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 (EST)? 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 and Spanish classes at the player academy.
Ray Smith will again be the manager of the Elizabethton Twins. It is his 32nd season with the Elizabethton Twins, and the 25th as manager. A few of the years he was a coach so that the Twins could have another manager work with and learn from him. He has a managerial record of 977-648. He has won seven Appalachian League titles, including the 2017 championship. 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 17th straight season by 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. Smith and Reed are not yet at EST.
Luis Ramirez is back for his fourth 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. Takashi Miyoshi was added as the fourth E-Twins coach. After a long playing career, he has been coaching in the independent leagues.
After seven seasons of managing the GCL Twins (and EST), Ramon Borrego moved up to manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. The Twins brought in Dan Ramsey who had been the coach at Whitworth University in Washington. He had led his team to the national Division III tournament three times.
He is joined by two pitching coaches. Virgil Vasquez is in his fourth 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. Frank Jagoda joins the organization in 2018 as another pitching coach. He’s had a variety of roles in recent years including coaching at Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia and USA Baseball the last couple of summers.
The Twins also hired a couple of new hitting coaches for the GCL. Luis Rodriguez originally signed as a player with the Twins in 1997. He worked his way up and spent time with the Twins for parts of 2005 through 2007. He spent parts of three more season in the big leagues. This is his first coaching opportunity. Also, Matt Borgschulte comes to the Twins organization after coaching in the Cardinals system in 2017.
Catchers: Kerby Camacho, Andy Cosgrove, Yeremi De La Cruz, Robert Molina, Kidany Salva, Colton Waltner
Infielders: Carson Crites, Ricky De La Torre, Wander Javier, Kolton Kendrick, Ariel Montesino, Emmanuel Morel, Robby Rinn, JJ Robinson, Yunior Severino, Victor Tademo
Outfielders: Jared Akins, Matt Albanese, Jean-Carlos Arias (Called up to Cedar Rapids on Monday), Colton Burns, TJ Dixon, Edgar Herrera, Lean Marrero, Jacob Pearson
Pitchers: Melvi Acosta, Dean Aldridge, Yancarlos Baez, Petru Balan, Jordan Balazovic, Tyler Benninghoff, Christian Broussard, Zack Featherstone, Juan Gamez, Pedro Garcia, David Gerics, Brusdar Graterol, Matt Jones, Tanner Kiest, Blair Lakso, Landon Leach, Andriu Marin, Michael Montero, Bailey Ober, Johan Quezada, Rickey Ramirez, Kai-Wei Teng,Ryley Widell. Adam Bray (Rehab)
- Wander Javier - Immensely talented, Javier will likely soon move up to Cedar Rapids after missing time with a shoulder injury. Javier has five-tool potential and could stick at shortstop. Twins Daily’s #6 Prospect.
- Brusdar Graterol - High upside right-hander, works into the upper-90s. 2017 was his first season back after Tommy John surgery. He will likely be pitching for Cedar Rapids by the time the short-seasons start. Twins Daily’s #9 Prospect.
- Yunior Severino - came to the Twins this offseason after MLB declared him-and other Braves prospects-free agents. Played last year in the GCL and should spend this summer playing in Elizabethton. Twins Daily’s #18 Prospect.
- Landon Leach - second-round pick in 2017 out of high school in Canada, Leach throws really hard, into the mid-90s.. He’s raw as he hasn’t been pitching for long, but he has a ton of potential. .
- Jacob Pearson - Pearson was the Angels third-round pick last year out of high school in Louisiana. The Angels needed international dollars in their attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani, so the Twins traded a million of international funds for Pearson. He’s an athletic outfielder with speed and some pop in his bat. Get to Know: Jacob Pearson.
- Victor Tademo - While Tademo hit just .199 last year in the GCL, he was one of its youngest players. He’s got the ability to play shortstop, though he’s already playing mostly third base.
- Michael Montero - At 17 years old, Montero debuted in 2017 in the DSL. In 58 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 64. A tall, right-hander, he is one to watch this season, likely in the GCL.
- Ricky De La Torre - A year ago, there was thought that De La Torre could be a first-round draft pick. The Twins drafted him in the sixth round out of school in Puerto Rico. A great athlete, De La Torre is another guy who could stick at shortstop.
- Tyler Benninghoff - Twins 11th-round pick in 2016 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.
- How quickly will Brusdar Graterol and Wander Javier get to Cedar Rapids. Based on how many games the Kernels have already lost this season, it’s pretty clear that it was best to keep them both in Florida. Javier missed time in spring training with a shoulder injury, otherwise he likely would have started the year with the Kernels. Graterol will likely be on a fairly strict innings (and/or pitch) count in 2018. I would guess they will both be in Iowa by mid-May.
- It’s always interesting to see which players the team has move up from EST to the Miracle when they have a need. Already this year, RHP Carlos Suniaga has been up twice, and infielder Alex Robles has started the last two days for the Miracle. On Monday, outfielder Jean Carlos Arias moved up to Cedar Rapids.
- The Twins have always had players from around the globe. The current EST roster includes players from the following countries: Dominican Republic (9), Venezuela (7), Puerto Rico (4), Canada (3), and one each from Australia, Moldova and Taiwan. (Those numbers do not include players on the disabled list of full-season teams.)
- The oldest players on EST rosters are both first basemen. JJ Robinson, the Twins 33rd-round draft pick last year out of Lewis-Clark State, is 25 until mid-October. Robinson is six days older than Robbie Rinn who was acquired from the Royals during spring training.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Montero is 18 years old, born just after New Years Day in 2000. He is about two months younger than Yunior Severino. Landon Leach, Victor Tademo and Ricky De La Torre were all born within a two-week period in July of 1999.
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