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Article: Aaron Hicks Promoted, Who's Next?


Following Rochester’s 4-0 win against Toledo on Monday night, Democrat and Chronicle Red Wings beat writer Kevin Oklobzija tweeted, “Aaron Hicks is headed to the #MNTwins.” His manager Mike Quade called it “a no-brainer, really.” Although there isn’t a consensus among Twins fans about Hicks’ readiness, his time and opportunity are upon us.

 

On Monday, Hicks went 2-4 with a double to raise his batting average to .336 on the season. He will likely be in Detroit on Tuesday night and make his 2015 debut with the Twins. No corresponding move has been announced by the Twins at this time.There are certainly some options. The easiest might be optioning Eddie Rosario back to Rochester. The other potential moves would likely involve a player being designated for assignment. The Twins could choose to DFA Jordan Schafer who has struggled mightily until the last ten games of the season. They could DFA Shane Robinson who they signed on a minor league free agent deal before the season, though he has played well and is terrific defensively. They could option or DFA Doug Bernier as well in hopes he returns to Rochester unclaimed. Of course, there could also be an “injury” that we are not currently aware of.The Twins will announce that move sometime before the Twins and Tigers start their series.

 

However there are other players in Rochester who are playing very well and could be candidates for promotion to the big league club if they continue to play well and the Twins have a need. As we are now in the middle of May, we could also see some promotions throughout the minor league system.

 

Below are some candidates for promotion:

 

Rochester Red Wings

 

C – JOSMIL PINTO

 

With his 0-4 on Monday night, the 26-year-old Pinto’s batting average has dropped to .290. He has been struggling the last few games, with just one hit in his last four games, 14 at-bats. His overall numbers are .290/.383/.419 (.803). He has three doubles and three home runs as well. Defensively, at 26, he is what he is. That is, a DH or pinch hitter, who can be an emergency catcher. Best case, he can be an offensive backup catcher.

 

RH RP – AJ ACHTER

 

He has been pushed into the closer’s role for the Red Wings since Michael Tonkin’s promotion. Achter is currently 3-2 with two saves. He’s got a 2.40 ERA and an impressive WHIP of just 0.67. In 15 innings, he has given up just five hits, walked five and struck out 13 batters. Though he may not profile as an eighth or ninth inning guy, the 26-year-old could certainly fill a role in a big league bullpen.

 

RH RP – LESTER OLIVEROS

 

Oliveros has been talked about already this year due to his impressive strikeout rate. Though it has regressed toward the mean, his K-rate is now at 14.1 per nine innings. In ten appearances, he is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In his 14 innings pitched, he has just four walks and 22 strikeouts. The 27-year-old is not on the 40-man roster.

 

Other Notes: Beyond those three, obviously lefties Tommy Milone and Caleb Thielbar would be ready to contribute at any time. James Beresford is still hitting nearly .350, but he likely would need an injury to Brian Dozier to get a promotion. Eric Fryer has an OPS over 1.000, but he has not played a lot.

 

Chattanooga Lookouts

 

There are several others who may not be pushing for a big league promotion, but they could be ready to move up a level.

 

RH SP – TYLER DUFFEY

 

Duffey ended the 2014 season with three starts in Rochester, but he begins the 2015 season back in AA with the Lookouts. The 24-year-old started the season with three strong starts. He had a couple of rough starts, but even in them he was able to eat innings by keeping his pitch count down. In 38.2 innings, he has eight walks and 37 strikeouts.

 

RH RP – ZACK JONES

 

The issue for Jones through his career has been lack of control. Through ten games and ten innings, he has issued just one walk to go with 17 strikeouts. He is 2-0 with six saves. He has posted a 0.90 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP. 2014 was a tough year for the hard-thrower due to an aneurysm and a blood clot, but he has come back strong.

 

Other notes: DJ Baxendale is 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA in 36.1 innings through his first six starts. After being hurt most of the last two seasons, I think he just needs to keep working and getting innings under his belt with the Lookouts. JO Berrios is 3-1 with a 3.25 ERA in his six starts. In 36 innings, he has 45 strikeouts. He also has a WHIP of 1.33. His biggest trouble to this point has been that he has struggled in the fifth and sixth innings of games. He went eight innings in his most recent start, so he may not be far off. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano have started to shake the rust and turn things around in the last couple of weeks, but they still need more time and more at-bats. Another month from now, we could be writing about promotions for each of them.

 

Ft. Myers Miracle

 

Tim Shibuya was our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for April. He was promoted to AA Chattanooga on May 1. Soon after, Madison Boer was also promoted. Here are others deserving for promotion.

 

RH RP – BRANDON PETERSON

 

A year ago at this time, Minnesotan Brandon Peterson earned his promotion from Cedar Rapids to Ft. Myers. He returned to the Miracle to start this season. In 11 appearances this year, he has a 1.62 ERA. In his 16.2 innings, he has 12 walks and 23 strikeouts.

 

RH RP – TODD VAN STEENSEL

 

Todd Van Steensel was still in extended spring training at this time last year. He moved up to Cedar Rapids and quickly moved up to the Miracle. He has posted a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings. He has 11 walks and 29 strikeouts. The Australian is in his second tour of duty in the Twins organization after they released him three years ago. He came back last year and was a different pitcher.

 

Others: Chih-Wei Hu is 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA in five starts. In 26 innings, he has walked four and struck out 30. In another month, if he’s putting up numbers even close to what he has so far, he is a candidate for a promotion. Lefty Brett Lee missed the first three or four weeks of the season, but he’s posted a 2.95 ERA since his return. He could move up to Chattanooga after a few more starts.

 

Cedar Rapids Kernels

 

RH RP – TREVOR HILDENBERGER

 

After four years at the University of California (Berkley), Trevor Hildenberger was the Twins second round pick a year ago. He’s already 24 and dominating the Midwest League. In 18 innings over nine games, he has posted a 0.50 ERA, a 0.50 WHIP and a two walk to 23 strikeout ratio. The side-winding right-hander throws pretty hard, and he’s ready to move up a level.

 

LH RP – CAMERON BOOSER

 

Booser is a great story, one we’ve written about here at Twins Daily. He just turned 23 and is healthy for the first time since his high school days. Blessed with a fastball that reaches into the upper-90s, the southpaw is intimidating and has been dominant. He has pitched 14 innings over nine games. He is 1-0 with three saves. He has a 0.64 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and a strikeout to walk ratio of 25 to 6.

 

LH SP – STEPHEN GONSALVES

 

Gonsalves was the Starting Pitcher of the Month in April. He is now 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP for the Kernels. The lefty’s only loss on the season came when the Kernels were no-hit in a game. In 32 innings, he has walked seven and struck out 43. Gonsalves is advanced on the mound considering his age. He made eight starts for the Kernels a year ago. He should be well-equipped to advance.

 

LH SP – MAT BATTS

 

Yes, he writes for Twins Daily on occasion, but he has always been really good at his full-time job too. The 23-year-old lefty has started the season 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA. In 30.2 innings, he has given up 21 hits, walked six and struck out 28 batters. He made six appearances for the Kernels a season ago.

 

Others: Jared Wilson is 25-years-old and being given an opportunity to start for the Kernels. He is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA. If he were to move up, it could be out of the bullpen. Zach Tillery is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, but he would likely be given an opportunity to start first.

 

 

Aaron Hicks has been promoted. We don’t know the other half of that move yet but in the near future we will find out. It will be interesting to see if others throughout the organization start moving as well.

 

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Seth, send Rosario to the minors to make room for Hicks? Really? How much better would Eddie have had to have hit in his first 5 games to impress you?

 

I said that was an option. I don't think that would happen until Arcia comes back. I think it's more likely to be Schafer to the DL.

 

But, since you asked... In his 5 games with the Twins, Rosario is hitting .263/.250/.421 (.671) and has two errors.

 

If you take away the first pitch that he saw in the big leagues, he's hitting .222/.211/.222 (.422). 

 

Obviously I won't make too much either way about 20 plate appearances, but it is an option. 

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Clearly, all of these names and more would appear deserving of promotion. (Polanco) But there also has to be a corresponding move to be made ahead of them, from the Twins and Red Wings and trickling on down.

 

I believe you will see a few of these guys move over the next month with the biggest jump around June 1st to co-incide with the draft, and give all these kids that full two months at their current level.

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I wish I knew how the front office talks about the $$$$'s factors when discussing players. Schafer is owed a million, Duensing was signed for millions rather than non-tendered. For some reason, the Twins signed Stauffer for a couple of million. Nunez is an expensive bench player. We can argue Tommy Milone, and still retch at the contract given Pelfrey, although he is HOT right now (and the first team that calls and asks for him and gives us something should be listened to...I mean, Pelfrey won't be with us in 2016...or at least I hope.)

 

All of the above players can produce and some have but they are blocking the next crop - some of who will succeed and some who will fail. If Hicks hits, if Rosario hits, if Arcia does what he does, if Vargas hangs in there, we suddenly have a mess at OF/DH with an aging Hunter and two journeymen who, at the moment, shouldn't be going anywheres.

 

I guess we can't argue as long as we win and have riches.

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Old-Timey Member

 

If they can DL him, it makes more sense. Anything can happen in those 15 days.

 

Yeah, I'm not Schafer's biggest fan.  But he isn't healthy right now, and is unable to utilize his only plus-asset, his speed.  Based on recent history, when the Twins were poring over the waiver wire for a body and even considering Jason Bartlett in CF,  keeping Schafer around, on the DL, or in the minors if he clears waivers wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

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I find it interesting that, of all the guys Seth mentioned as deserving to be considered for promotion, Pinto is the only position player. There are a couple others in his "also deserving consideration" paragraph, but the list is clearly pitcher-heavy.

 

There seem to be relievers at pretty much every level that are off to relatively dominant starts to their seasons, which would make the dominos-effect at each level manageable. Good to have some options in that area.

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Old-Timey Member

 

I find it interesting that, of all the guys Seth mentioned as deserving to be considered for promotion, Pinto is the only position player. There are a couple others in his "also deserving consideration" paragraph, but the list is clearly pitcher-heavy.

 

There seem to be relievers at pretty much every level that are off to relatively dominant starts to their seasons, which would make the dominos-effect at each level manageable. Good to have some options in that area.

 

Hey JC, any position player standouts in Cedar Rapids (besides Granite who already got the nod), guys who look like they are beginning to stir and could earn a promotion by end of the first half of the season (and perhaps make room for some of the next wave)?

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Things: Interesting that Achter is closing for Rochester instead of Oliveros. Oliveros to the Twins and Jones to Rochester and Peterson to Chattanooga and Booser to Fort Myers is clear. This is minimally what needs to happen, and it doesn't matter if it is Stauffer or Boyer who goes, in my view. Stauffer just makes the money . . . unfortunately. 

Pinto should be up too. I am not sure they want to send Herrmann away for that, right now, but I will say that Jordan Schafer must go anyway. Rosario will be back to AAA, rightfully, when Arcia comes back. Two more months might be it for Eddie at AAA!

 

I probably make almost all of the promotions Seth lists here, though Beresford would need a trade of somebody barring an injury (by the way, I swear . . . can anyway clarify the quality of SS arms in the system??). EST is pretty loaded with guys who can fill in with no problem for CDR. 

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Provisional Member

Hey Seth...

 

I nearly went apoplectic when I saw TREVOR HILDENBERGER was a second round pick last year! After I regained consciousness, I realized you probably meant twenty second round!

 

Thanks for all your hard work keeping us informed!

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Old-Timey Member

 

Also, both Burdi and Reed are starting to chill out as well. They might be dominant the rest of the season now.

 

Reed does appear to have righted the ship.  But Burdi's season stats and my own observations of his pitching on Sunday suggest that he hasn't  come very close yet in turning the corner.

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Hey JC, any position player standouts in Cedar Rapids (besides Granite who already got the nod), guys who look like they are beginning to stir and could earn a promotion by end of the first half of the season (and perhaps make room for some of the next wave)?

I will give my 2 cents.........................Just reading stats and how the player played last yr in  Elizabethton and getting a promotion to Cedar Rapids, I would guess Max Murphy. Batting .390 last 10 games avg to .259, that is my guess :).................oh yea, i forgot Trey Vavra, 1st Base hitting .327, I would have guess Tyler Kuresa was better, but stats are not showing it.

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Hey JC, any position player standouts in Cedar Rapids (besides Granite who already got the nod), guys who look like they are beginning to stir and could earn a promotion by end of the first half of the season (and perhaps make room for some of the next wave)?

Max Murphy has been on a tear the past couple weeks, as has Zack Larson to a somewhat lesser degree. Both guys spent time in CR a year ago, so you would think the Twins are just waiting for them to put together several good weeks before moving them up.

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I will give my 2 cents.........................Just reading stats and how the player played last yr in  Elizabethton and getting a promotion to Cedar Rapids, I would guess Max Murphy. Batting .390 last 10 games avg to .259, that is my guess :).................oh yea, i forgot Trey Vavra, 1st Base hitting .327, I would have guess Tyler Kuresa was better, but stats are not showing it.

Vavra has had some succes, Kuresa not as much, so far. All things being equal, you typically see the early promotions coming from the group of guys who returned to the MWL to start the year after spending a fair amount of time here the prior season. Thus, my sense that Murphy and Larson would head the list of possible promotions among position players. They were both off to slow starts, though, so they'll need more than a couple weeks of hot hitting to really earn promotions.

 

Of course, injuries at any level create opportunities borne of need, rather than performance, so you never know.

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Reed does appear to have righted the ship.  But Burdi's season stats and my own observations of his pitching on Sunday suggest that he hasn't  come very close yet in turning the corner.

 

Just like last year, he had no control right out of the gate. It's getting fixed. I don't think either one is going to be with the Twins anytime soon, though, no.

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In regard to Rosario, I was referring to what he's shown so far in driving in runs from the 7th or 8th hole, particularly with 2 outs. He already has as many RBIs (5) as Schafer and Hermann and nearly as many as Robinson and Santana (7) and Arcia (8) in far fewer games.

 

Rosario maybe doesn't have the overall solid slash line but, I agree, he's Mr. Clutch in that he gets hits at key times.

Edited by nater79a
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