Players that didn’t make a full-season team’s Opening Day roster will remain, for an extended time, in spring training in Ft. Myers. They call this, creatively, extended spring training. These players will continue to work out, practice, play some games against other teams, and generally just keep ready. Some are getting ready for when there is a need at Cedar Rapids or even Ft. Myers (such as Casey Scoggins who has already moved up to the Miracle). Some are waiting for the short-season leagues to start in late June, and then head to Elizabethton, Tennessee, or remain in Ft. Myers and play in the GCL.
Today we’ll take a quick look at the players who remain in Ft. Myers for extended spring training. Which do you think will surface in Cedar Rapids? Who are the prospects? There is a little bit of everything in this group.What do the guys do in extended spring training. Literally, it is very similar to regular spring training. Each morning there is a workout/practice. Approximately five days a week, they will play a game in the afternoon against EST teams of the Red Sox, Orioles or Rays. Most weeks, there will be one day where they will just practice and work out. They get Sundays off. You’ll see a lot of these guys go watch the Miracle games at night when they are at home. Players are able to take English classes at the player academy.
Their final game is June 13th. At that point, players from the draft will also start on June 12th.
Ray Smith is again the manager of the Elizabethton Twins. It is his 31st season with the Elizabethton Twins, and the 24th as manager. There were a few years in there where he was a coach so that the Twins could have a manager work with him. He has a managerial record of 936-621. He has won six Appalachian League titles. He originally signed with the Twins in 1977, and he played in 83 big league games for the Twins between 1981 and 1983.
His hitting coach for the 16th straight season is Jeff Reed. Reed was the Twins first round pick in 1980 and played in 93 games for the Twins from 1984 through 1986. The catcher went on to play a total of 17 seasons in the big leagues. Luis Ramirez is back for his third season as the E-Twins pitching coach. He had coached in the GCL the two previous years. He also spent eight seasons as the Twins pitching coordinator in their Venezuelan Academy.
The manager for the GCL Twins for the seventh season is Ramon Borrego. Before coaching for the Twins in the States, he spent a year in the Dominican Republic and four years in Venezuela. From 1996 through 2002, he was an infielder in the Twins minor league system, reaching AAA in 2002.
He is joined by two pitching coaches. Virgil Vasquez is in his third season on the job. He spent big league time with the Tigers and Pirates, and he played for the Twins AA and AAA teams in 2013 and 2014. He still plays in Australia in the offseason. Cibney Bello is in his second season with the organization, coming over from the Mariners organization.
Toby Gardenhire was supposed to be a hitting coach in the GCL, but he was named the third base coach for Rochester last week due to Mike Quade’s shoulder injury and surgery. The Twins will still need to add a hitting coach or two for the GCL team.
Catchers: Jhon Alvarez, Kerby Camacho, Darling Cuestro, Justin Hazard, Robert Molina, Kidany Salva, Rainis Silva, Bryant Hayman (DL-knee)
Infielders: Trey Cabbage, Mario Calcano, Joe Cronin, Dane Hutcheon, Wander Javier, Andre Jernigan, Kolton Kendrick, Shane Kennedy, Amaurys Minier, Jose Miranda, Emmanuel Morel, Jorge Munoz, Bradley Strong, Victor Tademo, Roni Tapia, TJ White
Outfielders: Matt Albanese, Isaiah Aluko, Jean-Carlos Arias, Akil Baddoo, Zach Featherstone, Edgar Herrera, Humber Maldonado, Lean Marrero, Hank Morrison, Casey Scoggins, Alex Kirilloff (DL-elbow)
Pitchers: Melvi Acosta, Chris Anderson, Petru Balan, Vadim Balan, Jordan Balazovic, Jose Bermudez, Tyler Benninghoff, Domenick Carlini, Taylor Clemensia, Edwar Colina, Amilcar Cruz, Miguel DeJesus, Juan Gamez, Pedro Garcia, Moises Gomez, Brusdar Graterol, Quin Grogan, Matt Jones, Blair Lakso, Logan Lombana, Jose Martinez, Ryan Mason, Patrick McGuff, Jovani Moran, Callan Pearce, Johan Quezada, Evan Sanders, Matz Schutte, Carlos Suniaga, Lewis Thorpe, Huascar Ynoa
- Alex Kirilloff - The Twins top pick in 2016 will miss the season due to Tommy John surgery.
- Wander Javier - The bonus baby just two years ago, Javier may have as much upside as any Twins prospect.
- Huascar Ynoa - High upside right-hander, works into the mid-90s. Very young.
- Akil Baddoo - supplemental second round pick last year out of high school, very strong, good left-handed swing.
- Jose Miranda - supplemental second round pick last year out of high school in Puerto Rico as a shortstop, moved to third base already (as expected), strong right-handed swing.
- Brusdar Graterol - After Tommy John, he came back during Instructs last year throwing 98+. Unfortunately, he broke his hand before spring training and will be out a bit longer.
- Lewis Thorpe - He’ll surface on a full season soon, we hope, and looks to show he’s still got it after missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
- Jordan Balazovic - Canadian draft pick from 2016, throws hard, looks the part of a starter. Very young, but has potential.
- Amaurys Minier - Two years in the GCL. Two years in Elizabethton. Back to EST again, though he did hit 10 homers in E-Town last year. Should move up before short season.
- Trey Cabbage - injured last year heading into the E-Town season, he missed a couple of weeks this spring with a foot injury. Smooth swing, very strong, athletic, huge potential. Needs to play.
- Tyler Benninghoff - Twins 11th round pick last year out of high school, he immediately had Tommy John surgery. He’s recently started throwing bullpens off a mound. Could possibly pitch very late in GCL season.
- The Cedar Rapids rotation is filled with guys from the 2016 draft, but there are some more bullpen arms that need to be pushed up to Cedar Rapids before the short season gets under way.
- Teams can only have a certain number of players play in the rookie leagues (GCL/Elizabethton) for more than three years. That number has increased in recent years, but there are a lot of players on this list who have played at least three years in the rookie leagues including former bonus baby Amaurys Minier.
- The biggest surprise for me on this list is outfielder Casey Scoggins. The 40th round pick in 2016 out of the University of Tampa moved up to Cedar Rapids last year after just four games in Elizabethton. He held his own and was an instigator at the top of the Kernels lineup. He also won a Gold Glove for his centerfield defense one year in college. Instead, Australian Aaron Whitefield is in Cedar Rapids to start the season after his strong showing in the GCL last year and in the ABL this winter. (Note that Casey Scoggins was already added to the Ft. Myers roster.)
- Will Lewis Thorpe take the Fernando Romero plan from 2016? Romero went to Cedar Rapids in mid-May for three starts before moving up to Ft. Myers. He was shut down one week before the season’s end. Maybe the same thing will happen with Thorpe? Could he go straight to Ft. Myers?
- What will the Twins do with Chris Anderson? The Centennial High School grad was the Dodgers #1 pick in 2013 out of Jacksonville University. He struggled last year and was released late in spring training. The Twins will likely work with him in EST and then start him back up the ladder. No real risk in bringing in the big talent, and there is some potential for reward still.
- There are also several veterans that remain in Ft. Myers. They are either on the disabled list of an affiliate, or they are working on something in their game before going to an affiliate.
- There are about a dozen players who have come to the US from the new Twins academy in the Dominican Republic now that spring training is complete.
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