Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

September Speculation

There are just 15 days until September 1, when MLB rosters undergo a mysterious transformation from closely regulated 25-man units into amorphous monsters ranging anywhere from 25 to 40 players. The Twins are traditionally hesitant to call up too many players in September, but there are usually a few guys who get the chance to join the team for a month and soak up the atmosphere of a Major League clubhouse. One other note: the Twins almost always wait until the minor league season is over before calling players up. This year, both Rochester and New Britain finish things up on September 4, so don't expect any call-ups until after that date.

So, who will get the call? There are 12 players who are currently on the 40-man roster who are currently playing in the minor leagues (for those of you who did the math and quickly realized that 25 + 12 is most definitely not 40, the Twins have 3 players who are on the 15-day DL; players on the 15-day version of the DL count against the 40 man roster). Here's a look at each of the 12, arranged in three groups: Not a Chance, Could Happen, and Almost Certainly.

Not a Chance
This category might be misnamed . . . anything can happen, and it's certainly possible that these guys could find themselves called up. I just think that it's exceedingly unlikely.

Justin Jones - SP - Ft. Myers Miracle (DL)
Jones was the pitcher acquired by the Twins in the Doug Mientkiewicz trade back in 2004. He looked like he was on his way up in the organization, as he started the season with AA New Britain, his highest posting thus far in his career. Despite having a decent ERA with New Britain, the Twins demoted him to Ft. Myers in mid-May, and he's been disappointing there, with an ERA of 5.20 before going on the DL. I don't know the extent of his injury, but even if he were to come back before the season was over, the Twins aren't likely to promote a guy to the Majors who has struggled at High A.

Jose Mijares - RP - Ft. Myers Miracle
Mijares hasn't had a bad season with Ft. Myers, with an ERA of 4.38 and a very solid 61-25 K-BB ratio. However, as with Jones, I don't see the Twins promoting a High A player to the big leagues in one fell swoop.

Errol Simonitsch - SP - New Britain Rock Cats
Simonitsch has an ERA of 4.22 as a starter for the Rock Cats this season to go with a 78-32 K-BB ratio. However, while the Twins would only be skipping Simonitsch past the Red Wings, I still think it's unlikely that Simonitsch will be brought to the big club this year.

Adam Harben - SP - New Britain Rock Cats
Same story as Simonitsch, only Harben's been even better this season, with an ERA of 3.89 in 19 starts and 26 games. Harben's problem is that he has a 56-59 K-BB ratio, which would be highly problematic at the Major League level. He should be promoted to AAA next season, but a September call-up isn't in order this year.

Alex Romero - OF - Rochester Red Wings
With Tyner, Hunter, Cuddyer, Rabe, Ford, and Kubel all at the Major League level, and with Rondell White likely to come off the disabled list at some point, the Twins don't particularly have a need for additional outfielders at the Major League level. Add to this the fact that Romero started the season in AA, and is hitting .257 at Rochester. It just doesn't seem like a move the Twins would make.

Could Happen
J.D. Durbin - SP - Rochester Red Wings
Durbin had a miserable 2005, and was quickly losing his status as a top prospect in the Twins system. In 16 starts this season, however, Durbin has an ERA of 2.33, with an 81-50 K-BB ratio. Unfortunately, he also had a medical setback with his arm, and has been out for a little over a month. There were rumblings that he'd be ready to come back by this point, but so far it hasn't happened, and you have to wonder whether there is going to be an effort to bring him back this season, or if he'll just be shut down for now. If Durbin were to return, and if his arm proved to be healthy, then I could see a Durbin call-up. That said, I'd place the odds at the low end of the "could happen" scale.

Dave Gassner - SP - Rochester Red Wings
Gassner, like Durbin, has had an injury shortened season. Unlike Durbin, however, Gassner's injury is behind him. After making some rehab starts in the lower reaches of the Twins' minor league system, he's back with the Red Wings. If his arm gets strong enough by the end of the Red Wings' season, then it's not inconceivable that he could be brought up to add a left-handed arm to the Twins bullpen.

Mike Smith - SP - Rochester Red Wings
His first stretch with the Twins this year wasn't memorable, but the Twins could call him up in September as another Willie Eyre - i.e. someone to eat up innings in blowout situations.

Garrett Jones - 1B - Rochester Red Wings
Jones has had a mixed season, with a batting average of just .238, but with 17 HR's to his credit. The Twins could decide to bring him up as a pinch-hitter type. However, Jones' low batting average makes that less than a sure thing, so I'd give it no more than a 50/50 chance.

Count on It
Scott Baker - SP - Rochester Red Wings
Even if Boof Bonser and Matt Garza have both nailed down their spots in the starting rotation by the time September rolls around, Baker should be called up to give the Twins another experienced arm out of the bullpen. I'd go so far as to say that I expect him to get at least 2 starts in September down the stretch.

Chris Heintz - C/3B - Rochester Red Wings
Heintz was called up at the end of last season, and this season it seems even more likely for one simple reason: the 3rd catcher option. Ron Gardenhire has been talking about wanting a third catcher with the team for seemingly the whole season, and when September rolls around he'll finally get what he asked for. Heintz could also fill in at 1B or 3B if needed.

Terry Tiffee - 3B - Rochester Red Wings
Not much to say about Tiffee. We all know what he's capable of doing after having seen him in stretches over each of the last three seasons. Incidentally, he'll be out of options going into next season, so September may very well be your last chance to see him play as a Twin. Unfortunately for Tiffee, his odds of making the team next year seem rather slim, and I don't expect the Twins to use him as much more than an insurance policy in September.


  • At Thu Aug 17, 04:13:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Is Beau Kemp on the 40-man? That guy is nails. He throws heat and eats innings. I'm surprised he's still flying under the radar.

    -Mark in Rochester

  • At Thu Aug 17, 08:35:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Kemp is, perhaps surprinsingly, not on the Twins 40-man roster. That could change soon, however, since Kemp is having a very solid season for the Red Wings. In 42 appearances, he's 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA. The problem is his low K-BB ratio of 31-25, which could indicate that he'd have a problem getting major league hitters out.

    What surprises me about Kemp is that no team has drafted him in the Rule 5 Draft, which he's been eligible for since December 2002. After such a solid season at the AAA level, my guess is that he would be drafted this year if not placed on the 40-man roster. We shall see.

  • At Thu Aug 17, 09:40:00 AM , Blogger Twins Territory said...

    I would also like to see the guy that the Twins got for J.C Romero. I think his name is Alexi Castilli or something liek that. Anyways, he had 49 steals last time I saw his stats. He could be a good pinch runner.

  • At Thu Aug 17, 10:11:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    It's not impossible that a player like Casilla could be added to the 40-man roster in order to be called up, but it's probably not going to happen. Adding a guy with speed wouldn't be a bad idea, though; teams often do that when they're in a playoff push. I remember the Cardinals calling up Kerry Robinson for just that purpose back in the early 2000's.

    Ultimately, though, such a move by the Twins with Casilla is unlikely for two reasons. First, with the 40-man roster full, someone would have to be removed from it in order to add Casilla. It's possible that after the minor league season is done, Mike Smith could be designated for assignment and removed from the roster so that Casilla could be added.

    I believe, however, that Casilla will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year. He was signed by the Angels in 2003, so this will be the 4th Rule 5 Draft since he was signed. That should make him eligible to be drafted, and I imagine the Twins will want to protect him. So, while I think adding him to the 40-man during the season is unlikely (they'll probably do it in November), it is a possibility.

  • At Thu Aug 31, 06:49:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think you have forgotten about the only guy to make the futures game, Trent Oeltjen. he is the complete package. can hit, run, play defense and is perfecting the lost art of bunting. he is top 3 in AA in batting average and can steal a base as well.

  • At Thu Aug 31, 10:26:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Oeltjen is an interesting possibility because he's long been eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5 Draft, and is starting to reach a point where a team would consider taking a chance on him, for the very reasons you mentioned. I didn't include him on the list because, quite honestly, he slipped my mind; he's that kind of player, pretty good but not great, consistent but not particularly memorable. Nevertheless, if the Twins make the decision that they're in danger of losing him (which his participation makes more likely), then they'll probably add him to the 40-man. I don't see that happening during the season, but it's definitely a possibility in late November.


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