At 1:00, the Rochester Red Wings work group played against the New Britain Rock Cats work group. At the same time, on an adjacent field, the Ft. Myers Miracle work group went up against the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
There was actually quite a crowd at the game. For a minor league guy like myself, this is an amazing atmosphere. I walked back and forth between the fields with a camera, trying to get pictures of everyone. However, with prospects playing on both fields, it can be a little overwhelming. It is also pretty incredible.
As mentioned on Sunday, the Twins cut 16 players from Twins camp. Those players were encouraged to take Monday off as well and are expected to report to minor league camp on Tuesday.
Notes from the day:
Pitchers of the day:
- ROCHESTER: Virgil Vasquez, Taylor Rogers, Matt Summers, Matt Hauser, AJ Achter and Ryan O’Rourke.
- NEW BRITAIN: Jason Wheeler, Mason Melotakis, Tim Shibuya, Chad Rodgers, Matt Tomshaw, Tyler Jones.
- FT. MYERS: Aaron Slegers, Kuo Hua Lo, Christian Powell, Fernando Romero, Randy Rosario.
- CEDAR RAPIDS: Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, Ethan Mildren, Derrick Penilla, Tyler Stirewalt.
Of course, the questions you will want to ask likely revolve around seeing Stewart, Thorpe and Romero. I can’t blame you. Those are three guys that I found myself gravitating toward when they were on the mound. Obviously what they did statistically doesn’t really matter at all, especially five days into camp. Where all of these pitchers were on Monday is not where they hopefully will be in April and throughout the season. Here are my thoughts on those three and some others.
Kohl Stewart – He certainly is an athlete. He has a good delivery, and he does throw pretty hard (though I don’t think he was airing it out yet). He struggled some with his control and walked a couple. He’s not as tall as many of the Twins pitchers. He’s about 6-3 and has room to grow.
Lewis Thorpe – The lefty was pretty impressive as well. He showed a good fastball and a good curveball, and many think his changeup may be his best pitch. There was contact on him, but for the most part, he also just threw strikes. He has a very smooth delivery. It is clear he’s got a high baseball IQ and knows how to pitch. Couple that with his stuff and he has a chance.
Fernando Romero – He threw the hardest of the group, and he does have that slider. He struggled with his control as well. He is not tall, and he is pretty stocky. Scouts likely notice that he has some pretty big, strong legs.
Randy Rosario – Jorge and Landa didn’t pitch, but Rosario was impressive. He’s a small, athletic guy with a lot of energy. He does throw pretty hard, and when he throws strikes, it’s hard to make great contact off him.
Jason Wheeler – The very tall (6-8) lefty looks pretty impressive. He’s lanky, and the mechanical adjustments he made while working with Ivan Arteaga last year have helped him increase his 87-89 mph fastball to 91-92 mph. He has very good mechanics and a nice delivery. He also has a brother that plays in the big leagues.
Mason Melotakis – He definitely did not have his best control, but he does throw hard. He threw a lot of fastballs in the dirt.
Matt Hauser* – He throws really hard. It might be a bit straight though as he was hit really hard. Again, nothing to worry about, but he is a reliever to watch this year.
Tim Shibuya – He missed much of the early part of the 2013 season after shoulder surgery the previous offseason. He showed his old impeccable control and appeared to be throwing harder than I recall.
Taylor Rogers – The lefty makes it look pretty easy out there. He has a great delivery and really good arm action. He also touches 93, so he’s worth watching.
Kuo Hua Lo – He struggled with his control early, walking a few in a row. He has a delivery in which he brings that ball and his glove over his head and then pauses before throwing.
Tyler Stirewalt – I know he’s a guy that Jeremy Nygaard and I talk a lot about due to his football background. He didn’t throw as hard on Monday as I thought he might, but you can see that it’s there. He works from about a ¾ release point and has a good slider. Definitely a project.
Travis Harrison – Yes, they had him playing left field throughout the game. He will likely spend some time at third base again in 2014, but he will get a lot of time in the outfield. He’s one that goes without batting gloves to get that feel in his hands. He worked a count against Matt Summers and crushed a pitch well over the left centerfield fence for a home run. He put some really good swings on the ball. He also showed more speed than I recall from last year.
Brian Navarreto – The 6-4, 220 pound, 18-year-old catcher was pretty impressive. Behind the plate, he set up surprisingly low. He also displayed a very strong, accurate arm, throwing out a would-be base stealer at second base. He came to bat with the bases loaded one inning. He destroyed a pitch down the third base line that the ump called foul. Tom Kelly joked, "Hey, you hit it too far anyway.” A couple pitches later, he settled for an RBI single.
Engelb Vielma – There has been a lot of talk about him. I will say this, he plays a pretty good shortstop. He made a play up the middle on a ground ball and flipped it perfectly to second base to start a double play. He’s thin and has a lot of room to grow. Offensively, he is a slap hitter, as you’d expect. He does have good speed. We’ll have to be patient, but you can see what the Twins see in him.
Nelson Molina – Again, he is a guy whose tools are quite evident. The team’s 11th round pick a year ago has the tools. He has a good glove at shortstop with good range. At about 6-2 and really skinny, he has some growing to do. If he does, he could be one to watch. That would also help him at the plate, where he looks like he could struggle in the short term. Also, Will Hurt plays a tremendous shortstop.
Tom Kelly – TK warrants his own section. We know he’s a roving instructor, but you can see, up close, the love and passion that he has for the game. He was frequently talking to Chad Christensen. In fact, he held up a full round of infield before the games to show Christensen a couple of tips. In the game, he’s walking around with his fungo in his hands. He’s shouting encouragement to players, and he’s observing. He’s seeing the minutiae that most of us miss.
Players who didn’t pitch today were behind the home plates, watching their teammates. Many of the pitchers will throw on Tuesday.
John Murphy made a remarkable diving catch down the left field line in the second game. He all-out dove after it and made the play.
JD Williams was in centerfield for the New Britain team, at least for a few innings. He made a terrific diving catch in left center. He remained on the field for a little while before coming in. He told me later that he was feeling much better. He had landed on his hip and was moving slowly.
Levi Michael – At one point, he found his way on base. He stole second and then grabbed a leg. It looked like it could have been a pulled muscle, or maybe even just a charley horse.
A couple of new hitters hit back-to-back in the first game. Brad Nelson and CJ Ziegler both look to have a lot of power and not much speed. They are both big and strong and clearly around for power.
Twins Daily contributor AJ Pettersen had a single, a walk and a couple of stolen bases. He didn’t play defense early in the game, but he did go play centerfield for a couple innings. The first two batters flew out to him when he got out there, and he made the plays.
Before the game, I had the chance to talk to a couple pitchers. I talked to Tyler Jones who was my choice for minor league reliever of the year last year. He provided the “best shape of my life” line, but he certainly looks the part too. With that 97 mph fastball, he has a chance to move a couple of levels this year.
I also talked to veteran Mark Hamburger. He is incredibly excited to be back with the Twins. He said this spring he feels so much better and he sounds like it too. He is in a much better place in his life. He looks truly happy. Asked whether he will get a chance to pitch as a starter or out of the bullpen, he said he wasn’t sure. He will be working late in the intra-squad game on Tuesday, but he was told that he would be given an opportunity to start. He talked about how he has his 50 games to get stretched out down in Ft. Myers. He enjoyed his time with the Saints, but this is where he wants to be. Don’t forget that he pitched in September for the Rangers briefly in their first World Series run. He has a chance to contribute this year.
I plan to spend time at the major league camp some on Tuesday morning and again watch the minor league intrasquad game in the afternoon. Remember that Jeremy Nygaard and I will discuss all kinds of Twins and Twins minor league topics on Tuesday night's Twins Hangout at 8:30 (central time).
One last thing... here is some video of Lewis Thorpe on the mound.