As Twins Daily fans would know and expect from me, I chose to stay in Ft. Myers because there were two more minor league intrasquad games. Four Twins pitchers threw in the game to mixed results, but there was plenty going on in the games.
Note - There are a LOT of pictures from yesterday's games in this article, but there will be a lot more on the Twins Daily Facebook page throughout the afternoon. Be sure to Like Twins Daily on Facebook to see more.
The biggest news was that Matt Guerrier made his first appearance in a game on the mound. It wasnít a big league game, but it was a milestone for the 35 year old veteran nonetheless. He looked good. The first batter he faced was Byron Buxton who hit a hard ground ball that third baseman Tony Thomas dove to his left for, got up and got him by a half step. The next batter was Jorge Polanco and he grounded out as well. John Murphy came up and hit a fly ball to left center that should have been an easy out, but it dropped for a double. Good thing Tom Kelly didnít see that. Guerrier walked the next batter before getting the final out on a lazy fly ball.
The secondary news was that Jared Burton came in and pitched the first inning for New Britain. To say it didnít go well is an understatement. The first batter was Corey Wimberly, and he singled. With Burton not even paying attention, the diminutive veteran stole second and third base. Then Burton hit Chris Rahl who proceeded to steal second base on the first pitch. The next batter hit a hard one-hopped that Jorge Polanco, playing shortstop, dove and caught. He got up and threw a short-hopper to first base that got by the first baseman just enough for both runners to score. CJ Ziegler, the large man signed from independent ball this winter, hit a deep double to the right centerfield fence. On the next pitch, Danny Ortiz hit a ball about 420 feet to right field, and it was 5-0. Burton did get the next hitter, Reynaldo Rodriguez, out on a ball that was caught near the fence in centerfield, about 405 feet from home plate. Frankly, I went over to watch the other game at that point, but I understand he got the final two outs of the inning. It is important to note that he doesn't throw his slider this early in spring training, so let's not make too much out of this.
In good news, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins had relatively easy innings. Perkins made a couple of hitters look silly on his slider, caught by the catcher near the back foot of right-handed hitters. Mike Kvasnicka and AJ Pettersen, like Perkins, are former Gophers, put the ball in play against him. Kvasnicka flew out, and Pettersen lined out to third base.
Thatís the big league portion of the minor league report for today. Below, you will find several other observations from intra-squad game two.
Pitchers of the day:
- ROCHESTER/NEW BRITAIN GAME: Matt Guerrier, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Pat Dean, AJ Achter, Dakota Watts, Mark Hamburger, DJ Baxendale, Madison Boer, BJ Hermsen, Cole Johnson, Tyler Duffey, Brett Lee
- FT. MYERS/CEDAR RAPIDS: JO Berrios, Felix Jorge, Yorman Landa, Stephen Gonsalves, Josh Burris, CK Irby, Chris Mazza, Carson Goldsmith, Sam Gibbons, Tanner Mendonca, Dereck Rodriguez, Todd Van Steensel
DJ Baxendale looks tough. Like Scott Erickson, he looks in for the signal with his hand in his glove, peering over the top of his glove. He has a quick delivery, but he throws pretty hard and his breaking ball looks really tough.
Todd Van Steensel went 5-2 in 2011 with the Elizabethton Twins, but after the season, he was released. The Australian went back home and he been pitching in the Australian Baseball League. This spring, he the Twins re-signed him. Watching him reminds me of former Twins reliever, turned dominant closer the last few years, Grant Balfour. He wears the goggles. He pitches solely from the stretch. He has a high leg-kick and he throws a lot harder. Weíll see where it goes, but still just 23, he is worth watching. Also, how can we not cheer for a guy who got to take a selfie with Taylor Swift.
Reports from last year were that lefty Pat Dean topped out around 88 mph, but he was throwing pretty well on Tuesday. He showed terrific control in the strike zone, or just off the corners throughout his two innings. The former third round pick gets forgotten, but he did make it to AAA last year.
I had the chance to talk to AJ Achter a little bit yesterday. He pitched and said he felt really good. I asked him about his experience in the Arizona Fall League last year, and he said he enjoyed it immensely. He said he threw really well early, but by the end of the season, his arm was really tired and he had little left. Heís looking forward to a fresh start this year.
Brett Lee has been my choice throughout the offseason as a sleeper candidate. The lefty looked really good pitching against the AAA hitters on Tuesday. I talked to him afterward for a little while. He said it felt good. They were encouraged to get a feel for all of their pitches. Going forward in spring, theyíll start focusing more on fastball command. He has a nasty slider that he said is going well so far in spring.
BJ Hermsen had a rough year in 2013. He would be the first one to admit it. What he wonít admit is that the strained oblique injury that he suffered late in spring training last year affected him the entire year. Obviously Hermsen relies on his control and movement. But when your side hurts, imagine trying to find a consistent release point that doesnít hurt. He looked good in his first outing of the spring on Tuesday.
Tyler Duffey pitched, and got a bunch of ground balls. I was able to stand behind the plate a little more when he was pitching and saw the life on his pitches. He didnít throw real hard, but he did got a lot of sink, and because of it, you can see why he has the potential to be an extreme ground ball pitcher.
Mark Hamburger looked solid in his first inning as well. He throws pretty hard still, and that mustache has to be intimidating.
JO Berrios may not be tall, but he does a very nice job on the mound. I watched his pregame bullpen. He throws hard and locates well down in the zone. His breaking pitch looked devastating in the bullpen. He did walk one batter in his first inning, but he got out of it. In the second inning, he got a weak ground ball to first base. Then a ground ball back to himself that he made an athletic, diving play on. He struck out the final batter he faced. He did miss on his location on one pitch that Iíll write more about later.
Stephen Gonsalves is tall and long. He looks like a pitcher, especially standing on the mound. He has a very smooth delivery and great arm action. He didnít throw blazing fast at this stage, but heís got a good, consistent release even on his breaking pitches. He got hit a little bit, and he even walked one, but in all, itís clear he has some potential.
Felix Jorge came on and he definitely looks like heís going to be good. He is tall and he is very lean. He throws hard, but has good control. The breaking pitch and the change looked pretty good.
Yorman Landa also threw. Heís a little bigger and stronger than Jorge at this point, but the scouting reports that Iíve seen and heard were on display in this game. He throws really hard and he doesnít always know where itís going to go. In fact, he hit Ivory Thomas, who isnít a real big target, near the shoulder with a pitch.
Reports on Josh Burris were accurate too. Throws hard, struggles with control, hammer for a curveball!
Brian Gilbert looks like a late-inning reliever. Heís got a certain mound presence that is clear watching him. He throws pretty hard, and does have good control too. Could move quickly.
Dereck Rodriguez, I wish I would have seen more of him, but he is tall and thin. Kind of the opposite build of his father who is aptly nicknamed ďPudge.Ē He does throw hard. Heíll have to work on his other pitches. Heíll go back to EST and develop.
I have to lead the hitters with Brian Navaretto. I mentioned earlier the one bad pitch the JO Berrios threw? It was to Navaretto, and he deposited it well over the left field fence. Unlike a day earlier, this one stayed fair. He had at least one other hit in the game.
Travis Harrison says that he is seeing the ball really well. He hit the long home run on Monday and hit some hard line drives. He said that he is disappointed somewhat in moving to the outfield because he felt he made some real positive strides throughout the 2013 season. He pointed at Jake Mauer and said, ďa huge amount of credit goes to that guy right there.Ē But he also understands it and knows that his best attribute as a player is his offense, specifically his power.
Byron Buxton grounded out in his first two minor league at-bats. He then hit a chopper down the third base line that he beat out. He played just five innings.
Same thing with Jorge Polanco. In one of his at-bats, he lined a ball to center in one at-bat and went all-out to second for a double. However, he played shortstop and it was a mess. He made no fewer than three errors that I saw. He was saved on another one when a ball went under his glove and the second baseman fielded it and stepped on the base for an out. Listen, heíll be fine as a shortstop. It wasnít a good day, but he can field. It is also clear that he is a second baseman.
Max Kepler played for the Ft. Myers team and played the full game. He struck out against Gonsalves, but he hit the ball real hard a few times. He played right field throughout the game.
Starting to feel better about my pick of Stuart Turner as my breakout hitter of 2014. He hit a long double to right field off of Duensing. He had another line drive hit. He also does a tremendous job behind the plate. You can see that clearly.
We also shouldnít overlook 2013 ninth round pick Mitch Garver. Heís a terrific backstop as well, and he can hit too: a lot of line drives.
Up the middle defense looks to have some potentially really good glove guys. Nelson Molina, Will Hurt, Carlos Avila, Jonatan Hinojosa, Ryan Walker, AJ Pettersen, Niko Goodrum, and Jorge Polanco are all really good glove guys. The guy people wanted to talk about was Engelb Vielma. He has made some tremendous plays with the glove.
Levi Michael did not play on Tuesday after a leg injury on Monday. It didnít appear serious.
Nate Roberts is around and doing some running and such, but he has not played yet.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am aware that seeing these guys for one or two games does not a sufficient scouting report make. However, it is great to be able to see these players who otherwise you only know through box scores. It is enlightening.
Twins play the Pirates in a couple of hours. Kevin Correia and Gerrit Cole will be starting. Oswaldo Arcia is returning to the lineup and the outfield. Aaron Hicks is again not in the lineup.
Robby Incmikoski is here in Ft. Myers with the Pirates broadcast team. Also, Jack Morris is making his radio debut today. The game will also air on FSN at 12:05 (central).