Posted at 6:31 AM on February 27, 2009
by David Zingler
Right now the Twins roster is basically set:
C: Joe Mauer, Mike Redmond
IF: Justin Morneau, Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto, Joe Crede, Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris
OF: Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel
Scott Baker (R), Francisco Lirano (L), Kevin Slowey (R), Glen Perkins (L), Nick Blackburn (R)
R: Luis Ayala, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Joe Nathan
L: Craig Breslow, Jose Mijares
That's a total of 24 players - 13 position players and 11 pitchers - which means, unless there is a trade or injury; only one roster spot is up for grabs. With the bullpen in a relative state of chaos - we know Joe Nathan is the closer and not much else - my guess is that spot will be filled by a pitcher.
Here are the candidates in alphabetical order:
Brian Duensing (L)
The 26-year-old went 5-11 with a 4.28 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) at Rochester last season. While those numbers are unremarkable, Duensing did have a solid 77 to 34 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was also a member of the United States Olympic baseball team.
Armando Gabino (R)
The lanky right-hander spent last season at Double A New Britian, posting a 6-5 record and 3.10 ERA in 49 relief appearances. Gabino, who turns 26 on August 31, struck out 61 batters and walked 31. He'll likely open the season at Rochester.
Phillip Humber (R)
Also 26, 2009 may be a make-or-break year for the former top prospect and piece of the Johan Sanata trade. In 4 minor league seasons, Humber is a lackluster 28-27 with a 4.25 ERA.
Jason Jones (R)
A Rule V pick out of the Yankees organization, the 6-5 26-year-old is 43-41 in 5 minor league seasons, but has played just 2 games at the Triple A level. He looks like a long shot.
Anthony Swarzak (R)
An intriguing option, the 22-year-old shot up the minor league ladder relatively quickly. After earning a late season promotion to Rochester in 2008, Swarzak went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 7 starts. He looks headed to Rochester for more seasoning.
The Twins also invited 7 non-roster pitchers to spring training, ranging from the 34-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to prospects Kevin Mulvey (also acquired in the Santana trade) and Rob Delaney. The rest of the list includes career minor leaguers Mike Gosling, Sean Henn, Ben Julianel and Bob Keppel.
I am thinking that either Duensing or Humber will go north with the team, although the Dickey could get a shot if his knuckleball stays under control this spring. We'll probably also see Swarzak, Mulvey and possibly Gabino at some point this season.