Monday, December 21, 2015

Making sense of the Twins new crop of minor league signees

Over the weekend the Twins signed 6 new minor league free agents:  RHRPs David Martinez Raul Fernandez, and  Marcus Walden,  IF Leonardo Reginatto, OF Keury De La Cruz, and  C Jose Ortiz.   Let's examine each of them

RHP David Martinez ( 28 years old, 6'2", 220 lbs) was signed by the Astros as a sixteen year old International Free Agent in 2005.  He needed 4 seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League before he crossed the border as a 21 year old.  At that point he climbed fast the Astros organization going from Rookie ball to a cup of coffee in the majors in 4 seasons.  Fastball (low 90s), slider, change reliever, with mixed results that were better in the lower minors.  His career AAA numbers (3 seasons) are 5.77 ERA, 1.617 WHIP, 6.5 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.  He does have the excuse of pitching in the Pacific Coast League, but lots of pitchers pitch there with better results.  Organizational depth signing at this point with not much upside.

RHP Raul Fernandez (25 years old, 6'2", 180 lbs) was signed by the Rockies as a seventeen year old International Free Agent out of the Dominican.  He was signed as a Catcher and converted to a pitcher his second professional season.  Moved to the States in 2011 as a 21 year old and he has been moving slowly up the minors.  Was traded to the White Sox the 2014 season.   In his only AA season in 2015 (Southern League) he pitched late in the games for the Birmingham Barons appearing in 36 games (61.3 IP) with a 4.26 ERA, 1.288 WHIP, 6.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.   Organizational depth, with just a tick or two of upside.

RHP Marcus Walden (27 years old, 6'0", 180 lbs) was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 9th round of the 2007 draft from Fresno City College.  After 2 seasons in low levels, he lost 2 seasons with elbow issues, one trying the rest and relaxation bit, before he head the surgery the next.   Coming back from the surgery he was a better pitcher, but pitched in A and high A teams that were too young for his age at that point.    When he moved to AA and AAA in the subsequent seasons he had trouble getting hitters out.  Moved to the A's organization in 2014 and to the Independents in 2015 before signed up by Cincinnati to pitch a single AA game (3 IP).   Organizational depth at this point, with not much upside.

IF Leonardo Reginatto (RHB, 25 years old, 6'2", 180 lbs) is a Brazilian who was signed at 18 as an International Free Agent by the Rays and had spent all of his career with that organization.  He has played mostly at SS and 3B, and a few games at 2B and LF.    Mostly a utility player in the minors; he made it up to AAA for a half season in 2015.  Career .286/.346/.351  slash line with 8 HRs and 48 SB in 7 MiLB seasons.  Organizational depth, but there might be something there.

Keury De La Cruz (24 years old, LHB, 5'11", 170 lbs) was signed by the Red Sox as a 16 year old International Free Agent out of the Dominican in 2008 and moved pretty fast in their system.   He can play all OF positions, including Centerfield.  He opened some eyes in 2012 when he hit .308/.352/.536 with 19 HRs and 19 SB (506 PAs) as a 20 year old for A Class Greenville (South Atlantic League).  2013 at High A was unremarkable, but he rebounded in 2014 in an injury shortened season in AA: .295/.327/.434 7 HRs and 3 SB (275 PAs).  He repeated AA last season with not that great results:  .240/.282/.375, 9 HRs, 3 SBs (433 PAs).  Could potentially be a change of scenery candidate.  He is still young, and had great results before, so worth a second look.  His biggest issue is a pretty violent inconsistent swing that tends to get a lot of strikeouts.  Needs work with his routes at the outfield.


C Jose Ortiz (RHB, 21 years old, 5'11", 205 lbs).  Ortiz was drafted by the Reds in the 17th round of the 2012 draft from Puerto Rico.  He is very young, and he has played that last 2 seasons in Dayton of the Midwest League, so he is familiar to some Twins.   He is very young but not very good, hitting just  .199/.239/.321 with 6 HRs and 0 SB (309 PAs) in those 2 seasons in the Midwest League.   Hard to see why the Twins signed him, other than replacing the equally bad but older Michael Quesada who was released last week.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nine things on the newest Twins' addition, LHP Fernando Abad

The Twins announced the signing of LHP Fernando Abad, adding to those of Dan Runzler and Buddy Boshers in their search for lefty relief help.    Here are 9 facts and thoughts about Abad:

  1. Abad is a Dominican who celebrated his 30th birthday today and signed as an International Free agent by the Astros at the ripe age of 20. He flew through the Astros system from the DSL to the majors in 4 years.  In addition to the Astros, he pitched for the Nationals (singed as a Free Agent in 2013) and the Athletics (traded for OF/1B John Wooten, fresh off a 20 HR season in Beloit, in 2014)
  2. 2014 was Abad's best season in the majors when he pitched in 69 games (57.3 IP) with a 1.57 ERA (3.25 FIP, 3.06 SIERA), 23.6% K% (8 K/9,) 2.4 BB/9 and 0.85 WHIP (.211 BABIP)
  3. 2015 was Abad's worst season in the majors when he pitched in 62 games (47.7 IP) with a 4.15 ERA (5.50 FIP, 3.82 SIERA), 22% K% (8.5 K/9,) 3.6 BB/9 and 1.34 WHIP (.264 BABIP)
  4. In his career, lefties hit .251/.304/.411 (423 PAs) and righties .247/.330/.423 (547 PAs) off him.  A lot of people would look at this and tell you that he will be ineffective against lefties.
  5. However, his FIP (3.54 vs 5.04, against lefties and righties,) K% and K/9 (25.1% and 9.5 vs 15.9% and 6.17,) BB/9 (2.06 vs 3.83) indicate that he has the makings of a decent LOOGY
  6. And that what he has been with the Athletics: A lefty specialist who pitches in more games than innings, who will face righties if necessary, but usually comes in low leverage situations.  Even in his best season, in 2014, he pitched 66.2% of the time in low leverage, 17.1% of the time in medium leverage and 16.7% of the time in high leverage situations
  7. Why his 2014 and 2015 were so different?  Different pitch mix.  In 2014 he threw a 93 mph above average Fastball (of both 4 and 2 seam varieties) supplemented mostly by a very good changeup that he threw against righties and an average knucklecurve that he threw mostly against lefties.  Since he was in the Athletics organization he started to learn the cutter that was not a pretty pitch for him.  In 2015 he threw that ineffective cutter for 20% of the time and got pounded.  Also his fastball (especially his two seamer, his four seamer was above average) and curveball was not that effective. I suspect that the grip and pressure of the cutter did affect the grip and the pressure of the two-seamer and the knucklecurve.
  8. What will the Twins get in 2016?  I think that the cutter experiment will be over and they will have Abad pitch to his strengths: four-seamer, two-seamer, changeup and curve, with a heavier those of that change and maybe against lefties as well.  That could produce results close to 2014 or maybe even better.  Have to remember that Abad has really never been tested consistently in high leverage situations in the majors; however he misses a lot of lefty bats. 
  9. Nevertheless, Abad is not a bad addition.  However, like Runzler and Boshers, he is not exactly someone who will step in for the Twins and expected to be in a bases loaded, one run up, one out, lefty in, 7th inning situation, and get a strikeout, which is what the Twins are missing at this point.

A week ago I said this about Abad and the Twins, but I hope I was mistaken:


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Twins pick four Free Agents, potentially addressing their pen and 4th outfielder needs

Today the Twins announced that they have signed 4 players to minor league contracts:  30 year old OF Darin Mastroianni, 24 year old middle infielder Wilfredo Tovar, 31 year old RHRP Brandon Kintzler and 27 year old LHRP Buddy Boshers.

Mastroianni who amassed 271 PAs with the Twins from 2012-2014, when he was selected off waivers by the Blue Jays, does not need introduction to anyone familiar with the Twins.  The last 2 seasons, he managed 32 MLB PAs (all with the Blue Jays in 2014) hitting .156/.156/.250.  He split last season between Lehigh Valley and Syracuse in AAA International League where he hit .257/.308/.345 with 25 steals in 112 games as the starting Center Fielder of both clubs.  He will provide depth at the OF for the Twins and will compete with Joe Benson and Danny Santana for the fourth outfielder position

Wilfredo Tovar is a former Met who is a wizard with the glove in middle infield, still young at 24, and making enough contact on occasion, to believe that his floor might be better than Pedro Florimon.  He already played in 8 minor league seasons (since he was signed as a 16 year old from Venezuela) amassing a .263/.324/.339 slash line with 14 HRs and 117 SB (Had 30 last season in 102 games) in 764 games.  He had a cup of coffee with the Mets due to injury in 2013 and he hit .200/.294/.200 in 7 games.   The right hand batter hit .307/.353/.386 against LHPs in 127 ABs last season in AAA Las Vegas, so he could have some potential as a bench/platoon infielder, on the other hand not with the Twins, since the incumbent SS Eduardo Escobar hits .299/.328/.483 against lefties.   Tovar will provide depth at AAA and likely be behind both Danny Santana and Eduardo Escobar pending trades and/or a potential move of Santana to the outfield. 

Brandon Kintzler is a 31 year old RHRP who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the 2004 draft, released by them in 2006 after injuring his throwing shoulder and requiring surgery.  He recovered all 2006 and in 2007 he signed with Winnipeg and played two years of independent ball as a swing man getting a 4.07 ERA, 1.177 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 in 77.3 IP in 2007 and a 4.65 ERA, 1.558 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 in 112.1 IP in 2008.  In 2009 he signed with the Saint Paul Saints, thus making him eligible for the Hall of Players who played for both the Twins and the Saints.  He was mainly a starter getting a 2.79 ERA, 1.401 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 in 80.7 IP (14 games, 11 starts)  At that point the Brewers thought they found something and signed him to a minor league contract mid-season.  Next season, 2010, his age 25 season was his breakthrough season after he moved to the pen.  Pitching at the end of games for both AA Huntsville (SL) and AAA Nashville (PCL) at a rate of 1.47 ERA, 0.755 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 with 16 saves in 49 IP, got him a spot on the Brewers' 40-man roster, a September callup and a trip to the Arizona Fall League.  That was the peak of Kintzler's professional career, as he fractured his throwing elbow early in the 2011 season, resulting in surgery and a lost season.  Subsequent elbow inflammation kept him in the DL half of 2012, hepitched with chronic left knee pain due to a injured patellar tendon in 2013 and 2014, which was surgically repaired in 2014 after he was sidelined with stain on his surgically repaired shoulder, allowing him to pitch only 19 AAA and 7 MLB innings in 2015. In 2013 (when the knee problem started) he was the set up man for the Brewers, appearing in 71 MLB games, for 77 IP, with a 2.69 ERA and 2.54 FIP, 1.06 WHIP (.281 BABIP), 19% K% or 6.8 K/9 and 1.87 BB/9.  In addition he had a ridiculous 3.12 GB/FB rate.  His Swinging Strike percentage was a respectable 9.7%.   At his best he was a heavy sinker, slider, change pitcher who when was not missing bats was killing worms.  Depending on his health, the Twins could be getting a pitcher better than Blaine Boyer, Casey Fien, or JR Graham were last season, who can get them out of jams late in the games.  The downside is minimal, even if he is not healthy enough to be effective.

This is a great video of Kintzler at his best:





Buddy Boshers was drafted by the Angels in the 4th round of the 2008 MLB and the lefty, whose given name is Jeffrey Alan, has been climbing their organizational ladder until after the 2014 season when he became a free agent.  His last 2 seasons with the Angels he was mostly shuttling between AA Arkansas (Texas League) and AAA Salt Lake City (PCL), which are not pitchers' paradise.  He appeared in 25 games for the Angels as a LOOGY in 2013, pitching 15.2 innings with a 4.70 ERA (but 3.11 FIP), a 20.6% K% and 4.70 BB/9 which helped get his WHIP to 1.37 (.317 BABIP.)   Primarily a fastball/curveball pitcher, pitch F/X has his 2013 fastball average close to 93 mph, and rates it, as well as his change as effective.   He did have 10.3% Swinging Strike percentage and his GB/FB ratio was 1.4.  His seven season minor league line was 446.1 IP in 234 games, with a 3.67 ERA, 1.362 WHIP, 9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 In 2015 he signed a MiLB contract with the Rockies but was released after Spring Training, ending up with Somerset of the Independent Atlantic League, where he pitched 54 innings in 52 games with a 1.00 ERA, 0.9891 WHIP, 11.8 K/9 and a good to see 2.3 BB/9.   At this point an upgrade over Ryan O'Rourke and Aaron Thompson, with no downside, but not as high potential as Dan Runzler.

The Twins potentially filled their bullpen holes with the minor league signings of Dan Runzler, Brandon Kintzler and Buddy Boshers, and their 4th outfielder who can play Centerfield issue with those of Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni, if everything works out in the best case scenario.  But that is a huge if, for a team that is competing...


Saturday, December 12, 2015

The one play that defines Micheal Cuddyer's contribution to the Twins

Today Michael Cuddyer has announced his retirement from baseball. For me this one play is what defines his contribution to the Minnesota Twins. 2008. Game 163 at the Chicago White Sox.

Enjoy:






I wish I could find his post-game interview, all smiles in the dugout saying how great a season it was and there is always next season... 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Twins finally sign a free agent in the winter meetings

The Rochester Red Wings announced that the Twins have signed 29 year old utility man Buck Britton (brother of the Orioles' Zach Britton) to a minor league contract.  He hit left-handed, can play corner infield and outfield positions and a bit of first base and has a career .253/.304/.379   AAA slash line.  Yesterday they re-signed 26 year old second baseman James Beresford.

Neither of them is a left handed pitcher who can have an impact in the 2016 bullpen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Twins nab yet another Catcher

Today the Minnesota Twins have announced that they have selected John Hicks off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.   This fills up their 40-man roster, and unless someone is traded or designated for assignment before the 5th of December, they will not be able to participate in the Rule 5 draft.  Hicks will likely start at Rochester and provide depth behind Kurt Suzuki and JR Murphy.  In other words, effectively the Twins replaced claimed Josmil Pinto with Hicks as their third Catcher in the organization.

In various Mariners' 2015 prospect lists, Hicks was ranked 18th by John Sickels (Minor League Ball) and 16th by Kiley McDaniel (FanGraphs.)   Who is John Hicks?  He is a rich man's Stuart Turner.  A defense-first Catcher but his defense is elite.  He has thrown out around half  (47%) of runners trying to steel and has been touted about his game calling and blocking techniques.  The former 4th Round selection of the 2011 Draft can hit ok.

His best hitting performance was last season as a 24 year old in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .304/.396/.522. In the first half of 2014 in the AA Southern League  (the same league as Twins' affiliate Chattannoga is playing,) he hit .296/.362/.418  in 211 PAs, which suggests that there is some potential with the bat.  For comparison's purpose, in the same leagues Stuart Turner as a 23 year old (a year younger) hit   .223/.322/.306 in the Southern League and  .171/.306/.220 this fall in the AFL.    In 2015 he had a miserable season in the PCL hitting .245/.282/.362 in 320 PAs and in his cup of coffee in the majors collecting 2 hits in 34 PAs.  On the other hand,  his success in the Southern and Arizona Fall Leagues indicates that Hicks has potential with the bat.

If he were still a prospect under my criteria (he does not qualify because he played in the majors) I would had ranked him higher than Turner (who was 28th in my 2015 list) because they are of similar age and Hicks is better on both sides of the ball.

I did mention that he managed to get only 2 hits in the majors in 34 PAs this September.  I did not mention that, even more importantly, he threw out 5 out of 10 runners in that span, like this:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

After Twins' top prospects take a step back, heads roll in AAA

Today the Minnesota Twins' affiliates announced their new coaching staff.   One of the surprising and uncharacteristic moves (after a 77-67 season) was that the AAA Rochester Red Wings' Pitching, Hitting and Strength & Conditioning Coaches were fired and replaced.   This comes after a season in which young top talent such as Alex Meyer, Oswaldo Arcia and Josmil Pinto took a definite step back in AAA without getting appropriate help.  One could add Taylor Rogers and Eddie Rosario to the list who both dramatically under-performed in comparison with their results in the AFL and MLB respectably.    In detail Pitching Coach Marty Mason  was replaced by Stu Cliburn, Hitting Coach Tim Doherty was replaced by Chad Allen, and Strength & Conditioning Coach Tyler Donahue was replaced by Dax Fiore.

Congratulations to the Twins for holding their Coaches accountable for talent development.  These changes, all within the organization, resulted in a series of additional changes.   Here is a detailed list of the full season leagues coaching staff for 2016 and 2015 (Rookie Leagues coaching staff has not been announced yet) :

Rochester Red Wings (AAA - International League)

Previous:

Manager - Mike Quade 
Pitching Coach - Marty Mason 
Hitting Coach - Tim Doherty
Trainer - Larry Bennese
Strength - Tyler Donahue

New:

Manager - Mike Quade
Pitching Coach - Stu Cliburn
Hitting Coach - Chad Allen
Trainer - Larry Bennese
Strength - Dax Fiore



Chatanooga Lookouts (AA - Southern League)

Previous:

Manager - Doug Mientkiewicz
Pitching Coach - Stu Cliburn
Hitting Coach - Chad Allen


New:

Manager -  Doug Mientkiewicz
Pitching Coach - Ivan Arteaga
Hitting Coach - Tommy Watkins 


,
Fort Myers Miracle (A+, Florida State League)

Previous:

Manager - Jeff Smith
Pitching Coach - Ivan Arteaga
Hitting Coach - Jim Dwyer

New:

Manager - Jeff Smith
Pitching Coach - Henry Bonilla 
Hitting Coach - Jim Dwyer

Cedar Rapids Kernels (A, Midwest League)

Previous:

Manager - Jake Mauer
Pitching Coach - Henry Bonilla 
Hitting Coach - Tommy Watkins 

New:

Manager - Jake Mauer
Pitching Coach - J.P. Martinez
Hitting Coach -  Brian Dinkelman

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Twins Sign a Centerfielder

After the Twins traded Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees for JR Murphy, there was an assumption that Byron Buxton was de facto handed the Centerfield job to start the season.  For the ones who have seen Buxton's close personal battles with breaking balls, this was not a welcome sign.   Additionally, Eddie Rosario, has played Centerfield for most of his career, and there was some talk that Danny Santana, who has no business playing the OF, might be tested as a potential backup, or even starter, in case Byron Buxton is still swatting at curveballs in the dirt as if the were the State Bird of Minnesota.

Today, thankfully, the Twins took one step in amending those crazy thoughts, by signing Joe Benson to minor league deal.  Yes, that Joe Benson, the Twins' second round draft pick in 2006, who put up a .259/.343/.538 slash line with 27 HRs and 19 SBs in 2010 between New Britain and Fort Myers and exclamated it with great body defying defense in the Centerfield.  In 2011 he was hitting .285/.388/.495  in June in New Britain with 16 HRs and 13 SBs, when he had a left knee surgery (meniscus) and was not the same, even though he was awarded with a September callup to the Twins.  In 2012 he broke his hamate (wrist) in May, which he surgically repaired and had an additional surgery in August, to clean up debris from his previous surgery.   After that he went downhill with the bat.   I saw him in 2013 play for Rochester and he was not the same guy.  You can read that here, along with a very characteristic picture of him.  That season he fought additional soreness to that left wrist and was sidelined for a month and a half with a pulled groin.

Benson was signed with Miami before the 2014 season where he put a respectable .264/.364/.410, 10 HRs and 15 SB in 124 games, and more importantly finished his season healthy.   In 2015 he signed with the Braves were he was released after 41 games in AAA Gwinnett where he hit .246/.346/.331.  After 5 games in the Independent  Leagues, he was picked up by the Mets who had him be Binghamton's (AA) starting Centerfielder.  He hit .250/.355/.380 in 54 games and made plays like this:


Benson is a no-risk/high reward signing and a potential great story to watch while he will be fighting for a job with the Twins in Spring Training of 2016.   He needs to relax and have fun out there again, like he did in 2010 and 2011, instead of pressing himself to perform at his high level of expectations and get disappointed.  That catch up there made a couple of months ago, makes me think that he can do it and finally the Twins' fans will see what made him twice a top 100 baseball prospect.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Assessing the Twins' Risks in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft: Analyzing Each of their 40 Eligible Unprotected Players

The Twins announced that they have added LHP Taylor Rogers, RHP JT Chargois, OF Adam Brett Walker, LHP Randy Rosario, RHP Yorman Landa, LHP Pat Dean, and LHP Mason Melotakis to their 40-man roster.   This leaves 41 players unprotected. 

Here is a list of each of the unprotected players along with an risk analysis with the possibility that each player will get selected by another team:

RHP Jose Abreu
Age: 23
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 170 lb
Highest Level: Rookie/Elizabethton 
Acquired:  Dominican Free Agent
2015 Prospect Rank: NR; 23th in 2014
Last season: 17 G, 26.2 IP, 6.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 3.71 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, .272 BABIP
Summary: Very raw player with control and command issues, but extremely tantalizing fastball with a lot of movement.  Secondary pitches are work in progress and has declined last season after missing 2014 with Tommy John surgery.  Interesting to see how he will bounce back.  Highly Unlikely to be taken in the draft
Risk %: 5%


RHP Jason Adam
Age: 24
Height:  6' 4"
Weight: 225 lb
Highest Level: AAA 
Acquired: Traded from the Kansas for Josh Willingham in 2014
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season: Did not play/recovering from surgery 2014 AAA/AA:  29 G, 19 GS, 120.1 IP, 7.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 4.71 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.41 WHIP, .345 BABIP
Summary: Was the Royals' 9th prospect according to Baseball America when traded.  Mid 90s plus fastball complemented with an above average curve and works in progress slider and changeup. Starter potential.  Unlikely to be taken in the draft because of the risk of the postsurgery unknown, but definitely has upside
Risk %: 30%

RHP Nick Anderson
Age: 25
Height:  6' 5"
Weight: 195 lb
Highest Level: A 
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent from Independent Leagues in 2015
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A): 9 G, 0 GS, 12 IP, 9 K/9, 0 BB/9, 0.75 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, .1945 BABIP
Summary: Minnesotan. Recent Independent League signing.  97 mph Fastball, but 2 years too old for the league and not too great secondary stuff.  Definitely a project.  Was there for the taking by any team and was not.  Unlikely that he would be taken in the draft, unless someone sees him as a MLB-level project
Risk %: 15%

RHP Luke Bard
Age: 25
Height:  6' 3"
Weight: 195 lb
Highest Level: A+ 
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (42 overall) in 2012
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A): 28 G, 0 GS, 52.1  IP, 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 2.41 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, .303 BABIP
Summary: Once (2012) the Twins' 10th best prospect according to Baseball America.  One of the many relievers the Twins drafted in high rounds with the hope to turn into starters and ended up having Tommy John surgery.  Bard was out all 2014 recoving. But has regressed in every level previously.  Last season he was adequate at A ball, but 2 years older than the average player there.  So far a dissapointment, and not sure that there will be any takers.
Risk %: 10%


RHP DJ Baxendale
Age: 24
Height:  6' 2"
Weight: 190 lb
Highest Level: AA 
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 10th round in 2012
2015 Prospect Rank: NR; highest: 15th in 2014 offseason.
Last season (AA) : 23 G, 21 GS, 118.1  IP, 7 K/9, 3 BB/9, 3.80 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.40 WHIP, .317 BABIP
Summary: Baxendale is all about Command and Control.  If that works, he is great, if it does not, he is not.  Repeated AA this season at an age a bit younger than average. His fastball has been hittable by more advanced hitters, and this has been his main problem. Cannot make it as a junk ball righty.  Lots of potential there, and has some history as a reliever, but I don't think that it is enough for anyone to spend a 25 man roster spot on him.
Risk %: 30%


RHP Omar Bencomo
Age: 26
Height:  6' 1"
Weight: 170 lb
Highest Level: A+ 
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent from Independent Leagues in 2015
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A+) : 3 G, 3 GS, 18  IP, 2.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.50 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 0.90 WHIP, .196 BABIP
Summary: Another one of the Twins' Independent League signings.  Started 3 games at a 26 year old at Fort Myers.  Organizational depth and more of a candidate for release than a risk to be drafted
Risk %: 5%

OF Edgar Corcino
Age: 23
Height:  6' 1"
Weight: 210 lb
Highest Level: A 
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent from Independent Leagues in 2014
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A) :  .273/.340/.376; 373 PA, 4 HR, 9 SB, 34 BB, 91 K.
Summary: Yet another one of the Twins' Independent League signings.  Started 63 games as a RF and 17 as a CF for Cedar Rapids. Not a prospect and not MLB-ready
Risk %: 15%


RHP Sam Gibbons
Age: 21
Height:  6' 4"
Weight: 190 lb
Highest Level: A 
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent from Australia in 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A) : 15 G, 15 GS, 90.1 IP, 6.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 2.89 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 1.185 WHIP, .196 BABIP
Summary: Gibbons has been improving each season and jumping a level a season. High A ready, but not MLB-ready.  Little risk of being taken in the MLB portion of the draft, might want to protect him in the minor league portion of the draft.
Risk %: 25%

RHP Miguel Gonzalez
Age: 21
Height:  6' 1"
Weight: 180 lb
Highest Level: Rookie (GCL)
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent from Dominican Republic in 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (Rookie/GCL) : 15 G, 3 GS, 39.2 IP, 9.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 1.59 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 0.981 WHIP, .271 BABIP
Summary: Third time is the charm, since threepeating the GCL, Gonzalez have found himself, by improving his mechanics and control.   Still very young.  Little risk of being taken in the MLB portion of the draft, might want to protect him in the minor league portion of the draft.
Risk %: 15%


IF Niko Goodrum
Age: 23
Height:  6' 3"
Weight: 167 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of 2010
2015 Prospect Rank: NR; 27th in 2014
Last season (AA) : .244/.332/.392; 238 PA, 5 HR, 18 SB, 28 BB, 51 K.
Summary: Goodrum is still young, but the expectations for the former second round draft pick have been higher than his performance so far. Declining performance at 3B, where he switch from SS, but adding CF to his repertoir and seeing more (and better defensively) games at SS in 2015.  Someone might pick him up as a utility player/PR, but he is not ready to perform with his bat.
Risk %: 35%

1B Bryan Haar
Age: 25
Height:  6' 3"
Weight: 215 lb
Highest Level: A+
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 34th round of 2012
2015 Prospect Rank: NR.
Last season (A+) : .249/.317/.323; 284 PA, 1 HR, 1 SB, 21 BB, 61 K.
Summary: Organizational depth at this point, and as a 25 year old in high A ball, he is more of a candidate to be cut than drafted.
Risk %: 5%

OF Travis Harrison
Age: 23
Height:  6' 1"
Weight: 215 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (50th overall) of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: 14th
Last season (AA) : .240/.363/.356; 479 PA, 5 HR, 3 SB, 65 BB, 102 K.
Summary: Harrison has been taken a step up in level every year in his professional career, but also has been taking a step back in performance.  Last season was his worst so far as a pro. Still more than 2 years young in AA, he is in the top prospect conversation and he might be a season or two away from a breakthrough; however, he is not major league ready at this point and I cannot see someone drafting him, but the potential is there.
Risk %: 40%


1B DJ Hicks
Age: 25
Height:  6' 5"
Weight: 245 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 17th round  of 2012
2015 Prospect Rank:NR, 2014: 24th
Last season (AA) : .227/.320/.351; 259 PA, 6 HR, 1 SB, 32 BB, 66 K.
Summary: Hicks' strongest tool is his power, and he has seen a drastic decline as he has been climbing minor league levels, something that he did with regularity.  Bothered with injuries this season.  It is unlikely that he will be drafted, he needs another good year to be MLB-ready.
Risk %: 25%

LHP David Hurlbut
Age: 25
Height:  6' 3"
Weight: 221 lb
Highest Level: AAA (one game)
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 28th round  of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A+/AA/AAA) : 20 G, 19 GS, 119 IP, 5.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 3.78 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.333 WHIP, .311 BABIP
Summary: Hurlbut had a decent AA season, he is left-handed and a pitch to contact guy.  Someone might think that converting him to a reliever might improve his numbers. As with any lefty, there are always some possibilities that someone will pull the trigger, but there are better options out there.
Risk %: 45%

RHP Cole Johnson
Age: 27
Height:  6' 3"
Weight: 200 lb
Highest Level: AAA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 44th round  of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A+/AA/AAA) : 35 G, 0 GS, 52 IP, 8.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 3.18 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.404 WHIP, .331 BABIP
Summary: Cole Johnson is MLB-ready.  Heavy singer sitting at 89-92, good slider.  Command of his fastball is crucial.  Tale of 2 places season, better at AA than AAA.  Might be due to the fact of game calling by catchers at AAA as well.  Can be in a major league pen right now.
Risk %: 70%

RHP Zack Jones
Age: 24
Height:  6' 1"
Weight: 185 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 4th round  of 2012
2015 Prospect Rank: NR; 2014: 19th
Last season (A+/AA) :45 G, 0 GS, 51.2 IP, 11.8 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 4.53 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 1.277 WHIP, .288 BABIP
Summary: Zach Jones is a fireballer with a major league 99 mph fastball, but with iffy control due to his mechanics (which have been the source of nagging injuries,) and an average slider that sometimes is much better than average, but it is an inconsistent pitch.  Much better performance at Fort Myers than at Chatanooga.  Still can strike people out and non contenders with pitching coaches who would love a challenge might wink at that heater. 
Risk %: 75%

RHP Felix Jorge
Age: 21
Height:  6' 2"
Weight: 170 lb
Highest Level: A
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent from Dominican Republic
2015 Prospect Rank: 29th
Last season (A) :23 G, 22 GS, 142 IP, 7.2 K/9, 2 BB/9, 2.79 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.056 WHIP, .267 BABIP
Summary: Jorge has 4 pitches that can be plus at different times.  He just has not put it all together.  Second time at Cedar Rapids (still at an age younger than league average) was better.  Fastball used to live around 95 earlier in his career, but endurance had been an issue.  This kid has a lot of potential.  He is not major league ready by any means, but the Twins are betting nobody pulls a Santana on them.  However someone might.
Risk %: 50%

OF Marcus Knecht
Age: 25
Height:  6' 1"
Weight: 200 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Signed as a Minor League free agent in 2015
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (A+/AA) : .221/.320/.310; 465 PA, 2 HR, 15 SB, 51 BB, 103 K.
Summary: The definition of organization depth.  Not sure why the Twins re-signed him.  Cannot see a team taking a chance for any reason
Risk %: 2%

LHP Brett Lee
Age: 25
Height:  6' 4"
Weight: 206 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 10th round of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (A+/A) :22 G, 22 GS, 134 IP, 4.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.16 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.239 WHIP, .277 BABIP
Summary: Even though Lee posted before average numbers, his stuff is pretty average, other than pitching to contact, which is his bread and butter.  Very low strikeout and walk numbers, so his success (or lack of) would have to depend on his ability to induce ground balls.  And he is not ready for the majors at this point.  But he is a living and breathing lefty.  On the other hand, there are better option for those as well...
Risk %: 30%

RHP Kuo-Hua Lo
Age: 22
Height:  5'10"
Weight: 195lb
Highest Level: Rookie (Elizabethton)
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent from Taiwan
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (Rookie) :19 G, 0 GS, 31.1 IP, 12.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.44 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 0.734 WHIP, .213 BABIP
Summary: Lo repeated the Appalachian League in his fourth season with the Twins and had remarkable success closing games.  However he is 2 years older than the league average player and has faced players who grabbed a wooden bad for the first time in their lives.  Might get himself into prospect conversations, but he is not close to being Major League ready
Risk %: 10%

C Joe Maloney
Age: 25
Height:  6' 2"
Weight: 190 lb
Highest Level: A+ (in 2013)
Acquired: Signed as an Independent League free agent this off-season
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (IL) : .337/.432/.559; 433 PA, 14 HR, 18 SB, 57 BB, 106 K.
Summary: Intriguing IL numbers last season, so the Twins took a chance on him.  More about him here.  Not the kind of player you draft on Rule 5 draft.
Risk %: 5%

IF Aderlin Mejia
Age: 23
Height:  5'11"
Weight: 170lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent for the Dominican Republic
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (A+/AA) : .231/.313/.285; 305 PA, 1 HR, 7 SB, 34 BB, 37 K.
Summary: Had some flashes in the past, but last season was his fourth season that he spent at least some part at Fort Myers.  He is a fan favorite there, but a utility player.  More of a release than a draft candidate.
Risk %: 5%

SS Heiker Meneses
Age: 24
Height:  5'9"
Weight: 200lb
Highest Level: AAA (2014)
Acquired: Signed as a Minor League Free Agent in 2015
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (AA) : .259/.317/.300; 386 PA, 0 HR, 15 SB, 24 BB, 72 K.
Summary: Re-signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent again this off-season.  More about him here.  Definitely there is some intrigue and potential, but not enough to get drafted
Risk %: 25%

2B Levi Michael
Age: 24
Height:  5'10"
Weight: 180lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (30th overall) of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: 22nd
Last season (AA) : .267/.369/.434; 264 PA, 5 HR, 18 SB, 31 BB, 53 K.
Summary: Never played below high A, was over-slotted and over-assigned when drafted.  But he got better each and every season.  Better than average defender after his move to second base, his challenge has been staying healthy.  However second basement with .804 OPS in AA and excellent judgement of the strike zone do not grow on trees.  The exact kind of player a team (especially in the National League) would not mind spending its last roster spot over.
Risk %: 75%

RHP Alex Muren
Age: 24
Height:  6'3"
Weight: 200 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired:  Drafted by the Twins in the 12th round  of 2012
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (A+/AA) :44 G, 0 GS, 71.1 IP, 6.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 3.53 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.206 WHIP, .273 BABIP
Summary: Muren is organizational depth at this point.  He does have his moments but are not enough for someone to draft him.
Risk %: 10%

C Carlos Paulino
Age: 26
Height:  6'0"
Weight: 175lb
Highest Level: AAA
Acquired: Singed as a Minor League Free Agent in 2015
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (AA/AAA) : .262/.328/.337; 193 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, 17 BB, 15 K.
Summary: Re-signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent again this off-season.  Despite being the Twins' de facto number 3 in depth catcher as of today, he does not fit the profile of someone who will be taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Risk %: 25%

RHP Greg Peavey
Age: 27
Height:  6'2"
Weight: 185lb
Highest Level: AAA
Acquired: Selected from the Mets in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2014
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (AAA/AA) :27 G, 27 GS, 147 IP, 5.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 5.02 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 1.354 WHIP, .287 BABIP
Summary: Peavey is a pitch to contact control artist who can be really good on a good day and really bad on a bad day.  And he had more bad days than good last season.  Hard to see him drafted, but it is not impossible.  Not unlike the starters that the Twins have drafted in the rule 5 draft this decade
Risk %: 40%

C Michael Quesada
Age: 25
Height:  6'1"
Weight: 205lb
Highest Level: A+
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 24th Round of 2010
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (A+) : .151/.239/.198; 240 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, 21 BB, 73 K.
Summary: Quesada had an abysmal season at Fort Myers at an age 2.5 years older than League average.  Has been digressing every season; add a suspension because of drug use and it is a wonder he still is in the Twins' organization.  Will not get drafted, unless something freezes over.
Risk %: 1%

RHP Dereck Rodriguez
Age: 24
Height:  6'1"
Weight: 180lb
Highest Level: A+
Acquired: Drafted in the 6th round of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (Rk/A/A+) :15 G, 14 GS, 75.1 IP, 7.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.35 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 1.235 WHIP, .306 BABIP
Summary: The son of Pudge was drafted as an outfielder and now is being converted into a pitcher.  Played mostly Rookie ball at Elizabethton with 2 games with the Miracle and 1 with the Lookouts.  He is a project; a project that looks good, but not MLB-ready by any means.
Risk %: 20%

C Jairo Rodriguez
Age: 27
Height:  5'11"
Weight: 180 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Signed by the Twins as an International Amateur Free Agent from Venezuela
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (AA) : .221/.284/.244; 96 PA, 0 HR, 0 SB, 8 BB, 15 K.
Summary: Has been in the Twins' organization for 9 season and was re-signed again this off-season, for his 10th, after a pretty bad performance at Chattanooga.  They like him for some reason, but his is a performance that only a parent team would like...
Risk %: 2%

1B Reynaldo Rodriguez



Age: 29
Height:  6'0"
Weight: 200 lb
Highest Level: AAA
Acquired: Signed by the Twins as a minor league Free Agent in 2013
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (AAA) : .255/.307/.446; 551 PA, 16 HR, 13 SB, 39 BB, 82 K.
Summary: Re-signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent again this off-season.  A little older than the traditional rule 5 picks, his skills translate well in the majors and could be picked by a team in need of RH bats at the 1B/OF/PH/DH positions.
Risk %: 55%

LHP Dan Runzler
 Age: 30
Height:  6'4"
Weight: 210lb
Highest Level: MLB (2012)
Acquired: Signed this off-season as a minor league free agent
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (AAA) :39 G, 0 GS, 37.2 IP, 9.6 K/9, 6.7 BB/9, 5.26 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 2.018 WHIP, .285 BABIP
Summary: You can read a lot about Runzler here.  A very intriguing situation and the only thing that makes me think that he might not get selected is that if a team wanted to give him a 40-man position, they could have done it.  However, things change in a month.
Risk %: 45%


RHP Tim Shibuya
Age: 26
Height:  6'1"
Weight: 190lb
Highest Level: AAA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (A+/AA/AAA) :33 G, 4 GS, 63 IP, 5.3 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 3.57 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 1.222 WHIP, .295 BABIP
Summary: Shibuya, despite his impeccable control is organizational depth at this point. Hard to see any takers
Risk %: 25%

RHP Matt Summers
Age: 26
Height:  6'1"
Weight: 205lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 4th round of the 2011 draft
2015 Prospect Rank: N/A
Last season (A+/AA) :26 G, 1 GS, 44.2 IP, 6.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.63 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.187 WHIP, .266 BABIP
Summary: Pretty much the same that was said about Shibuya.  However, Summers was a higher round pick in the same draft and did not go that far.
Risk %: 25%


RHP Todd Van Steensel
Age: 24
Height:  6'1"
Weight: 190 lb
Highest Level: A+
Acquired: Signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent in 2014 (previously pitching for them for 2011)
2015 Prospect Rank: 34
Last season (A+/AA) :46 G, 0 GS, 66 IP, 11 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 2.32 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.288 WHIP, .310 BABIP
Summary:  In his first full season as one of the Miracle closers, Van Steensel put good enough numbers to move up to the Chattanooga pen next season, but not good enough to be drafted.  He in an interesting prospect who might be a couple seasons away if his fastball plays against better competition, but he is not there yet.
Risk %: 25%

UT  Logan Wade
Age: 24
Height:  6'1"
Weight: 190 lb
Highest Level: A+
Acquired: Signed by the Twins as an International Free agent from Australia
2015 Prospect Rank:NR; 2014: 37
Last season (A+) : .258/.296/.374; 366 PA, 3 HR, 3 SB, 20 BB, 63 K.
Summary: Wade is an average utility player at Fort Myers who can play all over the field.  Not sure that he is ready for AA, much yet for the majors.  
Risk %: 5%


LHP Jason Wheeler
Age: 25
Height:  6'6"
Weight: 255 lb
Highest Level: AAA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (AA/AAA) :25 G, 25 GS, 137.2 IP, 5.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 5.43 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.467 WHIP, .323 BABIP
Summary:  Typical Twins' minor league middle of the rotation starter.  Pitch to contact pitcher with above average control, hoping to induce ground balls that the defense behind him will turn to outs. Much better success at AA than at AAA last season. He is a lefty.  Maybe someone things that with a couple few pitches and a few ticks higher in his FB might turn into an acceptable reliever in the majors.  Maybe.
Risk %: 55%

UT Stephen Wickens
Age: 26
Height:  5'10"
Weight: 170 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 33rd round of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank:NR
Last season (A+) : .254/.352/.333; 310 PA, 1 HR, 16 SB, 36 BB, 45 K.
Summary: Steady utility player who has played every position except CF and C.  Has value on resting starters for a good minor league team and not hurt the team with the bat or the glove, but that's about it.  I do not see him getting selected.
Risk %: 15%

LHP Corey Williams
Age: 25
Height:  6'2"
Weight: 205 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 3th round of 2011
2015 Prospect Rank: NR
Last season (A+/AA) :29 G, 0 GS, 33.12 IP, 7 K/9, 4 BB/9, 2.43 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 1.110 WHIP, .247 BABIP
Summary:  Williams is a lefty in the Twins' system with closer staff, but command issues.  He was on a quick trajectory to the majors that got derailed with a Tommy John surgery and the loss of all 2014.  He returned in 2015 and put good but not great numbers.  The Twins know his medicals better than any team, but Williams is the type of guy you add to a 40-man roster because if healthy he can help a team down the stretch better than the likes of Aaron Thompson and Ryan O'Rourke.  Also this is exactly the kind of guy who might get drafted for the same reason.
Risk %: 75%

RHP Alex Wimmers.
Age: 27
Height:  6'2"
Weight: 212 lb
Highest Level: AA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of 2010 (21st overall)
2015 Prospect Rank: NR; 2014: 40
Last season (AA) :30 G, 18 GS, 115.1 IP, 7.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 4.53 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 1.387 WHIP, .325 BABIP
Summary: Wimmers is the poster boy of the players who get drafted in the Rule 5 draft.  Another season removed by Tommy John surgery he put respectable raw numbers in AA and pitched the most innings in his career.  A control artist with ground ball tendencies and a strikeout breaking ball, might need a change of scenery.  The potential is there and now that he has proven that he can handle the work load, he will find a taker.  Surprised if the former 1st Round selection is with the Twins at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings.
Risk %: 85%

Friday, November 13, 2015

Off-season Twins Transaction Tally: up to 11/12

The Minnesota Twins have been unusually busy this off-season.    To keep track of them, I will provide occasional updates.   You can find all of them here.  Here is the first one and involves transactions that happened until (and including) November 12th:

  • They signed C Joe Maloney to a Minor League Contract - 10/9
  • Five Twins' major leaguers became free agents 11/2
    •  RHP Blaine Boyer 
    • LHP Neal Cotts
    • LHP Brian Duensing 
    • RHP Mike Pelfrey 
    • RF Torii Hunter ; he officially announced his retirement
  • They released former first round pick RHP Hudson Boyd - 11/3
  • Several minor leagues become free agents, some of them resigned 11/7-11/9
                  AAA:
  • C Eric Fryer
  • C Allan de San Miguel
  • C Carlos Paulino 
  • 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez (re-signed)
  • 2B Jose Martinez
  • 2B James Beresford
  • SS Argenis Diaz
  • SS Doug Bernier
  • OF Marcus Knecht (re-signed)
  • LF Xavier Avery
  • LF Danny Ortiz
  • RF Wilkin Ramirez
  • OF Eric Farris
  • OF Shane Robinson
  • RHP Michael Bowden
  • RHP Lester Oliveros
  • RHP Mark Hamburger
  • LHP Aaron Thompson

    AA:

    • C Jairo Rodriguez
    • SS Heiker Meneses (re-signed 11/5)
    • CF Shannon Wilkerson
    • RHP D.J. Johnson
    • RHP B.J. Hermsen
    • RHP Adrian Salcedo



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dan Runzler, one of the Twins' free agent signees is a dark horse for the bullpen

Earlier this week, and lost among winning the rights to negotiate with Buyng Ho Park, trading Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka, and Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy, the Twins signed LHP Dan Ruzler to a Minor League Contract.   I broke the news here, but did not have much time for analysis, since the other events happened, so here it is.

The transaction seems pretty unremarkable, reading something like this:  The Twins have signed LHP Dan Runzler from the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League and have assigned him to AAA Rochester Red Wings.  Dan Rusler is not Andrew Albers or Kaleb Thielbar, a couple of unremarkable Twins' minor league free agents originating from the independent leagues and playing in the majors during the Twins' recent dark years.   Who is Dan Runzler and why I am so sure that he might actually be a factor?   First things first:

Dan Runzler is 30 years old, listed at 6'4" and 230 lbs (but his physique looks a lot like that of former Twins' Tyler Robertson; think NFL defensive end.)   He is from Santa Monica, CA, and was drafted by the San Fransisco Giants from the University or Riveside, CA, in the 9th round of the 2007 draft.  At Riverside in his junior (last) season, he was a swingman, staring 10 games (including a complete game) and relieving in 12.   He did have an electric fastball in college and added a devastating slider in the Giants' minors, allowing him to make the jump in the majors in 2009, just 2 seasons after he was drafted.  After that season he was listed as high as number 4 in the Giant's prospect lists.  Baseball America had him at number 5 with Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Zach Wheeler ahead of him.  So he was a highly regarded prospect. 

2010, the season that the Giants won it all, he was an integral part of their bullpen and has a World Series ring to prove it.  The local press held him in the same regard (as a potential closer) with Sergio Romo and Jeremy Afeldt.   Not a shabby company to have, especially if you can back it up on the mount with a plus plus 95-97 mph Fastball and a 85-88 mph slider, producing a 25.7% K-rate (resulting to 10.2 K/9) and a 2:1 ground ball to fly ball ratio.  Think of Fransisco Liriano before elbow problems.  That season he had a 3.03 ERA and 3.14 FIP.  So what happened?   A couple of things:  Ruzler has always been somewhat wild and the command of his slider has been inconsistent.  Even in the 2010 season, he had a 5.5 BB/9 and 1.500 WHIP (even with a below average .250 BABIP.)  Later in the season he had a knee injury that made him go to a couple of rehab stints and was caught in the numbers game for a team that was after (and won) a World Series.  By 2011 he was bypassed in the depth charts in a highly competitive team and a bad shoulder and lat injury, in his words, "subconsciously made him change his mechanics".   In the same piece he called his command problems in 2010 and before, "mental issues". 

At that point he was demoted.  Regardless the source of his problems, he never made it back, optioned a couple of times and finally outrighted on September of 2013.  The Giants released him in July of 2014 to play in Japan.   For some reason he never made it.  Last season he hooked up as a free agent with the Diamondbacks where he pitched in 39 games (37.7 IP) for the AAA Reno Aces of the Pacific Coast League.  His ERA was 5.26 (3.86 FIP), WHIP 2.02 (but an outlandish .407 BABIP.)  He walked 28 (6.7 BB/9) and struck out 40 (9.6 K/9.) Encouragingly, his K% was 21.6% and he was close to 3:1 in Ground outs : Fly outs.  He finished the season playing 19 games (17.1 IP) with Sugar Land of the Atlantic league, where he put insane (but almost irrelevant) numbers:  0.52 ERA, 3 BB (1.6 BB/9), 20 K (10.4 K/9), and 0.865 WHIP.   The one number that is of interest here is the walk number, which is stellar.  And this is a number for which competition does not matter than much because you either throw strikes, or you don't. 

I think that Runzler might be a great signing for the Twins.  Clearly, his issues with command are mechanical and mental.  And he admitted that.  The fact that he was not throwing as many balls while playing at Sugar Land, makes me think that he was not thinking too hard, and just throwing in that level.  Can he do this come Spring Training, and hopefully in the majors, for the Twins?  Can the Twins help his mechanics?  Two very important questions to answer, but lefties who throw 97 mph Fastballs and 88 mph Sliders do not grow on trees, esp. when that repertoire results in 11 K/9 and 2-3:1 GB:FB out ratio and a .212/.282/.263 slash line (his career number) from left hand hitters.








Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I might like the Twins trade of Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for John Ryan Murphy, under one condition

The Twins have been very busy so far this off-season, making moves that netted them Daniel Palka, Dan Runzler, the ability to exclusively negotiate with Byung Ho Park,  and today they traded OF Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for back up Catcher John Ryan Murphy.  There has been a lot written about this trade already, so I will not really get into details that you can read (if you not already have) elsewhere, but just want to analyze its potential effect to the 2016 Twins.

If you cannot tell from the title of this piece, I am very lukewarm (at least) about this trade.  Why?  Here are the reasons:

  • Hicks and his play in the outfield was one of the biggest reasons the 2015 Twins were competitive.   They needed to fix outfield defense, and they did.   Hicks was part of the solution in 2015.  There is talk about replacing Hicks at CF with Byron Buxton (probably the best case scenario if his bat is ready, but will it be ready?)  returning back to Danny Santana, who was part of the outfield problem in 2014, or potentially using Eddie Rosario, which might make sense, but would take a plus corner outfielder away.   Just the fact that they are considering Santana as a replacement (unless it is empty talk) makes me think that Terry Ryan and company have learned nothing.
  • There were personality clash issues between Hicks and Gardenhire's staff, when he was thrown under the bus for "being late in meetings", "not knowing who the opposing pitcher is" etc; but Hicks was fine under Molitor and even though I dismiss those allegations much faster than the Twins dismissed their source, there might be something there
  • Despite Cashman trying to build up Murphy as a starting catcher at this point, actions speak louder than words:  He did not use him as the starting catcher.  And if a player is not good enough to be a starter in a contender, why should he be a starter for the Twins?
  • Of course Murphy is just 24, was rated the Yankees' 4th best prospect in 2014, despite the difficulties with blocking balls and throwing runners out, he is an above average pitch framer (a trade he learned from Tony Pena.)  The other encouraging thing, is that Murphy was an outfielder in High School who has been converted to a catcher and his defense in blocking balls and throwing runners out, even though not up to par, has been improving.  
  • Very hard to tell how Murphy will end up being with the bat as the most-days catcher, because the data we have is from sporadic back up play.  The last couple of seasons in the majors, he had an acceptable slash line, however his BABIP jumped to the mid-high s300s from the high .200s in the minors?  Did he turn a corner and made adjustments or is it an artifact of the small sample?   His K% has been in the low 20s, which is also worrisome.  But he can improve.
  • My biggest objection with this trade, was pretty much part of this analysis: The Twins in 2015 were not good against RHPs, and they need to improve, so if they were looking for a Catcher to platoon with Kurt Suzuki, they need a LHB who will play more (against RHPs) and can hit RHP better than Suzuki.  Murphy is not this; you cannot platoon same-side hitters; you can use them on different situations.  Murphy hits lefties pretty well, but struggles against RHPs; as a matter of fact, Suzuki is better than Murphy against RHPs.  At this point, other than fewer concussions, I am not sure that Murphy is bringing more to a competing team (remember that little detail?) than Josmil Pinto does.  As a matter of fact he might be bringing less to the table at this point.
However, I said that I might like this trade under one condition.  What would this condition be?   If the Twins use Murphy as the (less playing) Right hand side of a platoon against LHPs, let him develop a bit, and get a lefty or switch-hitting starting Catcher to face RHP, cutting ties with Suzuki.  If that happens, that trade might be ok.  The off-season is still young...






Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Profile of the newest Twins player, Daniel Palka

After signing LHP Dan Runzler to a minor league contract yesterday,  the Twins land a second lefty Daniel in two days by trading Chris Herrmann to the Arizona Diamondbacks for left hitting and throwing OF/1B Daniel Palka.   The trade frees a 40-man roster spot for the Twins.

Daniel Parka just finished his second full professional season, drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Diamondbacks from Georgia Tech where he was a two way player, pitching and playing the outfield and first base.   His last (junior) season at Georgia Tech he hit .342/.436/.637 with 17 HRs and 13 doubles in 237 ABs (This is 1 HR per 14 ABs.)   He also pitched 13 innings out of the bullpen, striking out 11, walking 3, allowing 6 hits and one earned run.   The transition to the wooden bad in the Cape Cod league before his junior season did not hurt his numbers:  in 2012 he hit .272/.346/.519 with 11 HRs and 6 2Bs in 158 AB (14.3 ABs/HR).

After he was drafted in 2013, he was assigned to Rookie Missoula where he hit .302/.386/.502 with 7 HRs in 205 ABs and moved up to Short Season A Hillsboro where he hit .340/.418/.574 with 2 HRs in 47 AB.   The decrease in power was likely because of fatigue (between college and the pros he had 410 ABs).  In 2014 playing for South Bend of the Midwest (A) League, he hit .248/.332/.466 with 22 HRs in 455 AB (20.7 AB/HR) , with a 56:129 BB:K ratio.  Last season he moved to high A Visalia where he hit .280/.352/.532 with 29 HRs in 511 PAs (17.6 AB/HR) and a 56:164 BB:K ratio in his age 23 season.

For comparison's sake, in his second full professional season, Twins' OF Adam Brett Walker, who was drafted at the same round (3rd) a season before Palka, at the same (high A) level (albeit Florida State vs California League) in 2014 hit .246/.307/.436 with 25 HRs in 505 ABs (20.2 AB/HR) and a 44:156 BB:K ratio.  So basically in Palka the Twins get a player similar to Adam Walker, but with better power and contact skills who strikes out and walks at about the same rate as Walker, but is left handed.   In 2015 Palka destroyed RHPs; against them he hit .301/.374/.589 with 26 HRs in 389 AB (15.6 AB/HR) and a 45:118 BB:K ratio.  Power LHBs who can hit RHPs with vengeance are lacking in the Twins' organization;  only Oswaldo Arcia and switch hitting Kennys Vargas might fit the bill.  Palka is more versatile than both on the field, plus he bring a bit of speed as he stole 24 bases in 31 attempts last season.

Here is an interesting statistic:  In 2015 Palka had 24 SBs and 29 HRs.  In the history of the Minnesota Twins, no player in their organization had 24 or more stolen bases and 29 or more HRs in the same season.

Palka is listed at 6'2" and 220 lbs, is originally from Springfield SC, and his grandfather, Eugene, pitched in the Baltimore Orioles' organization.  He was listed as the Diamondbacks' 15th best prospect in 2014 by John Sickel's, and 29th in 2015 by MLB.com.   He majored at Management in Georgia Tech.   Here is a video of Palka from the Arizona Fall League this season where he is hitting .304/.364/.449 with 2 HR in 69 AB and 7:12 BB:K ratio.   Palka would likely start 2016 in Chattanooga.










Monday, November 9, 2015

Making Sense of the Twins winning bid to negotiate with Korean First Baseman Byung-Ho Park

According to several reports that were later confirmed by the team, the Twins have placed the highest ($12.85 Million) bid that was accepted by the Nexen Heros, for the right to exclusive negotiate a contract with 29 year old First Baseman Byung-Ho Park.   On paper, with the presence of Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Miquel Sano and Kennys Vargas, investing on another 1B/DH bat, and especially right handed, makes little sense.  Why would the Twins do it?  What was Terry Ryan thinking?  Let's examine the possibilities:

First of all what he was not thinking:  Moving Mauer to Catcher, Sano to Left Field, keeping Plouffe at Third Base and potentially use a rotation of Parks and Vargas at 1B/DH, supplemented by a heavy dose of Arcia, is not happening, basically because Mauer is done catching.  This hypothesis should be dismissed before it starts to get formed.  I believe that Terry Ryan saw Byung Ho Park as a unique talent and he thought something on the lines of 'let's get him, and we will figure where he fits later', which is a totally rational and opportunistic approach, albeit the apparent Mauer/Park dilemma has fewer solution than the Plouffe/Sano dilemma.  So, let's figure where he fits later.

How unique is Park?  Park is a player who have been improving each and every season from his age 25 season when he was the starting first baseman for Nexen Heros (was drafted and played his first 4.5 seasons, with a 2 year hiatus from 2007 to 2008 for his Army dury, by the LG Twins who traded him in the middle of the 2011 season as a 24 year old.)  His OPS increased from .866 in 2011, to .954 in 2012, to 1.039 in 2013 to 1.119 in 2014 and to 1.150 last season, when he produced a .343/.436/.714 slash line with 53 HRs and 146 RBI in 140 games.  Those are Bary Bonds on steroids numbers, folks...

How realistic are those expectations and how those crazy KBO numbers may translate into MLB numbers?  I will likely do a more in-depth analysis with several data points when and if Park officially becomes a Twins' player, but right now we have a very good comparable: his former teammate Jung Ho Kang who moved from the KBO to the MLB playing for the Pirates last season.  In 2014, his age 27 season in KBO, Kang hit .356/.459/.739 in 501 PAs with 149 hits, 36 doubles, 40 HRs, 68 BB and 106 K.  Last season with the Pirates, he hit .287/.355/.461 with 121 hits, 24 doubles, 15 HRs, 28 BB and 99 K in 467 PA.  His rates at KBO were:  Hit 29.7%, double 7.2%, HR 8%, BB 13.6%, K 21.1%.  His rates at MLB (with relative fractions to the KBO) were: Hit 25.9% (.87), double 5.1% (.71), HR 3.2% (0.4), BB 6% (0.44), K 21.2% (1).  Utilizing these as guides, we could roughly (very roughly, but it is in the ballpark) expect Byung Ho Park to hit something like: .278/.336/.442 (.778 OPS) with 157 hits, 25 doubles, 21 HRs, 34 BB and 161 K in 622 PAs.  Those numbers (other than the Ks) are definitely better than what the Twins got for Torii Hunter (.702 OPS; whom Park might essensially be replacing) and slightly better than Plouffe's (.742 OPS; whom Park might end up replacing.)

What will it take to sign Park?  We have Jung Ho Kang's contract for a guide.  The Pirates signed him for 4 years / $11 million guaranteed ($2.5M, $2.5M, $2.75M, $3 and an optional 5th for $5.5M with a $250K buyout) and their winning bid was $5 million, so the total guaranteed cost of the contract was 4/$16M.  I think that it will be reasonable for the Twins to sign him to a 4 year ($3M, $3M, $4M, $4.5M) with an optional fifth year at $6 with a $500K buyout.  This will be a 4/$15M contract for the player, and adding the fee a 4/$28M contract for the Twins, most of it front loaded with the posting fee.  The annual cost for the Twins will be at around $7 million, which is $3.5 million annual savings for what they paid Hunter, a little less than what Plouffe will make on arbitration and a considerable $3-5M savings over what they would have take to re-sign/extend Plouffe. 

So in other words, this is likely what Terry Ryan was thinking: Better production than what he had in 2015 at 2/3rd of the cost, and most of it front loaded in a way that he would not have to pinch more pennies when Sano hits arbitration.  Where would he fit? Let them sign him first, and we'll figure where he fits later, but here are a couple of things to think about:  Park is a plus defender at first base with a plus arm and Mauer in the past 2 seasona has a .774 OPS as a DH vs..717 as a first baseman.  Terry Ryan was adamant about Park being the Twins' DH, but you never know. So there might be a plan for that as well, after all... 

Let the negotiations begin and meanwhile enjoy every single home run that Park hit in 2014 in this video:


Sunday, November 8, 2015

A catcher the Twins should sign right now

A few days ago, I looked into all 20 free agent catchers and suggested one who was the best fit for the Twins.   The criteria were that he should:

  • be left handed or switch hitting, so he complements Suzuki in a platoon
  • hit RHPs well, because he will be hitting mainly against them; with his performance against LHPs meaningless,  because Suzuki will be facing those
  • and, do not cost a ton, because the Twins have few more holes (LH power, bullpen) which will cost $ to fill
  • be accustomed to be a starter, because he will have more PAs than Suzuki 
  • be a better defender than Suzuki.
 Based on that criteria, the best free agent fit for the Twins was Brayan Pena.

As I indicated back then, there will be more than 20 MLB and high MiLB free agents, since the MiLB free agency is just beginning.   And a very intriguing player joined the ranks of the minor league free agents; and the Twins should sign him to a MiLB contract with an invite to Spring Training as soon as possible.   This does not negate the need to sign someone like Brayan Pena, but there is absolutely no risk in signing 32 year old George Kottaras to a minor league contract. 

Kottaras is a 6'. 200 lbs, left handed Catcher who spend seven MLB seasons with seven teams and has been shuttling between the majors and AAA.   In seven seasons in the majors he hit .215/.326/.411 overall in 313 games (858 PAs) and .223/.323/.439  in 267 games (680 PAs) against RHPs.  Kottaras satisfies the top 3 criteria, and it would be senseless not to try to sign him to a minor league contract, since there is no risk.  His best season in the majors was 2012 when he hit .211/.351/.415 in 85 games between Milwaukee and Oakland.  That season he hit .207/.335/.434 against LHPs (including 9 HRs in 145 ABs,) showing remarkable isoP and isoD against lefties. 

Another remarkable statistic about Kottaras is that he is hitting .230/.378/.492  in high leverage situations (166 PAs), and .208/.381/.393 with Runners In Scoring Position (237 PAs).   He spend all last season in the AAA for Toronto and the Chicago White Sox, where he hit .238/.372/.429 in 47 games (181 PAs), and .257/.423/.514 against RHPs.  He has been cosidered a top defender and was the personal catcher of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield with the Red Sox, the last few years he has been throwing out fewer runners than the average catcher, however his blocking skills are still top-notch.

I see no reason for the Twins not to sign him to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invitation; worse comes to worse, he could start in Rochester replacing departing Free Agents Eric Fryer and Allan de San Miguel.  

 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Six Twins Minor Leaguers Elect Free Agency Today

Today LF Xavier Avery, 2B James Beresford, RHP Michael Bowden, SS Argenis Diaz, C Allan de San Miguel, & OF Eric Farris elected free agency.  They are Minor League Free Agents and can sign with any organization.  All six played with AAA Rochester Red Wings (International League) in 2015.

Edit:

Make it eight.   RHPs Mark Hamburger and BJ Hermsen elected free agency (as of 8:47 PM EDT)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Twins re-sign one of their own free agents

The Minnesota Twins re-signed minor league free agent 2B/SS Heiker Meneses to a Minor League deal.  The 5'9", 200 lbs veteran of 8 minor league seasons just turned 24 years old and spent all of 2015 in Chattanooga where he hit .259/.317/.300, mostly alternating between second base and shortstop.  He also had a handful of games at third base and part of one at first.   

Even though of a prospect age, he is not top prospect material (he was ranked as the Red Sox' 30th prospect by Baseball America after 2011, his age 19 season when he moved all the way from single A Greenville to AA Portland, including a stop at High A Salem where he hit .356/.416/.574 in 114 plate appearances).

Meneses will provide depth and more than steady defense in the middle infield; he was voted as the best defensive second baseman in the Southern League by the league's managers and coaches, complementing prospects Levi Michael and Jorge Polanco.  His ceiling is a potential utility infielder at the major league level.  Depending on the Twins' off-season, he would likely return to Chattanooga for his 6th trip to AA or move up to Rochester as a 24 year old.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The 20 Free Agent Catchers this off-season, and who is the best one for the Twins?

In a recent interview, Twins' General Manager Terry Ryan indicated that one of his off-season targets should be a catcher to complement ("take a load off", in his words) Kurt Suzuki in the Twins' lineup.  The free-agent route, is the most likely way for this to happen, and this is a pretty decent class at Catcher:

There are twenty Catchers in this class of MLB and high level MiLB free agents:

Bryan Anderson, 28, LHB, 6'1"/200 lbs.  2015: MLB: .400/.429/.400 (8 PA); AAA: .202/.273/.288 (322 PA). 2014: AA/AAA: .320/.397/.538    - Career MiLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 17%

Nevin Ashley, 31, RHB, 6'1"/215 lbs. 2015: MLB: .100/.143/.150 (21 PA); AAA: .306/.374/.442 (381 PA) - Career MiLB Average 36% CS%, 2015: 33%

Alex Avila, 28, LHB, 5'11"/210 lbs. 2015: MLB: .191/.339/.287 (219 PA); 2014 MLB: .218/.327/.359 (457 PA)  - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 34% ; 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .203/.355/.311

Carlos Corporan, 31, SHB, 6'2"/240 lbs. 2015: MLB: .178/.244/.299 (121 PA); 2014 MLB: .235/.302/.376 (190 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 32% ; 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .155/.244/.268 (weak side)

Brett Hayes, 31, RHB, 6'1"/210 lbs. 2015: MLB: .156/.229/.438 (36 PA); 2014 MLB: .135/.151/.212 (53 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 32%

Chris Iannetta, 32, RHB, 6'0"/230 lbs 2015: MLB: .188/.293/.335 (373 PA); 2014 MLB:.252/.373/.392 (373 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 32%

Erik Kratz, 35, RHB, 6'4"/240 lbs. 2015: MLB: .192/.214/.269 (28 PA); 2014 MLB:.276/.290/.517 (31 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 30%

Gerald Laird, 35, RHB, 6'1"/230 lbs 2015: AAA: .308/.345/.346 (29 PA); 2014 MLB:.204/.275/.257 (167 PA) - Career MLB Average 35% CS%, 2014: 27%

Jeff Mathis, 32, RHB, 6'0"/205 lbs. 2015: MLB: .161/.214/.290 (103 PA); 2014 MLB:.200/.263/.274 (195 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 28%

Michael McKenry, 30, RHB, 5'10"/205 lbs. 2015: MLB: .205/.329/.402 (152 PA); 2014 MLB:.315/.398/.512 (192 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 28%
   
Dioner Navarro, 31, SHB, 5'9"/205 lbs. 2015: MLB:.246/.307/.374 (192 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .274/.317/.395 (520 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 32% 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .237/.291/.333. (weak side)

Wil Nieves, 38, RHB, 5'11"/190 lbs. 2015: MLB: .077/.143/.308 (14 PA)  ; 2014 MLB:.254/.270/.344 (128 PA)  - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 28%

Jordan Pacheco, 29, RHB, 6'1"/200 lbs 2015: MLB: .272/.333/.333 (78 PA)  ; 2014 MLB:.255/.299/.333 (165 PA)  - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 28%

Brayan Pena, 33, SHB, 5'9"/240 lbs. 2015: MLB:.273/.334/.324 (367 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .253/.291/.353 (372 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 28% 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .295/.347/.353. (strong side)
        
A.J. Pierzynski, 38, LHB, 6'3"/235 lbs. 2015: MLB:.300/.339/.430 (436 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .251/.288/.337 (362 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 28% 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .309/.342/.457.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 30, SHB, 6'4"/235 lbs. 2015: MLB:.225/.310/.435 (227 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .220/.320/.362 (435 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 28% 2015. MLB splits against RHPs: .208/.294/.390 (stong side)

Jhonatan Solano, 30, RHB, 5'9"/212 lbs, 2015: AAA:.228/.271/.311 (208 PA) ; 2014 AAA: .251/.305/.388 (374 PA) - Career MiLB Average 32% CS%, 2015 AAA: 32%

Geovany Soto, 31, RHB, 6'1"/235 lbs, 2015: MLB:.219/.301/.406 (210 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .250/.302/.363 (87 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 32%

Taylor Teagarden, 31, RHB, 6'0"/210 lbs. 2015: AAA:.305/.379/.452 (224 PA) ; 2014 AAA: .303/.403/.579 (211 PA) - Career MiLB Average 32% CS%, 2015 AAA: 24%

Matt Wieters, 29, SHB, 6'5"/230 lbs.  2015: MLB:.267/.319/.422 (282 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .308/.339/.500 (112 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 32%. 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .268/.325/.421 (weak side)


Who is the best one for the Twins?

First Cut (It is the deepest) :

Suzuki is a Right Hand Batter and has been hitting ok last season against LHPs (.257/.320/.338 vs .232/.284/.303 against RHPs.)    The Twins as a team hit  .242/.301/.393 against RHPs, which is a number (especially the BA and OBP) that needs to change, in order for the Twins to take the next step.  Thus: Regrets to right hand hitting catchers and goodbye to  Teagarden, Soto, Solano, Pacheco, Nieves, McKenry, Mathis, Laird, Kratz, Iannetta, Hayes and Ashley.  

This drops the field to just 8 contenders.  Which of those 8 (Matt Wieters, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, A.J. Pierzynski, Brayan Pena, Dioner Navarro, Carlos Corporan, Alex Avila, Bryan Anderson) would go to the next round?


Second Cut:

Even though former top 100 prospect Bryan Anderson is an intriguing possibility, and before this season had an  excellent minor league record, the Twins need a catcher who will be ready to take 300 plus PAs a season, since he will be facing RHP.  For this reason, Anderson and Corporan (despite the great pitch framing capabilities) do not fit the bill, for a competing team.  If the Twins were rebuilding, those two catchers, could potentially find themselves closer to the top of the list, but not now.

Attitude and chemistry is a bigger factor than most thing, and it was an important contributor to the Twins 2015 season. Both Saltalamacchia and Pierzynski have had issues in this department and it will be wise for the Twins to let them be someone else's problem.  Matt Wieters, Brayan Pena, Dioner Navarro and Alexi Avila are thus the final four.


Final Four:

Need a bit more scrutiny at this point.  Here are their stats as above:

Alex Avila, 28, LHB, 5'11"/210 lbs. 2015: MLB: .191/.339/.287 (219 PA); 2014 MLB: .218/.327/.359 (457 PA)  - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 34% ; 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .203/.355/.311

Dioner Navarro, 31, SHB, 5'9"/205 lbs. 2015: MLB:.246/.307/.374 (192 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .274/.317/.395 (520 PA) - Career MLB Average 28% CS%, 2015: 32% 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .237/.291/.333. (weak side)

Brayan Pena, 33, SHB, 5'9"/240 lbs. 2015: MLB:.273/.334/.324 (367 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .253/.291/.353 (372 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 28% 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .295/.347/.353. (strong side)

Matt Wieters, 29, SHB, 6'5"/230 lbs.  2015: MLB:.267/.319/.422 (282 PA) ; 2014 MLB: .308/.339/.500 (112 PA) - Career MLB Average 27% CS%, 2015: 32%. 2015 MLB splits against RHPs: .268/.325/.421 (weak side)

Let's look at a couple of Baseball Prospectus defensive metrics from 2015 (with Kurt Suzuki's for comparison's sake - plus each catcher's ranking)

Framing Runs:

75/109. Matt Wieters -0.7
87 Dioner Navarro -1.4
89 Brayan Pena -1.6
89 Kurt Suzuki -1.6
103 Alex Avila -3.7





Passed Balls/Wild Pitches Runs Saved:

8/109 Brayan Pena 3.8
19 Matt Wieters 1.8
25 Dioner Navarro 1.2
35 Kurt Suzuki 0.9
74 Alex Avila -0.9


At this point, clearly, Alex Avila is the worst defender in the group (all 4 have very similar CS%.)  His performance with the bat has also dropped from his 2011 All Star Peak, when he had .895 OPS to .736, .693, .686 and .626 OPS last season.  This is a scary progression, and even at potential bargain rates, Avila should not be the one for the Twins.   Three choices left. 

Both Wieters and Navarro had down seasons in 2015, Wieters' following Tommy John surgery.  Their left side of the plate is for both the weak side. The will both demand multi-season starting catcher contracts (in the 3/$28 M for Navarro and 4/$48 M range for Wieters, as baselines)  Wieters is the best of two defensively, has had a superstar trajectory and potential (but remember the Twins used to have one of those behind the plate,)  but Navarro is always highly praised by his pitchers, including David Price.  Pena had a good season in 2015, hitting an excellent .295/.347/.353 against RHPs, the left side of the plate is his strong side, and is a master of blocking balls on the dirt.  At 33 he is the oldest of the 3, but has better plate discipline than the other two and would likely be had with a 2 year, $7M contract at the high end.

At this point Navarro falls a bit in the middle.  He does not add much more than Pena and comes at a much higher cost.   Two choices left.

Wieters or Pena?   Eventhough Matt Wieters has superstar potential, is still young and could be had at a bargain price, he comes with risks:  He would require a longer term contract, more money and, maybe even more importantly the Twins' commitment that he will be their starting catcher for the future.  Do Suzuki plus Pena add to more than Wieters?  Potentially.  Pena's bat will play well against RHPs, he provides a low stout target for his pitchers and will definitely upgrade the defense in the positions.    The answer might had been different, if the Twins were not competing and did not have other holes to close, which would require part of the money to sign Wieters.  Plus Wieters will cost the Twins' 2016 first round draft pick.

So, in 1000 words, the Twins' new catcher should be:







Mengenai Saya

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