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  • Minor signings make impact


    Sam Deduno put together the best start of his career on Wednesday night. Pitching against the Seattle Mariners, Deduno threw seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits. He struckout a career high nine batters. Most important, and probably most inexplicable, he walked no one. He improved to 5-2 and dropped his ERA to 3.72. To say he has been a pleasant surprise is quite the understatement.

    Deduno was one of 14 players from outside the organization who signed minor league contracts and were invited to big league camp. Some of them did nothing, some have done a little, and some have proven to be terrific finds. A couple of them may even remain on the 40 man roster after this season. Hereís a quick look:

    The Keepers

    Jared Burton came to the Twins this spring after spending 2007 through 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds. He has had arm problems the last two years that cost him a lot of time. However, when hew as healthy, he was one of the Reds best late-inning relievers. For the Twins, Burton has been just that, a great late-inning option. In fact, with Matt Capps out, Burton even has a few saves. He has been very good and very consistent from Day Two (on Day One, he gave up two home runs, but since then, lights out!).

    Casey Fien came from the Tigers organization. He got a couple of small cups of coffee with Detroit in 2009 and 2010. The Twins signed him and he was one of the final cuts of spring. He did alright with Rochester this spring, and just a few weeks before he was recalled, he really started throwing hard. That is the pitcher we have seen with the Twins, a hard-thrower. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, which is fun when he gets a big strikeout in an important situation, something he has managed to do with regularity.

    PJ Walters will be an interesting case this offseason. He pitched alright in his first few starts with the Twins, even throwing a complete game shutout. He then had a couple of rough starts but it was found out that he was pitching with some pain. He was DLíd and is yet to return to the Twins. Did he show enough in his seven starts with the Twins to keep him around and give him another shot at a 5th starter gig?

    Sam Deduno is so intriguing to me. Even when he was at his wildest, it was clear that he had tremendous stuff. My question was always, could the 29 year old find a way to bring his walk rate down to 4 or 4.5 per nine innings as opposed to the 7-8 walks per nine innings we saw early. With his natural pitch movement and great stuff, if he could harness even a little control, he would have a chance to be terrific. We saw an example of what that could look like on Wednesday night, and for my money, I would like to see more!

    Done Well

    Luis Perdomo signed with the Twins after seeing some big league time with the Padres in 2009 and 2010. The Bearded One was sent back to AA to start the season, and as you would hope, he dominated there. He was promoted to AAA Rochester, where he was again very good. He struggled with his control with the Twins, something he did not do in Rochester where he has a 24:5 strikeout to walk rate. The 28 year old is likely to come off of the 40 man roster, but it would be good to try to keep him in the organization.

    Matt Carson is a professional. When he was signed, reports raved about the type of person he is, how hard he works and how teammates respond to him. He also is a guy who regularly hits 20-30 home runs a season. He has had another solid season in AAA Rochester this year, hitting .282/.347/.457 (.804) with 28 doubles and 14 home runs. It was nice to see the guy get an opportunity with the Twins a couple of weeks ago, and itís possible we will see him again in September. He will most likely be removed from the 40 man following the season.

    Sean Burroughs started the season with the Twins but it wasnít long before he was DFAd. He was a nice story in 2011 when he resurfaced in the big leagues for the first time since 2006. He is a solid hitter and did alright for Rochester. Unfortunately, he has not played in a couple of months with a back injury.

    Wilkin Ramirez was a top prospect of the Tigers several years ago and was with the Braves in 2011. Still just 26 years old, Ramirez still has the talent to be a big leaguer if presented an opportunity. He managed to get hurt in spring training and missed a lot of time early in the year. He began his rehab in Ft. Myers, then crushed the ball in New Britain for a couple of weeks. He moved up to Rochester where he has been a little inconsistent, but he has been one of the top hitters in AAA the last three weeks.

    Nothing Much

    Frankly, most minor league free agent signings donít surface back into the big leagues, so this is the category where most will be. To have so many names above this point is impressive.

    Lefty Aaron Thompson was busted early in the season for 50 games for testing positive for a PED. He served his time and has pitched for New Britain since. He started and recently was moved to the bullpen. Heís left-handed and still just 25 years old, so heís worth trying to keep around if they can. He pitched in four games for the Pirates in 2011.

    Brad Thompson was a big part of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen in 2006 when they won the World Series. He was a good pitcher with a live arm. Unfortunately, he has been a bit of a journeyman the last couple of years. The Twins signed him this spring knowing he had missed part of 2010 and all of 2011 after Tommy John surgery. It didnít pan out for Thompson as he struggled through a few appearances in New Britain.

    Daryl Thompson went 1-5 in nine starts for the Red Wings before being released. He had pitched previously with the Reds in 2008 and 2011. He is 26 years old and didnít latch on with another team after being released.

    Brendan Wise is a strike-throwing righty from Australia who signed with the Twins after years in the Tigers organization. The last two seasons, pitching in AAA Rochester, Wise had compiled season ERAs of 2.08 and 1.90. This year in Rochester, he posted an ERA of 5.64 before being put on the Disabled List a month ago.

    JR Towles was a guy that people wanted to take Drew Buteraís spot as the #3 catcher in the organization. Although he had done nothing in the big leagues from 2008 through 2011, he had put up encouraging AAA numbers. This year in Rochester, he hit .211/.271/.317 and has played only 50 games for various reasons.

    Jason Bulger put together a big league career that spanned 2005 with Arizona and then 2006 through 2011 with the Angels. He had a lot of big league success and some good strikeout numbers. He came to spring training and showed nothing in big league camp. It wasnít long before the Twins just released him. He signed with the Yankees and has pitched for their AAA affiliate all season. He has 21 walks and 28 strikeouts in 34.1 innings for Empire State.

    Steve Pearce is an interesting case. He was a draft choice of the Twins early last decade and he signed with the Twins. He went to spring training but was hurt early, didnít play much, didnít fit in and the Twins released him. He signed with the Yankees and played in AAA. The Orioles bought him from the Yankees in June and he spent some time with their big league club. The Astros claimed him when he was put on waivers in July. And last week, the Astros traded him to the Yankees to help them at 1B while Mark Teixeira is hurt. Heís always hit left-handed pitching well.


    So there you have it. A lot of Twins fans are pretty down on the team right now, and thatís understandable. Some are always looking for the negative regardless of the situation and choose to only look at the mistakes. But, I just believe that if weíre going to focus on the mistakes, we also need to look at the successes. Credit is due this year to those individuals in the front office who picked out and signed so many effective minor league free agents. It isnít often noticed, but these are important signings for the organization.

    It also says a lot about where the Twins are right now. Normally, a team may see one or two of their minor league free agents come up and contribute. Itís telling that the Twins have had to count on so many minor league free agents. But that shouldnít take away from those people who did their due diligence and brought in a nice group of minor league free agents. Whoever they may be.
    This article was originally published in blog: Minor signings make impact started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      When you add Vasquez, Maloney, Gray, Thomas and any other waiver claims they made to your list of additions it looks like a pretty good expansion draft. Ryan has always done well plucking talent from other organizations. If only his scouts could do that at the high school level.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Very good point. They claimed Vasquez on the final weekend last year. Then they claimed Florimon after the season. Maloney may have been OK if not for the elbow problems that led to Tommy John. Gray was pretty bad, but he had moments early in the season. Thomas has been decent for Rochester during their run.

      I'd say Ryan's scouts have done pretty well finding high school talent... Morneau, Mauer, Kubel, Span, Parmelee, Swarzak, Waldrop, Plouffe, Revere. So far so good with Buxton and Berrios. Not sure what there is to complain about there.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Deduno reminds me of Scott Erickson. His best pitch is a fastball that has so much movement that he doesn't know where it's going. Erickson put it all together fairly early and was dominant for 2/3 of a season. Then he hurt his elbow and was never the same again.

      I'm hoping that last night's game was Deduno figuring something out and putting it all together and it's the beginning of sustainable success for him (as opposed to the 5 K 6BB success he has been having.) And I hope he doesn't hurt his elbow.
    1. Ricola's Avatar
      Ricola -
      I believe Deduno struck out a career high nine batters last evening.

      When you look at all of the "minor" additions in aggregate, I think we're seeing progress.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      You are correct. I don't know why I typed 'seven.' It's been corrected.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      The question is if TR can pluck a similar number of minor finds this off season. If he can, is that enough to correct the path of this organization? From what I have read recently, that is TR plan this off season. No big splash. No starting pitchers signed to multi-year deals. Just another year of minor deals. A player here, a player there.

      If the twins were dealing from a position of strength, by that I mean a plus .500 club with plenty of players currently at Rochester just waiting for their shot, this strategy would work. As we have a discussed, that is not the current situation of this franchise. I don't think another successful season of making minor moves is going to move us far enough to be competitive. I know Ryan doesn't believe in concept of overpaying for starting pitching, but at this point we have no choice.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      There is always players out there, the 26th/27th, or 42st/42nd...and the joy is that they ARE talented. Just got pushed out because there is someone younger in the wings. Plus, they are hungry. The other thing Ryan is usually good at is jettisoning the player for a prospect.....something he might've done earlier for, say, Gray.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by minn55441 View Post
      The question is if TR can pluck a similar number of minor finds this off season. If he can, is that enough to correct the path of this organization? From what I have read recently, that is TR plan this off season. No big splash. No starting pitchers signed to multi-year deals. Just another year of minor deals. A player here, a player there.

      If the twins were dealing from a position of strength, by that I mean a plus .500 club with plenty of players currently at Rochester just waiting for their shot, this strategy would work. As we have a discussed, that is not the current situation of this franchise. I don't think another successful season of making minor moves is going to move us far enough to be competitive. I know Ryan doesn't believe in concept of overpaying for starting pitching, but at this point we have no choice.
      No, signing good minor league free agents aren't going to bring a team from 95+ losses to 85+ wins. they're generally brought in to help the AAA team win more games and just be depth. Finding a minor league free agent to provide as much value as Jared Burton has is incredible. If Deduno pans out and can become a middle of the rotation starter, that would be incredible.

      TR knows that minor league F/A isn't the way to division titles. he's a very smart guy who keeps things close to the vest. I 100% agree with him that overpaying for anyone is crazy. The Twins will need quality starting pitchers to turn this around. That doesn't mean getting the $20 million guys. They never pan out. I think they need to grab 2-3 $6-8 million starters.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Congrats to Dude.

      Now don't let Gardy and Andy coach your style and movement out of you. Otherwise you'll just be another Blackburn.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      minn55441, you have not read anything from the mouths of Twins ownership or front office that the plan this off-season is to strictly rely on these types of pick-ups. You perhaps read comments from bloggers, or Souhan's garbage column, that have led you to this false understanding.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
      Congrats to Dude.

      Now don't let Gardy and Andy coach your style and movement out of you. Otherwise you'll just be another Blackburn.
      The "Dude" De-du-no wrong last night
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by minn55441 View Post
      The question is if TR can pluck a similar number of minor finds this off season. If he can, is that enough to correct the path of this organization? From what I have read recently, that is TR plan this off season. No big splash. No starting pitchers signed to multi-year deals. Just another year of minor deals. A player here, a player there.

      If the twins were dealing from a position of strength, by that I mean a plus .500 club with plenty of players currently at Rochester just waiting for their shot, this strategy would work. As we have a discussed, that is not the current situation of this franchise. I don't think another successful season of making minor moves is going to move us far enough to be competitive. I know Ryan doesn't believe in concept of overpaying for starting pitching, but at this point we have no choice.


      No, signing good minor league free agents aren't going to bring a team from 95+ losses to 85+ wins. they're generally brought in to help the AAA team win more games and just be depth. Finding a minor league free agent to provide as much value as Jared Burton has is incredible. If Deduno pans out and can become a middle of the rotation starter, that would be incredible.

      TR knows that minor league F/A isn't the way to division titles. he's a very smart guy who keeps things close to the vest. I 100% agree with him that overpaying for anyone is crazy. The Twins will need quality starting pitchers to turn this around. That doesn't mean getting the $20 million guys. They never pan out. I think they need to grab 2-3 $6-8 million starters.


      A & E signs Terry Ryan to 13-week reality series

      Agreed, although it definitely won't happen, Seth. I would organize a parade for merely 2 Maholm/Bedard-level signings, a waiver deal by business-close tomorrow and a Minor League acquisition via trade, and Twins fans would be lucky if 1 out of 4 of those things occurs.

      This team and Ryan's philosophy for team-building is truly a "Storage Wars"-devotees dream.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      minn55441, you have not read anything from the mouths of Twins ownership or front office that the plan this off-season is to strictly rely on these types of pick-ups. You perhaps read comments from bloggers, or Souhan's garbage column, that have led you to this false understanding.
      I don't read Souhan and I take what bloggers say with a grain of salt, which is to say their opinion is worth what I paid to read it.

      I pay close attention what Terry, Gardy and the other team officials have to say, because they are the ones that actually make an impact. With that said, I have a lot of faith in the Twin's organization, probably more than what most on this site would admit to. I see TR making changes to improve the long term health of the Twins organization, things like picking up minor league free agents. Taking a rule 5 here, making a small trade there. I can see TR making a couple of FA signing like he did last off season, Doumit and Willingham, only have them be pitchers. His strategy will get us back to respectability and eventually to a competitive position.

      My point is that we are in a position, where our core group of players are good enough, so that if we add enough quality pitching we can return to be competitive sooner rather than later. I am a Terry Ryan fan. I am happy with the decision to bring him back. I think he will eventually prove that he is up to the task and will return this franchise to contending for a title within 5-7 years. I would hope that we can make a one time exception to his long standing beliefs and go out and get a quality starting pitcher to lead this staff. From what I have read from Terry Ryan, Rob Antony, Wayne Krivsky et al, I don't think they see the need to break from the game plan. We are on a long slow recovery.

      Please let me know if I have a false understanding and there are comments from someone in the Twins baseball operations staff, that have stated that they plan on signing a quality starting pitcher to a long term deal and that we will win the division title next season.

      Seth you are probably correct in that TR has always held his cards close to the vest and that there is no advantage to tipping his hand at this point.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      while a couple of the minor league moves have worked out/helped for time being.....I still wish we would give our own prospects the same chances that we give to other teams garbage/castoffs.
      I know it was during the time MN was very good and none of these players are stars, but MN never gave opportunites to Steve Tolleson, Jason Pridie, Darnell McDonald, Garrett Jones, Trent Oiltjen, Kevin Cameron, Phil Humber etc & other teams have
    1. Ex-Iowegian's Avatar
      Ex-Iowegian -
      Before ST this year, it seemed that TR was trying tobolster not only the Twins, but every level of the minor leagues.Rochester had a horrible year last year if I recall, and attempting to put some serviceableadditions at all levels seemed apparent with the number of bodies that gotinvited to Ft Meyers. Must have been some positive results, judging byimprovement of records at those lower levels. Coupled with not having to raid playersall the way down to AA like they had to in 2011, it seems the AA and AAA franchisesstabilized a little, even if those players may never make the Big Leagues.Sometimes it seems the overall business moves that need to be addressed are lost in thespotlight. To me, it set the tone for the entire year. He understands the needsof the entire organization.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      No doubt that the minor league signing are still playing catchup for those couple of years that the minor league system was so bad.
      New Brit players are pretty solid this year so the AAA team should be fairly sound. Ft Myers roster doesnt show many that will get a shot in AA, so that may be where MN starts to stack some minor league retreads.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Nice article, but the info on Steve Pearce is not quite correct. He was originally drafted but not signed by the Red Sox in 2004, and then drafted and signed by the Pirates in 2005. He spent 7 seasons with the Pirates organization and earned the dreaded 'quad A' label by crushing AAA pitching but never achieving sustained success in 685 PA's spread out over 6 seasons. He was at the very least a worthwhile gamble by a Twins organization with a serious lack of depth in the high minors.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Yes. Several of the players who were picked up and signed to minor league contacts did contribute and did make a positive impression and can potentially be part of the solution in the future

      but

      we cannot talk about "impact" in a 96-97 loss team. This team has so many problems and is so fundamentally flawed that the contributions of a few of these guys do not really matter that much.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      The list also doesnt include massive failure signings of Jeff Gray, Matt Maloney & Matt Rizzotti.....as well as lesser failures in Eric Komatsu & Clete Thomas as well as a signing I didnt like at the time but turned out in Esmeril Vazquez. When they sign 20 players, a couple of em will turn out to be assets....problem is they had to sign 20 of em because they refuse to give their own prospects the chance
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Yes. Several of the players who were picked up and signed to minor league contacts did contribute and did make a positive impression and can potentially be part of the solution in the future

      but

      we cannot talk about "impact" in a 96-97 loss team. This team has so many problems and is so fundamentally flawed that the contributions of a few of these guys do not really matter that much.
      Yes. No one is allowed to talk about anything positive. Nothing good matters.
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