Saturday, January 13, 2007

Under Construction


The baseball use of the dutch word "berm", that is, a grassy hill on from which you can watch a baseball game, isn't found in wikipedia or other online resources.


Considering the one at William H. Hammond stadium doesn't look very grassy, perhaps it's a good thing. However, my cat would think that's one HECK of a sandbox they're building there.


The back of the berm, which still has a ways to go. There also will be new deck seats behind the berm. No work, that I could see, on the relocation of the visitors bullpen.

dugout seating

The new first two rows will hold the dug out seating, which isn't in place yet. The dugout box seats will be available to season-ticket holders with priority given to fans who have owned season tickets the longest.

dugout seating

There will be a new net, which includes a tighter weave, making it easier to see through. However, the new net will not have a backdrop, so sitting behing the netting will not protect you from foul balls that might get up over the netting.

Some discussion with the Miracle staff that the old timers are going to like that. They sit behind, or under, the netting to be protected because they're not fast enough to get out of the way of balls that might be coming towards them.

dugout seating

You can see where this extends "the pit" seating out a bit. The county is spending just less than $2.1 million for the new seating and other ballpark improvements. There will be around 400 new seats at Hammond Stadium.


The roof is off the stadium and in the parking lot.


Evidently, there was a small accident in which a portion of the roof fell on the dugout of the adjacent practice field and also caused damage to the bleachers. More things to fix before spring training opens.

Twins fans

A long line for single game tickets.


Dick Mingo teaches pitching at the Twins youth clinic. Mingo coached high school baseball for 33 years following his professional career.


Twins 1st rounder and pitching prospect Kyle Walrop (left) was one of the minor league players helping out at the clinic.

dugout seating

T.C. Bear was also helping out - to the delight of the youngsters.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Twins prospects receive season ending honors

Kevin SloweySeveral of the Twins prospects were named to the Minor League season end All-star teams as reported by Baseball America.

Danny Hernandez, who spent the season with the Appalachian League Elizabethton Twins was named to the Rookie team.

1st baseman Eric Lis and pitcher Yohan Pino were both named to the Low A team, Kevin Slowey was named to the High A team and Pat Neshak made the AAA All-star team.

Slowey was also named to the Overall Second All-Star team, while pitcher Matt Garza was named to the Overall First All-star team.

Hernandez was 1-1 with 18 saves, with a 3.81 ERA and issued only 9 walks in 28 innings pitched. There is no doubt that Hernandez has earned a promotion to Beloit, and if he keeps up the sterling work, he could well make it to High A ball by mid-season of 2007.

Pino has gone 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA in 21 games of relief in Venezuelan Winter Ball this year. He struck out 23 batters, and allowed just 16 hits in 27 innings of work. While with the Snappers in 2006, Pino had a 14-2 record with a 1.91 ERA. In 121 combined innings between the Midwest League and the Venezuelan Winter League he has a 1.86 ERA with 122 strikeouts and has a 20-2 record.

With Barry Zito's signing by the Giants being cited as the sort of money two time Cy Young winner Johan Santana can expect to earn once he makes it to free agency in 2008, many prospect watchers are considering Pino to take over his place on the Twins roster. Pino will start the 2007 season with High A Fort Myers, but expect him to get on the fast track through the minors.

Lis hit .326 with the Snappers in 2006, including 16 home runs will bringing in 70 runs. He scored 69 runs during the year for Beloit, with 4 stolen bases. Lis looked impressive in Fall Instructional as well, and is well suited to take over for Brock Peterson as a Miracle corner man.

There's little I can say about Slowey that I haven't already said. He spent the first half of the year with the Miracle, record a 4-2 record with a 1.01 ERA and issued only 9 walks in 89 innings pitched. He struggled a bit originally in AA, and ended up with a 4-3 record, a 3.19 ERA and 13 walks in 59.1 innings pitched. He struck out 151 batters between Fort Myers and New Britain, 3 less than Garza's total, and about 6th overall in minor league baseball. Slowey is expected to start the season in AAA Rochester, but might well find a way onto the Twins pitching staff before the season is over.

Neshak made the Twins roster by the end of the season. He posted a 6-2 record with 14 saves in Rochester, a 1.95 era and allowed 14 walks over 60 innings. There's no doubt that he'll become a staple in the Twins bullpen for the coming year.

Garza sped through the minor league system, posting a combined 14-4 record with a 1.99 ERA between Fort Myers, New Britain and Rochester. Following a shakey first outing with the Twins near the end of the season, Garza seems to have solidified. He'll be looked at for a place in the Twins rotation for 2007, a rotation that will need some solid arms following Francisco Liriano's Tommy John surgery and the Brad Radke's retirement.

Not picked for an All-star team was pitcher Oswaldo Sosa, but much like Pino, he's been having an outstanding winter season over in Venezuela. Sosa is 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in the Winter League. He went 9-7 for the Snappers with a 2.75 ERA. Sosa struck out 95 batters in 117.2 innings for Beloit. He earned a promotion to the Ft. Myers Miracle last season where he went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Sosa, who pitched 34.2 innings for the Miracle in 2006, may start the season in Double A. Certainly, he'll be given a look with consideration for moving him that pitching staff.

Although major league pitchers and catchers don't report for spring training for another 41 days, one notable catcher, Joe Mauer, is in Fort Myers, going through Winter workouts. Mauer is a resident of Fort Myers, were he is less known than he is in the Twin Cities and does not attract a crowd when he goes out. Twins short stop Jason Bartlett is also among the players, getting into early work outs down at the Lee County Sportsplex.

"There’s something driving these players, the fact that they’ve been to the playoffs and they haven’t been to the big game," former Miracle coach and current director of Latin American development Jose Marzan said of the players that are in town early during a recent article in the Fort Myers News Press. "The guys are here early because they want to get ready for the season. It’s not only for individual accomplishments but it’s also because they want to take it to the next level.”

But no worries Twins fans, both Mauer and Bartlett will in the Twins Cities for the opening of Twins Fest on January 26th. Slowey, Garza, and Neshak are also schedule to appear. More information on Twinsfest can be found here.

In other news, the Twins inked pitchers Sidney Ponson and Brad Voyles to minor league deals with invitations to major league camp. Both pitchers will be given a shot at making the major league pitching staff. Ponson's acquisition has drawn some concern from the fans, as his recent numbers have not been strong.

"This is an opportunity for him to compete for one of our rotation spots with a host of others, and he is still just 30 years old," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said in an article on "It wasn't too long ago that he threw well over 200 innings. We feel like we are a good fit for him and I thought it certainly was worth taking a shot at bringing in a guy that has the Major League experience that he has."

While it should be noted that many of players brought in to try out for spots in spring training don't make the team or even stay with the organization, the Twins have have had some success bringing in pitchers in the past. Most recently, Dennys Reyes emerged as one of the best left-handed relievers in the league for the club after struggling to find a fit with other teams.

Minor League pitchers and catchers are still nearly two months away, and winter league baseball has ended.

Fort Myers locals are reminded that the Twins will be holding 11 baseball clinics for the area youth, with the first two being held this Saturday at the Lee County Sports Complex.

The two-hour clinics require no registration and are open to boys and girls ages 5 to 16. Twins instructors will teach hitting, fielding, and throwing at each clinic. Parents are encouraged to participate with their sons or daughters in the sessions.

The first clinic starts at 10 a.m and runs until noon, the second clinic starts at 1 pm and runs until 3 pm. More information on the youth clinics can be found at