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12/12/08

Welcome Henry Arias; so long Juan Sanchez, David Shinskie and Jose Lugo

Yesterday, I profiled the Twins Major League rule 5 draft pick Jason Jones; today, I will give you the profiles of the other players involved in the Twins' Rule 5 draft:

Henry Arias will be 24 years old next January and was the player to be named later in the the trade that sent minor leaguer Brad Salmon to the Royals from the Reds last summer. Probably his biggest claims to fame are that he shared last names with one of the best players to wear a Twins' uniform and that he was involved in the infamous bench clearing brawl between the Dayton Dragons and the Peoria Chiefs last July, and was almost hit by lightening when on the mount for the Burlington Bees against the Clinton LumberKings, before his trade last June.

His highest level of play was the Midwest league, last season, where he was fairly old at 23. In the previous two seasons he pitched at the Arizona League (low Rookie) and the Appalachian league. Being in the same league as Twins' farm clubs the last two seasons, the Twins had plenty of time to scout him. He has been a set up man the last year and finished 24 games of the 39 he appeared, accumulating 3 saves on the way. I think that the Twins see more to him than his numbers (career: 4.76 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 1.61 K/BB and 7.23 K/9) or his scouting report (borderline plus sinker at 88-90 mph, curve, change up) indicate. He is slated to start the season in Rochester (which will be more appropriate for his age, 24); however, Delaney and Slame are better suited for a promotion there. He may end up in New Britain or Ft. Myers (both places will be promotions for him).

Juan Sanchez was selected by Milwaukee in the 4th round of the AAA portion of the draft. The soon to be 22 year old righty made the transition from the DSL in 2007 to the GCL in 2008, where he was a major contribution posting .314/.382/.467 as a SS and 3B. His OPS was 4th in the team and the best for an infielder. He was blocked in the team by Tyler Ladendorf and was one of the oldest players in the league. Juan ranked 13th in my Twins hitting prospects list, ahead of names such as Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes. He did not figure as a top prospect in other lists. He will be missed by the Twins more than any other player selected, but there was no way to put him in the AAA roster. Milwaukee is taking a chance, because he probably is not ready for AAA. It has to be noted that, unlike the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, a player taken in the minor league portions is not required to be in a AAA roster all season. He is automatically property of the new club.

David Shinskie was selected by Toronto in the minor league portion of the draft. He is a 24 year old RHP former starter turned reliever the last few years. He signed out of high school at 19 and took a long time to develop, mainly because of injuries. His highest level was in New Britain in 2006 and 2008 season. Career 4.68 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 2.22 K/BB, 6 K/9. He was blocked by several relievers in the Twins system. In 2006 he was thought as a better prospect than Scott Baker, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn (this is a good reason not to believe prospect rankings), but he regressed due to injuries. He was the 16th relief pitching prospect in my list. I hope he turns it around with the Blue Jays organization.

Jose Lugo was a pick that did not make much sense. He was the 9th overall player selected in the Major league portion of the draft by the Kansas City Royals and his rights were immediately sold to the Mariners. He needs to be in the Mariners 25-man roster all season, otherwise he will return to the Twins. Lugo is a 24 year old lefty starter turned reliever who pitched at Ft. Myers last season. He accumulated a 4.04 ERA a 1.46 WHIP and a 2.3 K/BB but he was a strikeout (9.91 K/9) and ground ball (57%) machine. He has a great hard sinker. As a fist sight he has the makings (and the name) to be a ML LOOGY; however, his problems are that LHB hit .264 (vs .253 for RHB) off him and his WHIP was 1.57 against LHB vs. 1.29 against RHB. He does strike out lefties at a rate of 12.90 K/9, but this is in the Florida State League. Would it be sustainable in the majors? Jose ranked 20 in my Twins relief pitching prospect list

Make sure that you participate in the December contest! You do want Seth's book, don't you? Much more information about these players and a whole slew of Twins prospects in there!

Contests, contests!, contests! and December contest

Here is the deal:

I am planning of having a contest a month in this space on which the winner will get some nice Twins-related goodies:

  • For each of the off-season contests (December, January, February and March), the winner will get a copy of one of the best minor league publications for the Twins
    Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook - 2009
    , by Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net a major authority in the Twins' blogosphere, personally autographed by Seth himself.

  • For the in-season contests, I will give away goodies (balls and cards, mainly) autographed by current and past Twins players

  • I will have a big contest that will run all season long dealing with predicting the outcome of the season and the winner will receive a package of autographed goodies, including a ball autographed by a Hall of Famer


Here is how it works:

  • Every month I will post a challenge question

  • The contest will end the last day of the month

  • The first person that gives the correct answer to the challenge question in the comments space here (click the pencil at the bottom of the post), will be the winner

  • Only one answer per person, and "anonymous" users cannot win, just to keep the one answer integrity; so think



Without further ado here is the challenge question for December:

Predict the moves that the Twins' front office will make by the end of December

Scoring and rules:

  • 3 points for each correct major league move

  • 1 point for each minor league move and roster addition or subtraction

  • All players in the moves need to be identified correctly to receive points (e.r. "the Twins will acquire a relief pitcher", will receive no points)

  • Dollar amounts of contracts are not necessary

  • If no moves are made the first person that says "no moves" wins (but this is highly unlikely because the arbitration deadline is today, so don't do it :) )

  • Please do not include moves made before this post (e.g. Punto re-signing) or post a move that was made after this post but before your comment. They will not count

  • Have fun and bring a friend or two :)

12/11/08

Meet and greet Jason Jones (& Nick Punto)

The Twins today filled their 40 man roster (they can move Pat Neshek to the 60 day DL and still have an open spot) by re-signing Nick Punto and drafting Jason Jones from the New York Yankees in the major league part of the rule 5 draft (they lost 3 players in the draft and acquired one in the minor league portion, but this will be another post).

Who is Jason Jones?

Jason who turned 26 last November 20th, was selected in the 4th round of the amateur draft of 2005 by the Yankees from Liberty University. A couple of times he was named the pitcher of the week (2006, Florida State League) and 2008 (Eastern League). He was a Florida State League Mid-season All Star in 2006. His arsenal of pitches include a 2-seamer that tops out at 92 mph, a plus plus 81-83 mph slider with late breaking action in to lefties and away from righties, a split-finger fastball (his strikeout pitch) and a changeup that he throws occasionally.

He started his professional career with an excellent campaign in 2004, when he pitched 79 innings and started 14 games split between the State Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League (low A) and the Battle Creek Yankees of the Midwest (A) League. He accumulated a 2.62 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and had 7.67 K/BB and 5.24 K/9. In 2005 he was promoted to the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League (high A) where he pitched 128.1 innings with disappointing results: 5.68 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 3.8 K/BB and 5.34 K/9. This drove two changes in his pitching style brought about by the Yankees pitching staff: a. a change in his mechanics and b. abandonment of his erratic curve ball for the favor of a newly tought split-finger fastball. In 2006 he split time between the Tampa Yankees and Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League (AA). His totals for the year were 3.39 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.39 K/BB and 5.22 K/9. The decrease in his K/BB was due to the increase use of the split-finger fastball that he was learning at the time. In 2007 he spent the whole season in Trenon where he pitched 131.2 innings resulting to a 3.62 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.51 K/BB and 5.35 K/9. He split last season between Trenton and Scranton of the International League (AAA) and pitched 160 innings accumulating a 3.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.04 K/BB and 5.74 K/9.

How does he fit in the Twins' plans? He could be a change of page reliever in the major league club (however, that would require that one of the current relievers or Phillip Humber who is out of options get dealt.) or his contract could be bought via a trade and have a spot in Rochester's rotation in 2009. If I were to guess, I would guess that unless there is a trade and he shocks the universe in spring training, he would either return to the Yankees or get traded by the Yankees and will start in Rochester. The Twins will surely get a good look of him in spring training because there would be several of their pitchers expected to play in the the World Baseball Classic, which would result in Jones pitching more innings.

Not much I can say about Nick Punto. We all know him. As I indicated previously, he was not that bad last year. He ranked 15th and above the major league average for shortstops in BFE. The huge perception of disappointment is probably a combination of the facts that a. people do not seem to forget 2007 and b. there have been no significant moves by the front office to improve this team. Yet. There are still about 4 months before the first pitch of the 2009 season is thrown, and I will wait to hold judgment about this off-season performance of the Twins' front office until then. For an organization that values "continuity" at all levels, this was not a surprising singing... However, this organization has not won much since 1991, so sometimes the pot needs to be stirred in order for results to be produced.

Time will tell...

12/10/08

All is quiet for the Twins in the Vegas front...

At least as far as transactions realized go. As soon as the Twins acquire someone, I will analyze those signings/trades.

I will not propagate rumors and whispers started elsewhere, there is already enough of that in the cyberspace.

Expect news regarding the Twins tomorrow, because of the Rule 5 draft. The Twins may select a player or two (they have 2 empty spots in their roster) and also are expected to lose a player or two...