Ft. Myers Miracle
Starting Pitchers: Kyle Gibson, Shooter Hunt, Bobby Lanigan, Mike Tarsi, Brad Tippett
All eyes will be on 2009 first round draft pick Kyle Gibson as the season starts, as he prepares to make his professional debut at the High A level. Expectations are high that Gibson will be able to move quite quickly through the system, but he’ll have to prove that he can get out decent competition in the Florida State League first. Meanwhile, 2008 first rounder Shooter Hunt tries to recover from a woeful 2009 season in which he had no control and gave up runs to practically everyone who came to the plate. To this point he has been a bust. Nonetheless, Hunt has been given a promotion to High A ball — and hopefully will figure out how to keep the ball in the strike zone and get guys out again. Lanigan and Tarsi both return to Ft. Myers after partial 2009 seasons there that weren’t terrible but also weren’t terribly impressive. Tippett, an Aussie, earned a promotion from Beloit in which he posted a solid ERA and a very nice 1.07 WHIP.
Bullpen: Michael Allen, Henry Arias, Billy Bullock, Tony Davis, Ron Mahay, Blake Martin, Bruce Pugh, Matt Williams
Ron Mahay obviously won’t be in Ft. Myers for long but he makes the Miracle opening day roster so he’s on this list. 2009 second round pick Bullock had a solid first season split between Elizabethton and Beloit and earns a quick promotion to Ft. Myers where he should anchor the ‘pen. Williams and Pugh also earn promotions after successful full seasons in Beloit. Blake Martin was slightly less successful in 2009 with Beloit but also pitched well enough that the Twins are giving him a bump up. Michael Allen and Henry Arias both spent time in 2009 with Ft. Myers, with Arias spending a full season with the Miracle and pitching relatively poorly. Tony Davis, meanwhile, was drafted in the 12th round in 2009 and pitched poorly in Elizabethton, but due to his college experience he nonetheless will start the season with the Miracle.
Catchers: Jair Fernandez, Chris Herrmann, Daniel Rohlfing
In his second season in the Twins organization after coming over from the Mariners, Fernandez didn’t hit much in 2009 with the Miracle. That, likely in combination with a relative paucity of spots at higher levels, get Fernandez a return trip to Ft. Myers in 2010. He’s joined by 2007 14th round pick Rohlfing, who spent 2009 in Elizabethton where he didn’t do much with his bat. Herrmann is the most interesting of the catchers. A 6th round pick in 2009, Herrmann hit .300 in Elizabethton last season and should get plenty of playing time with the Miracle.
Infielders: Nate Hanson, Yangervis Solarte, Drew Thompson, Deibinson Romero, Nick Romero, Chris Cates, Paul Kelly
Thompson and Kelly were both 2005 2nd round picks for the Twins, and both have had star-crossed professional careers. Kelly hasn’t played much since 2006, while Thompson missed all of 2007 and 2008. Now, both find themselves in Ft. Myers — probably more because there’s a backlog of younger players who need development time in Low A ball than due to either having earned a promotion on the field. This may be the last hurrah for both of them as they try to make a go of a professional career. Solarte also had an injury-filled 2009 split between several levels. Meanwhile, both Romero’s and Chris Cates spent time in Ft. Myers last year and earned a return engagement, and Nate Hanson gets a promotion from Beloit after a mediocre season.
Outfielders: Evan Bigley, Michael Harrington, Ramon Santana
If the AA outfield wasn’t bursting at the seams with solid players, Bigley’s 2009 season might have earned him a quick promotion. Bigley hit .307/786 in 101 AB’s with Beloit before moving up to Ft. Myers and hitting .280/741. However, with plenty of talent above him, the Twins can afford to give Bigley some more time in High A to develop his talents. Michael Harrington, on the other hand, was given a promotion from Beloit despite hitting just .228/635. Santana, meanwhile, has spent most of his career in the infield but is being listed as an outfielder and presumably will get a bunch of AB’s there. He hit well in Beloit last year (where he spent all but 15 AB’s).