GCL Roster Review
There are four catchers on the GCL roster, including two 2007 draft picks and two international signings. Daniel Rohlfing, selected in the 14th round a year ago, got just 56 AB's and put together just a .232 batting average, earning him a return trip to the GCL this season. Meanwhile, 43rd round selection Andres Diaz joins him. (UPDATE: According to Dianna, Diaz is going to be converted to 1st base). I'm frankly more interested in South Korean Jae-Hyung Jang, who at 21 is a couple years older than his fellow catchers on the roster. Somewhat mysteriously, the Twins also have former Dominican Summer Leaguer Josmil Pinto on the roster. I say mysteriously because he hit just .193 in the DSL in 171 AB's last year -- so clearly, he wasn't brought to Florida for his offense.
Prominent 2008 draft picks Tyler Ladendorf (SS - 2nd round) and Michael Gonzales (1B - 9th round) were both assigned to the GCL, which is a little surprising since both have Junior College experience. Nonetheless, its obviously a bigger jump from a JC to the GCL than it would be for a guy from a major college to make the transition, so I understand the move. Both will be compelling figures for the GCL this year.
Also of interest are international signings Jakub Hajtmar (Czech Republic) and Hyeong-rok Choi (South Korea). Has a Czech player ever played in the GCL? It doesn't seem like a real promising market for prospects. As for Choi, he was billed as a middle infielder coming into the organization (at least in the stuff I saw), but is listed on the GCL roster as a first baseman. At 5'11", 189 lbs I could definitely see him playing first, but he's also probably not so big as to make the middle infield impossible for him. It'll be interesting to see where he ends up.
The 2008 GCL season will also see the debut of third baseman Reggie Williams, drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 season out of Bellflower High School in California. Williams signed right at the deadline in mid-August of last year, so it was really too late to get him any useful time in a regular league. Instead, the plans at the time were to send him to the Instructional League and go from there. I'm curious to see how he starts to develop this year, and whether he ends up playing at 3B (where he was drafted), or at SS (where he's listed on the roster).
The infield is rounded out by a trio of middle infielders who played in either the Dominican or Venezuelan Summer Leagues last year -- Anderson Hidalgo, Herbert Lara, and Juan Sanchez. Hidalgo and Lara both hit over .300, while Sanchez hit .263. I know very little about any of them, although Lara weighs just 154 pounds and seems to have some speed.
Twins first round pick Aaron Hicks will start off his Twins career in the GCL, and will hope to follow the same path that 2007 first rounder Ben Revere followed by starting off strong. Hicks is considered a much better prospect than Revere was, but it will be tough to duplicate Revere's start -- he hit .325 in 191 AB's for the GCL Twins last year, and is hitting .409 in 171 AB's for Beloit this year. The Twins will be extremely lucky if Hicks has anything remotely approaching that success. Fourth round pick Daniel Ortiz joins Hicks, and gives the club a couple of strong prospects.
The outfield is rounded out by Australian Tim Atherton (formerly considered a first baseman), South Korean Hyun-wook Choi, and Taiwan's Wang-Wei Lin. Lin is the only one of the three with any GCL experience, with 62 AB's last season. Unfortunately, he hit just .194. I have no doubt that the transition for many international players is a huge one, but let's hope that Lin, at least, can put together a stronger year in 2008 when he comes back from a season-opening stint on the DL.
As I said with the Elizabethton Twins, I'm not going to try to identify starters and relievers at this level because things can be a bit fluid. I'm also not going to mention everyone, because there are a lot of players I know nothing about. Here are some players that I find a notable, for one reason or another.
First, two picks from the 2008 draft are starting off on the GCL pitching staff. Twenty-first rounder Steven Blevins comes to the Twins out of Marshall University, and 25th rounder Alex Curry joins the club from Cypress College in California. Neither of them had great numbers (which explains why they were drafted in outside of the 20th round), but the Twins obviously thought they could be molded into something.
Meanwhile, if you're a fan of Russians, the GCL Twins have two on the roster this year. Nick Lobanov is the older of the two, and pitched three scoreless innings for the GCL Twins a year ago. Meanwhile, Andrei Lobanov will be making his GCL debut at some point this summer. They are not related, but they are supposedly similar pitchers, both throwing from the left side. If you're interested, there's an article from the Austrian Baseball Blog available that discusses the pair (yes -- I said "Austrian Baseball Blog").
There are also a bunch of VSL and DSL guys on the roster, and of the bunch I'm most interested in Martire Garcia, who just turned 18 in March. Last summer, the slight (5'11", 150 lbs) lefty put up a 7-2 record and 2.32 ERA with 81 K's and 25 BB's in 77.2 innings in the DSL. Those are great numbers, and I'm excited to see how he performs for the GCL club. He started the opening game, going 4.0 innings and allowing an earned run on 6 hits. I'd love to see the Twins consistently develop guys from the VSL and DSL, and hopefully Garcia can turn into one. I'm a little concerned by his small stature, but it is what it is, and we'll see if he can perform.