After arriving in Ft. Myers late on Friday night (or early Saturday morning), it was nice to be able to spend a full day at the Twins minor league facilities. They practiced for a couple of hours before playing games. Today, here is a quick download of minor league notes.
The Rochester and Chattanooga rosters traveled to Port Charlotte to take on the AAA and AA affiliates of the Rays. At the Twins facilities, the Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids faced off against the High-A and Low-A rosters of the Rays. Here are my observations and some conversations with people around.Here are some news and notes from the Twins spring training facilities from Saturday, and also from Sunday morning.
- 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.
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