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  1. Can the Twins Fix Royce Lewis’s Swing?

    Lewis spent time at High- and Double-A last season before ending the year in the Arizona Fall League. During the regular season, there were some ups and downs as he combined for a .661 OPS and 123 strikeouts in 127 games. He performed much better in the AFL by hitting .353/.411/.565 (.975) with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games.

    Here is a slow-motion view of Lewis’s swing during the AFL Fall Stars game.


    He starts with a high leg kick and then moves into a long stride. FanGraphs released their top Twins prospect list this week and they had plenty to say about Lewis's swing even though he is still their top Twins prospect.

    "Lewis still clearly had issues. His swing is cacophonous — the big leg kick, the messy, excessive movement in his hands — and it negatively impacts Lewis’ timing. He needs to start several elements of the swing early just to catch fastballs, and he’s often late anyway. This also causes him to lunge at breaking balls, which Lewis doesn’t seem to recognize very well, and after the advanced hit tool was a huge driver of his amateur profile, Lewis now looks like a guess hitter."

    In recent years, Minnesota has tried to work with Byron Buxton to adjust the leg kick he used in his swing. Buxton has gone through multiple swing renditions and last season he had almost no leg kick. For Buxton, there were positive results last season when he was on the field and healthy.

    In a recent chat, ESPN’s Keith Law was not optimistic about the performance put together by Lewis in the Arizona Fall League. When asked about Lewis’s swing adjustments, he said, “What swing adjustments? He looked exactly the same – huge leg kick, big hit – and did not hit at all during the regular season. Nothing is wrong with him physically, but I don’t think there’s a big leaguer who hits for average with a noisy approach like Lewis’s.”

    Besides his swing concerns, there are also concerns about Lewis’s defensive future. His bat is more important to his prospect stock because some see him below-average on defense as a shortstop. This could result in him moving to third base or even to the outfield. He played most of the AFL season at third base and even made a highlight reel catch in the outfield.

    "I think it's easy to forget how young he is," Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll said during the AFL. "There were a number of hitters at Fort Myers that started slow. It's pretty well known that the [Florida State League] is a pitchers' league. But I think everyone came out of that slump at different speeds and anytime you're missing playing time in spring training, it's obviously something you think about -- the impact you may or may not be having. But it was good to see him work his way out of it and continue to make strides with his swing and produce nicely down the stretch."

    Minnesota is going to have to hope there are coaches that can work with some of his mechanics early in the spring. This would give him all of 2020 to work on his offensive approach to reduce some holes in his swing. The Twins have already been able to work with Buxton on adjusting his approach, so one can hope that Lewis will be the next player to alter his swing.

    What are your thoughts on Lewis’s approach at the plate? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Dec 16 2019 02:36 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. Will Minnesota Get Raided This Off-Season?

    Boston shocked a lot of the baseball world on Sunday as they fired General Manager Dave Dombrowski less than a calendar year after he delivered the team a title. The Red Sox are entering a tumultuous time in their organization and the ownership didn’t feel Dombrowski was the right man for the job. He was hired to do what he did, win the World Series, but it could be time for the franchise to rebuild and he might not fit that mold.

    Besides the Red Sox, there will be plenty of other organizations searching for upgrades in the front office and to their coaching staffs. Every team is looking to gain a step up on other organizations. Here are three names that could be with different organizations this offseason.

    Daniel Adler
    Current Role: Director, Baseball Operations
    Adler took a unique route to his current position with the Twins organization. His professional experience started as an intern in the MLB’s Labor Relations Department where he worked on the CBA including baseball’s compensation system. He spent a couple of years in the private sector before joining the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. With Jacksonville, he headed up a brand-new Football Research and Development Department.

    Baseball organizations are finding some of the best minds in unique ways. Plenty of the game’s operating leadership have degrees from Ivy League universities. Adler holds a Harvard law and business degree. He has spent time in multiple fields and has a way of changing an organization’s system.

    “Finding things yet to be identified is important,” said Adler, “but being able to utilize the things you already know is more important.”

    Jeremy Zoll
    Current Role: Director, Minor League Operations
    Zoll has been on the fast track throughout his professional career as he is the youngest person in his role among all 30 MLB teams. He is in his second year in the Twins organization after he came to the club from the Dodgers organization. With Los Angeles, he served as their Assistant Director of Player Development for multiple seasons. He worked to develop player plans and assisted the Research and Development department.

    "His reputation, even at a less experienced, younger age, of galvanizing staffs and creatively (instituting) development programs for players, really got our attention," said Thad Levine. "He's got the ability to communicate very clearly to the 16-year-old Venezuelan kid or the college senior.”

    "There's a presence about him that probably belies age. But I think the backbone of it really was he had such rave reviews from the senior staffers that he worked with in the past."

    James Rowson
    Current Role: Hitting Coach
    It’s hard to argue with what Rowson has done during his tenure in Minnesota. During his first year on the job, the Twins scored 815 runs and cracked 206 home runs. Both totals were in the franchise’s top four best season before the 2019 campaign and the introduction of the Bomba Squad. It would be hard to list out everything this offense has done this year and Rowson is a key cog in the Twins hitting machine.

    “I think the environment that we’ve created here as an organization allows everybody to feel comfortable in their own skin,” Rowson said. “Each guy is just worried about having the best at-bat they can and there’s nothing holding them down mentally. They’re clear-minded, and that creates good at-bats, and that gets contagious.

    Will all three of these names be back with the Twins next year? Who else do you think could be raided from the Twins this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Sep 10 2019 08:36 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  3. Get To Know: Alex Hassan (Twins Assistant Director of Minor League Operations)

    Alex Hassan grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts. He was a four-year letter winner in baseball at Boston College High School.
    He recalls, “I played almost exclusively baseball during high school. I say ‘almost’ because I played one season of basketball my freshman year. Let’s just say I was not nearly as committed to becoming a good basketball player as I was committed to becoming a good baseball player.

    "I was a good player in high school, and I worked really hard during my four years at Boston College High School to improve and get better as a player. I was fortunate to have a really good coach in high school who invested a lot in my development, Norm Walsh.”

    “A good player in high school” may have been an understatement. Following his senior season, he was named the Louisville Slugger Massachusetts Player of the Year. In addition, his AAU team won two state championships and his Legion team won a state title too.

    He had a few options coming out of high school, but he chose to head south and play at Duke.

    “I had some options coming out of high school, but my final choices came down to Duke, Notre Dame and Boston College. Ultimately, having grown up in Massachusetts where I was relegated to training indoors for a good portion of the year due to the weather, I decided I would attend the best academic school I could get into that was the furthest down South, and that happened to be Duke.“

    At Duke, he was able to be a two-way player. As a freshman, he made 11 starts and won two games. Over his final two seasons, he moved to the bullpen. His sophomore season, he went 5-0 with five saves and a 1.30 ERA in 17 appearances. His junior season, he worked in 16 games and went 2-2 with eight saves.

    He was also a strong hitter in the Blue Devils lineup. He batted in 49 games and hit .262 with 17 extra base hits as a freshman. His sophomore year, he hit .353/.458/.486 (.924) with 17 doubles and four homers. He also stole 14 bases. His junior season, he hit .342/.424/.498 (.922) with 17 doubles, four triples and three homers. Over those final two seasons, he walked 56 times and struck out just 38.

    “I really enjoyed my time at Duke. I spent three years there from 2007-2009 before being drafted by the Red Sox after my junior year. Similar to high school, I put a lot of time and effort into becoming a better baseball player at Duke. I also made lifelong friends, many of whom were in my wedding.“

    Hassan had put together a strong resume in his three years at Duke on the field and in the classroom. He also played well in his time in the Cape Cod League. However, just a few weeks before the draft, he pulled his oblique and didn’t pitch at all as the draft approached. So, he wasn’t sure at all what the draft would bring.

    “I figured that would hurt my draft stock, as more teams were looking at me as a pitcher than as a position player, but I had no idea by how much.”

    He did have to wait a while to hear his name, even to start getting calls from teams.

    “On draft day the first call I received was in the 10th round but the team calling was not willing to offer me the amount of money I was asking for so I told them not to take me-- they ended up passing on me. As the rounds went on, each subsequent call I received from teams were offering less and less money- things were not trending in the direction I was hoping. At a certain point, I decided I would just return to Duke for my senior year.”

    Certainly there was some disappointment, but then things started picking up again.

    “In the 20th round a scout from the Cubs called me and told me they were taking me with their next pick, so I was glued to streaming draft feed on my laptop waiting for the Cubs to pick me.”

    But then a surprise, a pleasant surprise.

    “In the 2009 draft, the Red Sox were slotted two or three picks before the Cubs, and when it was time for the Red Sox to make their pick in the 20th round, I saw my name pop up. I was completely shocked, but elated at the same time that I had been drafted by the team that I rooted for my whole life growing up.”

    A dream come true, to be certain, but even then the process took time to develop. Hassan found himself waiting, and wondering.

    “I ended up not signing right away with the Red Sox and instead went to Cape Cod where I played the field and pitched. By the end of the summer the Red Sox wanted to sign me as a position player and not a pitcher and offered me a contract, which I ultimately signed.”

    After signing, he played 26 games of rookie league ball and ended with eight games in Low A. In 2010, he spent the season in High-A, though he did spend three games in AAA. In 2011, he spent the full season in AA. He was hurt some in 2012 but played in AAA. He was limited to just 55 games in 2013 at Triple-A. In 2014, he started the season in AAA again.

    But late in May, he got the call that every ball player dreams of.

    “We had a night game in late May at home in Pawtucket and I remember it was a fairly uneventful game for me. I showered and went home like I normally would and when I got home I received a call from my manager Kevin Boles telling me that he needed me to come back to the field. When I got back to the stadium I went into his office and he had a big smile on his face and congratulated me and told me I was going to the big leagues and gave me a big hug. Nothing was official until the following day, so I think I only told my now wife and parents. The night before I went to the big leagues, I did not sleep one minute; I was too excited.”

    On June 1st, he made his major-league debut at Fenway Park. Can you imagine jogging out to your position at the ballpark you frequented as a kid, with family and friends in the stands?

    “The most memorable moment was running out to right field for the top of the first inning thinking that once the first pitch is thrown, I will officially have made it to the big leagues and there isn’t anything that would ever change that. I was really proud of that accomplishment because of just how difficult the path to getting there was for me.”

    In the game, he played right field and went 1-for-3 with a walk. But his bigger memory was an interesting, and scary, feeling he had in the field.

    “The other thing I remember was how bad the sun was shining in my eyes standing in right field the first game that I started. It was a day game and if anyone hit a fly ball in my general direction I was going to have a really hard time picking up its trajectory because the sun was directly in my line of sight. To make matter worse, Jon Lester was on the mound that day, and I found him to be an extremely intimidating person. Very nice guy, but also very intense and intimidating. So, most of the day I was praying that no one hit a fly ball to right field because if they did I was almost certainly not going to catch it. Luckily for me, no one did.”

    Two days later, he was back in the lineup and went 0-for-4 in Cleveland. He was sent back to the minors. He was called back up in mid-August and got one more at-bat. And that was it for his big-league career. Three games. Nine plate appearances. One hit. But a lifetime of memories and a huge accomplishment.

    “I was really, and still am, really proud of making it to the big leagues. I was not the most naturally gifted athlete but I put a lot of time and effort into refining my skills over the years. Trying to become a good major league baseball player is an extremely difficult pursuit, and the lessons I learned along that journey are still serving me to this day.”

    He spent 2015 playing in AAA in the Blue Jays, A’s and Rangers system. In 2016, he spent the season on the AAA roster of the Dodgers, in Oklahoma City. Following that season, he knew it was time. He was ready to retire from playing the game.

    “The decision to move on was really easy for me as towards the end of my career I could no longer physically perform at a level I would need to in order to give myself a chance to get to the major leagues. Injuries had compounded over the years, and I did not do a good enough job managing those, so by the end of 2016, I was physically ready to move on.”

    At Duke, Hassan had studied psychology. Upon his retirement, he returned to the school and graduated in 2017.

    His season in the Dodgers organization allowed him a great networking opportunity, one that eventually led him to his current job with the Twins.

    “Luckily for me, Jeremy Zoll and Gabe Kapler gave me the opportunity to get some exposure to the player development side of the Dodgers front office while I was finishing school. I traveled out to Glendale during my spring break to get a sense of what working in the front office might look like and also made a few trips to affiliates during my time in school.“

    He noted that the timing just wasn’t right for he and his wife to join the Dodgers full -time. They moved back to Boston, and he got a job with Dell Technologies for a little while. He took time away from the game of baseball, something he feels was important for him.

    “I think getting away from the game for a period of time was good and healthy for me. This time away reinforced to me just how passionate I still was about baseball and how eager I was to continuing to learning and developing in the game.”

    However, months later, the situation changed.

    “After about six to eight months, Jeremy reached out to me about his new opportunity with the Twins and gauged my interest in getting back into baseball. Jeremy and I first began talking when I was a AAA player with the Dodgers in 2016 and he was working as the assistant farm director for the Dodgers. I remember asking him a lot of questions when he would come in town in OKC and he was always extremely approachable and willing to talk to me. From day 1 he really blew me away with his baseball and general intelligence. When I had the opportunity to join him with the Twins, my wife and I were in a better situation in our personal lives and we were really excited to make the jump.”

    He was offered the job as the Twins Assistant Director of Minor League Operations. In the position, he is involved in several aspects of the minor leagues and player development.

    “I’m responsible for assisting in the oversight of the minor league system. I work with player development leaders- Jeremy Zoll (Farm Director), Edgar Varela (Field Coordinator), and all of minor league coordinators regarding on-field philosophies, training, and special programs that we’re running. Also, I aid the Research and Development department in the implementation of various initiatives and findings with our coaching staff and our players.“

    In his role, he will spend spring training in Ft. Myers and throughout the season, he will travel to see each of the Twins seven minor league affiliates multiple times.

    He recently passed the one-year mark in the job and has found a lot about it enjoyable. “What I’ve enjoyed the most is how much I’m learning about the game of baseball and that I’m in a position where I have the ability to impact people to help them improve and reach their goals.”

    Alex Hassan reached the big leagues, something the great majority of the minor leaguers haven’t done yet and dream of being able to do. His experiences as a player, good and bad, help him to better understand what the players are dealing with from day to day. Understanding the game helps him understand the players and their struggles.

    “The thing I would like to bring from my experience as a player to this job is never forgetting just how difficult this game is. Sometimes, the further you get from your playing career the easier the game seems to be. I try to never forget just how challenging this game was for me and how hard I had to work to just be a below average player. I would like to think I bring a great deal of empathy to this job.”

    When you consider the technology used in the Twins minor leagues, the addition of coaches and coordinators, and new ideas and thinking on development, Twins fans should be excited about the direction of the organization as it relates to player development.

    “I think Twins fans should feel really good about the direction the player development department is headed. What I’m most proud of is the team that we have built and how we’re collectively working toward a shared purpose of making the players better. As part of that, we’re all collectively striving to improve ourselves, ask the better questions, and not being afraid of what we don’t know. We, and more specifically, Jeremy has fostered a culture of continual improvement and my hope and goal is that a couple years from now we’ll still have the same mentality as we did on Day 1- that we still have so much improvement ahead of us.”

    Hassan and his wife moved to Minneapolis in August. “So far, we have really loved it. It is quite cold in the winter.”

    • Feb 21 2019 05:53 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  4. Saturday On The Twins Minor League Practice Fields

    Here are some news and notes from the Twins spring training facilities from Saturday, and also from Sunday morning.


    Notebook

    • In the past, the two minor league games were played side-by-side on the minor league side of the facilities. A person could watch both games by just walking or standing with his head on a swivel. That changed this year. One of the two games is played over on Bill Smith Field, where the Gulf Coast League Twins play their games. The reason is that field has the Trackman system and the Twins are able to get information on more players even this early in spring.
    • On the other field, the Ft. Myers roster played, and its lineup is pretty impressive.
      • Akil Baddoo CF
      • Royce Lewis SS
      • Alex Kirilloff RF
      • Ben Rodriguez 1B
      • Jose Miranda 2B
      • Andrew Bechtold 3B
      • David Banuelos C
      • Trey Cabbage LF
      • Andy Cosgrove DH
      • Taylor Grzelakowski (“Gelly”) DH/C
    • Most of that roster will start the season in Cedar Rapids. That’s a potentially potent lineup, and it doesn’t even include Wander Javier. On Saturday, Wander Javier participated in running and fielding and infield drills, but he has not yet been hitting. I chatted with Twins farm director Jeremy Zoll this morning, and he said that Javier will be hitting within a few days. His left shoulder flared up a couple of days ago. It’s an injury he missed a little time with last year, so they’re limiting him somewhat. The minor league season starts a week after the major league season starts, so there is time to be patient and he should be able to start the season with the Kernels.
    • Right-handed pitcher Bailey Ober hyper-extended his knee in a fielding drill on Saturday, though it’s not believed to be serious at all. He should be back on a mound soon.
    • There was a really scary moment during the minor league games on Saturday. The Twins new catching coordinator, Tanner Swanson, was going back and forth between the two fields and the two games. Late in the afternoon, he was sitting in the Miracle dugout, surrounded on both sides of the bench by a couple of catchers. A Rays batter lined a ball right through the gap in the Twins dugout. Players bailed, but the ball struck Swanson right on the side of the head. He got up and walked a few feet and sat down and trainers talked to him. Minutes later, he walked out of the dugout and to the minor league clubhouse. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Jeremy Zoll told me this morning that Swanson was cleared and is just fine. That’s a great note.
    • While watching early-morning practice on the back fields, I ran into Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and we had a nice chat for ten minutes or so. He’s certainly excited about the talent that can be found throughout the system and insists they want to continue to add to it. We also briefly discussed some of the changes on the minor league side. Nick tweeted a photo earlier in the week showing the new Rapsodo machines that are sometimes in the bullpen. You can also see that they have dummies/cutouts of batters in the bullpen for when pitchers are working. A string hangs from the elbow of the cutout. Falvey verified that the string was to encourage pitchers to work inside. Falvey credited Jim Pohlad for giving them many new technological devices for the minor leagues.
    • One thing you’ll notice if you are down by the minor league fields is that it is louder. During their practices, music blasts from the overhead speakers. Falvey and Zoll said that it should be fun for these guys to come to work and do their jobs. Music obviously can play a big part in that. It’s another advance that is a positive for the conditions for the players. It was just last spring that minor leaguers were able to grow facial hair.
    • A lot of the front office made their way down to the minor league fields on Saturday since the big league club was on the road. I also caught up with Brad Steil. He had been the Twins minor league director for the past five seasons. He received a promotion to Director of Pro Scouting. He noted that he and Jeremy Zoll have had a lot of chats throughout the offseason on players and other minor league topics. In his new role, he will help compile and organize the reports and data that the 12-14 pro scouts provide. On trades of free agents, he will be asked for his input on players and provide a response based on the data that they now have. He is excited about the new challenge.
    • On my first day in Ft. Myers (Saturday), I brought out the camera (as I have in past years). I ended up taking 851 pictures. After clearing out unusable photos, I still had over 650 pictures to work with. I will continue to take pictures throughout the next week - probably not to that quantity, however. If you aren’t already, I’d encourage you to follow Twins Daily on Twitter, where I posted lots of them late last night and early on Sunday morning. I’ll also be posting many of them on the Twins Daily Facebook page, so be sure to Like that page. Until then, here is a small sampling of content from yesterday:















    Please feel free to ask questions in the Comments below, and if there are questions you would like me ask certain players, leave them here as well.

    • Mar 18 2018 02:25 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  5. Twins Minor League 2018 Coaching/Coordinator Assignments

    Following the season, it was announced that Brad Steil had been promoted to the Director of Pro Scouting. He had been the Twins Minor League Director since 2013 when Jim Rantz retired. Jeremy Zoll is a 27-year-old who was an assistant in the Dodgers player development group the last couple of years. He has been quite busy since joining the Twins as Director of Minor League Operations.


    ------------------------------------

    This is one article that will appear in the 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook which is in its final stages of editing and review. It will likely be available in a week, maybe less. You can find much more information on this vital handbook for Twins fans.
    ------------------------------------

    Likewise, in the minor leagues, some have stayed and several have gone. There will be many new faces in the system. Here is a rundown of the 2018 Twins minor league managers, coaches and coordinators:

    2018 COACHING STAFFS

    Rochester Red Wings
    Manager: Joel Skinner
    Hitting Coach: Chad Allen
    Pitching Coach: Stu Cliburn
    Bullpen Coach: Mike McCarthy

    The Twins announced that Mike Quade was no longer the Red Wings manager and that he was taking a roving outfield instructor job in the organization. They have replaced him with Joel Skinner. The former nine-year big league catcher has been managing in the minor league system of several organizations since the mid-90s. He even managed part of a season for Cleveland in 2002. Former Twins outfielder Chad Allen returns as the Red Wings hitting coach (fourth year), and Stu Cliburn returns as pitching coach (many, many years). Bullpen coach is a new position, one that they have not had in the organization. Mike McCarthy pitched in the Red Sox organization from 2011 through 2016, reaching AAA that final year.

    Chattanooga Lookouts
    Manager: Tommy Watkins
    Hitting Coach: Javier Valentin
    Pitching Coach: Ivan Arteaga

    Jake Mauer managed in the Twins system for ten years. He was one of the best, most trusted leaders in the organization. In 2017, he led the Lookouts to the best record in minor league baseball and a share of the hurricane-shortened Southern League title. He should have been on the big league coaching staff by now. He was offered a roving instructor job. Instead, he has decided to spend more time with his family, which is also commendable and something he always prioritized.

    Tommy Watkins will take over as the Lookouts manager. In 2017, he led the Cedar Rapids Kernels to the Midwest League playoffs in his first year as a manager. He was the Lookouts hitting coach in 2016 after being the Kernels hitting coach for three years. This is his eighth season as a coach in the Twins system after spending a dozen seasons as a player in the Twins organization.

    Javier Valentin returns for his second season as the Lookouts hitting coach. It’s his fourth year as a coach in the organization. Ivan Arteaga is back for his third year in AA. He’s been in the Twins organization since 2001 when he was the pitching coordinator of the Venezuelan League Twins.

    Fort Myers Miracle
    Manager: Ramon Borrego
    Hitting Coach: Steve Singleton
    Pitching Coach: Henry Bonilla

    Doug Mientkiewicz was let go by the organization after another winning season at the helm. The former Twins player has found a job as the manager for the Tigers AAA team in Toledo.

    He will be replaced by Ramon Borrego who has been the GCL Twins manager for the past seven seasons. Steve Singleton will be the hitting coach. It’s his second season with the Miracle and third in the Twins organization as a coach. Henry Bonilla will be back for his third season as the Miracle pitching coach. It will be his seventh season as a coach in the organization.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Manager: Toby Gardenhire
    Hitting Coach: Brian Dinkelman
    Pitching Coach: Cibney Bello, Justin Willard

    With Tommy Watkins moving up to Chattanooga, Toby Gardenhire gets his first managerial job in professional baseball. The son of former Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire played in the Twins minor leagues. After playing, he became the coach at UW-Stout. Before the 2016 season, he joined the Twins organization as a coach in the GCL. When Red Wings manager Mike Quade was in an auto accident in Ft. Myers in spring training and a shoulder injury meant he couldn't coach third base, Gardenhire spent the first half with the Red Wings before returning to the GCL.

    Gardenhire will be joined on the Kernels coaching staff by two guys who have been there the last two seasons. Brian Dinkelman enters his fourth overall year as a coach in the system. Cibney Bello played in the Mariners system. He then was a pitching coach in their system for four years. He worked with the Twins GCL pitchers the last two years. Justin Willard enters his first year as a Twins coach. He was previously at Radford University.

    Elizabethton Twins
    Manager: Ray Smith
    Hitting Coach: Jeff Reed
    Pitching Coach: Luis Ramirez
    Coach: Takashi Miyoshi

    If you want consistency, look no further than Elizabethton. Manager Ray Smith begins his 25th season as the E-Twins manager. This will be the former Twins catcher’s 32nd season managing or coaching the E-Twins.

    Another former Twins catcher and long-time big leaguer Jeff Reed returns for his 17th season as the E-Twins hitting coach. Luis Ramirez is back for his fourth season as the team’s pitching coach. He has coached in the Twins organization since 2006 when he became the Twins pitching coordinator in Venezuela. Takashi Miyoshi is new to the organization. He had played in several independent leagues as well as in Japan. In the last decade, he has been a coach on a variety of teams and leagues.

    GCL Twins:
    Manager: Dan Ramsay
    Hitting Coach: Luis Rodriguez
    Hitting Coach: Matt Borgschulte
    Pitching Coach: Virgil Vasquez

    The Twins hired Dan Ramsay to take Borrego's place as the GCL Twins manager. He was the head coach at Division III Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington for nine years. He became the coach immediately following his own graduation from the school. In his summers, he was the director of the Nike Baseball Camp.

    Virgil Vasquez returns for his fourth season as a pitching coach in the GCL. He had pitched for the Twins Double-A and Triple-A affiliates for a couple of seasons beforehand.

    Luis Rodriguez played in the Twins system from 1998 through 2007, including 206 games with the big league club in 2005-2007, He spent 2008 and 2009 with the Padres. He spent time with the Mariners in 2011. Borgschulte has been a scout and worked with the Cardinals in recent years.


    2018 COORDINATORS

    Minor League Field Coordinator: Edgar Varela

    Varela was the Assistant Hitting Coordinator in the Pittsburgh Pirates system after managing in their rookie leagues the previous three seasons. He played at Long Beach State and was drafted by the White Sox in 2002. He became a coach in the Pirates system in 2008.

    Senior Pitching Adviser: Bob McClure

    McClure pitched in the big leagues for 19 seasons and pitched mostly in relief. He was a teammate of Paul Molitor from 1977 to 1986. He has been a long-time pitching coach including time in the big leagues with the Royals, Red Sox and with the Phillies the last four years. His job will be to work with new Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston and minor league pitching coordinator Paul Maki to make sure that the message is the same between player development stages and the big leagues.

    Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Paul Maki

    After the 2017 season, the Twins let long-time employee Eric Rasmussen go. In December, he was replaced by Paul Maki. He was hired after being the pitching coach at Duke the last two seasons. Before that, he coached at Columbia.

    Minor League Pitching Coordinator: JP Martinez

    After spending the last two years as the pitching coach for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, he becomes an assistant to Paul Maki. He will travel to all of the affiliates and work at spring training.

    Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Rick Eckstein

    Eckstein is the brother of former big league shortstop David Eckstein. He was named the Twins minor league hitting coordinator in July of 2016. He has coached at every level of baseball from college to the minor leagues to the big leagues.

    Minor League Catching Coordinator: Tanner Swanson

    The Twins hired Swanson in October of 2017 to be the minor league catching coordinator. He had just been named an assistant coach at Santa Clara a few months earlier. He worked a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Washington where he spent a lot of time working with the catchers. He is also the founder of D1Catching.com.

    Minor League Infield and Baserunning Coordinator: Sam Perlozzo

    Perlozzo remains with the Twins organization. The one-time Orioles manager joined the Twins organization in this role after Paul Molitor became the Twins manager. Perlozzo is busy working with infielders in spring training, and he travels to each of the affiliates throughout the season to keep working with players and managers.

    Minor League Roving Outfielder Instructor: Mike Quade

    Quade has been a baseball lifer. He had been the Red Wings manager the past two years. In 2010 and 2011, he was the manager of the Cubs. He has been reassigned for 2018 and will be moving around the Twins minor leagues throughout the season working with outfielders.

    Senior Advisor to Player Development: Joel Lepel

    Lepel has held a number of roles in his 26 years in the Twins organization including the minor league field coordinator, scouting and more. He takes on an advisory role.

    There has been a lot of change, and there may continue to be in the coming months and years. But we look to put a lot of attention on player development, and this is the new group in charge of it.

    What are your thoughts on these assignments?

    • Dec 21 2017 12:13 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  6. Get To Know Twins Outfield Prospect Jacob Pearson

    It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for Jacob Pearson, a native of West Monroe, Louisiana. He’s had a couple of life changes that are exciting. First, the 19-year-old learned that he was no longer a member of the Angels organization and would now be part of the Minnesota Twins organization. Then last weekend, he got engaged to his long-time girlfriend.

    Growing up in northeastern Louisiana, there really wasn’t a local major league team for him to follow. He was a fan of the team that people either love or hate.

    “When I was a kid, I grew up being a Yankees fan. I grew up watching Derek Jeter. Whenever the Yankees got Alex Rodriguez, I became a die-hard Yankees fan.”

    It didn’t take long for Pearson to become a star on the diamond. He hurt a shoulder labrum and had surgery, but he still played for the varsity his freshman year in high school. He was the team’s DH that season, and then he played in the outfield his final three seasons.

    It was after that freshman season that he first started hearing from colleges. “I had heard from Mississippi State my freshman year.”

    After his sophomore season, he was invited to participate in a Perfect Game event. “I went to Perfect Game just because I got an invite from them. We talked to a guy older than me, and he said you’ve got to go to that. So we went to it, and that’s when he found out we needed to go to stuff like that.”

    If you look at his high school stats from his final two seasons in high school, it’s easy to understand why college coaches were interested, and why pro scouts found their way to West Monroe.

    As a junior, he hit .479/.596/.873 (1.469) with ten doubles, three triples and four homers. Pearson noted, “We didn’t even think about major league teams until my junior year. I didn’t think that could be a reality until then. Before that, we were strictly talking to colleges.”
    As a senior, he hit .551/.620/1.134 (1.755) with ten doubles, six triples and ten home runs. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana.

    The draft was coming up and he was starting to hear from more and more teams. “I was hearing from about 15 teams that were really interested. We were thinking second to third round, so I’d say I went around where I was expecting to go.”

    Pearson went to the Angels in the third round, the 85th player taken in the draft. The Angels went above slot, giving Pearson a $1 million signing bonus, to keep him from his commitment to Louisiana State. While playing for LSU is a dream for so many from Louisiana and around the country, Pearson said that the decision wasn’t too hard.

    “It was tough at first, but just the idea of playing professional baseball overshadows it. I couldn’t pass it up. I was more than happy to be selected in the draft by the Angels.”

    The Twins were very interested in Pearson and contemplated drafting him with the first pick in the third round. Instead, they selected another top high school player from Louisiana, right-handed pitcher Blayne Enlow.

    “Yeah, we actually played together in a tournament showcase. We both committed to LSU together. We had known each other, and playing against each other in high school, we kind of grew together.”

    Pearson struggled some in his pro debut, but that means very little in the long term. Asked what he considers his biggest strength on the field at this time is, Pearson provided a thought-filled response.

    “I would say it’s my hit tool .My speed is a bit above average, but I would say it’s my hit, and my gears, my motor. My hitting started rough last professional season, but if you look at how it started and how it finished, it was a lot different. It was all good, and it gave me something to work on this offseason.”

    In his first 21 games, he hit .190/.247/.253 (.500). However, in his final 19 games, he hit .263/.356/.316 (.672).

    “Just seeing professional pitching from high school pitching, it’s a huge difference. So whenever you go into the offseason, you know what you can work on and what you need to work on. It gave me a list. I was rushing my rookie year, and I was trying to get hits and have a good average. But at the time, I wasn’t focused on the little things. This offseason I’m going to focus on the little things a little more, and I think it’s going to help me next year.”

    And then last week, he was suddenly no longer a member of the Angels organization. He was out for dinner with his brother-in-law when his agent called him.

    “‘You’ve just been traded to the Twins.’ My heart just kind of stopped. ‘Oh my gosh, are you kidding?’ “No, this is real. The Twins are going to call you any minute now, so just be ready to answer.’”

    Moments later, he received a call from the new Twins Minor League Director Jeremy Zoll. “He called and was very excited. He said he had talked to the amateur guys and they were really excited to have me. They had looked at me through my high school years, they just couldn’t make a deal before the draft. He said now they’ve got me, and they’re excited to get spring training started, and to have me in their organization.”

    One of the first people that Pearson reached out to was fellow LSU commit and now Twins teammate Blayne Enlow.

    “I texted him as soon as it happened, ‘Hey, I just got traded to the Twins.’ He was like, ‘There’s no way!’ So that was cool.“

    That’s a lot of information to process in a short time frame. Pearson said it took him a day to have it all sink in. “Once I had time to process it, it was very exciting.”

    Pearson has already started researching the Twins organization as he prepares for his 2018 season.

    “I’m pretty familiar. I’m familiar enough with the big things, but not the details yet like I was with the Angels. We had classes on everything, and I’d done my research, and right now I’m in the process of doing my research on the Twins and everything they have.”

    It’s likely that before spring training starts in early March, he will have an opportunity to go to Ft. Myers. It’ll be good for him to meet more of the players in the Twins organization as well as the coaching staffs. It’ll be good for him to get acclimated into the system.

    Based on his interests outside of baseball, he will fit in well when he gets to Minnesota.

    “I like hunting and I like fishing, but fishing is during baseball season, so I can’t really do that much anymore. I like deer hunting.” Pearson continues, “I love muscle cars. I don’t get to go out and buy them all, but I like to look at other people’s cars. And right now, I’m working on a building, so I like being handsy and crafty.”

    Pearson is an outdoorsman, a do-it-yourselfer, a gamer, known for his work ethic. He’s got plenty of work and development ahead, but he’s certainly a prospect that Twins fans can get excited about.

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    Jacob Pearson will be one of over 165 Twins prospects profiled in the soon-to-be-released Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2018. Check back to Twins Daily in the next couple of weeks to see when it is available.

    • Dec 15 2017 08:21 AM
    • by Seth Stohs