Actually I spent the day at Port Charlotte, watching the Twins beat the Rays; thus, no minor league report today other that the 5 guys (Jason Christian, Nate Hanson, Chris Colabello, Bruce Pugh and Dan Turpen - of Kevin Slowey trade fame) who made the half an hour trip up North to fill in as needed. Here are my thoughts and observations from today:
- I did not see it, but Scoot Diamond pitched for the AAA Twins' team against the Red Sox' AAA team down at Fort Myers and his line was: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Not too encouraging.
- A couple notes about the Charlotte Sports Park (the home of the FSL Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Spring Training home of the Rays.) I think that the most parks I visit, the more and more I appreciate Hammond Stadium and the whole complex as a Spring Training venue. Here is one example: The minor league fields in Port Charlotte have an entrance with a door and a guard behind it and they were locked. Also, unlike Hammond stadium, there are cloth barriers on the chain link fences, which make following the action pretty awful. One of the gems of Charlotte Sports Park (and a peak into Hammond Stadium 2014) is the wrap around deck from short left to short right field. A great place to watch the game, esp. sitting on the tables by the Twins' bullpen at Right Center Field. Really looking forward to Hammond Stadium having one of those next Spring Training.
- I came down here for Spring Training with an open mind about Kevin Correia (yes, I know...) and I think that I know what the Twins saw in him. When he hits the lower third of the strike zone he is actually a good pitcher; when he doesn't, he is bad. Today he pitched against what was very close to the Rays' opening day lineup and did alright. His fastball was at 89-91 (the radar there is probably alright, since Price was at 92-95, which is pretty true) and was good at the lower third, but flat and hittable at anything above that. Change and breaking ball were both effective. He pitched much better than Worley did yesterday. I can start warming up to the idea that he will be serviceable for the Twins, but he will be walking a fine line if he needs to have pinpoint control to be serviceable (and he does need that.) On another note, Correia is too slow and deliberate. Not exactly a human rain delay, but pretty close...
- The Twins' four relievers (Tim Wood, Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett and Casey Fien) did a fine job. Wood is an interesting character and reminds me a bit of Jim Hoey physique-wise. He has a bit deception on his movement and short-arms the ball. He hit 94 with his fastball (Perkins did too) and he got swings and misses with his breaking ball. Very energetic guy and one of the few players who still uses chewing tobacco. Interesting to see whether he makes the team and how he will fit in.
- Alex Burnett needed this very badly. This was his only above average appearance in Spring Training (and it came in his seventh outing.) Every thing was working for him, including his fastball that went up to 92. A very good sign, but I am not sure at this point whether it is too late for him to make the team.
- Dan Rohlfing and Wilkin Ramirez continued their great appearances this Spring. Rohlfing started at first base and moved to left field later in the game. I think that his versatility eventually will be valuable to the Twins, but he has to build up on what he achieved this Spring Training and translate it into a good season with the bat at AA. As far as I am concerned, Dan Rohlfing is THE story for the Twins this Spring Training because he pretty much came from nowhere. Nowhere as a career .249/.296/.313 in parts of 2 seasons in AA. Now he has to take the leap.
- At this point and with Darin Mastroianni having a fairly anemic day at the plate plus misplaying a fly ball, I wonder whether Wilkin Ramirez is actually battling Mastroianni for the 4th OF position and not only Drew Butera and Jeff Clement for the last spot on the 25-man roster. He has been really good this Spring, he is a good defender at the corner OF spots, has some pop, has some speed, and has played some Centerfield (albeit last time in 2011.)
- I think that all three starting infielders today (Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar) make the team, with Dozier and Florimon the starters at second and short. What you look in a double play combination is chemistry and these two seem to have it. I just hope that the Twins decide that this is the case and have them play the rest of Spring Training together so they click even better. As far as I am concerned, a cohesive middle infield is key to good defense and I hope that the Twins decide in one and let it be without taking guys in an out like they did the last few years. That would be a recipe for defensive disaster.
- Tomorrow the Twins are playing the Blue Jays in Hammond Stadium and will be interesting to see what a lot of people think is the team to beat in the American League in 2013.