Double Bill today at Fort Myers: The Twins' AAA club played the Red Sox' equivalent at Field 2 and the Twins' AA club played the Red Sox' equivalent at Field 3. At the same time while the Twins were playing the Pirates at McKechnie Field. Fields 2 and 3 are back to back so it was easy staying in-between, peeking at the action on both fields and concentrating to the one that made the most sense depending on the action.
Earlier around 10 AM there were Pitcher Fielding drills on Field 1, with pitchers of all levels of the organization from Extended Spring Training to New Britain, mostly Rookie and A, conducted by Tom Kelly, Paul Molitor and Jake Mauer. Pretty good company for one of the Twins' top prospects, don't you think?
Seeing this guy participate in Pitching drills with the rest of the AAA pitchers (even though he was just tossing the ball softly) was a sight for sore eyes:
(this is Kyle Gibson, for the ones who do not know him)
Back to the games. Here is the AAA lineup:
And here is AA:
(and, YES, even the Twins' staff cannot spell Mastroianni's and Herrmann's names correctly)
The pitching roster for Rochester was Luke French, Brad Thompson and Jeff Manship and for New Britain it was Alex Wimmers, Deolis Guerra and Lester Oliveros. The pitching roster and the fact that Aaron Hicks was playing (right field) for New Britain, made my choice of main game easy. A bonus was that a Tampa Bay scout was there scouting the two Twins' relievers, which makes me think that something might be going on...
There were some interesting spectators, involving a big name Twins' writer (not sure if he is going to write anything about this, though) :
And a certain pitcher who pitched most of last season with the Twins:
BTW, since he was cut I have not seen him in a single workout since I have been at Fort Myers last Sunday, so either there is something with him or he will be packing his bags soon...
Back to the AA game.
Alex Wimmers pitched 4 strong innings. Good sinker with good movement sitting from 88-90 and touching 91 occasionally. His braking ball is decent and so is his change but they both need command work. The one thing that is amazing about Wimmers, if you have not seen him before, is how little he looks:
I think that this season would be very important for him, especially to establish that command of his secondary pitches and improve the control of his sinker. If he does not do so, he will not be ready next season (2013) for sure...
Deolis Guerra pitched 3 more innings and he really struggled on the first one, throwing mainly his sinker (89-92). The four first batters went: double, HR, single, single. Very flat sinker with not much of an action at that inning.
The last pitcher for New Britain was Lester Oliveros, of Delmon Young trade fame. Something very interesting about Lester (and Bobby Cuellar was sitting by the radar table, where I was also, after the Twins' AAA game was done and chatting about this with the young Twins' pitchers who were charting pitches: ) When Oliveros throws his FB at 94-96 it flattens out, when it sits at 91-93 is has a nice sinking action and good movement and it is hard to hit. Same with the slider: 86-87 is all over the place; at 82-84 he can command it well. And control has been the biggest issue with Lester. I am very encouraged of the diagnosis of the issue and looks like he will start the season at New Britain trying to fix it. Another thing about Oliveros. If you have not seen him in real life, you will be surprised on how big he is. He looks small on the TV, but is really built. Almost Tyler Robertson big, other than the height.
How about Mr Hicks:
This picture is typical of Hicks at this game. He took a lot of pitches and he walk a couple of times before he was replaced by Derek Rodriguez (Pudge's son.) Could have been part of the game plan. I am not sure. He did play RF and if he will start at New Britain, with Derek Mastroianni there, he will have to mix and match outfield spots. He made a couple of nice catches and had a couple of good throws from RF. Before anyone is thinking about potential permanent move out of RF, this is just a game.
And, speaking of Derek Rodriguez... he looks a lot like dad, only taller, thinner and faster:
Back to the AAA game.
Really not impressed by Luke French. Typical LH junk-baller. Pitches from 80-86 mph, was hit hard. Brad Thompson who followed him is an interesting story. He is another new MiLB free agent (like French) and was out of baseball nursing an injury all last year. His FB sits at 86-87 but has crazy movement and induces lots of ground balls. He will be 31 this season. Interesting to watch how he will do in Rochester
Thompson pitched 2-3 good innings and the last pitcher for Rochester was Manship. Looks like they might use him as a reliever and not a starter this season down there. I have seen a lot of Manship so I was at the AA game when he pitched. This shot is from the bullpen warming up.
You'd probably heard by now that Trevor Plouffe had a couple of hits in that game. Here are his swings for those hits:
Tomorrow will be my last full day at Fort Myers and will coincide with my last report. I will be watching the Twins' game vs the Red Sox and will try to catch some action at the side fields earlier.