Monthly archives for February, 2013
The 25-man roster is not yet set in stone, but if we take a look at the 40-man roster we can get some kind of idea about where the Twins players closest to the Major Leagues come from.
Drafted out of High School (12, 5 pitchers, 7 position players)
Alex Burnett, 12th round 2005 (375 overall); B.J. Hermsen, 6th round 2008 (186); Tyler Robertson, 3rd round 2006 (96); Anthony Swarzak, 2nd round 2004 (61); Michael Tonkin, 30th round 2008 (906); Joe Mauer, 1st round 2001 (1); Brian Dozier, 8th round 2009 (252); Justin Morneau, 3rd round 1999 (89); Chris Parmelee, 1st round 2006 (20); Trevor Plouffe, 1st round 2004 (20); Joe Benson, 2nd round 2006 (64); Aaron Hicks, 1st round 2008 (14)
Unsurprisingly the Twins largest group of players on the 40-man roster come as high school draftees. There is a fairly good mix of position players and pitchers, though of the pitchers on the list none of them were drafted in the first round, compared to 4 first round position players*. This makes sense as the arms on this list are all bullpen guys, not a single player there with really dominant stuff.
*Byron Buxton, the Twins most recent 1st round draft pick was just 5 years old when the Twins drafted Justin Morneau in 1999. Morny has been with the team a long time, it will be interesting to see if the Twins look to move him later this year.
Free Agent (10, 7 pitchers, 3 position players)
Jared Burton, 2011; Kevin Correia, 2012; Cole De Vries, 2006 (undrafted out of University of Minnesota); Casey Fien, 2012; Mike Pelfrey, 2012; Caleb Thielbar, 2011; Tim Wood, 2012; Ryan Doumit, 2011; Jamey Carroll, 2011; Josh Willingham, 2011
Likely because the Twins spent so many high draft picks on position players, the Twins have struggled to develop their own pitching and have turned to the free agent market to balance their roster. As with the high school draftees, none of the arms on this list are particularly dominant, though Burton was a pleasant surprise in 2012.
Trade (6, 4 pitchers, 2 position players)
Scott Diamond, 2011 (Billy Bullock); Pedro Hernandez, 2012 (Francisco Liriano); Eduardo Escobar, 2012 (Liriano); Trevor May, 2012 (Ben Revere); Vance Worley, 2012 (Revere); Drew Butera, 2007 (Luis Castillo)
I listed Scott Diamond as a player acquired via trade, but he originally joined the Twins through the 2010 Rule 5 draft, but when he failed to make the roster out of Spring Training the Twins completed a trade with the Atlanta Braves in order to keep him with the organization. Of the other names here, only Butera sticks out, only because with his ties to the organization (his father Sal Butera was with the Twins for parts of 6 Minor League and 4 Major League seasons) I often forget that he was not originally drafted by the Twins.
Drafted out of College (4, 3 pitchers, 1 position player)
Again, because the Twins were not drafting and developing high school pitching they have used several early round picks on college pitchers in an effort to balance the system. Of the two 1st rounders here, only Gibson was the Twins 1st overall pick of the draft, Perkins was selected after Trevor Plouffe, with a compensation pick from the Mariners when they signed Eddie Guardado. In fact, in the 2004 draft the Twins had 3 first round picks and 2 more supplemental round picks, giving them 5 of the first 39 draft picks and 7 of the first 100. Of those seven picks, Plouffe, Perkins and Anthony Swarzak are all still with the Twins, 9 years later.
International Free Agent (4, 1 pitcher, 3 position players)
Pretty young group of players here, but lots of upside with Santana and Arcia cracking MLB’s list of Top 20 Twins prospects.
Waiver (3, 1 pitcher, 2 position players)
As you’d expect, no superstars in this trio, but two of these guys could be in the starting lineup on Opening Day.
Rule 5 Draft (1, 1 pitcher, 0 position players)
Ryan Pressly, 2012 (Red Sox)
It remains to be seen if Pressly will make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training, though the cards are certainly stacked against him. If the Twins are going to keep him long term, they’ll need to work out a trade with the Boston Red Sox to keep him in the organization if he is not on the big league roster.
So there you have it, 40 players and their origins within the Twins organization. With high school draft picks making up the lion’s share of the roster, the Twins amateur scouts seem to know what they’re doing. That bodes well for the future and Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Travis Harrison and Hudson Boyd, the Twins’ highest drafted high school players in the past two drafts.
-ERolfPleissAll player information obtained from Baseball-Reference. If I’ve listed any player origins incorrectly, please let me know.
Most of us have heard, by now, that former Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano had to undergo surgery for a ruptured spleen this offseason and that it happened as a result of a fall while shoveling snow.
Given Pavano’s history with regard to various injuries, his accident led to the expected ducksnorts via Twitter and other social media exchanges.
But click this link and give a listen to this interview Pavano gave on MLB Network Radio in which he goes in to detail on his ordeal. Pavstache went through some pretty scary stuff.
Pavano remains an unsigned free agent and it’s hard telling when he’ll be back on the mound, but given what he went through, I’m just glad he’s still around to even consider making another comeback later in the year.
Join me in wishing Pavano the best of luck on his recovery.
Pitchers & Catchers have reported!!!
*bounces around the room clapping her hands wildly*
Yes, folks, that time we all go crazy for is here. The return of ‘almost’ baseball!
I won’t get to go down to Spring Training this year like I did last year.. (funny how new jobs and life in general seem to get in the way of our most desired vacation dreams..) But that doesn’t mean I’m not still ecstatic that the Boys of Summer have begun their preparations for baseball season in earnest. Now is when we get to see what we’re going to have to work with for rosters – at least what we have to pick from. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes a frustration.. I have learned there is no good way to predict which you’re going to get either.
At any rate, now that things are beginning, here is some information that might come in handy for you!
The StarTribune put together a handy little pointer for important dates:
Tuesday: Pitchers and catchers report.
Wednesday: First workout for pitchers and catchers.
Friday: Full squad reports.
Saturday: First full-squad workout.
Feb. 23: Exhibition opener vs. Baltimore.
April 1: Regular season and home opener vs. Detroit.
The Twins have also put together a handy A-Z guide for attending Spring Training! I wish I had something like this last year when I was there but I just leaned heavily on the experience of JimCrikket.
Since I’m stuck in the frozen north land (again) this year, I’ll have to be content with the limited tv, radio and press reports I get from Ft. Myers like I usually do – all the while counting down to REAL baseball on Opening Day!!!
Here’s the second half installment from Corey. Even though I’m old, falling apart and wasn’t good at baseball to start with, I can’t tell you how much I really want to do this some day.. although I think for me, wishing about it would turn out to be far more healthy than actually participating…
Don’t forget to check out Part I
The REST of Twins Fantasy Camp 2013
A Rookie’s Story: By Corey Sauer
Tuesday, January 8th: PLAY BALL!
The day dawned bright and relatively clear. Early morning fog quickly burned off as the South Florida sun rose and flooded the city with light and heat. Two 7 inning ball games were on the schedule for 10:00 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., and as the sky grew more blue and the temperature skipped past the 70’s and right into the 80’s, every camper was smiling and full of excitement. We were finally going to play ball.
The Dream Weavers were ready to play and we took a solid lead in Game 1 and never looked back as we won 9-6 over the Burnsville Bombers (coaches: Frank Quilici and Dick Stigman). After a tasty lunch back at the clubhouse, we took the field against the Canterbury Clan (coaches: Ron Coomer and Julio Becquer) for Game 2 and played a close game that ultimately went our way, and we one 5-3.
I was called in to pitch in relief in Game 1 and while I wasn’t exactly Cy Young on the mound, I did enjoy my brief stint on the bump, but unfortunately it did lead to a muscle injury in my left hip that would nag at me and hinder my mobility for the rest of the week.
Wednesday, January 9th: TRIPLE HEADER!
As a consequence of Monday’s complete rain out, the solitary game that was originally scheduled for Wednesday was going to be accompanied by two extra games. And instead of forcing campers to play 21 innings in a single day, it was determined that the three games would only be 5 innings each, and that one game would be pitched by each team’s Pro Staffers. This strategy would allow the games to move along at a good pace and to minimize the possibility of injuries to campers.
Game 3 saw the Dream Weavers play against the Hrbekskis (coaches: Kent Hrbek and Tom Brunansky) and we scored often and early in a 14-2 blowout. Game 4 was against the Battery Mates and this game was pitched by the Pros. Two of our coaches, Camilo Pascual and Bill “Soup” Campbell, pitched to us, while our opponents had to face their two coaches, Frank Viola and Tim Laudner.
I had the pure pleasure and luxury of playing warm up toss for several minutes prior to this game with the great Camilo Pascual. The 79 year old former pitcher was having a ball. He had a huge smile on his face, and I could see his eyes sparkling from behind his large black horn-rimmed glasses as he was breaking off one wicked curveball after another during our warm up, and I couldn’t stop grinning like a fool. A great memory, unforgettable.
As for Game 4 itself, apparently Camilo didn’t understand that he was supposed to make it easy for us to hit the ball. Instead he allowed only one hit to us. Meanwhile, Bill “Soup” Campbell finished what Camilo had started, and we ended up losing the game 1-0.
Game 5 was played after lunch and despite our best efforts it didn’t go our way either. We faced a really tough left-handed pitcher and were able to manufacture several hits and runs, but in the end we still lost 6-5 to the Warriors(coaches: Rick Aguilera and Phil Roof).
We had started the day with a 2-0 record and finished the day with a 3-2 record, despite the losses, were still in a good position to get a high seed in the playoffs that would take place on Friday.
Thursday, January 10th: POSTSEASON DRIVE!
Armed with our 3-2 record, we knew that if we won both games today, we were a shoe-in as a number one seed. And if we split, we would be no less than a three or four seed.
Our Game 6 opponents were the Panama Stingers (coaches: Juan Berenguer and Lee Stange) and we faced a very good pitcher whose fastball and curveball combo was just too much for us. He also got us at the plate with a 350’ home run over the left field fence. We dropped the game 4-1.
Game 7 was the final game of regular pool play and would determine the final seeding for the Friday playoff games. Our opponent Stay Thirsty My Friend (coaches: Gene Larkin, Erik Rasmussen, and Milt Cuyler) had earned a reputation during the week of making big comebacks and it was reflected in their 4-1 best of camp record at the start of play on Thursday. We began the game very well, with solid starting pitching, great infield defense and good productivity at the plate.
Before we knew it, we had taken a 6-2 lead, had turned four fantastic double plays and were looking at what could be a great win to break our three game losing streak.
In the bottom of the seventh, it all fell apart. The Thirsty’s mounted an incredible comeback as they kept attacking the ball at the plate, and our consistently solid defense started to crack. The Thirsty’s scored 5 runs in that inning to win the game 7-6 in what turned out to be a shocking loss for us.
Friday, January 11th: PLAYOFFS!
A new day and a new opportunity to win. After losing four straight games (three of them were one run losses), the Dream Weavers were looking for redemption. The playoff structure of Fantasy Camp features two divisions: Red (lower) and Blue (upper). We were seeded number one in the Red Division with our 3-4 record and were slated to play the Burnsville Bombers (the number four seed in the Red Division) in a one game playoff. A win and we would play in the Red Division Championship on Saturday. A loss and we’re done.
The pitcher we faced was a right-handed curveball hurler who kept us off balance for much of the game and by the bottom of the seventh inning we were down 3-2. I came to the plate with runners on and drove a base hit up the middle to drive in the tying run. The very next batter drove in the winning with a hit through the left side of the infield. We beat the Bombers 4-3 and earned a Championship berth.
After a well-deserved lunch, it was time for PROS vs. ROOKIES game at Hammond Stadium where the Miracle play, and where the Twins play their Spring Training exhibition games.
This was basically an exhibition and not an actual competitive game. All of the 39 Rookies were separated into four “teams”. Each team would get two at-bats per player and two chances to play defense against the Pros.
The highlight for me: After my team’s pitcher pitched one inning against the Pros, amazingly none of my teammates wanted to pitch, so I jumped at the chance! I “pitched” against Ron Coomer, Gene Larkin, Tom Brunansky, and Milt Cuyler. It was awesome because I suck, so the Pros just hammered my “pitches” all over the outfield.
Saturday, January 12th: CHAMPIONSHIP!
The Dream Weavers were thrilled to get a chance to play more baseball. And not only did we get to play in a championship game, we got to play it inside Hammond Stadium
The field was immaculate and resembled a jewel glistening in the sunlight.
Our opponent for the Red Championship was the Warriors. A team whom we had already lost 6-5 to earlier in the week, but we knew we were capable of getting hits and runs against their starter, former All-American southpaw Billy McMacken from South Dakota, so we had confidence we could do it again.
Unfortunately, Billy was on fire and his curveball was essentially unhittable. I was able to manage only one hit in my at-bats, a hard shot comebacker past the pitcher and over second base. The rest of my teammates managed to pile up five combined hits, but we could not score. The Warriors’ offense was a brute force attack that made our reliable defense look completely overmatched.
In the end we were bludgeoned 8-0 in a loss that actually was NOT humiliating. I say that because, we had the chance to play baseball and no matter the score, it was a huge thrill to be on that field, and have former “voice of the Minnesota Twins” John Gordon calling out our names as we came to bat, and recapping the action over the P.A. in between innings. It was an awesome experience.
Fantasy Camp was an absolute thrill for me. The atmosphere in the clubhouse everyday was fun and good-natured. Everyone was excited about getting to play baseball and be surrounded by some of their heroes from Minnesota Twins history. Being able to walk ten steps in the clubhouse over to Bert Blyleven’s locker or Frank Viola’s and have the chance to chat and get an autograph was simply priceless. The evening banquets featured fantastic food, plenty to drink and lots of opportunity for the Campers to mingle and get to know one another and build friendships.
Some personal highlights: Taking batting practice against Juan Berenguer, Rick Aguilera, Phil Roof and Bill Campbell. Having both Kent Hrbek and Frank Viola refuse to sign an autograph when I called them Mr. Hrbek and Mr. Viola, and then very quickly and graciously signing the second I referred to them as Hrbie and Sweet Music, respectively. Getting to listen to listen to Tony Oliva dispense his hitting wisdom while sitting next to him on the bench every game. Chatting with Frank Viola one-on-one in the dining room during lunch. Getting to walk around all day in a Twins uniform and cleats and feeling like a Major Leaguer everywhere I went. Bert Blyleven giving me props for striking out swinging instead of looking. Hrbek giving me props for drilling the ball during batting practice in the instructionals.
Another great part of camp was the familial aspect. There were several brothers; fathers and sons; grandfathers and grandsons. And they have been coming to camp for years in order to play baseball together. What a great tradition.
Fun was an integral part of camp. From Camp Commissioner Bert Blyleven’s antics during “Kangaroo Court” at two different banquets, or literally mooning my team during our team photo, to the clear camaraderie and joy of playing baseball that was evident in the clubhouse, the dining room, on the diamond, or just in low-key social gatherings outside the structure of camp. The people, both Pros and Campers alike, genuinely LOVED being there. And that made the trip worthwhile.
By Sunday morning as Campers were heading back to their respective home states, people were exhausted, sore, and more importantly, very happy.
My good buddy Corey (you’ve seen his name because we frequently use his photos here on Knuckleballs) got the birthday present of his life from his folks this year – a trip to Twins Fantasy Camp. He has graciously summarized his experiences into a bit of a “daily diary” to share with those of us not as fortunate and jealous as H. E. Double Hockey Sticks.
Twins Fantasy Camp 2013
A Rookie’s Story: By Corey Sauer
On June 16th, 2012, while having dinner with my family to celebrate my 40th birthday I opened a present from my parents, and I was thrilled at what I found inside.
It was a picture frame with a letter under glass. The letter was from Stan Dickman, the guru of the Minnesota Twins Fantasy Camp, informing me I was all signed up for the 2013 camp.
I had wanted to go to Fantasy Camp since I turned 30 a decade earlier and suddenly, I had my chance, but I had to wait another seven months. Imagine having to wait for an entire summer (and fall) to pass by before you can play fantasy baseball…in the middle of winter.
Cut to January 5th, 2013. I headed south on Delta Airlines to Fort Myers, Florida, the Spring Training home of the Twins. Camp was slated to last from January 5th to January 12th. I was very excited to spend a week in sunny southwest Florida playing baseball and soaking up the rays.
Once I arrived in Fort Myers, I picked up my rental car (highly recommended) and drove to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Belle Tower Shops. The Plaza Hotel was only 5-10 minutes from the Lee County Sports Complex, where the Twins have Spring Training each year. LCSC is also the home to the Twins Minor League affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle, who play their home games at Hammond Stadium, based at the complex.
Check-in at the hotel was quick and easy, and I was paired up in a room with a fellow rookie by the name of Andy Schmakel.
Registration for Camp took place in the hotel and was a snap, I got to meet former Twins relief pitcher Juan “Señor Smoke” Berenguer in the registration room. Juan was very pleasant and happy to meet a rookie.
What follows is a relatively brief summary of each day’s events and the highlights.
There were many.
Saturday, January 5th: ARRIVAL DAY
After checking in to my room and completing camp registration, there was a “Rookies Meeting” at the hotel. There were 39 rookie campers this year, including myself. We met in a small conference room, where Fantasy Camp guru Stan Dickman gave us an overview of what to expect during the week. Not 5 minutes into the orientation, Bert Blyleven walked in and dropped an F-Bomb before taking a seat. There was a roar of laughter.
After the meeting was the first of five banquets that would be held during the week.
Fox Sports North broadcaster Dick Bremer (himself a veteran camper) welcomed the group and mentioned that Kent Hrbek wouldn’t want anyone to know that the reason Hrbie arrived at camp on crutches was due to a “bowling injury”. Laughter from the crowd , then a torrent of laughing and clapping as Hrbek stood up and gave Mr. Bremer the finger. That set the tone for the rest of the week.
Sunday, January 6th: DAY ONE
The official first day of camp. Rookies reported early to get a brief orientation of the clubhouse, its rules and protocol for camp. Breakfast was served in the clubhouse dining room and would be a regular offering every day of camp, along with lunch.
Rookies and Veterans alike dressed in our provided uniforms and participated in a session of stretching led by former relief pitcher Bill “Soup” Campbell. It was made clear to us from the start (and we were reminded constantly during every game we played) to “TAKE IT EASY” when stretching and when playing ball. (Remember this statement later) Apparently, in the past they have had campers blowout hamstrings, damage knee ligaments or otherwise get injured on the first day and miss the rest of camp.
After the stretching session, all campers were divided into six groups and commenced with participating in a series of six separate “Instructionals”: Hitting; Base Running; Infield Drills; Outfield Drills; Pitching; Catching.
Former major leaguers, referred to as the “Pro Staff”, led each instructional.
My first instructional was hitting with Gene Larkin and Kent Hrbek.
After instructionals were completed, we reported to the dining room for lunch. After lunch, all 39 rookies were divided in to four separate teams in order to play two games in front of the entire Pro Staff for evaluation.
It was during the evaluation game that I was forced into pitching (I’m an outfielder, I cannot pitch). During my stint on the mound I “pitched” decently. In other words I threw the ball toward the plate and sometimes it was hit and sometimes it was not. The low point of my outing on the bump came when my camp roommate, Andy, came to the plate and my first pitch drilled him high on his left hip near his lower ribs. He laughed and smiled as he trotted slowly toward first base while I circled the mound with my glove covering my face in embarrassment. Andy had quite a bruise after that. He forgave me almost immediately. I bought him a beer later that night at the bar.
In my final at-bat of the evaluation game, Bert Blyleven suddenly stepped out on the mound to pitch to me. I had no idea what was going on. I thought perhaps this was what sometimes happened at camp, that Bert would show up wherever and provide some entertainment. He threw me three pitches. I took the first high and out of the zone. The second I swung at and fouled off. The third I made partial contact and chopped the ball slowly down the third base line. I ran it out and was safe. My roommate Andy was the catcher and he was unable to get to the ball in time to make a play. I got a hit off of Bert Blyleven. I later realized, Bert only came in to pitch just to get the game over so the Pro Staff could get back to the hotel and conduct the draft.
After the completion of the evaluation, everyone got changed and went back to the hotel where the Pro Staff tucked themselves away in a suite to conduct the Camp Draft. All campers were drafted onto eight separate teams, with at least two Pros coaching each team.
At the banquet in the hotel that night, the Pros formally announced their team names and then named each camper who had been drafted to their respective team.
I was drafted on to the Dream Weavers with Bill “Soup” Campbell, Tony Oliva and Camilo Pascual as coaches.
Monday, January 7th: RAIN OUT!
We awoke to overcast skies and the threat of rain. The schedule had us locked in for two 7 inning baseball games, one at 10:00 a.m. and the second at 1:10 p.m. After reporting to the clubhouse and enjoying another fantastic breakfast, all campers were dressed for baseball and began batting practice sessions in the indoor batting cages.
The rain had already begun while were eating, and by the time campers started B.P. the light rain was a steady downpour. We stretched, threw warm up toss, hit baseballs, joked around and waited for word from Stan whether we would get to play the morning game.
Then finally, the call was made. RAIN OUT. The storm system had parked over Fort Myers and was very sluggish. There was no way we could play either game.
Luckily, there was a contingency plan. Meet in the dining room and watch a highlight video of the 1991 World Series with the Pro Staff and stick around for Q&A with Rick Aguilera, Kent Hrbek, and Gene Larkin.
Afterward, we had our afternoon free before the evening Team Dinners where each team treated their Pro Staff coaches to dinner out on the town. Upon returning to the hotel following dinner, a special Autograph Party took place on the deck of the hotel restaurant & bar, Shoeless Joe’s.
On Sunday, each rookie had been given a full-size wood baseball bat with their name and the camp logo and year engraved on it. The autograph party was the perfect opportunity to collect signatures on the bat. Each player was very gracious, friendly and accommodating. My bat is loaded with autographs. Great souvenir!!
Now watch for Part II (and more photos) coming soon!
This week Eric and Paul are joined by long time Twins blogger Cody Christie (@NoDakTwinsFan,www.NoDakTwinsFan.com) to talk about the Twins off-season moves and a look at 2013. Also joining us is MLB Fan Cave applicant, Michael McGivern (@McGive_It_To_me,www.McGiveItToMe.blogspot.com), to discuss his attempt to gain entry to the MLB Fan Cave, why he’s worthy, and his life as a Minnesota Twins fan (you can vote for him here). In addition to the above, the Twins twins also discuss the Anthony Swarzak injury, Jim Perry‘s place in the Twins HOF, prospect Deibinson Romero and a look forward to spring training. Join us for almost 2 hours of half-drunken #MNTwins talk on the Talk To Contact Podcast.
If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us bake fluffier cakes.)
This week the Pleiss brothers spend way too much time discussing obscure state capitols and bantering on about MySpace and hipsters. In between those strange and obscure conversations you can find plenty of talk about the Minnesota Twins, including a discussion about the 25-man roster, Frank Viola, prospect Luke Bard and former Twins around the MLB. Also making his Talk to Contact podcast debut it Jason from The Inverted W podcast (www.invertedW.com) to continue the series looking around the AL Central, this time discussing the Kansas City Royals.
If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes (ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, which help us become more like summer time on the shores of Cape Cod.)