Gulf Coast League Twins Preview
Yesterday, I posted my thoughts on this season's opening roster for the Elizabethton Twins. Today, I'm going to do the same thing with the Twins low rookie league team, the GCL Twins. I'm not sure of a result as yet, but the GCL Twins opened their 2007 season this afternoon against the GCL Pirates -- so hopefully they started things off with a bang. Here are my roster thoughts, with a player's place in my organizational rankings listed in parentheses behind that player's name:
1.) Miguel Barrientos - (17-C)
2.) David Hernandez - (NR-C)
3.) Daniel Rohlfing - (NR-C)
4.) Alexander Soto - (NR-C)
Barrientos is the only one of these four players who has spent any time in the Twins organization at the GCL level so far, having played with the team in 2005 and 2006. Needless to say, he didn't exactly light the joint on fire, hitting .159 in 18 games in '05 and just .143 in 8 games in '06. Unless he somehow turns it around this year, I can't imagine that he'll be in the organization much longer. He'll start off the season on the Disabled List, which won't help matters.
Rohlfing was the Twins 14th round pick in this year's draft, and comes out of Oakville High School in St. Louis. Hernandez was an April signing who may have been a pitcher for a few years in the Dodgers system -- but that isn't certain at this point, and I'll try to find out more about him. Soto is a graduate of the Twins Dominican Summer League team, where he hit .221 in 95 AB's in 2006.
There are some interesting names missing from this list, including April signing Jason Anthony, Gilbert Buenrostro (a 20th round selection in 2006 who hit .281 in limited action for the GCL squad), and Korean catcher Jae-Hyung Jang -- none of them earned a place on a roster this season, so I'll be looking to see if they're still with the team or have been let go. To this point, I haven't seen any word that any of them was released. Update: Jason Anthony was released from the team sometime before June 15. No word yet on the status of Buenrostro or Jang.
1.) James Beresford - (58-RP)
2.) Nick Biagini - (NR-1B)
3.) Jeanfred Brito - (NR-2B)
4.) Paul Kelly - (4-SS)
5.) Juan Richardson - (NR-3B)
6.) Ramon Santana - (NR-SS)
7.) Yangervis Solarte - (NR-2B)
8.) Jonathan Waltenbury - (11-1B)
The first name that leaps off the page for me is Paul Kelly, who is listed as being on the Beloit Snappers disabled list. I'd guess that Kelly, who hit .280 in 378 AB's for the Snappers last season, is just on the GCL roster to get back to speed after missing the start of this season with an injury.
Another interesting name is James Beresford, an Aussie who signed with the Twins at the age of 16 but who didn't make his way here until he finished secondary school. He was originally signed as a pitcher, but my notes in the organizational rankings suggest that he was also known as an infielder, so it's not really a surprise to see him on the list as a SS.
Jonathan Waltenbury was the Twins 7th round selection in 2006, but the lefty didn't sign until August and so wasn't assigned to play anywhere. He just turned 19 on April 1, so being assigned to the GCL makes sense. Hopefully he can establish himself quickly as a top prospect.
Most of the rest of the infielders played in the Dominican Summer League last year. The exception is Nick Biagini, who I've never heard of before. Update: I've mentioned this in the organizational rankings, but I now realize (as any Gophers fan likely was already aware) that Biagini was the Gophers backup first-baseman. He had just 8 AB's in 2007, and is considered a long shot prospect.
As with the Catchers, there are a couple of prospects who didn't manage to find their way onto a roster this year, and whose status is therefore in question. They are Czech 2B Jakub Hajtmar, and 2006 24th round pick Nick Papasan, a shortstop. Papasan had some vocal support from fans on the shortstop page of my org rankings, so I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't look like we'll get a chance to see him perform this summer.
1.) Kevin Harrington - (29-OF)
2.) Wang-Yi Lin - (30-OF)
3.) Andrew Schmiesing - (NR-OF)
With only three outfielders listed (and with Harrington listed as being on the DL), there's a chance that some more names will be added to this list at some point. However, for now these are the guys. Harrington was a 12th round selection in last year's draft, and put up a horrific .136 average in 110 AB's. He's young enough that there's still hope that he'll rebound from that, but wow.
Wang-Yi Lin (who I have been referring too as Wang-Wei -- not sure if I got bad info on the name or if I just butchered it) is a Taiwanese prospect who will turn 19 in 8 days. Should be interesting to watch his development.
Finally, Andrew Schmiesing is, of course, the Twins 11th round pick in this year's draft, out of St. Olaf. I had predicted that his college experience would get him a roster spot with Elizabethton, but obviously the Twins felt that he could learn something in the GCL first.
Who's missing? Well, the big name (and the reason that I expect this list to change fairly quickly) is Ben Revere -- the Twins 1st round selection in this year's draft who signed on June 12. I'm not sure why he isn't listed now on the roster, but I'd be very disappointed if, for some reasons, the Twins decided not to play him this season. Also noticeably absent is the Twins 6th round selection in 2005, J.W. Wilson, who put up a couple of very bad rookie league seasons, and who may very well have been let go. Once again, I'll be monitoring the situation.
1.) Jose Acosta - (48-RP)
2.) Santos Arias - (NR-RP)
3.) Daniel Berlind - (NR-RP)
4.) Jarrad Eacott - (57-RP)
5.) Rodney Gessmann - (56-RP)
6.) Liam Hendriks - (NR-RP)
7.) Nick Lobanov - (60-RP)
8.) Winston Marquez - (NR-RP)
9.) Lee Martin (NR-RP)
10.) Michael McCardell (NR-SP)
11.) Danny Rondon (NR-RP)
12.) Tom Stuifbergen (59-RP)
13.) Jakub Toufar (49-RP)
14.) Thomas Wright (51-RP)
Sadly, I'm running out of time to write this column, so I'm not going to go as in depth as I normally would. Maybe later tonight I'll come in and spruce it up a bit. For now, you should know that this pitching staff is an international sensation. Gessmann (Germany), Lobanov (Russia), Stuifbergen (Netherlands), and Toufar (Czech Republic) all come from places that aren't traditionally associated with baseball, which should make them an interesting bunch to watch. I'm also very interesting to see how Michael McCardell, the Twins 6th round pick in this year's draft out of Kutztown University, manages to perform.