Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Brief Look at the Elizabethton Roster

The Elizabethton Twins roster was finally posted today, and I just finished going through the organizational rankings making note of players now listed as playing there. Now, I'm going to briefly go through the names on the roster to let you know who I'm particularly interested in seeing play.

The Elizabethton roster revealed some new information for me, as 2008 eighth round draft pick
Jeff Lanning was listed. I hadn't seen his signing reported anywhere, so that was an interesting development. Lanning, who had a very good 2008 season with the University of New Orleans, should get the bulk of the playing time in Elizabethton (although maybe not -- he didn't play on opening night). He'll be joined by 2007 pick Daniel Rams, who was taken in the 2nd round a year ago. Rams hit just .258 in 97 AB's with the GCL Twins a year ago, but remember that he was adjusting from the high school game. This year should put him in a better light. Third stringer Alexander Soto hit .273 in 66 AB's for the GCL Twins a year ago, but I don't expect him to get a lot of playing time with Lanning and Rams in front of him.

There are a number of very exciting players in the Elizabethton infield. I'm particularly intrigued by first baseman Rene Leveret, who hit .307 with an 862 OPS and 8 homers in 244 AB's for Elizabethton last year. The Twins must not have been convinced that he was for real, since those excellent numbers didn't earn him a promotion. I'm curious to see if he can put together another solid season in 2008 to prove he's for real. He's joined at 1st base by Jonathan Waltenbury, a 7th round pick from 2006 who was unexceptional last year in the GCL (.244/713/123 AB's), and, if he recovers from yet another injury, by Henry Sanchez. Sanchez was a first round selection back in 2005, but he's been a complete bust -- he's largely been unable to stay healthy, and even when he is on the field he's been unable to perform. I'd be willing to bet that we're in the end stage of his professional baseball career.

Up the middle, the most interesting name is Nick Papasan, who played well in limited action for the GCL Twins a year ago after he returned from injury. The Texan has been talked up incessantly by many of his fans from his high school days, so this will be his chance to live up to that hype. He's joined by Aussie James Beresford, Venezuelan Jeanfred Brito, and Puerto Rican Eric Santiago. Beresford and Brito both played well in the GCL a year ago, while Santiago struggled in Elizabethton and earned a return engagement.

At third base, the Twins will see what Juan Richardson can do after a solid 2007 season in the GCL, where he hit .317 with a 765 OPS. He'll be joined by former Golden Gopher Nathan Hanson, who was taken by the Twins in the 28th round of this years draft. As with Lanning, Hanson was a surprise to me because I didn't know he had signed.

There's a short crew in the outfield, with only four currently assigned to the team. Recent draft picks Evan Bigley (10th round out of Dallas Baptist University) and
Michael Harrington (13th round out of the College of Charleston) appear to be similar players -- both are 6' tall and around 200 pounds, although Bigley hits from the right side and Harrington comes from the left. Both also have a bit of pop, so we'll how that translates with the wood bats. They are joined by 2007 draft picks Angel Morales (3rd Round) and Andrew Schmiesing (11th Round) who both played in the GCL a year ago. Morales, making the adjustment from high school, hit just .256 a year ago. Schmiesing, meanwhile, was coming out of St. Olaf college and had no trouble at the lowest professional level, hitting .321 in 109 AB's.

Starting rotations are usually a bit fluid in the short season teams, so I'm not going to split the guys up here. I'm also not going to comment on all of them. Two 2008 draft picks, Daniel Osterbrock (7th round - University of Cincinnati) and David Coulon (15th round - University of Arizona) have been assigned to Elizabethton, although Coulon appears to be on some sort of "reassignment" right now, so I'm not sure when, or if, he'll actually pitch for the team this year.

Other interesting names include recent Beloit pitchers Daniel Berlind and Bradley Tippett, who were sent down after struggling a bit so far this year (although neither of them was terrible). I'm also very excited to see Venezuelan Danny Rondon (1.14 ERA in 23.2 innings for the GCL a year ago), lefty Australian Jarrad Eacott (2.28 ERA in 27.2 innings for the GCL Twins in 2007), and Arkansan Lee Martin (18th round pick in 2007 who put up a 3.21 ERA in 14.0 innings in the GCL in 2007). Finally, because he's a Minnesotan who did well in 2007 (and because he's got a fun name), I'm curious to see how Mark Hamburger (1.20 ERA in 15.0 innings with the GCL in 2007) performs as well. No disrespect intended for any of the guys not mentioned, but these are the names I'm going to follow most closely in 2008 (unless someone gives me a reason to do otherwise!).

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  • At Tue Jun 17, 08:25:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    Leveret is apparently rehabbing a shoulder injury that he got in spring training. There is a nice article on him in the Elizabethton Star.


  • At Tue Jun 17, 08:34:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Rehabbing or not, he got off to a nice start tonight (along with the rest of the team!), going 2-4 with 2 doubles, a walk and a RBI. There were a number of other hot starts as well, but I was particularly pleased to see that Jonathan Waltenbury, Michael Harrington, and Danny Rams all went deep. Great start in a 12-6 win!

  • At Tue Jun 17, 09:11:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    Yeah, I checked the score in the first inning and saw Berlind got roughed up a little bit.

    It was nice to see Rams had 6 RBI.

    Do you have any guess at to what "reassigned" means for Coulon? And why Lanigan's name always appeared headed to E-Town, but isn't on the roster? Do you think they'll just be making their start at GCL?

    I was also wondering why you think Lanning will be getting a majority of the time at catcher? Apparently Rams has looked pretty good behind the plate and was a higher pick. (Personally, the video I've seen of him, he looks more like a 1B/DH... not really the build of a C; but what do I know?)

    Anyway, thanks for the report on E-Town... good stuff.

  • At Tue Jun 17, 09:20:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    I made that comment on Lanning because I figured that as the older, presumably more mature player he would be the primary starter. Rams was drafted out of high school, remember, and is just 19. Lanning is a couple of years older and has all that successful college experience. Based on tonight, though, it looks like Rams could be the primary. My guess is they'll split pretty evenly, though -- we'll see.

  • At Wed Jun 18, 01:09:00 AM , Blogger Dianna said...

    Soto's a decent catcher but he's SO SLOW. A double for him is a in-the-park home run for just about anyone else on the team, even Leveret.

  • At Wed Jun 18, 09:34:00 AM , Blogger Dianna said...

    "David Coulon (15th round - University of Arizona) have been assigned to Elizabethton, although Coulon appears to be on some sort of "reassignment" right now, so I'm not sure when, or if, he'll actually pitch for the team this year."

    They're waiting for his contract to be validated. MLB, little busy these days, you know?

  • At Wed Jun 18, 11:28:00 AM , Blogger JST said...


    Thanks for the info on Coulon -- I had no idea what exactly "reassignment" meant in his case.


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