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Cody Christie

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  1. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from dbminn for a blog entry, Where Are They Now? 2011 Twins Top-10 Prospects   
    Ranking prospects within an organization is no easy task. The internet has opened up a wave of new information for writers as they can analyze video, sort through higher-level statistics, and prioritize scouting reports from a plethora of experts. This level of information can be overwhelming at times but it helps to separate prospects at different levels.
     
    One of my favorite parts of working on the 2016 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is looking at the old prospect lists from yesteryear. It's entertaining to see some of the players that were once thought of as being near the top of the Twins organization. Seth's lists go further back than Jeremy and I and that can be even more entertaining. His 2008 Top-4 Twins prospects included Deolis Guerra, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, and Kevin Mulvey.
     
    I started my blog in the spring of 2010 so my first prospect list was for the 2011 season. There are some very familiar names on the list and some other names that have disappeared from the baseball world. "Where Are They Now?" will help to find out how these top prospects are doing at this point in their careers.
     
    1. Miguel Sano, 3B
    2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
    Entering the 2011 season, Sano was just coming off his first professional action in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. I already had high hopes for the young slugger even though he only had just over 200 ABs under his belt. In 2015, Sano made his big league debut and finished in third place in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. He was named the Minnesota Twins team MVP even though he only played half of a season. Next season will be his first full season at the big leagues and his future looks bright.
     
    2. Kyle Gibson
    2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB)
    The Twins had been aggressive with Gibson back in 2010. He pitched at three different levels from High-A all the way up to Triple-A. Using his college experience, Gibson had pitched well with an ERA under 3.00 and most Twins prospect lists had him as one of the top choices entering the 2011 campaign. This past season Gibson was named the team's best starting pitcher after he lead the team in most statistical categories. He had to overcome Tommy John surgery and some struggles at the big league level but he has established himself as one of the Twins best pitchers before his 28th birthday.
     
    3. Aaron Hicks
    2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
    Hopes were still high for Hicks following the 2010 season as he had established himself as one of the best prospects in the game. Baseball America had Hicks as the 19th best prospect in baseball and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 26th. Since that time, Hicks would put together other strong seasons in the minor but his MLB time was a little underwhelming. For the 2015 campaign, he made subtle strides on the offensive side of the ball and his defense continues to be strong. The Twins traded Hicks to the New York Yankees this offseason for catcher John Ryan Murphy.
     
    4. Joe Benson
    2015 Team (Level): Gwinnett Braves (AAA), Binghamton Mets (AA)
    After the Twins took Benson with their second round pick in 2006, he had established himself as one of the team's top prospects. He had hit 27 home runs between Double-A and High-A before being asked to play in the Arizona Fall League. Benson would debut with the Twins in 2011 but he has yet to be back to the big league level. He's bounced around from organization to organization including the Rangers, Marlins, Mets, and Braves. Last year, he played the entire season at Triple-A with the Braves and he hit .248/.351/.361. Minnesota signed Benson as a minor league free agent so he will be back in the organization for the 2016 campaign.
     
    5. Alex Wimmers
    2015 Team (Level): Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
    Wimmers and Gibson were both first round draft picks with similar college experience. This gave Twins fans some great expectations for Wimmers especially after a some strong numbers with Fort Myers in his professional debut (1 ER, 0.70 WHIP, 23 K, 15.2 IP). His trip through the Twins organization has been rocky at best. There have been some high moments but his issues with control have deterred him from living up to his first round draft status. The last two seasons he has been over a year and a half older than the competition at his level while splitting time as a starter and reliever.2016 will be big if he wants to stay in the Twins organization.
     
    6. Ben Revere
    2015 Team (Level): Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
    At the end of the 2010 season, Revere would make his big league debut before becoming an MLB regular in 2011. Revere, another first round pick on this list, showed the ability to make consistent contact in the minors while stealing bases and playing strong outfield defense. He would become a fan favorite during his couple years playing in Minnesota before being dealt to the Phillies for Trevor May. He's stolen 30 bases or more in four of his last five seasons and he lead the NL in hits back in 2014. Philadelphia dealt him to the Blue Jays at the end of last season to help with their playoff run.
     
    7. Oswaldo Arcia
    2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
    Arcia was already showing his power potential in 2010 as he finished the season with a 1.096 OPS for Elizabethton in the Appalachian League. He wouldn't debut with the Twins until 2013 and he would crank 20 home runs at the big league level in 2014. Arcia is still in the Twins organization but he struggled through 2015 to the point where he wasn't given a call-up last September. With the emergence of Miguel Sano and the addition of Byung Ho Park, it will be interesting to see what kind of role Arcia will have in 2016. He could be a good power option off the bench.
     
    8. Liam Hendriks
    2015 Team (Level): Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
    Hendriks played at both Low- and High-A for the Twins in 2010 before getting on the fast track to the big leagues in 2011. He'd debut as 22-year old and win nine games as a 23-year old but he'd be out of the Twins organization following the 2014 season. Since then, he has pitched in the Royals and Blue Jays systems. Last year, he was a very effective relief pitcher for the Blue Jays as they went on to win the AL East. This offseason he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Athletics for pitcher Jesse Sanchez.
     
    9. Kyle Waldrop
    2015 Team (Level): None
    Waldrop had just made his debut during the 2011 campaign following back-to-back seasons pitching at Triple-A. He'd appear in 24 games for the Twins between 2011 and 2012. He'd pitch one more season professionally in the Pirates organization but he never made it back to the big leagues. Waldrop hasn't pitched at any level since 2013.
     
    10. Max Kepler
    2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
    Kepler was coming off his professional debut back in 2010 but he was part of a strong international signing class that included the aforementioned Sano. Kepler seemed to have all the tools necessary to be a five-tool prospect but there were a lot of unknowns surrounding a young player that spent time developing in Europe. He would spend most of his minor league years around the edge of the Twins top-10 prospects before a magical 2015. Kepler was outstanding this season on the way to making his big league debut. He was named Southern League MVP and he helped the Lookouts to win the league's championship.
  2. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from h2oface for a blog entry, Dozier's Defensive Dielmma   
    Brian Dozier was able to call himself an All-Star for the first time in 2015. He's gained national attention after competing in the 2014 Home Run Derby and after hitting a home run to help the American League win the 2015 All-Star Game. He's slowly become one of the Twins most valuable players as he has entrenched himself near the top of the team's line-up.
     
    His value to the organization has been clear in recent years. He's ranked in the team's top three for rWAR from 2013-2015 and he led the team in that category in 2014. Dozier has also led the team in home runs in each year during that stretch.
     
    For Twins fans, it's easy to get excited about his play. His presence in the line-up has been a jolt the team has needed at different portions of the season. However, offense is only one part of the game and his defensive game has been in decline.
     
    As Dozier started his rise to stardom in the Twins line-up, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) started to use a defensive index to help decide portions of the Rawlings Gold Gloves.
     
    According to the SABR website: "The SABR Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. The three metrics representing batted ball data include Defensive Runs Saved from Baseball Info Solutions, Ultimate Zone Rating developed by noted sabermetrician Mitchel Lichtman, and Runs Effectively Defended built by SABR Defensive Committee member Chris Dial. The two metrics included in the SDI originating from play-by-play data are Defensive Regression Analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating."
     
    2013 Season
    By the end of the 2013 season, Dozier ranked as the third best second baseman in the American League according to the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). Dustin Pedroia won the Gold Glove and compiled an 11.6 SDI. Dozier's 5.5 SDI was 1.4 points behind Ian Kinsler for second place. There were only seven second basemen that scored in positive territory on the SDI.
     
    In 734 chances at second, he was charged with six errors for a .992 fielding percentage, a career best mark. This was seven points higher than the league average for second basemen. However, defense goes deeper than fielding percentage. His defensive runs saved above average (Rdrs) was nine, another career high. Some other Sabermetric Fielding numbers weren't as kind to him. His Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average (Rtot) was -2.
     
    2013 was his best defensive season as a big leaguer and it was Dozier's first full season playing second base so this was quite the remarkable feat.
     
    2014 Season
    Dozier dropped down the SDI rankings in 2014 as Pedroia won his second consecutive AL Gold Glove. Ian Kinsler actually ranked higher than Pedroia in the final SDI rankings and Howie Kendrick rounded out the top three. Dozier slipped all the way to eighth place in the American League with a -0.7 SDI, the sixth worse mark out of qualifying second basemen.
     
    During his second season at second base, Dozier showed some regression as he was charged with 15 errors in 751 chances. His .980 fielding percentage was four points lower than the league average. Dozier's Rdrs dropped 9 runs and his Rtot dipped nine 10 runs from -2 to -12.
     
    Although his defense wasn't at the bottom of the league, there was a clear decline from the positive numbers he compiled in 2013. He would need to make some changes going into 2015 because he was trending in the wrong direction.
    2015 Season
    For the first time in the SDI era, a second baseman not in the top two was awarded the Gold Glove. Jose Altuve's 4.6 SDI ranking was less than half of the league leader Ian Kinsler (10.7 SDI) but Altuve was still awarded the top defensive award. Dozier continued his decline into the bottom of the league as he finished with a -6.1 SDI and only ranked ahead of two qualified players, Robinson Cano and Johnny Giavotella.
     
    Dozier's fielding percentage went back up to .990 (8 errors in 767 chances) while the league average was a .983 fielding percentage. However some of his other numbers compared differently when looking at his previous seasons. His Rdrs was negative for the first time as he posted a -5 mark but his Rtot was slightly better at -8.
     
    There is some hope for Dozier. At the end of the 2014 season, Altuve was the lowest ranking second baseman according to SDI with a -10.2. This mark was 2.5 points lower than competition. In one season, Altuve improved by 14.8 SDI points and was rewarded with the Gold Glove.
     
    Dozier makes some tremendously athletic plays but some of this results from him not being able to get to balls that are near the edge of his range. The best second basemen made the routine plays look easy and can stretch their range to meet a specific play.
     
    If Dozier wants to be considered one of the best second basemen in the game, his defense is his biggest weakness. He has the opportunity to improve and solving this defensive dilemma could help the club to continue trending in the right direction.
  3. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from NoCryingInBaseball for a blog entry, Twas the Night Before Twins Christmas   
    Tis the season... well it's not baseball season but fans can still be in the baseball mood. Back in 2010, I wrote a version of this poem that had become a little outdated after half a decade. The Twins had a different manager and GM at the time and the team's biggest offseason move was bringing in Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
     
    So here is an update version to help us survive this holiday season. May your holiday be filled with plenty of blessings (and maybe a free agent signing by the Twins).
     

    Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Target Field



    Not a worker was stirring, for every door had been sealed;


     

    The stockings were hung by the dugout with care,



    In hopes that a free agent soon would be there;


     

    Every fan was nestled all snug in their beds,



    While visions of championships danced in their heads;


     

    And Terry Ryan in his 'kerchief, and Molitor in a cap,



    Seem to be spending the offseason on a long winter's nap;


     

    David Price had signed and still no deals had been made,



    On many fans minds this problem heavily weighed;


     

    When out on the field there arose such a clatter,



    Ryan sprang from the bed to see what was the matter;


     

    A star from Korea with a bat that could bash,



    Left fans hoping that his contract wouldn't be too brash;


     

    Target Field lay under the new fallen snow,



    While the rest of the offseason moves seemed to come slow;


     

    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,



    Thoughts of new pitcher would let the fans cheer;


     

    Molitor wants a new team with power in their swings,



    With hopes that it will result in multiple rings.


     

    Hunter retired after much fortune and fame,



    A title in the Central will be hard to reclaim;


     

    The team is young and expectations are high,



    2015 was great but now it's time to say goodbye ;


     

    There are roster quandaries as youth starts to take hold,



    For Twins Territory, the losing was getting old;


     

    With the new year, changes will come,



    It is still hard not to feel glum;


     

    A star pitcher would make the fans clamor,



    Or a bullpen pitcher who can drop the hammer;


     

    The wish list is long for fans this holiday season,



    Trying to overcome the Royals is definitely the reason;


     

    Fans want a plan so they can be merry,



    Because making no moves seems all too scary;


     

    A Christmas signing wrapped in a bow,



    Could make up for this excess of snow.


     

    Back to sleep I will go with the hope of a good dream,



    For the Twins will continue to be our baseball team;


     

    There is still plenty of offseason to make things right,



    Until then "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."


  4. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from DRizzo for a blog entry, Twas the Night Before Twins Christmas   
    Tis the season... well it's not baseball season but fans can still be in the baseball mood. Back in 2010, I wrote a version of this poem that had become a little outdated after half a decade. The Twins had a different manager and GM at the time and the team's biggest offseason move was bringing in Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
     
    So here is an update version to help us survive this holiday season. May your holiday be filled with plenty of blessings (and maybe a free agent signing by the Twins).
     

    Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Target Field



    Not a worker was stirring, for every door had been sealed;


     

    The stockings were hung by the dugout with care,



    In hopes that a free agent soon would be there;


     

    Every fan was nestled all snug in their beds,



    While visions of championships danced in their heads;


     

    And Terry Ryan in his 'kerchief, and Molitor in a cap,



    Seem to be spending the offseason on a long winter's nap;


     

    David Price had signed and still no deals had been made,



    On many fans minds this problem heavily weighed;


     

    When out on the field there arose such a clatter,



    Ryan sprang from the bed to see what was the matter;


     

    A star from Korea with a bat that could bash,



    Left fans hoping that his contract wouldn't be too brash;


     

    Target Field lay under the new fallen snow,



    While the rest of the offseason moves seemed to come slow;


     

    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,



    Thoughts of new pitcher would let the fans cheer;


     

    Molitor wants a new team with power in their swings,



    With hopes that it will result in multiple rings.


     

    Hunter retired after much fortune and fame,



    A title in the Central will be hard to reclaim;


     

    The team is young and expectations are high,



    2015 was great but now it's time to say goodbye ;


     

    There are roster quandaries as youth starts to take hold,



    For Twins Territory, the losing was getting old;


     

    With the new year, changes will come,



    It is still hard not to feel glum;


     

    A star pitcher would make the fans clamor,



    Or a bullpen pitcher who can drop the hammer;


     

    The wish list is long for fans this holiday season,



    Trying to overcome the Royals is definitely the reason;


     

    Fans want a plan so they can be merry,



    Because making no moves seems all too scary;


     

    A Christmas signing wrapped in a bow,



    Could make up for this excess of snow.


     

    Back to sleep I will go with the hope of a good dream,



    For the Twins will continue to be our baseball team;


     

    There is still plenty of offseason to make things right,



    Until then "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."


  5. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from tobi0040 for a blog entry, Twas the Night Before Twins Christmas   
    Tis the season... well it's not baseball season but fans can still be in the baseball mood. Back in 2010, I wrote a version of this poem that had become a little outdated after half a decade. The Twins had a different manager and GM at the time and the team's biggest offseason move was bringing in Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
     
    So here is an update version to help us survive this holiday season. May your holiday be filled with plenty of blessings (and maybe a free agent signing by the Twins).
     

    Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Target Field



    Not a worker was stirring, for every door had been sealed;


     

    The stockings were hung by the dugout with care,



    In hopes that a free agent soon would be there;


     

    Every fan was nestled all snug in their beds,



    While visions of championships danced in their heads;


     

    And Terry Ryan in his 'kerchief, and Molitor in a cap,



    Seem to be spending the offseason on a long winter's nap;


     

    David Price had signed and still no deals had been made,



    On many fans minds this problem heavily weighed;


     

    When out on the field there arose such a clatter,



    Ryan sprang from the bed to see what was the matter;


     

    A star from Korea with a bat that could bash,



    Left fans hoping that his contract wouldn't be too brash;


     

    Target Field lay under the new fallen snow,



    While the rest of the offseason moves seemed to come slow;


     

    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,



    Thoughts of new pitcher would let the fans cheer;


     

    Molitor wants a new team with power in their swings,



    With hopes that it will result in multiple rings.


     

    Hunter retired after much fortune and fame,



    A title in the Central will be hard to reclaim;


     

    The team is young and expectations are high,



    2015 was great but now it's time to say goodbye ;


     

    There are roster quandaries as youth starts to take hold,



    For Twins Territory, the losing was getting old;


     

    With the new year, changes will come,



    It is still hard not to feel glum;


     

    A star pitcher would make the fans clamor,



    Or a bullpen pitcher who can drop the hammer;


     

    The wish list is long for fans this holiday season,



    Trying to overcome the Royals is definitely the reason;


     

    Fans want a plan so they can be merry,



    Because making no moves seems all too scary;


     

    A Christmas signing wrapped in a bow,



    Could make up for this excess of snow.


     

    Back to sleep I will go with the hope of a good dream,



    For the Twins will continue to be our baseball team;


     

    There is still plenty of offseason to make things right,



    Until then "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."


  6. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from howieramone2 for a blog entry, Cody's Midseason Top Prospects: 11-20   
    Over at Twins Daily, we have been counting down the Twins system's top prospects as part of our midseason update. This allows for players like recent first round pick Tyler Jay to fit into the Twins overall prospect rankings. There is plenty of depth in the Twins system so there are some very good players outside the top 10 rankings.
     
    Some players like Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario will likely use up their rookie eligibility this season and graduate out of the rankings. This means other players just outside the top 10 will find themselves in the mix for a higher ranking spot during the coming off-season.
     
    These are my rankings so there are some differences from the Twins Daily compiled list (Alex Meyer was in the top 10 at Twins Daily and he checks in at number 12 below). Check out the rankings below and feel free to start a conversation about these players in the comment section.
     
    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    2015 Level(s): N/A (Tommy John surgery)
    Thorpe had Tommy John surgery this spring and will miss all of the 2015 season. This still takes nothing away from the type of impact pitcher he could be. He's still a teenager so at this stage missing an entire season shouldn't impact his long-term potential. Thorpe was almost four years younger than the other pitchers in the Midwest League last season. He's a player to be excited about and he should be back in the Twins Top 10 Prospects by the end of the season.
     
    12. Alex Meyer, RHP
    2015 Level(s): AAA, MLB
    It hasn't been the start to the 2015 season that Alex Meyer imagined. After struggling in the rotation to begin the year, Meyer has been moved to the bullpen to regain some confidence. Things have been going well for Meyer so it will be interesting to see if the Twins use him as a bullpen arm the rest of the season or if they will move him back into the rotation. The Twins are going to want him to be a starter but that might not be the role he is destined for at the big league level.
     
    13. Chih-Wei Hu, RHP
    2015 Level(s): High-A, AAA
    Hu burst onto the scene last season by compiling some stellar numbers at Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He's pitched most of this season at Fort Myers with even better results. The Twins have so much confidence in him that they allowed him to make a spot start at Rochester. Hu was six years younger than the average age of the other pitchers in the International League. He's not going to blow people away but he could be a good middle of the rotation starter.
     
    14. Adam Brett Walker, LF/RF
    2015 Level(s): AA
    Walker hits the ball and he hits it a long way. There are some issues with making consistent contact as his strikeout numbers continue to rise as he moves through the Twins system. On a team that includes Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, he's leading the minor leagues in home runs. There are some flaws with his game and that's one of the reasons he isn't ranked higher. Because of those flaws, it will also be interesting to see how the Twins approach his promotions for the rest of the season.
     
    15. Tyler Duffey, RHP
    2015 Level(s): AA, AAA
    Duffey pitched his way from High-A to Triple-A in 2014. This left some high expectations for him entering the 2015 campaign. He pitched very well in the Southern League to start the season and has since gotten the bump up to Rochester. There have been a few hiccups since his promotion but he's still only 24 and he's seen his strikeout rate make a big jump this season. If that trend continues, he could get a chance to start with the Twins in the next couple years.
     
    16. Nick Burdi, RHP
    2015 Level(s): AA
    Burdi opened the year in many Twins Top 10 lists. He's collegiate record and success last season made many think he'd be a fast riser in Minnesota's system after the team took him in the second round a year ago. Things have gone poorly this season as Burdi is walking a lot of batters and giving up hits by the bushel. The batters are more experienced at Double-A but Burdi's going to need a strong second half or he might drop out of the Twins Top 20.
     
    17. Travis Harrison, RF/3B
    2015 Level(s): AA
    Harrison can get lost in the shuffle of some of the bigger named power prospects in the Twins system but he continues to compile some decent numbers. He's moved through the system consistently and his slugging percentage is over .400 again this season after being below that mark last year. Harrison's playing right field for the first time in his career and he's already matched his career high with three outfield assists. He could still surprise some people if he makes some subtle improvements.
     
    18. Taylor Rogers, LHP
    2015 Level(s): AAA
    The 2014 season marked the first time in his career that Rogers didn't pitch at multiple levels in the Twins system. He still put up some strong numbers at Double-A and the team rewarded him with a trip to the Arizona Fall League to face some of the best prospects in the game. He pitched well in the AFL and some of that experience has helped him to be successful to start the 2015 campaign. Rogers might never make a Twins rotation but he's left handed and he continues to find success.
     
    19. Stuart Turner, C
    2015 Level(s): AA
    Turner has struggled offensively to start 2015 but the Twins have a lot riding on some of the younger catchers in the organization. In fact, the Twins took three catchers in the first nine rounds of the 2013 draft. Turner's real claim to fame is his defensive skills and ability to call a game. Some of his offensive struggles could be from the Twins moving him aggressively. Time will tell if he can make the adjustments and turn himself into an everyday big league catcher.
     
    20. Felix Jorge, RHP
    2015 Level(s): Low-A
    Jorge struggled so much during his stint with Cedar Rapids last season that the Twins sent him back to Elizabethton. This year has been much improved as Jorge has been a mainstay in the Kernels' rotation while showing better control and command of the strike zone. Minnesota might have to take the slow and steady approach with Jorge but there's enough upside to keep an eye on him.
  7. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, Max Kepler Shows Breakout Potential   
    Max Kepler has been featured up and down Twins prospect lists since the Twins signed him as a teenager out of Europe. The list of successful major league players born in Europe is small but there's always been a little something extra with Kepler.
     
    His parents were both professional dancers so he's got a strong athletic background. Minnesota took it slow with Kepler allowing him to play three years in the rookie leagues. Over the last two seasons, he has worked through both Low-A and High-A and spent the fall in the Arizona Fall League. The Twins added him to the 40-man roster following the 2013 season and he's spent the majority of 2015 at Double-A.
     
    The 2013 season had to be a low point for Kepler. He suffered an elbow injury early in the season and he didn't make it onto the field until the end of June. When he returned, he struggled at the plate hitting .237/.312/.424 with 23 extra-base hits in 61 games. In the AFL, he managed a .618 OPS with five doubles in 72 plate appearances. It wasn't a full season debut to write home about.
     
    Things started trending in the right direction during the 2014 campaign. He was healthier and played in over 100 games with Fort Myers. His slugging percentage dipped a little bit (.393 SLG) but his batting average (.264 BA) and on-base percentage (.333 OBP) both improved. Kepler was also close to two years younger than the other hitters in the league so there were signs of good things to come.
     
    This season Kepler is part of a stacked line-up in Chattanooga that includes the likes of top prospects Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jorge Polanco. Up to this point in the season, he is outperforming many of the names ahead of him on top prospect lists.
     
    Across 23 Double-A games this season, Kepler is batting .326/.363/.500 with 11 extra-base hits (entering play on 5/19). He hasn't had a slugging percentage of .500 or higher since his second trip through the Appalachian League back in 2012. He's also never hit over .300 at any level.
     
    Besides improving his numbers at the plate, Kepler is also making waves with the other parts of his game. He's already stolen six bases this year after totaling six steals all of last season. His career high in steals is seven so he should be well on his way to breaking that mark.
     
    On defense, he's split time between all three outfield positions and first base. He's been perfect fielding in the outfield to go along with an assist from right field, the outfield spot he's played the most. At first base, he's committed two errors but his fielding percentage is still higher than it was last season.
     
    Kepler's improvements this season definitely make him a player to watch. There's a good chance the Twins will see many of the top prospects debut at some point this season and this could mean Kepler shoots up prospect lists next off-season with the potential to be a top 100 prospect in all of baseball.
     
     
    There's still a lot of season left but Kepler has shown some early season signs that he's ready to breakout in a big way.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  8. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from James for a blog entry, 2009: Bill Smith's Lasting Legacy   
    In the annals of Twins history, the legacy of Bill Smith is never going to be thought of in a positive manner. There are many dubious moments from his tenure at the helm of the Twins organization. During his first year, he had to deal with Torii Hunter, the face of the franchise, leaving via free agency and multiple Cy Young award winner Johan Santana wanting to be traded.
     
    Hunter would head to southern California on a big contract. Santana was dealt for what amounted to be a bag of balls. Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey were sent from New York to Minnesota. None of these players made a significant impact on the Twins big league roster even though Gomez has developed into one of the best players in the National League.
     
    The other big deal at the beginning of Smith's tenure was between Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Hunter's departure left a hole in the line-up and the Twins hunted down former top draft pick Delmon Young. It cost the Twins a hefty price in the form of Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, who would help Tampa win the 2008 American League pennant.
     
    Even though these two trades have come to epitomize some of Smith's poor skills as general manager, the Twins are starting to see some positives out from the Smith era.
     
    Smith's second MLB draft as general manager took place in June 2009. The Twins had the 22nd pick in the first round and used it to select college pitcher Kyle Gibson (Mike Trout was taken three picks later but a ton of other team's passed over him as well). Gibson has developed into a nice asset at the major league level and there's hope that new pitching coach Neil Allen will be able to help Gibson refine his change-up.
     
    Minnesota's biggest steal in the draft might have been their eighth round pick a college shortstop by the name of Brian Dozier. Dozier has turned himself into one of the best second baseman in the American League and the Twins are committed to him being a cornerstone as the team tries to rebuild. According to Baseball Reference, Dozier has been worth more WAR than all but two first round picks (Trout and Stephen Strasburg).
     
    Drafting Dozier and Gibson weren't the only major additions during this calendar year. Minnesota was active on the international market by signing Miguel Sano ($3.15 million), Jorge Polanco ($750,000), and Max Kepler ($775,000). Each one of these players has found their way onto top prospect lists and all three could end up being significant contributors at the big league level.
     
    Sano has been highly thought of since signing with the Twins and he should make his major league debut this season. He's one of the best power hitting prospects in the minor leagues and the Twins are counting on him to make a significant impact over in the coming years.
     
    Polanco continues to shine on the defensive side of the ball while showing he could have the skills to stick at the shortstop position for the long run. His offensive numbers continue to improve and last season he became the youngest player since Joe Mauer to debut with the Twins.
     
    Kepler still has a lot of potential and Minnesota has been patiently waiting for him to have a breakout season. He's getting closer to the higher minors and he's already on the 40-man roster. If everything breaks right, he could turn into a very good everyday player with a wide-ranging skill set.
     
     
    Reflecting back on the Bill Smith years can be kind of depressing. Besides the moves mentioned above, there was the JJ Hardy trade(s), the Matt Capps deal, and the signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. It's starting to look more and more like his additions to the minor leagues during the 2009 season might provide a little light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  9. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, 2009: Bill Smith's Lasting Legacy   
    In the annals of Twins history, the legacy of Bill Smith is never going to be thought of in a positive manner. There are many dubious moments from his tenure at the helm of the Twins organization. During his first year, he had to deal with Torii Hunter, the face of the franchise, leaving via free agency and multiple Cy Young award winner Johan Santana wanting to be traded.
     
    Hunter would head to southern California on a big contract. Santana was dealt for what amounted to be a bag of balls. Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey were sent from New York to Minnesota. None of these players made a significant impact on the Twins big league roster even though Gomez has developed into one of the best players in the National League.
     
    The other big deal at the beginning of Smith's tenure was between Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Hunter's departure left a hole in the line-up and the Twins hunted down former top draft pick Delmon Young. It cost the Twins a hefty price in the form of Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, who would help Tampa win the 2008 American League pennant.
     
    Even though these two trades have come to epitomize some of Smith's poor skills as general manager, the Twins are starting to see some positives out from the Smith era.
     
    Smith's second MLB draft as general manager took place in June 2009. The Twins had the 22nd pick in the first round and used it to select college pitcher Kyle Gibson (Mike Trout was taken three picks later but a ton of other team's passed over him as well). Gibson has developed into a nice asset at the major league level and there's hope that new pitching coach Neil Allen will be able to help Gibson refine his change-up.
     
    Minnesota's biggest steal in the draft might have been their eighth round pick a college shortstop by the name of Brian Dozier. Dozier has turned himself into one of the best second baseman in the American League and the Twins are committed to him being a cornerstone as the team tries to rebuild. According to Baseball Reference, Dozier has been worth more WAR than all but two first round picks (Trout and Stephen Strasburg).
     
    Drafting Dozier and Gibson weren't the only major additions during this calendar year. Minnesota was active on the international market by signing Miguel Sano ($3.15 million), Jorge Polanco ($750,000), and Max Kepler ($775,000). Each one of these players has found their way onto top prospect lists and all three could end up being significant contributors at the big league level.
     
    Sano has been highly thought of since signing with the Twins and he should make his major league debut this season. He's one of the best power hitting prospects in the minor leagues and the Twins are counting on him to make a significant impact over in the coming years.
     
    Polanco continues to shine on the defensive side of the ball while showing he could have the skills to stick at the shortstop position for the long run. His offensive numbers continue to improve and last season he became the youngest player since Joe Mauer to debut with the Twins.
     
    Kepler still has a lot of potential and Minnesota has been patiently waiting for him to have a breakout season. He's getting closer to the higher minors and he's already on the 40-man roster. If everything breaks right, he could turn into a very good everyday player with a wide-ranging skill set.
     
     
    Reflecting back on the Bill Smith years can be kind of depressing. Besides the moves mentioned above, there was the JJ Hardy trade(s), the Matt Capps deal, and the signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. It's starting to look more and more like his additions to the minor leagues during the 2009 season might provide a little light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  10. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from HitInAPinch for a blog entry, 2009: Bill Smith's Lasting Legacy   
    In the annals of Twins history, the legacy of Bill Smith is never going to be thought of in a positive manner. There are many dubious moments from his tenure at the helm of the Twins organization. During his first year, he had to deal with Torii Hunter, the face of the franchise, leaving via free agency and multiple Cy Young award winner Johan Santana wanting to be traded.
     
    Hunter would head to southern California on a big contract. Santana was dealt for what amounted to be a bag of balls. Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey were sent from New York to Minnesota. None of these players made a significant impact on the Twins big league roster even though Gomez has developed into one of the best players in the National League.
     
    The other big deal at the beginning of Smith's tenure was between Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Hunter's departure left a hole in the line-up and the Twins hunted down former top draft pick Delmon Young. It cost the Twins a hefty price in the form of Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, who would help Tampa win the 2008 American League pennant.
     
    Even though these two trades have come to epitomize some of Smith's poor skills as general manager, the Twins are starting to see some positives out from the Smith era.
     
    Smith's second MLB draft as general manager took place in June 2009. The Twins had the 22nd pick in the first round and used it to select college pitcher Kyle Gibson (Mike Trout was taken three picks later but a ton of other team's passed over him as well). Gibson has developed into a nice asset at the major league level and there's hope that new pitching coach Neil Allen will be able to help Gibson refine his change-up.
     
    Minnesota's biggest steal in the draft might have been their eighth round pick a college shortstop by the name of Brian Dozier. Dozier has turned himself into one of the best second baseman in the American League and the Twins are committed to him being a cornerstone as the team tries to rebuild. According to Baseball Reference, Dozier has been worth more WAR than all but two first round picks (Trout and Stephen Strasburg).
     
    Drafting Dozier and Gibson weren't the only major additions during this calendar year. Minnesota was active on the international market by signing Miguel Sano ($3.15 million), Jorge Polanco ($750,000), and Max Kepler ($775,000). Each one of these players has found their way onto top prospect lists and all three could end up being significant contributors at the big league level.
     
    Sano has been highly thought of since signing with the Twins and he should make his major league debut this season. He's one of the best power hitting prospects in the minor leagues and the Twins are counting on him to make a significant impact over in the coming years.
     
    Polanco continues to shine on the defensive side of the ball while showing he could have the skills to stick at the shortstop position for the long run. His offensive numbers continue to improve and last season he became the youngest player since Joe Mauer to debut with the Twins.
     
    Kepler still has a lot of potential and Minnesota has been patiently waiting for him to have a breakout season. He's getting closer to the higher minors and he's already on the 40-man roster. If everything breaks right, he could turn into a very good everyday player with a wide-ranging skill set.
     
     
    Reflecting back on the Bill Smith years can be kind of depressing. Besides the moves mentioned above, there was the JJ Hardy trade(s), the Matt Capps deal, and the signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. It's starting to look more and more like his additions to the minor leagues during the 2009 season might provide a little light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  11. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from glunn for a blog entry, Cody's Top 30 Prospects: Part 3 (1-10)   
    One of the highlights of the off-season for a core of Twins fans is the release of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Seth Stohs has worked to put together this fantastic book for the last seven years. In 2012, he gave me my first taste of helping with the book. By 2013, I was writing an article for the annual and for the last three years I have been among a trio of writers that includes Jeremy Nygaard, Stohs, and myself.
     
    In the first part of my top 30 list there are a core of young pitchers moving through the system. The second part of my list includes a surprise or two but there are some powerful prospects. I have some differences compared to the other authors but that's what makes this fun. To see their top 30's, you're going to have to go and pick up a copy for yourself.
     

    ***Get your copy of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook now (
    Paperback or PDF). Use the code: TREAT before the end of the year for 25% off the print version***

     
    1 – Byron Buxton – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats
    2014 Stats: .234/.307/.395, 4-2B, 2-3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB
    Buxton entered the 2014 season as the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. He suffered multiple injuries and was limited to just 31 games. This still takes nothing away from what his potential could be. His combination of speed, power, and hitting could result in him being a perennial All-Star and the player that leads Minnesota out of the bottom of the American League. However, he's going to have to avoid the injury bug because he can't afford another lost season.
     
    2 – Miguel Sano – 3B – Did Not Play
    2014 Stats: DNP
    Sano didn't play in 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery during spring training. There was a chance that he would make his debut in 2014 but now he will have to show he is ready for 2015. Some questions remain about his long-term defensive position or his ability to make consistent contact as he moves up the ladder. For now, he's still considered elite because of his power potential. If everything goes right, he'll be at Target Field before the end of the year.
     
    3 – Kohl Stewart – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels
    2014 Stats: 3-5, 2.59 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 87.0 IP, 24 BB, 62 K
    The gap between Stewart and Berrios is small but I give a slight nod to Stewart. He compiled decent numbers at Low-A as a teenager. There were some shoulder issues near the end of the season but I don't think this is going to impact him long-term. As a multi-sport athlete in high school, this was his first full season focusing on baseball. He will continue to rack up innings and figure out the art of pitching. He has the chance to be a future ace.
     
    4 – Jose Berrios – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Rochester Red Wings
    2014 Stats: 12-8, 2.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 140.0 IP, 38 BB, 140 K
    Berrios had the best season of any player in the Twins farm system. Even though he is small is stature, he has the work ethic to mold himself into a top-notch big league pitcher. His fastball can hit into the mid-90s and his secondary pitches continue to improve. He pitched out of his mind this past season so it will be interesting to see where he starts in 2015 and how fast he gets to the big leagues. There's no reason to rush him but he might force the Twins hand.
     
    5 – Nick Gordon – SS – Elizabethton Twins
    2014 Stats: .294/.333/.366, 6-2B, 4-3B, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB
    Gordon marked the third straight top five pick for the Minnesota Twins with Buxton and Stewart already being featured on this list. He comes from a baseball family as his dad played in the majors and his brother was an All-Star last season. Most reports say he will be able to stay at shortstop for the long-term and he has the potential to be dangerous at the plate and on the bases. He's a long way from Target Field but he could be part of a solid core in the future.
     
    6 – Alex Meyer – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
    2014 Stats: 7-7, 3.52 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 130.1 IP, 64 BB, 153 K
    There isn't much left for Meyer to do in the minor leagues and it sounds like the Twins might give him the chance to make the Opening Day roster as a bullpen arm. His command wasn't the best this season but he can strikeout a ton of batters. If everything breaks right, he could be a top of the rotation guy or he might end up being a solid bullpen option. The time is now for Meyer.
     
    7 – Jorge Polanco – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Minnesota Twins
    2014 MiLB Stats: .288/.353/.395, 23-2B, 6-3B, 7 HR, 61 RBI
    2014 MLB Stats: .333/.500/.833, 1-2B, 1-3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI
    When the Twins were in a roster crunch, they looked all the way down to High-A to pluck Polanco up to the majors. He saw limited action but showed off some of his skills. He's switch-hitting ability and powerful swing could make him dangerous. There's questions about if he will stay at shortstop but he made improvements at the position throughout the year. He'll need more time in the minors but his make-up will mean he's only a phone call away from being back with the Twins.
     
    8 – Trevor May – RHP – Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins
    2014 MiLB Stats: 8-6, 2.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 98.1 IP, 39 BB, 94 K
    2014 MLB Stats: 3-6, 7.88 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 22 BB, 44 K
    His big league numbers don't look the greatest but May made some strides in 2014. He lowered his walk rate and posted a better WHIP during his time at Triple-A. After some rough outings in his first handful of appearances, May calmed down a little. He struck out 41 and walked nine in his last seven starts to end the year on a positive note. He'll be in the running for the final rotation spot coming out of spring training and he might be the front-runner at this point.
     
    9 – Eddie Rosario – OF/2B – Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats
    2014 Stats: .243/.286/.387, 20-2B, 3-3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 9 SB
    Rosario started the year with a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy. Before this season, he had shown the ability to hit at every level. There might have been some issues adjusting to better pitching at Double-A. He put together some impressive numbers in the AFL by hitting .330/.345/.410 with four doubles and two triples. He also stole 10 bases in 14 attempts. Minnesota tried him out at second base for a couple seasons but it looks like he'll have to make the big leagues as an outfielder.
     
    10 – Nick Burdi – RHP – Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
    2014 Stats: 2-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 10 BB, 38 K
    Burdi had to finish up his run through the College World Series before the Twins could get him into action this year. He has all the tools to be a very solid back-end of the bullpen option for the Twins in the very near future. He can hit triple-digits with his fastball and he counters that with a good slider and an occasional change-up. Burdi could debut in 2015 but it might be more realistic to look for him during the 2016 campaign.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  12. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, Breakout Prospect Candidates for '15   
    It's hard to argue with the breakout season Jose Berrios put together in 2014. He dominated the Florida State League and held his own in the Eastern League while being over four and a half years younger than the average age of the pitchers in that league. He was already a top ten prospect in the organization but he solidified himself as one of the top three pitchers in a loaded farm system.
     
    Berrios was just one of the team's prospects to do well in 2014 as other prospects also put their name on the map. Adam Brett Walker smacked a ton of home runs in the tough Florida State League. Eddie Rosario missed time at the beginning of the season due to a drug suspension but he ended the season on a high note as one of the best hitters in the Arizona Fall League. There were many other prospects that had solid seasons in
     
    Here are three of the Twins top prospects that I think could follow in the footsteps of Berrios and have a breakout season in 2015.
     
    Stephen Gonsalves- LHP
    2014 Team(s): Elizabethton Twins, Cedar Rapids Kernels
    3.02 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 65.2 IP, 70 K, 21 BB (14 Games)
    Gonsalves, a 2013 fourth round pick, made it all the way to Low-A this season as a teenager. He continues to show the ability to strikeout batters. He can hit in the 90's with his fastball and he can counter with a good change-up. His other breaking pitch still needs some work but he will be able to develop that as he progresses through the system. In his first five outings at Low-A, he posted a 1.57 ERA over 23.0 innings with 21 strikeouts and only four walks. To put those numbers in prospective, he was three years younger than the other pitchers in the Midwest League.
     
    Travis Harrison- OF/3B
    2014 Team(s): Fort Myers Miracle
    .269/.361/.365, 3 HR, 33 2B, 59 RBI, 80 R (129 Games)
    The Florida State League can be tough on hitters and this could be one of the reasons Harrison's home run total dipped from 15 in '13 to 3 this past season. The former supplemental first round pick continues to get on base at a very high rate and he's shown the ability to take the ball to opposite field. His strikeout rate continues to drop and he played a new defensive position this season. He will be 22-years old for all of next season and he should be more comfortable playing his defensive spot. This could mean result in some big numbers for Harrison at Double-A.
     
    SLEEPER PICK:
    Amaurys Minier- OF/1B
    2014 Team(s): GCL Twins
    .292/.405/.520, 8 HR, 11 2B, 33 RBI, 25 R (53 Games)
    It can be tough to have a breakout season in the lower levels of the minor leagues but the Twins have seen players like Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano have huge seasons after coming out of extended spring training. Minier has big power from the left-side but there might be some holes in his swing as evident by his 52 strikeouts this season. If his approach can improve as he moves up the ladder and he makes some positive strides on the defensive side of the ball, he could be vaulting up Twins prospect lists during the next off-season.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  13. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, The All Prospect Twins Team of the Future   
    As the finishing touches are being put on the 2015 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (CLICK HERE to order last year's version for 30% off), my mind has been focused on many of the young players that are making up one of the strongest farm systems in baseball. There are a lot of big names like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in the system and the hope is that those players turn out to be All-Star caliber players for years to come.
     
    There are also players that might not end up being in contention for any MVP or Cy Young awards but they could be very important everyday players on the next winning baseball team in Minnesota. Every prospect isn't going to make it as a big league player and some of the Twins best prospects are still multiple years away from making their debut.
     
    Here is a look at what type of line-up and pitching rotation could be made from just the prospects in the Twins organization. For the purposes of this post, I didn't consider any players that had already reached their rookie eligibility threshold in 2014. This took away players like Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana, and Kennys Vargas that will figure into the long-term plans for the Twins organization.
     
    All Prospect Twins Team Line-Up/Batting Order
    1. Nick Gordon- SS
    2. Eddie Rosario- LF
    3. Byron Buxton- CF
    4. Miguel Sano- 3B
    5. Travis Harrison- DH
    6. Amaurys Minier- 1B
    7. Max Kepler- RF
    8. Stuart Turner- C
    9. Jorge Polanco- 2B
     
    This line-up looks pretty solid from top to bottom. Gordon, Rosario and Buxton would give the front end of the batting order some speed and plenty of on-base ability in front of the big boppers. Sano, Harrison, and Minier would have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs and all three have the potential to hit 25 or more home runs in a season. Kepler would provide solid defense and be a very solid regular player. Turner could be an everyday player with the potential to make an All-Star team if things break the right way. Polanco might not have the defensive skills to stick at shortstop but he could make a nice double-play combo with Gordon. He'd also be a solid number nine hitter leading back to the top of the order.
     
    Bench
    Adam Brett Walker- OF
    Niko Goodrum-IF
    Levi Michael-IF
    Mitch Garver-C
     
    This bench offers a little bit of everything. Goodrum and Michael have the ability to fill-in at multiple infield positions while also being good options as late-inning pinch runners. Garver and Turner would be a very good catching duo with both getting the opportunities to start. Walker would be a huge bat off the bench with the potential to hit a long ball anytime he stepped into the box. He could also fill-in as a corner outfielder when other players needed an off day.
     
    Starting Rotation
    1. Kohl Stewart-RHP
    2. Jose Berrios- RHP
    3. Alex Meyer- RHP
    4. Lewis Thorpe- LHP
    5. Stephen Gonsalves- LHP
     
    A starting rotation with Stewart, Berrios, and Meyer at the top is what Twins fans have been dreaming of since Stewart was taken with the fourth pick in the 2013 draft. Berrios is coming off a breakout season across the three highest levels in the Twins system. Meyer is on the cusp of making his debut and he continues to be impressive. Thorpe and Gonsalves would offer some left-handed action to the back-end of the rotation while still having the potential to be front of the line starters. There's a chance for a lot of strikeouts with this fearsome five-some but the bullpen is where things get even scarier.
     
    Bullpen
    Closer: Nick Burdi-RHP
    Set-Up: Michael Cederoth- RHP
    Jake Reed-RHP
    Zack Jones-RHP
    Trevor May- RHP
    Taylor Rogers- LHP
    Mason Melotakis- LHP
     
    The Kansas City Royals rode a terrific trio of late-inning relief arms to the 2014 American League Pennant. In the last few drafts, the Twins have been going after some hard throwing college arms to build their own dominant relief core of the future. Burdi, Cederoth, Reed, and Jones could each be given an inning of their own late in games and this would mean starters would only need to pitch five frames. If May doesn't work out as a starter, he could fill into a long-relief role. Rogers and Melotakis could be solid options for retiring some of the best left-handed bats from the opposition.
     
    Overall, there is a ton of talent on the way to Target Field. All of these players wouldn't make it to the big leagues but the Twins have a lot invested in some of these players. There are multiple first round picks on this roster, a handful of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and a solid core of players to make Twins fans forget about the last four years of losing.
     
     
    Now it's your turn. How would your line-up and roster look for the Twins team of the future? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  14. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, My 2015 Twins Off-Season Blueprint   
    There are plenty of ways to go about trying to fix the Twins team but some patience might be required as the club waits for some younger pieces to work their way through the minor leagues. The Twins Daily crew put out some solid information in the 2015 Offseason Handbook. One of the best parts to read about this document is the blueprint plans put together by the writers.
     
    There are plenty of options for the Twins but here is how I would go about trying to fix the team. Some of these ideas will happen and some won't but that's what makes this fun.
     
    Starting Line-Up
    C- Kurt Suzuki- $6 million
    1B- Joe Mauer- $23 million
    2B- Brian Dozier- $1 million
    3B- Trevor Plouffe- $5 million
    SS- Danny Santana- $0.5 million
    LF- Colby Rasmus- $12 million
    CF- Aaron Hicks- $0.5 million
    RF- Oswaldo Arcia- $0.5 million
    DH- Kennys Vargas- $0.5 million
     
    -------------------------------------------------
    $49.0 million committed to nine hitters
     
    Breakdown: Colby Rasmus is the only free agent acquisition that I have the Twins adding this off-season. He's young at only 28-years old and he could regain some value by signing a one-year, $12 million deal. This would set him up to hit the free agent market again before his age 29 season. The Twins could use him in a corner outfield spot and have him be a center field fill-in. Aaron Hicks earns the Opening Day starting job for the third straight season. Hopefully Paul Molitor can get Hicks back on the right track to being an everyday player in Minnesota. If things go right, Miguel Sano could be up by the middle of the season but this could be a line-up that scores a decent amount of runs after finishing fifth in the AL in runs scored a year ago.
     
    Bench
    C- Josmil Pinto- $0.5 million
    IF- Eduardo Escobar- $2.0 million
    1B/OF- Chris Colabello- $0.5 million
    OF-Jordan Schafer- $1.5 million
    -------------------------------------------------
    $4.5 million committed to four bench positions
     
    Breakdown: Eduardo Escobar proved to be a very valuable asset but I believe his long-term role with the club will be as more of a utility infielder. Jordan Schafer will complement the other outfielders nicely. Josmil Pinto will get some opportunities to catch especially with how much Kurt Suzuki got beat-up last season. Chris Colabello will get one more opportunity to stick on the big league roster but he will be one of the last men to make the 25-man squad.
     
    Starting Pitching
    1. Phil Hughes- $8 million
    2. Ricky Nolasco- $12 million
    3. Kyle Gibson- $0.5 million
    4. Alex Meyer- $0.5 million
    5. Justin Masterson- $10 million
    -------------------------------------------------
    $31.0 million committed to starting rotation
     
    Breakdown: The top three spots in the rotation are likely locked into place. These leaves the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation up for grabs. I think the Twins will actually go with Trevor May in the number four spot but I would much rather throw Alex Meyer out there every fifth day. This would also give May the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen which I think will be his eventual resting spot. Minnesota is going to spend some money on a free agent starter and I think Justin Masterson is the right guy. He's coming off a tough year but he could bounce back nicely in the friendly confines of Target Field. Fingers are crossed that he could be this year's version of Phil Hughes and a one-year, $10 million contract is easy enough to swallow for a team with some wiggle room.
     
    Bullpen
    Righties: Casey Fien, Michael Tonkin, Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey- $8 million
    Lefties: Caleb Thielbar, Tommy Milone- $4 million
    Closer: Glen Perkins- $4 million
    -------------------------------------------------
    $16 million committed to seven relievers
     
    Breakdown: This is quite a conglomeration of players. I hate having Mike Pelfrey on this team coming out of spring training but the Twins are going to eat his salary at the beginning of the year even if that's what I would do. As I said in the starting pitcher section, May gets moved to the bullpen where he can continue to develop and the Twins can use him in a variety of roles. I don't think the Twins are ready to let Tommy Milone loose after acquiring him at the end of last season. He will get arbitration as a Super 2 player and his salary will be around $3.5 million. Two names you will likely see gone from this list are Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak. Duensing is getting too expensive for what his role is with the team and Swarzak gets pushed out by the likes of Milone and Pelfrey.
     
    Minnesota Twins 2015 Checkbook
    Starting Line-Up: $49.0 million
    Bench Players: $4.5 million
    Starting Pitching: $31.0 million
    Bullpen: $16 million
    -------------------------------------------------
    $100.5 million committed to Opening Day 25-man roster
     
     
    What are your thoughts on this roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  15. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from Willihammer for a blog entry, Brian Dozier and the Art of Seeing Pitches   
    The 2014 season was a breakout year for Brian Dozier. He seemed to be maturing as a hitter right before the eyes of Twins fans. He combined power and speed to be the first Twins player in a decade to record a 20 HR-20 steal season. However, there was more behind his season than the numbers that will appear on the back of next year's trading card.
     
    Dozier finished third in all of baseball in the amount of pitches seen in 2014. The only American League player to finish ahead of him was the presumed MVP Mike Trout. He saw 115 more pitches than the next closest man on the list and Dozier was the only member of the Twins to finish in the top 40 in the entire American League.
     
    Only one other Twins player has finished in the top 10 in pitches seen since 2002. Joe Mauer barely squeaked into the 10th spot in the 2012 season by finishing seven pitches ahead of the Brewers Rickie Weeks. Mauer actually saw more pitches per plate appearance that season (4.32 P/PA) than Dozier did in 2014 (4.18 P/PA).
     
    So what was Dozier able to accomplish with all of these extra pitches?
     
    By seasons end, Dozier had accumulated the third most in walks (89 base on balls) in the American League. He recorded six more walks than Trout who finished ahead of him in pitches seen. Carlos Santana finished one spot behind Dozier in the pitches seen standings but he was able to draw 24 more walks. Jose Bautista finished in 10th place in pitches seen and he drew 104 walks.
     
    All of these extra pitches seen resulted in more walks and Dozier ended up scoring the second most runs in the American League. He was only three runs scored behind Trout and he was 11 ahead of a third place tie between Bautista and Miguel Cabrera.
     
    Many of the extra at-bats Dozier was able to accumulate in 2014 were because of his placement near the top of the Twins batting order. In only five of his 155 games started, he didn't bat out of the lead-off or number two spot in the batting order. It will be interesting to see if new manager Paul Molitor continues to utilize Dozier near the top of the line-up.
     
     
    It would be great to see Dozier make some strides to increase some of his other offense numbers. He's a career .241 hitter but he got on base over 34% of the time last year. If he can continue to see a ton of pitches, drawing walks and scoring runs, there is no reason to think Dozier won't continue to master the art of seeing pitches.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  16. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from nytwinsfan for a blog entry, Signing Torii Hunter Doesn't Make Sense   
    There are a few items on the Twins off-season checklist. Starting pitching seems to be the Twins biggest priority but the club also has a hole to fill in the outfield. The club likely won't be pushing for any of the big names on the outfield free agent list but that doesn't mean the club couldn't look to add a veteran free agent for this role.
     
    Reports came out at the beginning of this week that the Twins have expressed interest in signing free agent outfielder Torii Hunter. It seems that Hunter's preference would be to return to the Tigers or another squad that will be in contention next season. If none of those teams make him a decent offer, he could be more willing to finish his career back where he started in Minnesota.
     
    Hunter's offensive skills have aged fairly well. Over the last three seasons in Detroit and Los Angeles, he's hit .301/.339/.455 while averaging 17 home runs, 31 doubles, and 86 RBI. While his offense has continued to be strong, his defense in right field took a turn for the worst last season. He's now considered below average in a corner outfield which is a far cry from the Gold Glove caliber defense he played in Minnesota.
     
    It doesn't seem likely for the Twins, a team that has lost at least 92 games in the last four seasons, to be in contention in 2015. Hunter turned 39-years old in July which means he will be 40 after next year's All-Star break. What benefits would there be from having a 19-year veteran on next year's Twins roster?
     
    The Twins are in a rebuilding mode and Hunter's presence on next year's roster would mean lost at-bats for other younger player the Twins could be trialing at the big league level. Hunter would need time in the outfield and at DH which could mean fewer at-bats for the likes of Oswaldo Arcia, Kennys Vargas, and Josmil Pinto. These younger players need to be in the line-up everyday and not fighting for at-bats with an aging veteran.
     
    Hunter's leadership would be a welcome addition to the clubhouse especially under first year manager Paul Molitor. However other players on the Twins roster like Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins have taken on leadership roles over the last couple seasons. The addition of another voice in the clubhouse might be too many voices to listen to for the younger Twins team.
     
    During the beginning of last season, the Twins brought in a variety of different players from their division title years to fight for spots on the roster. Jason Kubel, Matt Guerrier, and Jason Bartlett all made the team out of spring training but none of them made a significant impact during the season. They would all be jettison before the middle of June. Hunter has played better than those players but the Twins don't exactly have a positive track record in bringing in former players.
     
    This team might be taking some bumps and bruises in the early part of the season with a new manager and a younger roster. That's fine because the overall goal is to get back to playing winning baseball. Gaining experience for the young core of talent is what is going to get this team back on the right track.
     
     
    Hunter will not be part of the next winning team in Minnesota so let's hope the organization doesn't bring him back for a reunion tour.
     
    For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com
  17. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from Paul Pleiss for a blog entry, Top 5 Wins for Ron Gardenhire   
    The Twins announced on Monday that Ron Gardenhire will not return as the team's manager for 2015. Only two managers in the history of the game had survived four straight 90-loss seasons. One of those men was Gardenhire's predecessor, Tom Kelly. Minnesota is a very loyal organization but it seemed like the time was right to make a change.
     
    When a manager wins over 1,000 games with an organization there are going to be some ups and downs. The Twins won six division titles in the Gardenhire era but the club found minimal postseason success under his reign. "You lose this many games, you've got to do something," Gardenhire said, "He called me in this morning, I said 'Terry, you don't have a choice here; do what you have to do.' "
     
    There were some important wins in the history of the Twins during the Gardenhire era. Here's a look at the five wins Gardenhire will remember most as he leaves the Twin Cities.
     
    ALDS Game 5 (2002)
    The Twins used a strong pitching performance from Brad Radke and an AJ Pierzynski home run to squeak past the very strong Oakland A's. Brad Radke pitched into the seventh inning while limiting the powerful Oakland offense to one run. Eddie Guardado made things interesting by allowing three runs to score in the bottom of the ninth but he got the last out. Gardenhire had led his team to the ALCS in his first year at the helm but it would be the club's only postseason series win with him as manager.
     
    Game 163 (2009)
    The final victory in the Metrodome era was a game for the ages. The back and forth effort between the Twins and the Tigers is the closest thing to a World Series memory for a younger generation of Twins fans. It took seven pitching changes and multiple pinch hitting appearances but the Twins got the win. It also helped to have the speedy Carlos Gomez on the bench as a pinch runner for extra-innings. Things wouldn't go so well against the Yankees but the Twins had won the AL Central for the fifth time under Gardenhire.
     
    Game 162 (2006)
    The Twins were already guaranteed to go to the playoffs but this game took on a very different feel. During the course of the game, Joe Mauer was announced as the AL Batting Champion. This wouldn't be the only celebration on the day. After the Twins game finished, fans stuck around in the Metrodome to watch the Detroit Tigers lose to the lowly Kansas City Royals, a club that finished with 100 losses. The loss meant the Twins were division champions and a huge celebration erupted on the field in front of those that stuck around.
     
    Win Number 1,000 (2014)
    There have only been 10 managers in the history of the game to win 1,000 games with one club. Gardenhire is part of this elite group. The wins were few and far between over the last four years but Gardy survived long enough to pick up win number 1,000. He's respected enough across the baseball world that he could add to this win total with another organization but his final win in a Twins uniform came on September 27, 2014. It was his 1,068th win and the first time the Twins reached 70 wins since the 2010 season.
     
    Ending Oakland's Winning Streak (2002)
    This victory took on an entirely different meaning with the movie adaptation of the novel Moneyball. The Twins would also spoil Billy Beane's postseason plans by defeating the A's in October. Oakland went on to win their next three games so without this Twins victory their streak could have stretched to 24. It took a masterful performance from Brad Radke to stop the streak. He threw a complete game shutout with five strikeouts and one walk. Gardenhire had to leave Radke out there for 113 pitches and over 27,000 fans got to see the A's first loss in a month and a half.
     
    Most of these wins happened many years ago and that's one of the many reasons Gardenhire is on the way out.
  18. Like
    Cody Christie got a reaction from Platoon for a blog entry, Five Twins Rebound Candidates for 2015   
    It has been a year of good and bad performances in Minnesota. Unfortunately, there has probably been more bad than good.
     
    On the positive side of things, Phil Hughes has put together the best season of his professional career, Danny Santana has done some good things as a rookie, and the duo of Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia seem to be able to mash the ball out of any park.
     
    There have been some players that haven't lived up to expectations for various parts of the year. Those players are trying to right the ship over the next couple weeks before 2014 comes to a close. Ending this year on a good note could help each of the following players to rebound in 2015.
     
    Ricky Nolasco: When the Twins signed Nolasco this off-season to the biggest free agent deal in franchise history, there was a smattering of the fan base that said, "Who?" He had been a workhorse pitcher in the National League for multiple seasons but the transition to the American League has been anything but easy. There can be a variety of excuses thrown out in relation to his play this season. He could have been pitching through some injuries and he might have had a tough time adjusting to the new league. He'll be in the rotation next year and one has to hope that his performance will improve.
     
    Joe Mauer: He's not playing catcher any more so there is supposed to be less wear and tear on his body. Even with the switch to a new position, it has been one of the worst offensive seasons on record for Mr. Mauer. His second half performance has been better than his first half performance (.695 OPS improving to .812 OPS), but it has come in half as many games. Fans will always focus on Mauer's performance because of his large contract and that's something he'll live with for the rest of his career. For 2015, the focus should be on getting back to the Mauer of old.
     
    Aaron Hicks: There's a chance Hicks could end up winning the starting center field job for the third straight season coming out of spring training next year. The Twins would obviously need to see something from him in the coming weeks. Since becoming a September call-up, he hasn't exactly blown the cover off the ball. There haven't been a ton of signs pointing towards a rebound for Hicks but there have been flashes of good things in the minors and his first round pedigree always helps. Next year could be his last chance to make a mark with the Twins.
     
    Trevor May: May's only seven starts into his MLB career so it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to think he can improve. His outings in September have been better and that might be enough of a confidence boost to put him on a improve path moving forward. Kyle Gibson struggled last year in his first taste of the big leagues and he's turned into a much more serviceable pitcher this year. May's mission should be to follow in Gibson's footsteps for 2015. If he can fit into the middle of the rotation for the next handful of years, Twins fans would have to be happy with the result.
     
    Brian Dozier: For fans that haven't been paying attention in recent weeks, Dozier's name might be a surprise on this list. After a tremendous first half of the season where there was a chance he would make the AL All-Star squad, Dozier has fizzled in the second half. His slugging percentage has dropped almost 100 points and this can be attributed to his lack of second half home runs. He hit 18 long balls in the first half and he's only hit one since July 23rd. There are younger players coming through the Twins system in the coming years that will want a middle infield job so Dozier needs to get back to the player he was in the first half.
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