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Dooley's Diary - Spring Training 2012

Dooley's Diary

Dooley's Diary - Day 5

 March 30, 2012

Ft. Myers, FL-  Greetings from the Sunshine State!  Well, the Rock Cats 2012 Opening Day roster is set.  The Rock Cats are going to have a very experienced team to start and manager Jeff Smith said it will be the oldest team that he has managed.  The Rock Cats will have 5 guys that have major league experience and two Number-One picks on the club this year.  In addition, the Cats will have three of Baseball America's top 15 Twins prospects and five of the top 30 listed by BA.    

This is the team:

Pitchers

Andrew Albers

David Bromberg

Logan Darnell

*Luke French

Deolis Guerra (40 man major league roster)

Steve Hirschfeld

Bobby Lanigan

Blake Martin

*Lester Oliveros (40 man major league roster)

*Luis Perdomo

Daniel Turpen

Alex Wimmers


Catcher

Chris Herrmann

Danny Lehmann

 

Infielders

Chris Colabello

Nate Hanson

Estarlin DeLosSantos

*Darin Mastroianni (40 man major league roster)

James Beresford

*Pedro Florimon

Deibinson Romero

 

Outfielders

Evan Bigley

Mark Dolenc

Aaron Hicks

 

*major league experience

 

As you can see it's a nice mix of veteran guys along with some new players.  There are definitely some surprises this season.  With so many free agent signings, I think it bumped guys back to New Britain that have done well enough to get to Triple-A.  The great thing about the Twins system is that if you do well, they you will get moved up.  GM Terry Ryan made this very clear that the level (AA or AAA) isn't as important if you are doing well. 

 

Home Run Hitter New Britain Bound?

The Rock Cats may end up with former Reading Phillies first baseman Matt Rizzotti.  He was on the Philadelphia major league roster, taken off this off-season and became available this week.  The Twins signed him to a minor league contract and there is a strong chance that we will see him at New Britain.  Last season at Reading, the slugger his .295 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI and was one of the top hitters in the Eastern League.  He also spent time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2010. He has blasted 66 homers in five professional seasons. 

 

New Radio Flagship Station

The Rock Cats announced that Fox Sports Radio 1410 (Hartford) will be airing the Rock Cats broadcasts this season.  Most home games will be aired on the all-sports station with the road games air on WMRD AM 1150 and WLIS AM 1420.  All 142 games will be available on line www.foxsportsradio1410.com and in high definition on ESPN 97.9 HD-2.  I am excited to be calling the play-by-play again and hopefully the Rock Cats can get off to a nice start like last season.

 

Spring Training Radio Show

I had a blast broadcasting the annual "Spring Training Radio Show" live from Ft. Myers last night on Fox Sports Radio 1410.  It was fun having Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Liam Hendriks, Jim Rantz and Jeff Smith all part of the show.   

 

Mayor's Cup up for grabs

Today, I covered the Twins-Red Sox game at Hammond Stadium and the Sox beat the Twins 9-7.  Luke Hughes and Evan Bigley came up in the 9th inning with two men on but couldn't help the rally.  Minnesota and Boston play many times during spring training with both camps so close to each other in Ft. Myers.  In fact, the Red Sox just moved up the street to their new ballpark this season.  The Mayor's Cup is given to the team that wins the most games against each other in spring training.  Today's Boston victory gives the Red Sox a 3-2 lead in the series with just one game remaining between the two clubs.  Former Rock Cats RHP Nick Blackburn, Denard Span, Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe and Mike Hollimon started for the Twins. 

It's been fun giving you updates on the Rock Cats this week.  Thanks for reading and hope to see you on Thursday night at New Britain Stadium. 
 

Thanks!

 

The Voice of the Rock Cats

-Jeff Dooley



Dooley's Diary - Day 3

March 28, 2012

Ft. Myers, FL-  Greetings from the Sunshine State!  I had a chance to catch up with many former Rock Cats this morning in the Twins clubhouse.  It is truly amazing how many players have come through New Britain the past few years that are going to be key factors to the Twins success this season.

Packing for the Twin Cities!

While some positions are still up for grabs, X-Rock Cats RHP Anthony Swarzak has locked down a bullpen spot with the big club.  He approached me this morning with the good news that he has made the team and is so excited about his opportunity.  The hard throwing right-hander, pitched 3.2 hitless and scoreless innings with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts and was the winning pitcher in a start yesterday on the road against the Orioles.  We talked about what he had gone through in the minors and the long road to get there but he stayed on course, worked through some issues and now has a chance to shine at the very top level. 

M&M Boys Looking Good

I caught up with the two "Rock Stars" of Twins camp, C Joe Mauer and 1B/DH Justin Morneau this morning during batting practice and both said they feel well and are ready to go.  Mauer, said he feels much better than he did last year at this point and Morneau put on a home run derby display in batting practice.  Both are in the Twins starting lineup today against the Phillies in their usual 3-4 spots.  Mauer told me he has not only been playing nearly every day behind the plate but he's going deep into games which is a good sign.  The health of the M&M boys will weigh heavily on how many games the Twins win this season.  Mauer had a 2-out hit in the first inning this afternoon and Morneau crushed a 2-run home run over the right-field fence. 

 

Benson gets Farmed out

The Twins optioned former Rock Cats OF Joe Benson to Triple-A Rochester along with RHP Jeff Manship and optioned INF Pedro Florimon to New Britain.  Benson was called up to the big leagues after the Rock Cats season ended last year and will start the season with the Red Wings.  He has never been to Triple-A before.  Infielder Pedro Florimon will start the season with the Rock Cats and start at SS or 2B.  Twins GM Terry Ryan told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.COM "There's no doubt that kid has a lot of talent.  He's got a very gifted arm, he can run, switch hit, versatile, now it's just a matter of that bat catching up to the rest of his game.  I think we are impressed with him.  He's got good makeup, good work ethic."  It should be fun to watch him play with the Rock Cats each day.

 

Phillies in Town

There is plenty of red in the stands today at Hammond Stadium.  The Philadelphia Phillies are in town from Clearwater, one of the top drawing clubs throughout the Grapefruit League.  Many have made the trip to see their Fightin' Phills play the Twins today.  Phillies RHP Vance Worley got ripped by Minnesota in four innings, allowing 11 runs on 11 hits.  He surrendered a 2-run homer to Morneau and a 3-run blast to X-Cat Luke Hughes.  Minnesota beat Philadelphia 11-7.

 

Rock Cats Win Spring Game

The Rock Cats beat the Bowie BaySox 3-2 today at the Lee County Sports Complex next to Hammond Stadium.  LHP Andrew Albers and RHP David Bromberg pitched well for New Britain while 1B Chris Colabello and C Danny Lehman each had to hits.  CF Aaron Hicks added a double. 

 

Plouffe Update

Former Rock Cats SS Trevor Plouffe has been bothered by a hamstring injury and played for Rochester in the minor league game today.  He had quite the day, going 4-4 with three home runs and a double!  He must make the Twins roster or they can lose him due to the fact that he is out of options.  Plouffe is making the switch from infield to outfield and is battling for a spot in right field.      

I will have another update for you tomorrow.
 

Remember, the Rock Cats open the new season a week from Thursday!

Thanks!

The Voice of the Rock Cats

-Jeff Dooley

Dooley's Diary - Day 2

March 27, 2012

Ft. Myers, FL-  Greetings from the Sunshine State!  I had a nice meeting with Twins Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz and the Rock Cats Opening Day Roster is nearly set.  To say the Rock Cats are going to have a veteran team this season is an understatement.  Four guys have Major League experience and many are returning to the Hardware City for a second or third year.

The official roster will be released later this week.  Among some of the talented new faces include veteran pitchers Luke French and Luis Perdomo.  Both have major league time under their belt and should help the pitching staff tremendously.  French, 26, a 6-4, 220 lefty came through the Eastern League in 2008 as a member of the Erie Sea Wolves in the Tigers chain.  He pitched at Detroit and also pitched 16 games (13 starts) for the Seattle Mariners in 2010 and has 9 MLB wins under his belt.  Perdomo came up with the Indians and pitched in the EL at Akron in 2008.  He pitched in the big leagues in 2009 and 2010 for the San Diego Padres.  He has one MLB win in 36 relief outings in the majors.  French will be in the Rock Cats starting rotation while Perdomo will work out of the bullpen.   

  

If you can't beat them, then join them OR GET THEM TO JOIN YOU

Former Rock Cats killer, Darin Mastroianni is now with the Twins organization and will probably start the season at New Britain.  The speedy outfielder burned the Rock Cats as a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2009-2011.  He was a one-man wrecking crew in 2010, batting .367 (33-90) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers and 12 RBI against the Rock Cats.  Mastroianni made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays last season, going 0-2 on August 24 vs Kansas City.  He is making the transition from outfield to infield and will play both second base and outfield. 

Another player with major league time ticketed for New Britain is infielder Pedro Florimon.  The 25 year old SS played against the Rock Cats the past few seasons as an Orioles prospect at Bowie.  He played in four MLB games and collected his first major league hit.  

 

More Releases Today

The Twins made more cuts today which affected some former Rock Cats players.  INF Chris Cates, RHP Deinys Suarez and OF Dustin Martin were part of a much bigger group released by the Minnesota Twins this morning.   

I will have another update for you tomorrow.

Remember, the Rock Cats open the new season a week from Thursday!

Thanks!

The Voice of the Rock Cats

-Jeff Dooley




Dooley's Diary - Day 1

March 26, 2012

Ft. Myers, FL-  Greetings from the Sunshine State!  The best thing about spring training is that the Rock Cats are just about ready to start another season of baseball!    There are a ton of new faces in major league camp.  No more OF Michael Cuddyer, OF Jason Kubel has moved on as has RHP Jesse Crain.  All three MLB veterans have signed with other clubs this past off season.  It's amazing that the M&M Boys (C Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau), Southington's RHP Carl Pavano, RHP Scott Baker, LHP Glen Perkins and CF Denard Span are the veterans of this 2012 Minnesota Twins Club. 

 
Trying to make it

One of the great stories last season with the Rock Cats actually happened after the final game was played.  Manager Jeff Smith told 1B Chris Parmelee and OF Joe Benson that they were getting called up to the majors!  Parmelee, Benson joined RHP Liam Hendriks and all three made their MLB debuts together, September 6 against the Chicago White Sox.  Well, all three have played well in major league camp and are battling for a spot on the Twins.  It appears Hendriks and Parmelee may make the club with Benson not far behind.  This is obviously a huge week for the all three X-Rock Cats.

 
 Rock Cats Spring Training

The minor league spring training group is much larger this season as compared to years past.  Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz brought in many free agents to battle for positions.  This competition will probably bump some repeat guys back to the Rock Cats to start the season.  There will be some new faces mixed with many recognizable names.

 
Rock Cats 2012 Roster Headlined by OF Aaron Hicks

The Rock Cats opening day roster is coming together as the club is ready to bring camp and head north next Monday.  One highly touted prospect will play center field at New Britain this season, Aaron Hicks.  The former number one pick is a 5 tool type player who fans will want to come see this season.  He's been compared to another Rock Cats AL All-Star Torii Hunter.  Many scouts feel he has the ability to change the game.  There are still some questions due to the fact the so many players are still in major league camp.  These questions will certainly get resolved over this week.   

 
The Twins have made some cuts over the past week which has affected some former Rock Cats.  The following were released from the Twins organization.

 
LHP Michael Tarsi

RHP Spencer Steedley

RHP Matt Schuld

RHP Kane Holbrooks     

 
I covered the Twins-Rays game today at Hammond Stadium.  Tampa Bay beat Minnesota 10-4 in front of a full house but the Rock Cats were well represented.  Chris Parmelee started at first base with former Rock Cats Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Danny Valencia, Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla making out the Twins starting lineup.  SS Mike Holliman, C Drew Butera, Joe Benson, INF Luke Hughes, OF Brian Dinkelman, C Drew Butera played as well.  RHP Scott Baker, RHP Jeff Manship and RHP Liam Hendriks pitched for the Twins.    

 
I will have another update for you tomorrow.

 
Remember, the Rock Cats open the new season a week from Thursday!

 
Thanks!

 
The Voice of the Rock Cats

 
-Jeff Dooley