Since there is very little talk going on about the Twins off-season as of right now, I will be giving daily updates on the Twins players that are participating the Winter Leagues. The Twins have several players participating in both leagues (Arizona Fall and Venezuelan Winter Leagues).
Most are familiar with the Arizona Fall League, in which some well-known prospects go to fine tune their skills or to work on a specific part of their game. Minnesota Twins players who decided to participate in the Arizona Fall League are part of the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who currently sit in 2nd place in their division. For the most part, the Twins prospects have been looking pretty good down in Phoenix.
Here is a quick look at some of the top prospects:
2B, Steven Tolleson (.405 avg, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, .452 OBP in 12 games)
3B Danny Valencia (.211 avg, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 12 K, .262 OBP in 15 games)
OF Dustin Martin (.265 avg, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 16 K, .333 OBP in 13 games)
Looking at those three guys, Tolleson appears to be having the better overall Fall so far. He leads the the team in RBI with 12 and has a very nice on-base percentage. Tolleson is very close to becoming a member of the Twins 25-man roster. If he continues to have a strong showing in the Fall and then during Spring Training, he could platoon with Casilla. Otherwise, he will likely be a September call-up in 2009.
Along with the Arizona League, the Twins have a few prospects who are playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. The two big name guys who are participating there for the Twins are 3B Luke Hughes and C Wilson Ramos.
Hughes has gotten off to a very rocky start. In six games, he is hitting .111 with zero RBI and has struck out seven times. Many Twins fans, including myself, were hoping that he would be able to fine tune his skills overall and possibly make a push to be the third baseman for the Twins in 2009. He put together some solid numbers in 2008 between New Britain and Rochester, so don't let these numbers worry you too much. Hughes in my opinion should be given a strong look at possibly being on the 2009 Opening Day roster and splitting time at third base if we don't acquire someone this off-season.
Ramos is very interesting case. He plays catcher, so many of you are thinking, "What about Mauer?". That brings up a good point. What will the Twins do with Ramos, who hit .288 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI in Ft. Myers this year. Well you have to first remember he is only in Ft. Myers, but be in New Britain most of the year next year. So he is atleast 2 years away from being on the Twins 25-man roster. By that time I expect Mike Redmond to be gone via retirement or free agency. So then Ramos would becomes Mauers backup and then he would ocassionally DH. But Ramos is only 21, so anything could happen between now and the call-up. Keep an eye on him though, he could be something very special.
By keeping an eye on the above mentioned players, we should learn where they will be starting next year and what their future in the Twins organization holds.