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...


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