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Twins Target - A Minnesota Twins blog | Page 8

Written by Andrew Kneeland | 07 March 2011

Last week we looked at how social media has changed the process and methodology of how baseball is covered. We'll wrap up this short series today by taking a look at a few ethical dilemmas social media and Web 2.0 have created, and how newspapers are searching for the next proven revenue model.

 newspapers online(image courtesy sarahsbangor.wordpress.com)

How much restriction to put up with?

Ever since reporters stopped sharing train rides to games with players, there has been friction between baseball organizations and the media that cover them. Media groups desire the straight truth along with as much access as possible, while the team has an inherent tendency to resist giving away any information that would paint them in an unfavorable light. 

Legally, baseball teams have every right to revoke a reporter's access to a press booth or restrict the amount of material a newspaper posts online. Even if the stadium is publicly-funded, a baseball game is a private event. The right to free press doesn't apply in the case of baseball coverage; the only feasible negotiating power sports journalists have is a collective boycott of the sport.

Click here to read more... 

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 28 February 2011

twitter on laptop
(image courtesy geekwithlaptop.com)

How social media has revolutionized baseball coverage 

Be it reading books, shopping for clothes, or communicating with friends, technological advances of the past few years have revolutionized the way we perform the most simple of tasks.

Nothing has changed more drastically over the last couple of years than the coverage of major league baseball.

Click here to continue reading...

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 27 February 2011

I was recently asked to answer some questions for the folks at Yankee True Blue, ranging from New York's incessant dominance of the Twins to the resurgance of Carl Pavano to Justin Morneau's status. I've posted my answers below. Enjoy!

Click here to read the interview!

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 11 February 2011

I've been struggling through some baseball withdrawal lately.

It seems I've been without the best sport in the world for years, and I'm hungry for some baseball action. The crack of a bat, the smell of a leather glove, the glances between a pitcher and baserunner... I miss it all. To help break me out of my funk, I turned to Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and the Field of Dreams.

Try listening to this clip and not get excited about the baseball season. I dare you.

"Ray, people will come Ray.

They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.

And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces.

People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray.

People will most definitely come."

- Terence Mann, played by James Earl Jones, in Field of Dreams

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 08 February 2011

1. Kyle Gibson, 23 years old, starting pitcher

(courtesy aarongleeman.com) 

2010 stats: 11-6, 2.96 ERA in 152 innings, with 126/39 K/BB between Fort Myers (A+), New Britain (AA), and Rochester (AAA)
Last year's rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (22nd overall) of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft

The Twins’ selection of Gibson in the 2009 draft was a microcosm of the successful strategy that has helped them compete over the last decade. Gibson was a problematic draft prospect, with lingering arm problems that caused just about every other team to pass on the starting pitcher from the University of Missouri.

Minnesota, usually one of the most risk-adverse teams in the league, couldn’t pass up Gibson’s polish and four-pitch potential. The Twins deemed his forearm problems were deemed to be a minor concern, and Gibson proved them right by performing very well in 2010.

That Gibson signed late caused him to miss the 2009 season, though the rest was probably exactly what his arm needed to recuperate.

Gibson started the 2010 season in Fort Myers, hoping to adjust to wood bats and work out any mechanical problems the Twins thought should be fixed. After a few months in Florida, Gibson advanced to New Britain, where his dominance continued. He finished the season in Rochester, and remains just a short jump away from MLB action.

With four legitimate “plus” pitches, according to scouts, even the most pessimistic of prognosticators can’t see Gibson as anything less than a mid-rotation starting pitcher in the big leagues. His ceiling isn’t as high as some of Minnesota’s younger prospects, but Gibson earns the top spot on the TwinsTarget Top 15 Prospect list this year because of how certain we are he will be a great starting pitcher.


Ideal Scenario: Gibson will spend a great deal of the 2011 season with the Rochester Red Wings, further showing off his ability to induce ground balls.

Path to the majors: There are plenty of prospects ready and willing to make the jump to the big leagues, but the Twins will only call upon pitchers they feel are ready and completely developed. Gibson highlights that crowd, and should be among the first promoted to help bolster an ailing bullpen or rotation in 2011.

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Written by Shawn Berg | 07 February 2011

2. Aaron Hicks, OF, 20 years old


(courtesy thesportsbank.net)

2010 stats: .279/.401/.428 with 88/112 BB/K and 21 steals in 33 attempts in 115 games for Beloit. (Low-A)
Last year's rank: 1
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins 14th overall in the 2008 June Major League Draft.

Ever since Hicks was drafted out of Wilson High School in Long Beach California, he has been considered one of the Twins top prospects, both nationally and amongst the Twins blogosphere. Many teams saw Hicks' 97 MPH fastball and wanted to draft him as a pitcher. Hicks however wanted to be a center-fielder, which suited the Twins just fine. The Twins, with their history of drafting toosly high school outfielders, saw Hicks as a future five tool stud.

He signed quickly and started hot in rookie ball for the Gulf Coast League Twins. The 18 year old had a .318/.409/.491 line with 12 steals in 204 plate appearances. A great opening act! At 19, he was promoted to low A Beloit Snappers. He went .251/.353/.382 with 10 stolen bases out of 18 tries in 297 plate appearances. A solid first attempt at A ball for a 19 year old, still adjusting to pro ball and growing into his 5 tools.

Coming into the 2010 season, Hicks was atop most blogger prospect lists as well as the Twins top representative on many top minor league prospects lists throughout the league. Here is some of what MLB.com wrote about Hicks in ranking him #29 out of 50:

Scouting report: Hicks has the kind of raw tools scouts love to dream about. He's got terrific speed that he'll be able to use on both sides of the ball (defensively, he already does, but he's got to learn the nuances of base running). He's got great bat speed which should generate plenty of power as he matures. A former pitcher who could crank it up into the upper 90s, Hicks has one of the best outfield arms in the Minors. One thing Hicks has above some other raw, toolsy types is an advanced knowledge of the strike zone. All he needs is experience for the performance to catch up with the tools.

Upside potential: When all is said and done, Hicks could be a franchise type player, a power-speed combination who will provide Gold Glove caliber defense in center field.

Pretty lofty expectations. How did Hicks do in 2010? His line of .279/.401/.428 in 528 plate appearances while repeating at low A was fair, but it was by no means worthy of the gaudy expectations. The fact is, Hicks had an awful May, hitting only .214/.321/.313. Is Hicks streaky? Was he fighting injury? A bad month does not make a bad year and at 20 years old, Hicks is still learning the game. MLB.com is still high on him, ranking him #39 going into 2011. Keith Law had him ranked 10th overall.

Is there anything to worry about? Some Twins fans starting to get a little impatient with Hicks progress. Guys like Jason Heyward (20 years old) and Mike Stanton (also 20) were drafted a year ahead of Hicks and have already made a splash in the major leagues. Joe Mauer made the opening day roster just shy of his 21st birthday and  Hicks at 21 will start 2011 in high A ball. While fans will look at how other prospects are moving, Hicks will be worth the wait. Hicks may be a couple years from the majors, but he is still young and all of the talent is there, he just needs a little longer to develop. Better to wait for Hicks than to rush him and have another Lasting Milledge. Is Hicks a lock to be an all star MLB 5 tool player? No. He's the Twins prospect most likely to be a major league star. 

Ideal Scenario: Hicks will start the season in Fort Myers with a chance for a mid-season promotion to New Britain. 2011 will be a big year for his development. Ideally, he will cut down on his strikeout rate.

Path to the majors: Hicks is still a couple of years from the majors. With guys like Micheal Cuddyer and Jason Kubel probably leaving for free agency, there will be openings for the guys ahead of Hicks in the system. If Ben Revere and Joe Benson work out, the Twins could use their OF depth to trade for other need areas. Hicks could be the centerpiece in a trade for a stud major leaguer. The Twins have a ton of outfield prospect depth with Hicks being the leader of the group.

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Written by Shawn Berg | 01 February 2011

3. Miguel Sano, Third Base, 17 years old

(courtesy twinsdigest.com)

2010 stats: .291/.338/.473 with the GCL Twins (Rookie)
Last year's rank: 10
Acquired: Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $3.15 million in September of 2009.

Is there ever an instance where a team's #3 ranked prospect is considered under-rated? Besides the Brewers system of course, which may not have 3 quality prospects. I submit the case of Miguel Sano. Just ask a Twins fan who the Twins top prospect is. Most everyone of them will say its either Kyle Gibson or Aaron Hicks. Spoiler alert: With 2 remaining prospects to rank, this site will have either Kyle Gibson or Aaron Hicks as its #1 prospect.

We'll worry about the top 2 ranked prospects in a bit. #3 is Miguel Sano. You know, the same Sano who got the second largest signing bonus in Minnesota Twins history. The same Sano who got the second largest signing bonus in Dominican Republic history. Keith Law recently ranked him his #29 prospect. In his piece, Law had an interesting take on Sano: "Sano won't turn 18 until May, but his hitting tools would make him a top-five pick if he were just coming out of an American high school, with consideration for the top overall spot." Sano would be in the same league as Bryce Harper!

Sano could be the best Twins prospect right now and perhaps one of the best offensive players in team history. That's a good deal of hyperbole, but when I examined how he is doing early in his professional career, a couple of things really popped out. For one, he hit a HR in his first state-side professional at bat.  Not so significant, but it was the kind of arrival that could begin his legend. In his short season stint with the GCL Twins, his OPS was 11th best in the league. A decent year for sure, but even more impressive when you consider that every one in the top 10 was at least 13 months older than Sano.

It is very difficult to project how a 17 year old will perform as a 25 year old major league player. He's so young that it's hard to gauge where he will go from here and how he will develop.  He is still a minimum of 3 years away from major league ball and his body has a lot of growing left to do. He was signed as a shortstop, but most scouts predict he will be too big to even stay at 3rd base. He may be a right fielder by the time the Twins call him up. As a young man from a foreign country, his ability to assimilate to American culture is an important, though under-rated factor in his development.

Sano doesn't have the polish and major league readiness of a Kyle Gibson. He is not a 5 tool player who has a couple of professional years under his belt like Aaron Hicks. No, Miguel Sano is just a 17 year old from the Dominican Republic. He's a 17 year old that could be a top 5 prospect in all of baseball next year. A guy who could be in the majors before he is 21. A guy who's hitting skills could make him an all-star. He's young, he's going to be awesome, he's your #3 Twins prospect.... for now!

Ideal Scenario: Sano will probably start the season in the Dominican Summer League, since it's season gets going sooner than the American rookie leagues. Once the Appalachian League season starts, I'd expect Sano to spend the whole season there. He is a long way from the majors and his primary objective in 2011 should be to learn the nuances of 3B (If that is where the organization plans to keep him) and to work on cutting his strike-out rate. He struck out 43 times in 161 plate appearances for the GCL Twins. 

Path to the majors: If Sano has decent numbers in 2011, he will start 2012 in Beloit. Once in he makes it to full-season leagues, Sano will be given the opportunity to advance as quickly as his skills and maturity allow. I think the soonest we will see him with the major league club is 2014. The Twins are usually conservative with their young players but, the Twins have not had many prospects this young with Sano's ability or upside. If he performs well, the Twins will have to be careful that they don't push him. Sano is all potential right now, and it will be awesome watching the young man grow into his powers.


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