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Article: 2017 Minnesota Twins Minor League Primer

lewis thorpe nick burdi trevor hildenberger lamonte wade nelson molina
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:52 PM

On Tuesday morning, Minnesota Twins minor league spring training officially begins with the first full-squad workouts. Granted, a majority of the minor leaguers have taken advantage of the Twins academy and arrived anywhere from a week to a month ago. But on Tuesday just over 140 players will be working out on the back fields, not counting the six Twins minor leaguers participating in the World Baseball Classic.Today, I thought it would be fun to put together a bit of a primer for some things to look for as minor league camp starts.

COACHING STAFFS

There were several changes in the coaching ranks within the organizations. With Jeff Smith getting the Twins first base coaching job, there was an opening. Here are the 2017 Twins Minor League coaches, including some very familiar names.

Rochester Red Wings: Manager - Mike Quade, Hitting Coach - Chad Allen, Pitching Coach - Stu Cliburn

Chattanooga Lookouts: Manager - Jake Mauer, Hitting Coach - Javier Valentin, Pitching Coach - Ivan Arteaga

Ft. Myers Miracle: Manager - Doug Mientkiewicz, Hitting Coach - Steve Singleton, Pitching Coach - Henry Bonilla

Cedar Rapids Kernels: Manager - Tommy Watkins, Hitting Coach - Brian Dinkelman, Pitching Coach - JP Martinez

Elizabethton Twins: Manager - Ray Smith, Hitting Coach - Jeff Reed, Pitching Coach - Luis Ramirez

GCL Twins: Manager - Ramon Borrega, Hitting Coaches - Toby Gardenhire & Jose Marzan, Pitching Coach - Virgil Vasquez, Cibney Bello

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

The World Baseball Classic is beginning in various places around the globe. While four players (Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios) left Twins big league camp to head to Mexico and play for Team Puerto Rico, they aren’t the only WBC participants in the organization. (Here is a list of current, former and future Twins in the WBC.)

Right-hander Dereck Rodriguez is also a member of that Puerto Rican team. As you would expect, the Australian team is full of current and former Twins members. Lefty Lachlan Wells, righty Todd Van Steensel and outfielder Aaron Whitefield represent the Twins on Team Australia this spring. Reynaldo Rodriguez and Yohan Pino (who re-signed with the Twins for his third stint with the team) will play for Team Colombia.

RETURNING FROM INJURY

Injuries happen in baseball. We all know that. However, there are several players this year returning from injury. We’ll want to watch each.

Trevor Hildenberger missed the final month of the season with soreness in his elbow. He’s been full-go for a while now. Nick Burdi missed most of last season with a bone bruise in his elbow. Alex Muren had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery early last season and missed the full year. Lewis Thorpe has missed the last two years after having Tommy John surgery. Jovani Moran had bone chips removed last year.

LaMonte Wade had two stints on the disabled list including one stint at the end of the season. He’s been in Ft. Myers since early January and is ready to go. Jermaine Palacios’s season came to an end early when he was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his hand. Nelson Molina broke his hamate bone in his hand early in the Puerto Rico Winter League. He had surgery and is healthy for spring training. Matt Albanese is excited to get on the field after a fractured wrist and some tendon injuries cost him most of his junior season and all of the Twins short season. Joe Cronin’s pro debut ended early with a hamstring injury.

Brusdar Graterol is likely to start the season in extended spring training. He missed all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery and pitched in the Instructional League (hitting 100 with the fastball). Vadim Balan missed all of 2016 with a stress fracture in his back. He also will start in extended spring before pitching in real games, likely in Elizabethton.

As we learned last week, Alex Kirilloff will be having Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will miss the 2017 season. Tyler Benninghoff had Tommy John right after the June draft. He might see some time in the GCL late in the year. Andro Cutura had Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the 2017 season as well. Zack Jones had shoulder surgery last September and is likely to miss most, if not all, of 2017.

Kerby Camacho missed the 2016 season due to his PED suspension. He has served his time and will be eligible to play right away in 2017.


MINNESOTANS IN A TWINS UNIFORM

There are several Minnesotans in the Twins system. Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins are two on the big league roster. The following players from Minnesota will be in minor league camp.

Recently, the Twins signed former Gophers reliever Seth Rosin (Arden Hills, Mounds View HS). He pitched in four big league games between 2014 and 2015, with Texas and Philadelphia. Brandon Peterson (Savage, Burnsville HS) split the season between Chattanooga and Ft. Myers. Nick Anderson (Crosby, Brainerd HS) was signed by the Twins in August of 2015 and spent last year between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Bo Hellquist (Edina, Burnsville HS) signed with the Twins last year after a strong career at Minnesota-Duluth. The one hitter on this list is Max Murphy (Robbinsdale, Robbinsdale Cooper HS).


POSITION CHANGES

It seems as though every year there are a few pitchers who switch positions for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just to accentuate their tools, or just to try something different.

Sam Clay is going to be moved to the bullpen.

The other noteworthy changes involve players moving behind the plate. Rafael Valera went to Instructional League the last couple of years and spent some time catching. However, he didn’t do any catching last year before his season-ending injury. Caleb Hamilton was drafted last year out of Oregon State. For Elizabethton, he played all over the diamond, mostly around the infield. He will add a catcher’s mitt to his bag of gloves this year. Mitch Kranson was a slugging third baseman/DH type for California. He worked a lot behind the plate and hopes to be catching throughout the season. He’ll need to work on it and will likely have the bat to keep him in the lineup even when he isn’t catching.

TWINS MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS WITH MLB SPRING TRAINING INVITE

You know these names already. These guys were signed to minor league deals, but they have been in big league spring training.

Catchers: Chris Gimenez, Eddy Rodriguez, Dan Rohlfing
Infielders: Matt Hague, Ben Paulsen, Benji Gonzalez
Outfielders: JB Shuck, Drew Stubbs
Pitchers: Ryan Vogelsong, Nick Tepesch, Craig Breslow, Drew Rucinski

TWINS MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS WITHOUT MLB SPRING TRAINING INVITE

Catchers: Jose Gonzalez
Infielders: Jonathan Rodriguez, Dan Gamache, Tom Belza, Shane Kennedy
Outfielders: Quintin Berry, Leandro Castro, Josh Romanski, Ryan Strausborger
Starting Pitchers: Matt Tracy, Nik Turley, Yohan Pino, Henry Centeno
Relief Pitchers: Jim Miller Seth Rosin, Jonny Drozd, David Fischer, Evan Sanders

Here are a few more links you can use as you get excited about the Twins minor league camp open.


2016 TWINS MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS

Here is a quick rundown of the 2016 Minor League Award winners:2017 Twins Daily Top Prospects

20. Justin Haley, RHP
19. Ben Rortvedt, C
18. Engelb Vielma, SS
17. Nick Burdi, RHP
16. Zack Granite, OF
15. LaMonte Wade, OF
14. Daniel Palka, OF
13. JT Chargois, RHP
12. Felix Jorge, RHP
11. Mitch Garver, C
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B
9. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B
8. Kohl Stewart, RHP
7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
6. Wander Javier, SS
5. Tyler Jay, LHP
4. Nick Gordon, SS
3. Alex Kirilloff, OF
2. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
1. Fernando Romero, RHP


2017 Roster Projections

Recently, I made my 2017 Roster Projections for the start of the season. The Twins have signed a couple of minor league deals since then, but you can read them here:

The Catchers
The Outfielders
The Middle Infielders
The Corner Infielders
The Starting Pitchers
The Relief Pitchers

The minor league seasons will begin just days after the MLB Opening Day. There are plenty of story lines, as you would expect, when there are 200 players in the organization all hanging out around the Century Link Sports Complex. We’ll be sure to cover them, starting this weekend when Seth travels to Ft. Myers.

For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this 2017 Twins minor league primer and feel free to ask any questions you might have.

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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 08:31 AM

This was really an excellent presentation that filled in a lot for me.  For one thing it appears that there are many Latino instructors in the low minors and I think that is really helpful for the young players trying to adapt to all the issues that surround them.  

 

I had no idea so many were signed for the minors.  Is there a reason for this?  I counted 30 on your two lists.  Are we short on minor leaguers?  


#3 DocBauer

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 08:48 AM

I have to admit, I'm almost as excited for the milb season to start as I am the Twins season. And not just because I love to follow the minors and miss the daily reports. To me, there is a different vibe in the system this season, despite the "graduation" of so many top prospects to the ML level and a "lowering" of the Twins milb rankings.

The pitching starved Twins will have Gonsalves, Mejia, Jay, Stewart, Jorge and Romero all at AAA and AA. Relief wise there will be Hildenberger, Melotakis, Reed and Burdi. Any or all of these guys have the potential for really good seasons and at least a couple of them could debut this season.

Could Thorpe be this season's version of Romero? Remember, he missed last season due to mono but is anot her full season removed from his surgery. Just how good could young Brusdar Grater OL be? Could he also be another Romero, but at a lower level?

Granite has not looked out of place in ST. I have a good feeling about Palka overall. (Too many SO's but he has hit everywhere and is not immune to BB). I have a lot of faith in Garver. With his overall talent and ability, and such a strong AFL, could Gordon make a big leap this season? And there are guys like Blankenhorn and Cabbage in the lower levels I'm anxious to see break out.

Despite the lower prospect rankings to begin the season, I still feel there is a lot to be excited about here.
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"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#4 jrod23

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 08:53 AM

Following the minors has become a new passion over the last 5 years.  I wasn't terribly surprised to see Sam Clay hit the pen.  Perhaps that'll allow him to go further.  I'd love to see an article predicting rosters for each minor league squad.

 

One thing still bothers me though, and I'm sure you addressed it.  I'm still wrapping my brain around the Mauer to Chattanooga and Dougy Baseball to Ft. Myers.  How'd Dougy take that?


#5 Steve Lein

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 09:07 AM

 

Following the minors has become a new passion over the last 5 years.  I wasn't terribly surprised to see Sam Clay hit the pen.  Perhaps that'll allow him to go further.  I'd love to see an article predicting rosters for each minor league squad.

 

One thing still bothers me though, and I'm sure you addressed it.  I'm still wrapping my brain around the Mauer to Chattanooga and Dougy Baseball to Ft. Myers.  How'd Dougy take that?

 

Doug's family lives in Florida and is most likely where he'd rather coach. Was not a demotion of any kind.

 

Plus, he'll be around a lot more Twins players in Fort Myers than Tennessee. Extended Spring Training, the GCL, rehabbers, etc... It's basically the Twins 2nd headquarters. Lot more work he can help with there.

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#6 Tom Froemming

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 09:18 AM

This is great stuff Seth! Excited for Matt Albanese to get back on the field. Seems like he could be a steal.


#7 jrod23

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:14 PM

 

Doug's family lives in Florida and is most likely where he'd rather coach. Was not a demotion of any kind.

 

Plus, he'll be around a lot more Twins players in Fort Myers than Tennessee. Extended Spring Training, the GCL, rehabbers, etc... It's basically the Twins 2nd headquarters. Lot more work he can help with there.

That clears up a lot and makes sense.  Didn't think of it as a 2nd headquarters.  I'll be curious to see what Jake can do with his boys he had in Cedar Rapids in '15 when they made the Midwest League Finals.


#8 Thrylos

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:44 PM

Good stuff.   

 

Here is some food for thought: The Twins have 20 MiLB managers and coaches.  Only the following 5 (25%) were not in the organization as players, either MiLB or MLB:

 

Mike Quade- Managing Twins since 2015
Stew Cliburn - Coaching Twins since 1993
Ivan Arteaga - Coaching Twins since 2001
Luis Ramirez - Coaching Twins since 2012
Cibney Bello - Coaching Twins since 2016

 

And Cliburn and Artaega have been around forever. Thus 85% of the organization's coaches and managers in the minors are fully versed in the "Twins Way"...

 

I know that 2017 will be an evaluation year, but there is way too much inbreeding for this to be a healthy organization, so I do expect several changes next off-season...  

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#9 DocBauer

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 02:24 PM

And it's good food for thought, as well as an interesting point. I agree, with a new regime in place, there may be other coaches and instructors Falvey and Levine are familiar with that they might feel more "comfortable" with going forward. Of course, I think it will greatly depend on the current coaches and how they embrace new formats.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 02:30 PM

 

Good stuff.   

 

Here is some food for thought: The Twins have 20 MiLB managers and coaches.  Only the following 5 (25%) were not in the organization as players, either MiLB or MLB:

 

Mike Quade- Managing Twins since 2015
Stew Cliburn - Coaching Twins since 1993
Ivan Arteaga - Coaching Twins since 2001
Luis Ramirez - Coaching Twins since 2012
Cibney Bello - Coaching Twins since 2016

 

And Cliburn and Artaega have been around forever. Thus 85% of the organization's coaches and managers in the minors are fully versed in the "Twins Way"...

 

I know that 2017 will be an evaluation year, but there is way too much inbreeding for this to be a healthy organization, so I do expect several changes next off-season...  

 

I happen to know that at least a couple of the hirings, despite being former Twins were hired (at least in part) because they were willing to talk ways that they thought the current system could be made better.  Wayyyyy too much concern about this kind of stuff. They're all individuals and able to think on their own. 

 

Vasquez came up with the Tigers and Pirates before a couple of years with the Twins. He pitches in Australia in the winters and he doesn't think like most people (from stories and such). JP Martinez did other coaching in between. Mientkiewicz played for a bunch of organizations and he coached in the Dodgers system. Jeff Reed spent a dozen years in the big leagues AFTER leaving the Twins. Javy Valentin played for a long time after leaving the Twins. Steve Singleton spent time with the Phillies, and he's done other coaching since retiring. 


#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 02:32 PM

 

Following the minors has become a new passion over the last 5 years.  I wasn't terribly surprised to see Sam Clay hit the pen.  Perhaps that'll allow him to go further.  I'd love to see an article predicting rosters for each minor league squad.

 

One thing still bothers me though, and I'm sure you addressed it.  I'm still wrapping my brain around the Mauer to Chattanooga and Dougy Baseball to Ft. Myers.  How'd Dougy take that?

 

I'll echo what Steve said about Mientkiewicz. He's happily back in Florida. Only job he'd like outside of FM would be in Minnesota, I'm sure.

 

As for predicting rosters, I included links to my roster projections in the article. It's not perfect, and it's from a month ago, and I didn't predict the releases (cuz I hate doing that), but it's something. 


#12 caninatl04

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:26 PM

This is a little obtuse, but perhaps the future of the Twins is in the hands of Ivan Arteaga.If two or more of the AA starters could develop into top-half-of-the-rotation starters, then there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

 

If, alternatively, three years from now we continue to talk about a bottle neck of #5 starters, well, bleak.

 

Any information on what Ivan Arteaga is known for?


#13 MVPMAKER

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 07:16 PM

Twins Daily (@Seth, @Thrylos) gang,

 

Not sure if this is the right thread for the questions I have, but thought I'd comment anyhow.  

 

I have been reviewing the Twins top 50+ prospects for months now along with their rankings.  It appears there has not been many new inclusions or exclusions from the lists published.   

 

Based upon the above comment, here are my questions...

 

1. How many new players made their debut on the top 50 prospect list this year that were not on the prior years list?  

 

2.  Do you prepare a revised list following seeing the entire group in Spring Training? 

 

I guess I am curious about the above questions because aside from projections, evaluating talent is very tough, often subjective and ones body of work is not always a clear representation of what the future will hold.  

 

The reality is if any of the experts who identified talent were perfect, they'd either be GM's, team owners or run a pro sports book in Vegas. Haha!

 

I'd think that many players develop, evolve and perform differently following instructs, off season training, etc. for a myriad of reasons.

 

Love to hear your thoughts...




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