September 2007


Prospect update: Tyler Robertson and Jeff Manship

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Baseball America just released its rankings of the top Midwest League prospects, and it includes lefthander Tyler Robertston and righthander Jeff Manship.

You’re going to hear more and more about Robertson over the next year, as he’s emerged as one of the Twins’ top prospects. In fact, he’s in my top ten prospects list that will be released on Sunday.

You already should know about Jeff Manship, who stepped up this year, too. The Twins have other prospects at Beloit, like outfielders Christopher Parmelee and Joe Benson, and catcher Wilson Ramos (another one to keep an eye on).

Here’s what was written about Manship:

Manship carved up the MWL before he left for high Class A in late June, allowing one run or less in 11 of his 13 starts and two runs in another. The only time he got hit was when he visited South Bend—where he pitched collegiately at Notre Dame—and tried to overthrow, costing him his usual exquisite command. He doesn’t pinpoint his pitches quite as well as fellow Twins righty Kevin Slowey, but it’s close.

“He has a chance to fly through their system,” the second scout said, “and become their next Brad Radke.”

Outside of his plus 12-to-6 curveball, Manship’s stuff isn’t as overwhelming as his numbers. His average fastball sits at 88-92 mph, and he also throws a changeup and an occasional slider.

As a college pitcher with the ability to locate his pitches as well as he does, Manship should have dominated the MWL. He didn’t overmatch hitters as much in the Florida State League, though he still went 8-5, 3.15 and continued to induce plenty of groundballs.

And Robertson:

 As many teenage pitchers do, Robertson faced some adjustments in his first full year as a pro. Even after he spent the first two months in extended spring training, the grind of the longer season sapped some of the juice out of his fastball, which dropped from 90-94 mph as an amateur to 86-90 this year.

The loss of velocity didn’t faze Robertson, who had 143 strikeouts in 120 innings, including two stellar playoff starts. He piled up whiffs with a slider that he could get hitters to miss in the strike zone of chase off the plate. His big 6-foot-5 body gives him projection and good downward plane that creates a lot of groundballs.

Robertson has an unorthodox, stiff delivery that works for him now but could lead to problems down the road. It’s deceptive and throws hitters’ timing off, though it also puts a lot of stress on his shoulder.
 

Mauer hernia watch

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Twins GM Terry Ryan said Wednesday morning that catcher Joe Mauer will undergo a complete physical next week in the Twin Cities that should determine if he’ll need hernia surgery.

“We will assess the full circumstances surrounding and see what needs to be done, if anything,” Ryan said.

Mauer, who is expected to catch staff ace Johan Santana tonight in Detroit, revealed last week that he may need hernia surgery to correct a condition he’s battled since midseason. It one of several ailments Mauer has battled this season. He missed a month with a strained quad and recently strained his left hamstring. He’s under orders to not run at full speed.

Ryan pointed out that Mauer had hernia surgery in the minors.

“I’ve had hernia surgery as well,” Ryan said. “Sometimes things linger.”

Twins-White Sox: Final home game

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Torii Hunter arrived at the park around 10 a.m. and said he had a bad night of sleep. “I woke up at 5 and I’ve been packing ever since,” he said. These could be Hunter’s last at-bats at the Dome as a Twin, as he prepares for an offseason which several teams are expected to pursue him.

Today also is weekly weigh-in day. Several players couldn’t believe that the Twins’ strength and conditioning coordinator, Perry Castellano, is sticking to schedule. “This is my first-ever Sept. 23 weigh-in,” Mike Redmond joked. Perry is threatening to bring his scale to Boston for a weigh-in on the final day of the season. The players can’t believe it….

Lineups

White Sox: 1. Owens, CF. 2. Fields, 3B. 3. Erstad, 1B. 4. Konerko, DH. 5. Dye, RF. 6. Podsednik, LF. 7. Uribe, SS. 8. Richar, 2B. 9. Lucy, C. Pitching: Floyd.

Twins: 1. Bartlett, SS. 2. Kubel, LF. 3. Mauer, C. 4. Hunter, CF. 5. Morneau, DH. 6. Cuddy, RF. 7. Jones, 1B. 8. Buscher, 3B. 9. Casilla, 2B. Pitching: Slowey.

Twins-White Sox: [UPDATE] Sorry for the brief post

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

I meant to present a more detailed lineup, but I was fighting back spasms and couldn’t take it anymore. They began yesterday, continued today and went to another level once I got to the press box.

But here’s another example why the Twins are respected around the league. I was headed to first aid to lay down for awhile (that’s how much pain I was in). Bill Smith saw me hobbling through the concourse and redirected me to his office, where he gave me some medication and sat with me until I felt better.

My back muscles are still biting, but not nearly as much as an hour ago. 

Pat Neshek will be shut down for the rest of the season because of weakness in his shoulder that has led to an inflamed ligament near his elbow.

Rondell White is with his wife, Zanovia, who gave birth to the couple’s first child sometime this morning.

Lineups

White Sox: 1. Owens, CF. 2. Fields, LF. 3. Thome, DH. 4. Konerko, 1B. 5.  Erstad, RF. 6. A.J., C. 7. Uribe, SS. 8. Richar, 2B. 9. Gonzalez, 3B. Pitching: Vazquez.

Twins: 1. Tyner, LF. 2. Kubel, DH, 3. Hunter, CF. 4. Morneau, 1B. 5. Cuddyer, RF. 6. Buscher, 3B. 7. Heintz, C. 8. L-Rod, 2B, 9. Punto, SS. Pitching: Baker 

Prospect update: Ben Revere

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I regret not providing more minor league updates, but I did want to make you aware of Baseball America’s rankings of the top prospects in the recently-completed Gulf Coast League.

Twins first-round pick Ben Revere is listed as the third best prospect out of the league this year. The Twins are optimistic about Revere, who may have a higher ceiling than Denard Span. Revere, according to Twins people I’ve talked to, has very good instincts, will hit and occasionally hit one over the fence.

Span, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2002, batted .267 at Class AAA Rochester this season with 3 homers, 55 RBI and 25 steals in 39 attempts. Span is very fast but the Twins say Revere is the fastest man in the organization. Span also needs more time in the minors and is not close to being ready to step in if Torii Hunter leaves via free agency.

But this wasn’t meant to be a Span-Revere comparison. The Twins took Revere with the 28th overall pick because they were high on the guy and were worried he’d be gone when their next pick at 92 came around. They also signed him for about half of the slot money – $750,000.

My problem is that one of the players I thought the Twins should go after was considered the top prospect in the GCL this year – Nationals outfielder Michael Burgess. The Nats took Burgess with the 49th overall pick and paid him a $630,000. He looks to be an excellent power prospect.

The Twins would have to pay Burgess much more than 750K if they had taken Burgess with the 28th pick. But this is a player I plan to track through the minors as he develops. Revere could make me forget about Burgess if he runs AND hits as well as the Twins claim he can.

[UPDATE]: BA’s  Chris Kline did a Q and A about GCL prospects. Here’s his answer to a question about Revere:

Q: Do you think Michael Burgess could produce like Gary Sheffield in like 5 years? And could Ben Revere end up like a Jose Reyes in center but with a below average arm?

Chris Kline: I think both are fair assessments. And I definitely see Revere as being a whole lot more than Denard Span. A whole lot more.