Live from Fort Myers: Twins Spring Training Notes: 3/19/2018

This is my daily live report from Fort Myers on the Twins' Spring Training:
  •  The biggest story of the day was Jorge Polanco's suspension that was revealed yesterday.  The Twins' organization found out yesterday when Polanco, who knew about it for a month or so,  decided to drop his appeal.   This might explain all the errors this Spring Training.  His mind was elsewhere...
  • The Twins lost to the Pirates today away, in a game that Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier blasted long home runs (one of the 3 hits for Sano,) and the pitching was intended to test the bullpen against MLB-level competition.  Taylor Rogers did not have a good game raising his Spring ERA to 8.10, Trevor Hildenberger had his second clean game in a row dropping his Spring ERA to 8.00, Rule 5 pick  Tyler Kinley followed with another dud, raising his ERA to 4.50, Gabriel Moya stopped the bleeding with an effective inning dropping his ERA to 1.00.   Tyler Duffey followed in the last 3 innings of the game with his worst appearance of Spring, allowing 5 runs in 3 innings raising his ERA to 7.11.  Thank. Heaven.  Not sure what the Twins' bullpen will look like when the final cuts are made next week.
  • Back in the minor league fields at Fort Myers I had a chance to look at several Twins' prospects and some of the new minor leaguers in AAA and AA games against the Boston Red Sox' squads.
  • Zack Littell was the starter in the AA game and he pitched well.  The Twins' 8th overall prospect, kept pounding the strike zone with his 85-89 mph two-seam FB, changing speeds and locations and kept the opponents on their toes with his low 70s plus curveball.  He did not throw his four-seammer or changeup today.
  • Speaking of a curveball, on the AAA field I had a chance of seeing Ryne Harper, a newly signed Minor League free agent pitch.  The 28 year old has 3 kinds of breaking ball, a 12-6 slow hammer, a slurve and a slider and he threw them often and early in every count.  Supplemented by a heavy sinker at the low 90s that turns a lot of ground balls, he is a pitcher who is better served pitching backwards.  Keep the name in consideration, I suspect that he will spend some time in Twins' uniform this summer.
  • Back at the same field, a blast from the past, Zack Jones pitched an inning.  He really seems to be the last of the Mohicans from his generation of prospects.  First time back from a surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, his fastball was there, with good movement, but he has zero control of his secondary pitches that were all over the place.  Definitely not ready to pitch in game situations yet.  I suspect that he will start the season in the DL.
  • At the AA side of the field 25 year old Keaton Steele, 8th round pick in 2014 who was converted to a reliever last season made quite an impression with quick work, an 87-91 mph heavy sinker an excellent slow curve and a low 80s changeup.  Another guy who nobody knows and might be knocking on the door soon.
  • At the same field Ben Rortvedt looked much bigger than last season and I think that he will make strides with his hitting.  Heir apparent to Joe MauerBrent Rooker punished pitches at the middle and away, but has a hard time at pitches inside, no matter if they are strikes or balls.  His glove at first will need work, but he does have time. 
  • Levi Michael is listed as an OF, so is Vander Weil btw, but he played at second base with the AAA squad today.
  • The Twins have signed OF Jared Foster who was cut by the Angels last week.  The 25 year old former 5th round pick, has reached high A the last two seasons, can play the centerfield and has been plagued by nagging injuries.  The Twins officially released LHP Mike Theofanopoulos.
To see all the notes and coverage of the 2018 Twins' Spring Training, including my daily live reports from Fort Myers in the second half of March, please visit here

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