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  • Kernels Roster Taking Shape

    There was no rain in Fort Myers on Wednesday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was pretty breezy and high temperatures for the day barely, if at all, reached 70 degrees. I know that sounds good to a lot of people, but I had to wear long sleeves much of the day at the ballpark and was a bit chilly eating dinner outdoors tonight!

    But I toughed it out, because I know my readers expect me to do whatever it takes to get the story.

    Today, that story comes from the minor league side of the Twins organization. Rather than watch the Twins and Pirates at Hammond Stadium, I fought the Daniels Parkway traffic toward the Red Sox complex to watch the Twins’ Class A groups take on their Sox counterparts.

    After the game, Kernels manager Jake Mauer shared some thoughts about the way his club is shaping up as they enter the final few days of camp. Mauer indicated that just a handful of roster spots are still unresolved.

    One player still “on the bubble” with the Kernels as final decisions are being made is Chad Christensen, who prepped at Cedar Rapids Washington High School before playing ball for the University of Nebraska. Christensen was drafted by the Twins last June and played last summer for the Twins’ Gulf Coast League rookie level affiliate in Fort Myers.


    Chad Christensen

    It sounds like the Kernels’ manager would like to bring Christensen to Cedar Rapids next week.

    “Chad’s been working real hard and he’s somebody that gives us some flexibility. He’s played both (corner) outfield positions and both corner infield positions and I wouldn’t be afraid to put him at shortstop once in a while,” said Mauer. “We’ve got about six or seven guys we’ve got to make decisions on and he’s in that mix, but there’s no doubt that he’s somebody we’d like to take north with us.”

    Mauer knows his squad of Kernels is going to have to take a different approach than last year’s team, now that last year’s power hitters have moved up the organizational ladder.

    “We’re going to have to be real good at the small things right away,” the manager acknowledged. “We’re going to have to run the bases well. We’re going to have to be able to execute the small game, hit and runs, getting bunts down, doing things like that. Try to create runs that way.”

    According to Mauer, there should be five or six familiar faces for Kernels fans to welcome back to Cedar Rapids.

    Among the likely returnees are catchers Michael Quesada and Bo Altobelli. Said Mauer, “We plan on taking both those guys north, along with (Mitchell) Garver. We’re probably going to take three (catchers) to start, at least.”

    That means flexibility will be key among other position players because, according to the skipper, he expects the final roster to contain just 12 position players, allowing 13 roster spots for the pitching staff that will once again utilize a six-man starting rotation.

    It’s that pitching staff that many in the Twins organization, as well as their fans, are eager to see.

    “I think we’ll be starter-heavy. We should have some quality arms, starting-wise,” said Mauer. “We’ve got a lot of young, quality arms. It just depends on how many we decide to bring up with us.”

    In particular, there are a number of pitchers that will push their fastballs consistently to the middle-to-upper 90s on the speed gun. This group includes young Dominican pitchers Yorman Landa, who was hitting 96 mph in Wednesday’s game, and Randy Rosario. In addition, the Twins’ first round pick in 2013 (and fourth pick overall) Kohl Stewart is a hard throwing 19-year-old who is still on the Kernels roster as camp is drawing to a close.

    As Kernels fans know, however, the team’s success is not solely determined by the players that start the season with the club. Between injuries and promotions, it’s equally important to have talented players at the lower levels of the organization preparing to join the Kernels as the season develops.

    According to Mauer, there’s plenty of potential mid-season help available, as well. “You know we’ve got some young boys down there, too, (Lewis) Thorpe and (Stephen) Gonsalves. Kids that have some pretty good arms that we’ll probably see at some point throughout the year.”

    The Kernels will break camp on Monday. There will be a “Meet the Kernels” event open to the public at no charge on April 1 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids and Opening Day is Thursday, April 3, when the Kernels host the Clinton Lumber Kings.
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Did Mauer say who will be in the starting rotation this year?
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      Should be another good summer of Kernel's baseball!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Did Mauer say who will be in the starting rotation this year?
      I think you can count on Ryan Eades, Aaron Slegers, Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario and Miguel Sulbaran... If they go with a six-man rotation again, Kohl Stewart could factor into that discussion.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Hey Seth, why do you think Sulbaran (overrated, IMHO) will be repeating Low A ball... just organizational depth?
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Mauer indicated they will be going with a 6 man rotation again, thus the 13 man pitching staff to start the season anyway. Sulbaran is with the Kernels group and threw 2 innings of relief yesterday. That doesn't mean he won't be in the rotation, of course, since right now they're just trying to get guys innings of work any way they can.

      He said there was still a decision or two to be made with the pitchers, but I think Seth's projected rotation would be the same for me, including Stewart.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think you can count on Ryan Eades, Aaron Slegers, Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario and Miguel Sulbaran... If they go with a six-man rotation again, Kohl Stewart could factor into that discussion.
      Why would two college pitchers in Eades (who draft experts said could be one of the quickest arms to the bigs) and Slegers start in low-A? I'm confused by why the Twins do this.
    1. Sarah's Avatar
      Sarah -
      Anyone who is looking for a cheap fun baseball trip this summer should check out Cedar Rapids- it's a nice stadium and only about four hours from the Twin Cities. I was there last summer and had one of the all-you-can-eat seats down the first baseline. So many brats, so little time...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      Hey Seth, why do you think Sulbaran (overrated, IMHO) will be repeating Low A ball... just organizational depth?

      The Twins weren't happy with the shape he came to camp in, so he got a late start. He could move up in not too long.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      Why would two college pitchers in Eades (who draft experts said could be one of the quickest arms to the bigs) and Slegers start in low-A? I'm confused by why the Twins do this.

      I would think that most organizations would do this. Slegers is more of a project, so he won't move as quickly, I don't think. But I think there's a chance he could get to Ft. Myers this season.

      Eades could move quickly, but no real need for him to skip a level. He's not getting to the big leagues this year, so it's more about just getting him innings, getting him adjusted, working on things and moving up.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I would think that most organizations would do this. Slegers is more of a project, so he won't move as quickly, I don't think. But I think there's a chance he could get to Ft. Myers this season.

      Eades could move quickly, but no real need for him to skip a level. He's not getting to the big leagues this year, so it's more about just getting him innings, getting him adjusted, working on things and moving up.
      I don't think that's true. I counted last year, and I think there were something like eight healthy collegiate pitchers drafted in the first five rounds in 2013 that didn't pitch in at least low A ball. I'm guessing a good majority of them will get to graduate to high A if they didn't already last year. The Twins starting pitchers didn't get out of Rookie League last year, plenty of clubs didn't even bother putting their early round college arms in those leagues.

      I'm not making any judgments here but the Twins college age pitchers, at least from 2013, are further behind most of their peers.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      I don't think that's true. I counted last year, and I think there were something like eight healthy collegiate pitchers drafted in the first five rounds in 2013 that didn't pitch in at least low A ball. I'm guessing a good majority of them will get to graduate to high A if they didn't already last year. The Twins starting pitchers didn't get out of Rookie League last year, plenty of clubs didn't even bother putting their early round college arms in those leagues.

      I'm not making any judgments here but the Twins college age pitchers, at least from 2013, are further behind most of their peers.
      Yeah, that's what I thought most clubs did.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think you can count on Ryan Eades, Aaron Slegers, Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario and Miguel Sulbaran... If they go with a six-man rotation again, Kohl Stewart could factor into that discussion.
      I agree on Eades, Slegers, Jorge
      Wouldn't Landa?
      Lots of good candidates and I hope they don't punish Sulbaran - Just because of the number's factor.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think you can count on Ryan Eades, Aaron Slegers, Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario and Miguel Sulbaran... If they go with a six-man rotation again, Kohl Stewart could factor into that discussion.
      I like that, with two changes. i think Sulbaran did enough to earn a promotion (better numbers than Berrios), assuming he got into better shape as camp went along. If so, then Stewart will take his place.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      I agree on Eades, Slegers, Jorge
      Wouldn't Landa?
      Lots of good candidates and I hope they don't punish Sulbaran - Just because of the number's factor.
      Which "numbers factor"? Too many SPs, or too many LBs?
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      In this Edition of 2013 College Pitchers...

      There were 132 college pitchers taken in the 2013 Rule IV MLB Draft. Five were injured and never had a chance to pitch in MLB (e.g. Manea, Stanek, etc), leaving 127 eligible pitchers to be placed among the minor league affiliates.

      89 of them pitched in A- or higher last year.

      Attachment 6908
      So, in the same year college pitchers were drafted, about 69% pitched in A- or higher. 2 in 3 of those drafted in the 1st-10th RD.

      Could we apply this further? Perhaps to where the Twins college pitchers should land in their 1st full season of pro ball?

      e.g. the 2012 college pitchers class (1st-10th RD)

      1 pitcher, Josh Conway of the Cubs, has been injured and has yet to accumulate a minor league stat, leaving 110 pitchers meeting the criteria.

      Attachment 6909
      So 87% were at A or higher. 51% at A+ or higher
      - applicable to the Twins as we don't have an 'A' club - not sure which/how they (TBC) classified "A"

      Source: Thebaseballcube.com
      Used: MS Excel 2007
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      I'd assume the "A-" level is "short-season A" and the Twins don't have a team at that level. They use Elizabethton as their top "short season" club. In a very real sense, the Twins seem to use E-town as their "short-season A" level. When you take that in to consideration, I don't think the Twins treat there college pitchers much different than other teams do.

      I think the unusual thing we'll be seeing this year is just how many YOUNG pitchers, both HS guys drafted last year and international pitchers not yet 20 years old, find their way in to the Kernels rotation this summer.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I also assume that the analysis points out that 2013 Twins draft picks Brian Gilbert and Brandon Bixler pitched for Cedar Rapids last year, the same year they were drafted. Or that the year before Taylor Rogers and DJ Baxendale pitched for Beloit. (Both will start for New Britain this year).

      The Kernels pitching staff could be quite young with those international signings.

      Also, Eades came off throwing a lot of innings at LSU, and Slegers threw a lot and into the College World Series for Indiana. Watching their innings is way more important than where those innings come from.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Which "numbers factor"? Too many SPs, or too many LBs?
      I dont know what LB means but I was saying starters.
      FM has room. CR does not.
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      I dont know what LB means but I was saying starters.
      FM has room. CR does not.
      Pounds.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Seth, will you be putting together an organizational depth chart? Or have you?

      I realize, we all can wait until April 4th and the affiliate websites should have the rosters by then.
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