Major League spring training has been running for two weeks now. The team has played five games already (with four wins). Today (Tuesday), minor leaguers will need to report to Ft. Myers for the start of camp. They will undergo physicals on Wednesday, and their first official practice will on Thursday.
72 pitchers (25 left-handed) and 54 hitters who have not been at big league camp this year will be throwing bullpens, taking ground balls, shagging fly balls and taking some batting practice. Today, I want to give a bit of a spring training preview from the minor league perspective with some interesting things to look at.
By early next week, the Twins will start sending some of the players from big league camp down to minor league camp. You may read the phrase, “Sending them across the parking lot.” If you have been to the Twins camp in Ft. Myers, the phrase makes sense. If not, the Twins minor league facilities are literally on the other side of a big parking lot, just a hundred yards or so from Hammond Stadium.
After about four days of work- outs and practices, the minor league teams will start playing some games. The Rochester roster will play the New Britain roster. The Ft. Myers roster will play the Cedar Rapids roster. The teams will also play some games against affiliates from other organizations. As players are removed from big league camp, they’ll likely move to the Rochester roster and players there will move down to New Britain and so on until the last week in March when the affiliates' opening day rosters will be set and travel plans made.
The Coaching Staffs
Rochester: Gene Glynn (Mgr), Tim Doherty (hitting coach), Marty Mason (pitching coach)
New Britain: Jeff Smith (Mgr), Chad Allen (hitting coach), Stu Cliburn (pitching coach)
Ft. Myers: Doug Mientkiewicz (Mgr), Jim Dwyer (hitting coach), Gary Lucas (pitching coach)
Cedar Rapids: Jake Mauer (Mgr), Tommy Watkins (hitting coach), Ivan Arteaga (pitching coach)
Elizabethton: Ray Smith (Mgr), Henry Bonilla (pitching coach)
GCL Twins: Ramon Borrega (Mgr), Riccardo Ingram & Rudy Hernandez (hitting coaches), Ehren Wassermann & Luis Ramirez (pitching coaches)
The big change in the Twins minor league coaching staff is that Ivan Arteaga and Gary Lucas are switching levels this year. Lucas has been in the Midwest League for many years and he moves up to Ft. Myers. Arteaga has changed teams several times in the past few years. He will be tasked with working with some of the Twins' top pitching prospects in Cedar Rapids in 2014.
For their Elizabethton rookie team the Twins will still need to hire a new hitting coach for 2014. Former big leaguer Jeff Reed had been the hitting coach for 12 years. Of course, since the Elizabethton season doesn’t start until mid-June, the Twins have some time to make that decision.
Top relief pitching prospect Zack Jones had successful surgery last Monday. Doctors had found an aneurysm in his shoulder which was cutting off circulation. He said he will not be able to start throwing for six or seven weeks, so his season will be delayed.
JT Chargois had Tommy John surgery last September and will begin 2014 on the disabled list. The timing of his surgery is in line with that of Kyle Gibson's and Alex Wimmers'. If he maintains the same timeline, he could be throwing off of a mound by early June and possibly pitch some rehab games in the GCL in July.
Adam Bryant continues to have problems with his toe. Nate Roberts has been running in Ft. Myers. I think we’re all hopeful that he can stay healthy. Alex Wimmers and Chris Mazza are already throwing bullpens in Ft. Myers.
Each year there are typically a couple of position changes. A year ago at this time, Tyler Grimes came to camp as a catcher after spending the first two years of his professional career as a middle infielder. This year, there are a couple of cases worth watching.
Travis Harrison will be spending quite a bit of time in the outfield in 2014. He actually played quite a lot of outfield in summer ball during his prep years, but the Twins had him play third base since drafting him in 2011. He made some strides in 2013 in Cedar Rapids, and he will see time at third base in 2014, but he will also be playing a lot of outfield.
Mike Kvasnicka has played a few different positions since the Astros drafted him in the first round out of the University of Minnesota. They tried him at third base, and behind the plate. Last year with Ft. Myers, he played in right field. He is going to get some time behind the plate again in 2014, though he will also play in the outfield.
When the Twins drafted Dereck Rodriguez, they knew they had an intriguing prospect. The son of future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez is quite athletic. Because he has all of the five tools, the Twins played him in the outfield. Unfortunately, he was frequently injured and didn’t show a lot with the bat. Arguably his best tool is his arm. Because of that, there was always talk that he could be moved to pitcher. That transition began during the offseason in Puerto Rico and will go into full effect in 2014.
Brad Steil begins his second season as the Twins Director of Minor League Operations. There is a lot of talent throughout the system, and the organization has been recognized by national sites as one of the best in baseball. Each affiliate will have several players with big league potential. As you know, each year, there will be a handful of prospects who will take big leaps forward. Who will those be this year?
Twins Daily strives to be the best place on the internet for Minnesota Twins minor league information. As we have done in previous years, we will continue to post daily game updates and reports. We will attempt to stay ahead of any news and information throughout the system. Please let us know if there is any more information or storylines that you would like us to follow.