Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Monday, March 31, 2008

New Britain Roster

Since I'm posting this so soon after another post, just a reminder that if you want to see my comments on tonight's season opener, you can scroll down below this post for a Nightly Notes post.

Last night, I commented on the Rochester Red Wings roster for the start of the 2008 season, and I'm continuing that series tonight with a look at the New Britain season opening roster.

Starting Pitchers:

Ryan Mullins, Anthony Swarzak, Yohan Pino, Oswaldo Sosa, Jay Rainville

No major surprises in the names on this list -- I predicted that each of them would end up in New Britain based largely on last year's performance and the fact that they slot into New Britain pretty effectively. Each of these guys are reasonable prospects in their own right, but Pino is particularly interesting to me and will be the guy who I follow the most closely this year. Sosa is the only one of the bunch who is currently on the Twins 40-man roster. I expect this to be a pretty strong crew, and while space is limited in Rochester there may be at least some opportunities for promotion -- after all, I have Heath Totten in the Red Wings rotation right now, and I could see any of these guys moving up and replacing him at some point. However, space will likely be more limited once Francisco Liriano winds up back with the Twins and Nick Blackburn fills out the Red Wings rotation.

UPDATE: LaVelle Neal said in his blog today that Jason Miller will be in the rotation rather than Yohan Pino. I was basing my rotation off of what the Rock Cats website said, and LaVelle should be more connected to the actual goings-on with the team than the website guy for New Britain. In other words, expect Miller, not Pino, to start.

Relief Pitcher:

Kyle Aselton, Armando Gabino, Jay Sawatski, Jason Miller, David Shinskie, Ben Julianel, Zachary Ward, Errol Simonitsch (DL), Jose Mijares (DL)

Zachary Ward was primarily a starter last year, and may get a chance to do some starting this year if someone currently in the rotation struggles or gets hurt. He was pretty good last year despite his horrendous 5-17 record. I'm most surprised to see Jason Miller on this list -- Miller had moved up to Rochester for the last couple of years, and if you remember, he made his big league debut last year, so being busted back down to AA has to hurt a little bit. I'm not sure what else he can prove in AA, but I suspect that he'll either pitch well enough to earn a promotion or he won't be around for long. I'm particularly interested in seeing how Aselton and Shinskie perform this year in the Rock Cats bullpen, and it will also be interesting to see if Jay Sawatski can recover from a bit of an off year last year in which he was only so-so in Rochester and (mostly) New Britain.


Drew Butera, Jeff Christy

With Korey Feiner and Kyle Geiger having been released from the organization, Butera and Christy were pretty much shoe-ins for a place with the Rock Cats this season. Butera was acquired in the Luis Castillo trade last year, and settles in for his first full year in the organization with a reputation as an offensive liability but with great defensive ability. Christy, meanwhile, is entering his third year in the organization after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 draft by the Twins. He actually hasn't played all that much -- he had just 246 at-bats between Ft. Myers and New Britain last year -- but his quick rise to AA indicates that someone in the system believes he, too, is a pretty solid catcher (or that there was no one else left in the system who was advanced enough to fill a spot in AA).


Brock Peterson, Felix Molina, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Steven Tolleson

When the Twins brought 2B Felix Molina back into the organization as a minor league free agent, I'm not sure if they expected to assign him to AA for yet another season. Molina first made his way to New Britain in 2005, and has been there ever since -- and you have to wonder what a third full season (and fourth overall) will do for him. When he was re-signed, I expected him to at least be used in Rochester -- but I guess the Twins felt they needed someone to fill this role. Expect Molina to get plenty of playing time again this year, and just maybe he'll get promoted to end this extremely long tenure with the Rock Cats. Brock Peterson returns for a second season as the primary Rock Cat first baseman. Trevor Plouffe is the most compelling name on this list, and will serve as the starting SS for the team -- once a top prospect, Plouffe lost his luster and a lot of fan support after struggling early on as a professional. Last year marked something of a renaissance for him, and hopefully he can keep up the good work and fully bloom as a prospect again this year. Hughes will be the primary starter at 3B, and Tolleson will be a bit of a utility infielder.


Brandon Roberts, David Winfree, Matt Moses, Erik Lis, Dustin Martin

See some interesting names on this list? Winfree, Moses, and Lis are all former infielders who are expected to be used primarily as outfielders this year. Lis is particularly compelling as a big name power prospect, and he should get a chance to play at 1B and DH in addition to the outfield. For Matt Moses, this may be his last chance to prove himself in the organization before the Twins finally decide to just classify him as a bust. Meanwhile, Brandon Roberts will try to prove that he remains a solid centerfield prospect after a year in which he hit .293 in 369 AB's. That might have been enough to get him a promotion to Rochester if the Twins centerfield situation at that level weren't quite so crowded. As it is, he'll stay in New Britain and anchor the middle of the outfield as Winfree, Moses, and Lis continue making their transition at the corner spots.



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