramierez has nothing close to that, he doesn't hurt to have around as depth in the minors on a bad team like the Twins, but he really provides nothing moving fwd in the future, he is a good story/good guy no doubt, but the reality is, he barely has a case to be on a poor team's major league roster, and zero reason to be on a team that hopes to compete someday soon.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Otwins View Post
      One way Ramrez makes the team is if Willingham is traded. MLB reported that Seattle is still looking for right handed power but is out of money. Wonder what they would give.
      With Sano going down, this team is severely lacking power bats. I think selling Willingham low at this point coming back from an injury would be a terrible move for the Twins to make. IF he comes on strong this year and the Twins fall out of it, then look to move him for a quality piece in return. No rush.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Good lord. I like Wilkin Ramirez and have been on the record since he was signed as being so. But good lord! He provided NO power in his limited time last year. He is not, at all, a bench bat. If this team was of the kind to roll with an 11-man pitching staff as it should (though not out in April), then it would make some sense to even consider Wilkin.

      But are we really content on focusing on a few games in damn spring training . . . seriously? For real?

      I think Wilkin had his chance last year at the beginning of the year. It did not happen. It very likely will not happen. There is no need to waste any time here.

      That is *obvious*!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Shane, who is doing that? All the discussion is doing is asking if there is a scenario in which he could make the team, and I think there could be a case. Is he a big league starter? Probably not. Could he be a bench bat? Sure. Do any of us think it's likely again? Probably not. But there certainly are scenarios where it could happen.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      " He provided NO power in his limited time last year. He is not, at all, a bench bat. "

      Just because we didn't get to see it in 81 at bats last year (36 which were post-concussion) doesn't indicate the power isn't there. He's regularly a 15-20 HR player in the shortened minor league seasons. Judge him on that.

      I see a way he makes the team- injuries. He provides some quality, mlb-ready depth. He's no one's idea of a starter, but he's good for a replacement player.
    1. dakotanative's Avatar
      dakotanative -
      I see Wilkins as an outfielder that is stashed at Rochester in the event of an Injury. I see no clear path to him making the roster.
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      John: Was Worley getting any swings and misses?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If they could get something of value for Willingham, they should do it. They aren't contending this year. Weakening the offense this year should not be a consideration at this point.
    1. kblack1011's Avatar
      kblack1011 -
      I agree that Kubel or Collabello shouldn't be locks for roster. They are replacement level players who if they don't show signs this spring that they can add value and Ramirez does show signs of being a player - he should be kept on the roster.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I'd much rather they concentrate on defense this year, since the O is likely to be bad again anyway. If Wilken can play better D than other 4th OF types, he should be kept over Kubel or Collabello. You can get lucky and win low scoring games, they have no chance to win many high scoring games this coming year, imo.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      "I think selling Willingham low" The post said Seattle was looking for a power hitter. Who said anything about selling low? I like Ramirez as much as Mastro or Presley but the reactions and speculation here should probably be about Danny Santana. What scenario has him sticking with the team or getting him here quickly?
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      "I think selling Willingham low" The post said Seattle was looking for a power hitter. Who said anything about selling low? I like Ramirez as much as Mastro or Presley but the reactions and speculation here should probably be about Danny Santana. What scenario has him sticking with the team or getting him here quickly?
      Willingham is coming off a season where he was injured and ineffective (and getting older) it would be selling low on him at this point.
    1. alskntwnsfn's Avatar
      alskntwnsfn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Otwins View Post
      One way Ramrez makes the team is if Willingham is traded. MLB reported that Seattle is still looking for right handed power but is out of money. Wonder what they would give.
      If they'd take Willingham and Mastro for Brad Miller (or Kyle Seager), we should do it. Seattle has too many SS. I like Danny Santana but Miller or Seager could handle short and provide a lot of offense. I'd even eat half of Willingham's salary to do the trade if I were the Twins. Willingham will be better than last year when he was battling knee problems for most of the year that sapped his power.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by alskntwnsfn View Post
      If they'd take Willingham and Mastro for Brad Miller (or Kyle Seager), we should do it.
      Agreed. But Seattle would get much better offers than this for either of the two you named.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      "Willingham is coming off a season where he was injured and ineffective (and getting older) it would be selling low on him at this point". I am one who advocated considering any offer after his great year in 2012 because generally that is the time to sell. In general I agree that you don't sell good players after bad years. However, if Seattle still considers him a legitimate power hitter then the only way we are selling low on him is if we actually accept a low offer. Its more the getting older part that concerns me but my hope is that he has a monster year and we can get something like a Miller or Seager straight up later in the year. I really like Willingham but don't see him in the mid to long range plan.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Why does this headline have "Bennie and the Jets" playing in my head?
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