Friday, March 18, 2016

2016 Twins Spring Training Coverage from Fort Myers. 3/18: Ricky, the Pen, and a Prognostication

Another day without a Twins' home game and I decided to state at the back fields of Lee County Sports Complex to watch Ricky Nolasco pitch with the Twins' AAA team against the Red Sox' AAA team, instead of making the trip across I-75 to Jet Blue Park to watch the MLB Twins and Tyler Duffey face the MLB Sox.   Despite what the Twins are saying, and not only because they are starting the same day these days, it is pretty clear that Tommy Milone is guaranteed a position in the rotation and the last spot will be a potential battle between Nolasco and Duffey.

Nolasco pitched for 4 innings in Field 3 today.  He threw four pitches, a 90-92 Fastball, a 73-77 mph Curveball, an 82-84 mph Slider and a 80-82 mph split finger change.  All in all, Nolasco's appearance today was much better than that by Hughes yesterday.   As with Hughes, Kurt Suzuki was Nolasco's catcher.  Last week I wrote an in depth analysis of Nolasco's performance and among other things, I included an analysis of his pitches and results.   And it was spot on based on my observations today:   His curveball was totally filthy and induced both looking and swinging strikes and strikeouts and weak grounders.  His split finger change is a pretty much awful pitch.  Very little command and when it was in the strike zone did not fare well.  This pitch, as per my previous recommendation, should never see the light of day or artificial day in a major league ballpark again.  His fastball was better as the game went on with more command in the later than the earlier innings and he broke at least a couple bats with it.  Definitely his breaking stuff is his out pitches and it is plus to plus plus.  The problem is that he needs the good fastball so that major league hitters do not avoid his breaking balls and waiting for the fastball (or the horrible split finger.)  If he throws his slider and curveball about 50%+ of the time, he has a good possibility for a come back season, depending on the day his fastball is having.    Overall it was a very good performance over the eyes of a couple of scouts (Rangers & Padres) and Terry Ryan and the Twins' media dignitaries:

Prognostication:  based on his Spring Performances, his stuff and his career record, unless traded, Ricky Nolasco will be the Twins' fifth starter over Tyler Duffey who had another hard start today.

A few more observations from Field Three today:

I was looking forward to see the Twins' number 18 prospect for 2016, Daniel Palka for the first time live as a Twin.   He hit a no-doubter home run in the first evening to the warehouse behind right Centerfield in his first plate appearance and then hit another long ball to far right for a foul in his second PA before eventually grounded out to first in a footrace.  I like what I saw from him in a limited action.  I think that he will turn into a useful player for the Twins and will bring in some left handed power they really lack...

Speaking of left handed power, DJ Hicks, hit a very long home run, right about  where Palka hit his.  Really good to see him finally healthy and swinging the bat, since the Twins need that left hand power. 

Speaking of power, the Twins' number 19 prospect for 2016,  Adam Brett Walker, hit two very long home runs in fastballs in the middle of plate and struck out in 3 breaking balls in the dirt in his other plate appearance.  If someone teaches Walker to recognize the spin of the breaking ball and keep the bat on his shoulder when he sees it, will be doing him and the Twins a great service.

Niko Goodrum, the Twins' number 37 prospect for 2016, who came a bit bigger this Spring showed much better plate recognition taking two walks in his first two plate appearances, but was thrown out stealing after the first, in a situation that would have been an easy SB for him last season, and made an error bobbling a ball at SS.  OF is his position and hopefully this will be where he will play when the middle infield cuts from the MLB camp trickle down to the minors.

After today's cuts, here are the players left who are competing for 7 spots in the Twins' pen:

Glen Perkins
Kevin Jepsen
Trevor May
Casey Fien
Ryan O'Rourke
JR Graham
Ryan Pressly
Mike Tonkin

Logan Darnell
Taylor Rogers
Fernando Abad
Buddy Boshers
Dan Runzler

Brandon Kintzler
Nolasco or Duffey

The first 8 (maybe with the exception of Pressly) were part of the 2015 bullpen that was one of the worst bullpens (maybe THE Worst, depending on how you are counting) in the league; one of the group of the next 5 lefties will replace Brian Duensing and one of the next two might replace Blaine Boyer.

Unless the Twins decide to get Duffey a pen roll (which is unlikely since they will like him to start in Rochester,)  this pen is spiting image of the 2015 pen that was as effective as spitting in the wind...

This is by no means good news for the Twins...


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