This afternoon, the Twins Gulf Coast League team will be playing its first game of the season. As is typical, this is a group with players from all around the world. It is a group of players from the Dominican, Venezuela, Germany, Taiwan, and Australia getting an opportunity. There are several players on this roster who have spent time in the Dominican Summer League. There are young players drafted the last year or two. There are some college picks who are more raw and there just isn’t room for on the Elizabethton roster. It is a mixed bag that manager Ramon Borrego will work with.
Right now, there are just a couple of names to know, to pay special attention to. Amaurys Minier and Kohl Stewart are the big names. However, over the course of the season, we’ll get to know more about several other players and most likely there will be a few more players that we will be excited about.
The first six pitchers will begin the season as the starters.
Lewis Thorpe – Thorpe is a left-handed pitcher signed by the Twins last July. Still just 17 years old, Thorpe has a fastball in the upper 80s that touches 91-92.
Sam Gibbons – The 19-year-old right-hander was signed out of Australia in July of 2011. Last year with the GCL Twins, he was 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA. In 35.1 innings, he walked eight and struck out 22.
Fernando Romero – Romero signed out of the Dominican Republic in November of 2011. The 18-year-old went 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA last year in the Dominican Summer League. In 31 innings, he walked 14 and struck out 28.
Damian Defrank – Another Dominican right-hander, Defrank signed in April of 2012. He went 0-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 14 starts in the DSL last year. In 53 innings, he walked 16 and struck out 27. He is still 18 years old.
Leonel Zazueta – Zazueta signed last August from Mexico. He is an 18 year old who already throws in the mid-90s. This is definitely one prospect to watch.
Kohl Stewart – Stewart, as you know, just signed a contract that came with a $4.5+ million bonus. He throws hard and has (at least) four pitches. His future is remarkably bright, but the work starts now.
Brandon Easton – The Twins 24th
round pick this month out of Lakeland Community College, he also played first base in school. But, at 6-6 with a big fastball, he struck out 78 in 59.2 innings this spring.
Stephen Gonsalves – Like Stewart, Gonsalves was the Twins 4th
round pick and signed for an over-slot value this week. The long lefty throws in the upper 80s and is very projectable. He’s got a long ways to go, but he has big potential.
Derrick Penilla – The 21 year old lefty was the Twins 15th
round pick this year out of Mount San Antonio College where he struck out more than a batter per inning.
Reyson Zoquiel – The 19-year-old lefty signed with the Twins in July of 2010 from the Dominican Republic. Last year in the DSL, he went 0-3 with a 6.34 Era in 32.2 innings over 23 games. He struck out 37, but he walked 35. The year before, he walked 15 and struck out 11 in 18 innings.
Jose Abreu – Signed from the Dominican Republic in September of 2010, the 20-year-old right-hander went 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA last year in the DSL. In 40 innings, he walked nine and struck out 23. A year earlier, he was 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 41.2 innings. He had walked 12 and struck out 29.
Miguel Gonzalez – An 18-year-old right-hander from the Dominican, he signed in July of 2011. Last year in the DSL, he went 1-4 with a 2.01 ERA. In 44.2 innings, he walked 20 and struck out 35.
Josh Guyer – The Twins signed Guyer from Australia last August. He is a hard-throwing 19-year-old who will debut this week.
Zach Hayden – The 21-year-old is a right-hander from the University of South Carolina in Aiken. He was the 23rd
round pick of the Twins this month after striking out 43 batters in 21 innings. Of course, he also walked 23 batters.
Chih-Wei Hu – Signed from Taiwan last August for $220,000, the 19-year-old righty is 6-1 and 210 pounds. He throws in the low-90s already.
Markus Solbach – Solbach signed with the Twins out of Germany in February of 2011. This will be his third season with the GCL Twins. In 2011, he went 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA in 15 games in relief. Last year, he was 2-1 with a 5.82 ERA in 11 games, though he walked just one and struck out 14 in 17 innings. He is 6-5 and 195 pounds.
Tyler Stirewalt – The Twins 21st
round pick this month out of Fresno State, Stirewalt is the definition of a project. He is 22 and 2012 was his first year of baseball in college. He played football at the college before switching to baseball. He is a great athlete and has been clocked at 94 mph.
Jared Wilson – The Twins drafted Wilson a year earlier, but he went back to UC Santa Barbara for his senior season. He was their 19th
round pick this year. He has very good velocity on his fastball and a good curveball, he just has poor control. He’s also already 23.
Jorge Fernandez – Fernandez was the Twins 7th
round pick a year ago out of Puerto Rico. He played 30 games for the GCL Twins last year and hit .263/.288/.283 with two doubles. He is 6-3 and 190 pounds, a switch hitter and does have a high ceiling.
Joel Polanco – The 20-year-old signed out of the Dominican in December of 2010. In 44 DSL games in 2011, he hit .205/.366/.283 with eight doubles. Last year, in 39 games, he hit .254/.369/.381 with 15 doubles.
Brian Navaretto – The Twins 6th
round pick this year out of high school in Florida. He is 6-3 and 220 pounds already. However, he’s a very good athlete but very raw, as you would expect from an 18-year-old.
Alex Swim – The Twins 22nd
round pick this year, Swim is 22 years old. He caught all 46 games this spring for Elon University.
Jonatan Ynojosa – Signed by the Twins in 2009, the 20 year old has played 119 games in the DSL over the past three seasons. Combined, he has hit .171/.297/.217.
Will Hurt – The Twins 16th
round pick last year from Lexington Catholic (Ben Revere’s alma mater), he got off to a slow start last year. He hit just .141/.221/.141 in 27 games. He is very fast.
Nelson Molina – The 18-year-old was the Twins 11th
round pick this year from Puerto Rico. He is already 6-3 and 170 pounds, so he’s got some room to grow. Scouts believe that he can stick at shortstop.
Engelb Vielma – Vielma will turn 19 tomorrow. Last year in the DSL, he hit .268/.354/.331 in 44 DSL games. He added four doubles and three triples.
Amaurys Minier – Minier is the player to watch on this roster. Signed last July for $1.4 million, he is already moving to third base in the GCL. He is 6-2 and 200 pounds, but he has great strength and bat speed.
Chad Christensen – The Twins 25th
round pick this month out of the University of Nebraska, he was the Huskers shortstop his first two years and played in the outfield the last two years.
Jason Kanzler – The fifth-year senior has a very nice power-speed combination. The 22-year-old was the Twins 20th
round pick this year out of Buffalo.
Zack Larson – The Twins drafted Larson last year in the 20th
round out of high school in Florida. The Twins had some bonus money to use and were able to use it to sign this talented player. He is 6-2 and 185 pounds. Lsat year in 15 GCL games, he hit .250/.318/.325 with a double, a triple and three stolen bases.
Adonis Pacheco – Last year in the DSL, Pacheco hit .322/.408/.536 with nine doubles, 12 triples, four homers and 34 RBI. He also stole 18 bases in 23 attempts. He was signed by the Twins in September of 2009, and last year was the 21 year old’s third season in the DSL.
Rick Schwarz – The Twins signed the 18 year old in May of 2012 from Australia. He was an infielder there, but is a great athlete and has some upside.
Ryan Tufts – Tufts was signed recently out of a tryout camp in Florida. The last he played was at Palm Beach State Junior College. He is a very good athlete that the organization thought was worth signing and giving an opportunity.
There is the roster. Let the games begin! It’ll be fun to get to know more about these players.