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Twins Birthdays--September 4

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Paul Jata (1949)
Aaron Fultz (1973)
Pat Neshek (1980)


Outfielder/first baseman Paul Jata did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system in 1976. He was born in Astoria, New York, went to high school on Long Island, and was drafted by Detroit in the fifth round in 1967. His minor league numbers donít stick out, but he was always very young for his league, reaching AA at age 20 and AAA at age 21. He made the Tigers out of spring training in 1972 at age 22 but was used mostly as a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement, getting only 71 at-bats through July 19. At that point he was sent to the minors, coming back for three games as a September call-up. Given his age and his role, he didnít do so badly: .230/.296/.257 in 74 at-bats. Unfortunately, those would be his major league career numbers. He split 1973 between AA and AAA and had what may have been his best year in the minors. After the season, he was traded to Minnesota for Jim Nettles. He did not play in either 1974 or 1975 for reasons that we could not find. He played in AA Orlando in 1976 but appeared in only 22 games, batting .242/.351/.306. His playing career ended after that. Itís kind of an odd career, and one wishes to know more about it. However, no further information about Paul Jata was readily available.


Left-handed reliever Richard Aaron Fultz played for the Twins in 2004. He was born in Memphis, went to high school in Munford, Tennessee, attended North Florida Community College, and was drafted by the Giants in 1992 in the sixth round. He pitched pretty well in rookie ball that year and in Class A in 1993, but was traded to the Twins in August of 1993 with Andres Duncan and Greg Brummett for Jim DeShaies. After just over two years (1994 and 1995) in the Twins system, Fultz was released, and he went back to the Giants. He generally had to repeat levels in the minors, with the result that he did not reach AAA until 1998. Fultz was not particularly impressive in AAA in either 1998 or 1999, but made the Giants with a strong spring training in 2000. Fultz spent three years with the Giants as a middle reliever, posting ERAs in the mid-fours, but was allowed to become a free agent after 2002 and signed with Texas. He did not pitch particularly well for the Rangers, and was again allowed to become a free agent, signing with the Twins for the 2004 campaign. Fultz appeared in 55 games for the Twins, going 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 50 innings. The Twins placed him on waivers after the season, and he was selected by Philadelphia, for whom he had his best year in 2005, going 4-0 with a 2.24 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 72.1 innings. He did not repeat his success in 2006, and again became a free agent, signing with Cleveland for 2007. He did a good job for the Indians, going 4-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 37 innings, but was again released after the season. He has since played in the Detroit, Colorado, and Cincinnati organizations, as well as playing in Taiwan. Fultz played a little independent ball in 2009 before retiring in June. At last report, Aaron Fultz was the pitching coach for the Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League.


Right-handed reliever Patrick J. Neshek was with the Twins from 2006-2010. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin, went to high school in Park Center, Minnesota, and was drafted in the 45th round out of high school by the Twins in 1999. He did not sign, choosing instead to go to Butler University. The Twins kept watching him, and drafted him again in 2002 in the sixth round. He spent roughly a year at each minor league level, and pitched well at all of them, posting a WHIP below 1.00 in each of his first two minor league seasons. He came up to the Twins in July of 2006, and continued to pitch very well, becoming the Twinsí top set-up man. In 2007, he was one of five players who was in the running for the final spot in the all-star game, losing to Hideki Okajima. Neshek then began to battle injuries, undergoing Tommy John surgery, and missed most of 2008 and all of 2009. He came back in 2010, beginning and ending the season in Minnesota but spending most of it in Rochester, where he was decent but no more than that. The Twins waived him in March of 2011 and he was claimed by San Diego. He was up and down a few times in 2011; heís was again decent but no more in AAA and not very good in the majors. A free agent after the season, he signed with Baltimore for 2012 and pitched very well in AAA but did not get promoted. He was purchased by Oakland in early August and was awesome in 24 appearances, striking out sixteen in 19.2 innings while posting an ERA of 1.37 and a WHIP of 0.81. Unfortunately, he could not sustain it in 2013. He wasnít awful, but he wasnít particularly good, either, and was designated for assignment last week. As a Twin, Pat Neshek was 11-6, 3.05, 1.01 WHIP. He appeared in 132 games and pitched 129.2 innings. He turns 33 today. One suspects he will get another chance, but he may be approaching the time when the chances are running out.
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