The newest list of minor league transactions has been released, courtesy of Baseball America. It’s a short list, but interesting: the Twins have released C Jeff Christy and OF Ozzie Lewis. Here are some thoughts:
Jeff Christy – C – Rochester Red Wings
Christy was drafted out of the University of Nebraska in the 6th round of the 2006 draft, and rose relatively quickly through the ranks to reach Rochester by 2008 for a partial season, with another stretch with the Red Wings in 2009. He must be a reasonably good defensive catcher, because he sure wasn’t being promoted for his offense — Christy is a career .215/567 hitter. With other young catchers in the system behind him and better prospects ahead of him, there wasn’t really any reason for the team to hang onto the former Cornhusker. Since catchers always seem to be in demand, there may even be a chance for Christy to head to an organization that needs one and continue his minor league career. The biggest problem for Christy in the Twins organization was that he just didn’t get a lot of playing time — just 138 AB’s in 2009 and and 164 in 2008 — so this release could actually be a positive for Christy if he can hook up with a club that will give him a chance to get in more games. Unfortunately, his offensive track record probably means teams won’t be beating down his door, but we’ll see.
Ozzie Lewis – OF – Beloit Snappers
This one caught me off guard a little bit. It’s not that Lewis was ever an elite prospect, because he really wasn’t — he was drafted in the 21st round of the 2007 draft out of Fresno State University, and almost by definition guys drafted that late don’t really qualify for “elite prospect” status. Nonetheless, Lewis performed well enough in his first season in the organization (hitting .323/898 with 9 HR’s in 235 AB’s) to win MVP honors in the Appalachian League and earn himself some more serious interest from many fans, including myself. Unfortunately, 2008 was a struggle, as Lewis transitioned into a role with the Snappers and hit just .218/627 in 211 AB’s. It’s not necessarily unusual for players to struggle when moving to a full season professional league, so it wasn’t surprising that the Twins stuck Lewis back in Beloit this year to see if he could make the necessary adjustments. To a degree, he did — he hit .272/701 in 401 AB’s. Those numbers are all better than what he put up in 2008 — but stunningly, Lewis drew the same number of walks in 2008 and 2009 — 24 — despite having a whopping 190 more AB’s. His strikeouts, meanwhile, jumped from 67 to 91 (actually a fairly substantial improvement in K/AB, but still not exactly great). So, it seems the Twins were caught with a player who was making some kind of progress in Beloit, but probably not enough to justify a promotion to Ft. Myers. With two years under his belt in Beloit already, the Twins probably just didn’t see the point of continuing a use a roster spot on Lewis with other young players ready to come up from Elizabethton and get playing time.