Even though we’ve suffered through a painfully uneventful first half of November, there is still a lot left to do before the end of the month.
The Twins will have to have their 40-man roster set in advance of the Rule 5 draft by Tuesday. At this point, there are really only two slam-dunk additions and they are OF Aaron Hicks
and SP Kyle Gibson.
After those two the picture becomes much less clear.
In the history of the Rule 5 draft, the vast majority of players taken are pitchers. After that you’ll get a spattering of utility infielders and outfielders, usually guys that can serve a purpose as a pinch-runner.
The Twins will consider adding players such as SS/2B Danny Santana
, SP B.J. Hermsen
, RP Michael Tonkin
and SP Adrian Salcedo
. There are obviously others in the discussion, but those, in my mind anyway, are the four guys most likely to be added in the upcoming days.
split time with Levi Michael in the middle infield for the Miracle this year. His prospect status is on the rise after Baseball America included him in their Twins Top 10. My belief is that the Twins will add him, though the re-signing of James Beresford and addition of Jason Christian – both guys who will fit on the ladder near Santana – could be viewed as insurance policies “just in-case” Santana isn’t protected and lost. At the end of the day, though, the Twins have been extra protective of their international infielders. Both Deibinson Romero and Estarlin DeLosSantos were added unnecessarily in the last handful of years, spent a year on the 40-man roster, removed a year later and remained in the organization.
is a somewhat local product who has advanced through the organization to become the answer to the question “After Gibson, who is the best starting pitching prospect that could help the Twins?” That’s more an indictment of the system than a complement to Hermsen. While Hermsen fits the Twins mold as a strike-throwing, big-bodied, innings-eating prospect, his addition to the 40-man roster isn’t guaranteed. In fact, I would be more surprised if the Twins protected him than exposed him. His saving grace might be that he is exactly what the Twins look for in a pitcher, they lack depth in the upper levels and have more spots available than normal. When it’s all said and done, it will be extremely hard for a team to draft Hermsen and keep him on their roster. His role would be a low-leverage, long-innings guy for a year before being optioned down to continue his development. That’s a lot of work for a guy whose ceiling is that of a #4 or #5 starter.
, in my opinion, needs to be considered ahead of Hermsen for the simple fact that a team could take him and stash him. Though he doesn’t have any experience about the A-level, he is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. This is essentially an audition to be added to the 40-man, not only for the Twins but all the other teams. His strikeout rate in the AFL (4.5 K/9) hasn’t mimicked what it was with the Snappers and Miracle (12.6 K/9), but his WHIP is lower. I think the Twins will feel he did enough over the past month to warrant concern of losing him and add him.
started 2012 in the same company of Gibson and Hicks. But instead of cementing his name on the 40-man roster, he spent 2012 dealing with injuries. In his 30 innings of work this year, his walk rate (4.7 BB/9) was 2 ½ times higher than it’s ever been in his career. No team will invest a 25-man roster spot on him, so that makes the decision extremely easy.
Adding Hicks, Gibson, Santana and Tonkin would give the team 36 players on their 40-man, which will allow them to be aggressive in the free agent market (hopefully) but still be able to make a selection or two in the draft.
The other thing that continues to happen is the Twins agreeing to minor league deals with, not only their own players, but players from around the league.
It’s impossible to know exactly what the Twins are thinking and who they are considering, but I’m going to list ten guys that I think would be worth considering with an emphasis being placed on two positions that lack depth: Pitchers and Third basemen.
Josh Bell, 3B,
Diamondbacks – The power-hitting switch-hitter was a former top prospect in the Dodgers organization before being traded to the Orioles and bouncing around the last few years. With last year’s AAA and hi-A 3B leaving the organization, there is definitely an opening for someone that could push Trevor Plouffe a little bit.
Andrew Brackman, P,
Reds – A former 1st
round pick, Brackman had a very good 2010. He struggled in his AAA-debut in 2011 and his subsequent move to the bullpen. He started five games in AAA in 2012 and was brutal. Despite being nearly 27, he’s still relatively new to pitching and at 6-10, there still may be room to project.
Adrian Cardenas, 2B
, Cubs – It wasn’t long ago that Cardenas was BA’s High School Player of the Year. Even more recently he was a Top 100 prospect. For a team that gave both Ray Chang and Michael Hollimon a two-year trial, they could do worse than to see if Cardenas, who has hit over .300 the last three years (in AA and AAA), could help the organization.
Josh Fields, 3B
, Dodgers – Fields finished 7th
in AL ROY voting in 2007 as a member of the White Sox. He’s bounced around, including a stint in Japan in 2011. He spent 2012 in AAA and had an OPS of almost 900. This almost-30-year-old could add depth and competition to the organization.
Drew Naylor, P
, Phillies – Though he never was considered a great prospect, Naylor began coming into his own in 2010. He then missed all of 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery. In his first year back he wasn’t great, but wasn’t terrible either while making his way back to AA. His 2012 was cut short due to a shoulder injury. The Aussie is a big guy (6’ 4, 235) who will still need time to recover but could still potentially have a shot at cracking the big leagues by 2013 (at age 27). Naylor hopes to prove he’s recovered by playing this winter with the Brisbane Bandits in the Australian Baseball League, though he’s yet to pitch. The Twins should be watching closely once he does. (My minor-league free agent "personal cheeseball."
(signed by Rangers) Yonata Ortega, RP
, Diamondbacks – Ortega has always walked a lot of guys, but he has a high-90s fastball. If he didn’t walk so many, he could probably compete for a spot in a major-league bullpen. Of course, there is a reason he’s a minor-league free agent.
(re-signed by Cubs) Blake Parker, P
, Cubs – Parker had an excellent minor-league track record and used that to make it to the big leagues in 2012. His problem was the elbow discomfort that ensued. He missed the majority of the 2012 season and was outrighted off the roster before electing free agency. Parker has the stuff to get strikeouts (though he walks more than you’d prefer) and could make a contribution in a major-league bullpen this year.
Ryan Rowland-Smith, LP
, Cubs – “Hyphen” hasn’t seen the Bigs since being bludgeoned in 2010. The next year in the minors wasn’t any better. But the Twins do a better job than anyone scouting Down Under, so if this Aussie has anything to offer, the Twins would know. (EDIT: Ryan Rowland-Smith was selected by the Twins in the 2004 Rule 5 draft, but was returned to the Mariners during Spring Training.)
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B
, Mets – While it’s very true that Tuiasosopo can’t hit; he’s a very athletic, competitive player that could provide leadership (and depth) at a position that needs it. The only defensive position he didn’t play in 2012 was catcher, so there’s that too.
Nick Weglarz, OF
, Indians – With the Twins losing Rene Tosoni, Matt Carson and Clete Thomas, they’ll have to replace the outfield production somehow. Weglarz has had a couple injury-filled seasons and can be a productive hitter and corner outfielder if he regains his health and is given an opportunity.
(image from cyberbrethren.com)