Live from Chicago

Posted on November 25th, 2009 – 1:49 PM
By La Velle

I’m here for Thanksgiving with the family and, I must admit, the last thing on my mind is the Bears-Vikings game this weekend. All everyone here is talking about is if Lovie Smith will get fired or will Mike Martz be the offensive coordinator next year – and if the 11-point spread on Sunday is too low.

Know what I’m looking forward to? Marian Hossa debuts for the Blackhawks tonight, and he’ll be on the same line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Wild fans might not want to read this, but you might be better off rooting for a bad year or two so you can draft high enough to get top young talent then add a Hossa. The Hawks have won seven straight games going into tonight’s throwdown at San Jose.

Now that Mauer-palooza has died down (until he signs a contract extension), I wanted to pass along some tidbits from brother Jake Mauer, whom I chatted up at his brother’s press conference on Monday.

Jake will manage Class A Fort Myers next season but just finished running the Twins’ rookie league team. One player he’s really high on is righthander Adrian Salcedo, an 18-year old out of the Dominican Republic who was 4-4 with a 1.65 ERA for GCL. He walked just three batters and struck out 58 in 61.2 innings.

Salcedo has touched 93-94 on the gun but stays in the low 90′s and has very good movement on his fastball. “He’s got a great arm,” Mauer said. “And he works hard. He’s the type of kid who will go home at the end of the day and keep working.”

I’ve heard of Salcedo, but Mauer then tossed out a name I didn’t recognize: Manuel Soliman.

Soliman originally a third baseman but hit .189 in two seasons in the Dominican League. So the Twins have turned him into a pitcher. He was 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA in DSL play this year with 20 walks and 55 strikeouts in 71 innings. The numbers scream that he’s new to pitching, but Mauer thinks Soliman has a live arm and a lot of potential.

So I’ll be tracking Solimon during the season. I’m guessing he’s learning how to throw other pitches than a fastball.

Mauer also saw Kyle Gibson during instructional league play and, like everyone else who has seen him, he came away raving about the top-shelf talent the Twins first-round pick showed.

“The first couple (innings) he was just kind of feeling his way,” Mauer said. “The last inning, he dominated.”

Our whole conversation started with Mauer talking about how his younger brother will (he used the word, `absolutely’) improve on his 2009 season. Then I asked him how things were in the minors.

“La Velle, Kyle Gibson is going to be good,” Mauer started. I would have loved to ask him about more players but I had other interviews to conduct.

Jake should have an interesting team at Fort Myers next season. In addition to Gibson, he should eventually have outfielders Aaron Hicks and Jose Morales and infielder Ramon Santana - if those guys don’t make Fort Myers out of spring training.

That’s all for now. Next week will be busy as I zero in on Twins targets heading into the winter meetings Dec. 7-11 in Indianapolis. Enjoy the holiday!

Update: Here’s the lastest from Pat Neshek about his rehab.

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