Triple-A Trickledown: Rochester
Happy Saturday to everyone. Today, in the third part of our ongoing 72-part series, we analyze the Rochester Red Wings roster, because you can’t spell “Rochester” without “roster”. Actually, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Never mind. Let’s move on.
Catcher: Rene Rivera, J.R. Towles
The first two times that Syracuse played the Red Wings, Rochester had three catchers on its roster, with Drew Butera joining Rivera and Towles. But with Joe Mauer banged up, Minnesota’s brought up Butera for some extra catcher insurance. Both Rivera and Towles have plenty of big league experience, but each player’s hitting south of .200 to date with the Wings this season. Butera’s also the only 40-man player of the three, so he’ll likely be the man on the move this season.
First Base: Aaron Bates, Matt Rizzotti
With Justin Morneau still on the DL, Chris Parmelee and his .195 average have been inhabiting first base for Minnesota for most of this season. However, the answer to the Twins’ problem likely won’t come from within. Bates, despite a .380 OBP, has just four extra-base hits (all doubles) this year. Rizzotti also had just four doubles, but his OBP sits at .258. Bates has played just five career games in the major leagues (2009 Red Sox), while Rizzotti’s never played above Triple-A.
Second Base: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Joe Thurston
Second’s been an offensively challenged position for the big league club this season, with Alexi Casilla posting a .250/.277/.300 slash line. Nishioka, signed last season to be the starting second baseman, had a tough season with the Twins in 2011 and has been with Rochester all this year, though he’s currently on the disabled list. With a hot streak, he could easily find his way back in the major leagues thanks to the Twins’ need for infielders. Thurston just provides organizational depth at this point after being released by the Phillies a few years ago.
Shortstop: Pedro Florimon
Brian Dozier was in this spot until about a week ago, when Minnesota promoted him to the major leagues. He’s started just 4 for 21, but he’ll likely get the benefit of the doubt with no other great offensive options. Veteran infielder Jamey Carroll, who’s started 27 games this year at shortstop, is hitting just .212. Meanwhile, the new Red Wings shortstop has impressed in five games. He’s 7 for 21 with two home runs and has sparkled defensively after being called up from New Britain. Florimon, who made his major league debut last season with Baltimore, isn’t on the 40-man roster, but if his newfound power sticks, he could certainly find his way there.
Third Base: Sean Burroughs, Ray Chang, Danny Valencia
Valencia’s just been sent down after starting as the primary third baseman in Minnesota all season long. He hit just .190 in 27 games before the Twins before Minnesota made the move, though things aren’t much better for the team. Trevor Plouffe’s the only player currently on the roster to have started at third in the major leagues this season, but he’s hitting just .137 in 19 games this year. (In case you haven’t figured out, Minnesota’s having some trouble offensively this year.) The 28-year-old Chang has had a nice season for Rochester, hitting .303 with a .384 OBP, though he’s never played in the major leagues before, while Burroughs was also just sent down from the majors recently. The former Padre is hitting just 2 for 12 and is no longer on the 40-man roster after being designated for assignment.
Outfield: Matt Carson, Bene Revere, Clete Thomas, Rene Tosoni
Josh Willingham has been tremendous and Denard Span’s had a solid season for the Twins this season, though the third outfield spot is a revolving door for Minnesota right now. Darin Mastroianni was just called up to the major leagues and Erik Komatsu’s recently been signed, so the Twins will likely see what they have from those two relatively young players. Thomas was removed from the 40-man roster after a 4-for-28 start with Minnesota, while Tosoni, a 40-man players, is off to a difficult start at .128 with the Red Wings. Revere, who’s already been up to the big club this season, might be a logical choice to return. He’s posted a .319 average and .359 OBP with Rochester, and despite a lack of power, is one of the Twins’ best base stealers. But maybe Carson, the former Oakland A, will get his shot soon, since he’s leading the team in OPS. With a hot streak, any of those four could theoretically head up…though they might want to watch out for former Detroit Tiger Wilkin Ramirez, who’s tearing the cover off the ball in Double-A (.356, 7 extra-base hits in 10 games).
Starting Pitchers: Cole DeVries, Luke French, Liam Hendriks, Daryl Thompson
Yes, that’s only four starting pitchers litsed, and no, that’s not a typo – with P.J. Walters’ promotion to the major leagues two days ago, the Red Wings had to throw reliever Jeff Manship into a spot start. Hendriks, the only 40-man player of the bunch, was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four games, so he’s been essentially replaced by Walters in the major league rotation. While DeVries and Thompson have been good, not great, that might just be enough thanks to a Twins rotation that’s struggled tremendously all season long. Scott Diamond was recently called up to the majors, where he threw seven shutout innings, and he might be there for a while. Carl Pavano (5.02 ERA), Nick Blackburn (7.18), Francisco Liriano (9.45) and Jason Marquis (6.26) have all had a rough go of things this season.
Relief Pitchers: Casey Fien, Deolis Guerra, Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertston, Anthony Slama, Esmerling Vasquez, Brendan Wise
For the most part, Minnesota’s bullpen has been very good this year with four relievers posting a sub-3 ERA and five at 3.75 or better. But there’s always room for improvement, and that improvement could come from Guerra. If that name sounds familiar, it’s likely because Guerra was one of the four players traded for Johan Santana in the Mets/Twins blockbuster from way back in 2008. Guerra’s only 23 years old, and as one of three 40-man relievers, he could find himself in the major leagues before long. In four Triple-A games, he’s allowed six hits and no runs in nine innings while striking out nine. Manship and Tyler Robertson are the only other 40-man players, but the name to watch here is Anthony Slama. The right-handed reliever has struck out a staggering 27 batters in 15.2 innings, allowing nine hits and 10 walks. Though the walk numbers are a bit high, you’d have to imagine Slama will be in the major leagues soon with these types of numbers. The Red Wings could likely be welcoming a new face soon, though, with 40-man member Lester Oliveros tearing up Double-A to the tune of a 1.42 ERA.
Look forward to seeing everyone out at the park today on Armed Forces Day. It’s a great event to celebrate our military and an absolutely gorgeous day to do so. As always, we’d love to hear from you with thoughts and comments. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com are the places to do so.