By La Velle
It’s been a busy week already – and not just because the short-season leagues have started
Danny Valencia, the Twins’ top third base prospect, and righthander Jeff Manship have been promoted to Class AAA Rochester. Valencia batted .284 with 7 homers and 29 RBI at Class AA New Britian while Manship was 6-4 with a 4.28 ERA.
Valencia, the favorite to open 2010 at third base for the Twins, is steady with the glove and projects to hit for some power. He made a good impression with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire during spring training.
He’s improved a little since joining New Britain:
G AB 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
2008: 69 266 18 2 10 32 18 70 .289 .334 .485
2009 57 218 14 4 7 29 31 40 .284 .373 .482
He struggled when he first got to New Britain last year but finished well and carried that into this season. The increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts is noteoworthy.
Manship struggled some early this season but had reeled off five straight quality starts when promoted. In three June starts, Manship was 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA.
WHAT ABOUT HUGHES?
It will be interesting to see what the Twins will do with third baseman Luke Hughes when he returns from a strained oblique muscle. He injured himself in late May then aggravated the injury on June 6. He’s currently rehabbing in Fort Myers Fla.
Jim Rantz, the Twins minor league director, said the plan all along was to get Valencia to Rochester before the year ended. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire thinks Hughes looks better at second base. But that’s where Alexi Casilla is.
Casilla, by the way, has missed a few games with a groin muscle strain.
Righthander Kyle Waldrop and infielder Daniel Berg have been moved to New Britain to replace Manship and Valencia. Juan Portes, whose bat has come alive this year, will move to third base. Portes is batting .333 at New Britain. He’s played various positions in his career, but Rantz said Portes can hold his own in the field and is not a DH prospect.
The numbers don’t show it, but Rantz said righthander Deolis Guerra is making some progress after changing his delivery and dealing with a drop in velocity. Rantz said Guerra’s velocity is up to around 90-91 miles an hour and could get better. Guerra hit 95 on the gun as an 18-year old but had no movement, leading to the change in his delivery.
A few Class A Fort Myers players left Tuesday’s game because of the heat. The temperature was 96 with a heat index of 110. Rantz said an umpire had to leave the Gulf Cost League game.
Shortstop Tyler Ladendorf was 4 for 4 on Tuesday in Elizabethton’s season opener. He was a second-round pick in last year’s draft after a prolific junior college career but batted .204 for the Gulf Coast League Twins. “Sometimes you have to give them a mulligan that first year when they are getting used to wood bats,” Rantz said. Ladendorf could end up at Class A Beloit for the season is over.
There continue to be whispers that Ben Revere will be moved to second base – but Rantz shot it down. “I don’t know who is talking about that but it ain’t us,” Rantz said.