August 9, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• Reservations for the September 14 light rail pub crawl/Twins game are about to close, so this the last chance to sign up for a day of bar-hopping and baseball-watching with me, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and various other internetters of note. We're going to have a great time before, during, and after the Saturday night Twins-Rays game at Target Field, so go get signed up and don't spend the rest of your life full of regret.

• Deadspin has been taking votes on the best and worst baseball beat writers in each division and now that they've gotten to the AL Central surely AG.com readers have some thoughts.

• Now we know why Smalls wasn't involved in "The Sandlot" reunion at Target Field earlier this season: He's too busy head-butting police officers.

• I'm mostly not a big fan of Vine videos, but sometimes they're impossible not to love.

• "Gang Bang Organizer" is a Hall of Fame business card title. And who knew this type of thing was going on in Bloomington of all places?

Michael Beasley takes a pretty good mugshot, although I suppose that comes with practice.

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode provides an example of what I sound like on no sleep, hungover, and with a serious case of whiskey throat.

• My annual recap of the SABR convention includes the usual photos of nerds and stories of adults acting like idiots that you've come to expect, plus some Philadelphia stuff too. For instance:

socks and me tweeting2

Looking through the pictures hammers home how amazing it is that women are attracted to men.

• Needless to say that this was not an issue at the SABR convention.

• While at the SABR convention I sipped a beer in the hotel bar and recorded a podcast with one of my favorite people, Carson Cistulli of Fan Graphs Audio. I really enjoyed our conversation and I think anyone who likes me even a little bit will enjoy it too.

• One day after chatting with me Cistulli interviewed Diamondbacks beat reporter Nick Piecoro from the Arizona Republic and asked him: "You gonna kill Aaron Gleeman and take his place? You gonna wear his body like skin?"

• Nothing like a 5,000-word answer to the question "what drives writers to drink?"

Andrew Wagaman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has everything you ever wanted to know about the "Kiss Cam" at Target Field.

• I'm assuming that women will be impressed and not at all weirded out if I cover every wall in my house with these, right?

Chipper Jones quit Twitter because of "too much hate and too many trolls."

• Stand-up comedian Christina Walkinshaw has been writing very funny recaps of dates with people she met on Tinder.

• When it comes to the Twins sometimes it's tough to tell parody from reality.

• Why didn't the Twins move anyone at the trade deadline? I'm glad you asked.

• I'm guessing that Terry Ryan doesn't quote Jay Z very often.

• Start from the bottom of this true masterpiece of modern storytelling.

Jamey Carroll throwing a scoreless inning Monday against the Royals is one of my favorite moments of the Twins' season:

jamey carroll pitching

I'm a sucker for brunettes wearing glasses and position players on the mound.

• My weekly half-hour chat with Paul Allen on KFAN ended with an interesting hypothetical trade scenario about Miguel Sano and I'm still not sure how I'd answer it.

• I've never watched "The X-Files," but it's easy to see why people love Gillian Anderson. She's incredibly good as the star of the British miniseries "The Fall" that's available on Netflix.

Amy Poehler's interview with Jeff Garlin showed again why she's the best. My favorite part is Garlin telling the story of meeting her for the first time: "I couldn't believe you existed. I was like, what the f*** is that? How the f*** does that happen?"

Erica Sigurdson is a reliably great guest on the reliably great "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Dave Shumka and Graham Clark. Consistently my favorite podcast for two years now.

• Re-watching "The Sopranos" update: Miles Straume from "Lost" helps Junior Soprano run the poker game in the rehab center.

• Very happy to see longtime AG.com reader and Minnesota Daily alum Derek Wetmore hired as 1500-ESPN's new web editor. He's a great choice to fill Tom Pelissero's big shoes.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Oscar De La Hoya hair transplant"
- "Jon Taffer grow hair"
- "Mila Kunis in Minnesota"
- "Who is Clarence Swamptown?"
- "Nude pictures of Denard Robinson"
- "What are weapons grade soup bones?"
- "Does anyone love Delmon Young?"
- "Orioles players with braces in their teeth"
- "What did Fat Joe do to lose 100 pounds?"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Motown Philly" by Boyz II Men:


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

August 8, 2013

Twins Notes: No trades, botched moves, nice debuts, and bye bye Butera

drew butera twins

Catching up on the Twins happenings while I was in Philadelphia for the SABR convention ...

• Essentially giving away Drew Butera wasn't supposed to be the full extent of the Twins' trade deadline activity, but aside from Glen Perkins they simply didn't have much to offer. It's certainly surprising that they didn't move Justin Morneau, especially given various reports suggesting that multiple teams expressed at least some level of interest, but they weren't going to get more than a marginal prospect for a below average 32-year-old impending free agent anyway.

Morneau has shown improved power recently and it's still possible to find a taker for him between now and August 31, but the waiver system limits options and every game he plays is one fewer game another team can acquire. For the third year in a row the Twins failed to make a significant move to swap veterans for long-term help before the trade deadline, which is rare for a rebuilding team and in several cases stems from their inability to pull the trigger at the right time.

• Butera spent parts of four seasons with the Twins, lasting long enough to get a $700,000 salary for this year via arbitration, which is amazing considering he hit .215/.287/.324 at Double-A and .218/.268/.307 at Triple-A. Plenty of terrible-hitting catchers have solid MLB careers because of defense, but Butera was several steps below terrible-hitting. He hit .182 with a .494 OPS, which is the lowest by any position player with 500-plus plate appearances in the past 30 years:

                    PA      OPS
DREW BUTERA        534     .494
Angel Salazar      932     .500
Brandon Wood       751     .513
Tom Lawless        590     .521
Kevin Cash         714     .526

Comparing across eras can be difficult, but there's a strong argument to be made that Butera is the worst hitter of the past three decades and if nothing else he's the only hitter with 500-plus plate appearances and an OPS below .500 during that time. And based on his minor-league track record that .494 OPS might actually count as out-performing expectations. Not surprisingly the Dodgers sent Butera to Triple-A immediately after acquiring him from the Twins.

• It's tough to look at Aaron Hicks' rookie season and not conclude that the Twins botched things at just about every step along the way. Instead of furthering his development and suppressing his service time by having him open the year at Triple-A they all but handed Hicks the center field job before spring training and rushed him from Double-A to the majors. Based on his 2-for-48 slump to begin the season and subsequent struggles, it's clear that they misjudged his readiness.

In early July they had another opportunity to send Hicks to Triple-A following his disabled list stint for a hamstring injury, but instead abruptly ended his minor-league rehab assignment and rushed him back to the majors after Josh Willingham's knee surgery. He again struggled, giving him a .194 batting average and 84 strikeouts in 81 games overall, at which point they finally demoted Hicks to Triple-A four months into the season.

Being overmatched as a 23-year-old rookie jumping from Double-A is hardly a death sentence for Hicks' long-term potential, although not many struggles are that extreme and allowed to go on for that long. Ultimately he needs to figure out how to maintain a patient approach while also being aggressive within the strike zone, which has been a career-long issue. Because of the demotion he won't use a full year of service time, but this was probably the worst path to that destination.

Andrew Albers joined Chris Colabello and Caleb Thielbar in going from independent ball to the Twins' roster and as if that wasn't already a good enough story the 27-year-old left-hander tossed 8.1 shutout innings against the Royals in his debut. Based on Game Score it was the best MLB debut in Twins history, topping Bert Blyleven's seven innings of one-run ball on June 5, 1970 and Anthony Swarzak's seven shutout innings on May 23, 2009.

Blyleven went on to become a Hall of Famer and Swarzak went on to become a long reliever, so a great debut certainly doesn't guarantee anything. With that said, Albers is definitely an intriguing player. His fastball tops out in the high-80s, which is particularly worrisome when combined with extreme fly-ball tendencies, but Albers is a strike-throwing machine and managed 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He's still a long shot, but could be useful.

• Albers is getting his big chance because the Twins sent Scott Diamond to Triple-A, completing a dramatic decline for a pitcher many people were extremely excited about this time last season. Diamond's awful strikeout rate always suggested that most of the excitement was overblown and he missed even fewer bats this year along with more walks and fewer ground balls. There are 122 pitchers with at least 300 innings since 2011 and Diamond ranks dead last in strikeout rate.

To have sustained success while striking out 4.3 batters per nine innings a pitcher needs to have spectacular control and induce tons of ground balls. And even then Diamond's realistic upside at age 27 is a lot closer to a left-handed Nick Blackburn than any kind of long-term building block. In fact, comparing Diamond's numbers through three seasons to Blackburn's numbers through three seasons is eerily similar:

               ERA    SO/9    BB/9    HR/9     OAVG
Diamond       4.39     4.3     2.2     1.0     .292
Blackburn     4.14     4.4     1.8     1.1     .293

At least the Twins haven't signed Diamond to a long-term contract extension yet.

Tim Wood, who was signed to a minor-league deal in November and then added to the 40-man roster two weeks later because the Twins suddenly felt worried about losing a 30-year-old Triple-A reliever in the Rule 5 draft, will miss the remainder of the season following shoulder surgery. He never threw a pitch this year in the minors or majors.

Chris Parmelee has hit .301/.409/.466 with a 15-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 games at Triple-A since his demotion. Not as spectacular as his 2012 breakout there, but the guy can hit International League pitching.

Kevin Correia has a 5.90 ERA and .329 opponents' batting average in 17 starts since May 1.

Parker Hageman of Twins Daily interviewed Jared Burton and wrote an interesting article about the right-hander's fantastic changeup.

• For a lot more about the Twins' lack of trade deadline activity and Hicks' demotion, check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

August 7, 2013

2013 SABR Convention Recap

independencehall

Last year's Society for American Baseball Research convention was in Minnesota, but while a home game for my annual baseball-and-booze fest might sound appealing it fell a little bit short of my past convention experiences. I go to SABR conventions as an excuse to see my longtime friends from Baseball Primer (now Baseball Think Factory) and my slightly-less-longtime friends from previous conventions, but I also go to see new ballparks and close down bars in different cities.

Last week's trip to Philadelphia for this year's convention hit all the right notes and solidified why I've now attended 10 consecutive conventions since nervously going for the first time in Cincinnati as a 21-year-old in 2004. Within minutes of checking into the downtown Marriott on Wednesday afternoon I was in the hotel bar sitting next to two friends--Joe Dimino and Matt Rauseo--whom I met in Cincinnati after "meeting" on Baseball Primer years earlier.

And within seconds we picked up where we always leave off, drinking too much, talking baseball too loudly, and goofing on each other ... well, it's probably the right amount. I imagine it's like a high school reunion, except with people you actually look forward to seeing. Over the course of a decade many of us have spent 40 days of our lives together basically acting like idiots. It's my favorite week of the year.

i love spreadsheets

(Dial models the perfect wardrobe for a SABR convention.)

We were soon joined by BTF regulars Chris Dial, Anthony Giacalone, and Mike Webber, each of whom I met at the 2004 convention and each of whom rank among my favorite people. After multiple beers we added a few more to the group, including former Hardball Times writer Larry Mahnken, Baseball-Reference.com god Sean Forman, Penn Relays director Dave Johnson, and Minnesota blogger turned Philadelphian Stephen Silver, whom I met locally way back in 2003.

For dinner we decided on The Farmer's Cabinet, a hipster-y, saloon-style restaurant/bar heavy on craft beer, locally sourced food, and waiters with ironic mustaches. We devoured a bunch of good meat and wine before heading to Moriarty's Pub, where (I learned later) my "Gleeman and The Geek" co-host John Bonnes and his Philadelphian wife once hosted their groom's dinner. Much like I imagine the Bonnes crew did that day, we tried to drink the place out of Guinness.

Moriarty's Pub has a narrow, long setup and our group was cramped around the bar, mostly standing. An attractive 20-something woman who appeared to be on a date got up from one of the two seats we weren't occupying, turned to me, and said forcefully: "No, you can't have that seat. I'm just going to take a piss." I replied something along the lines of "oh, okay, no problem" to which she responded with an arm punch: "Don't lie, I saw you eying it!"

phillies game new seats1

(My view at the Phillies-Braves game Friday night.)

She was right, of course, and that early interaction was representative of my experience with Philadelphians in general during the five-day trip. Aggressive, sometimes hostile, and almost always ultimately friendly and fun. With the added bonus of a very weird, distinct accent that made both men and women sound like mechanics who'd just climbed out from under a car with oil stains on their jumpsuit. It's city full of Jon Wurster doing his Philly Boy Roy character.

We left Moriarty's at 2:00 a.m. and stumbled back to the Marriott as Dimino made sure everyone within a five-block radius knew he'd be interested in consuming a cheesesteak. Once we got inside the hotel we found a small group of SABR members doing baseball trivia in the lobby, which extended the evening by an hour and led to the trivia organizer repeatedly suggesting to Dimino that he should "maybe think before you speak" as the answer attempts got sillier and sillier.

dinics

(Shot from one of the longest and quickest-moving lines I've ever been in.)

I woke up bright and early the next afternoon, just in time for lunch with Forman, Dimino, Webber, Rauseo, and Fan Graphs writer David Temple at Reading Terminal Market, which is a cross between a farmer's market and the world's greatest food court. I ended up eating lunch there three days in a row, including back-to-back trips to the jam-packed DiNic's for the roast pork sandwich that was named the best sandwich in the country by the Travel Channel.

player panel2

(The crowd for Thursday afternoon's Phillies player panel.)

While eating we brainstormed how to fix the usually boring Home Run Derby by adding a contest for inside-the-park homers starring speedsters like Ben Revere and Billy Hamilton, which is the sort of topic that lasts 30 seconds in most groups and 30 minutes at a SABR convention. Back at the hotel I went to a Phillies player panel featuring Brad Lidge, Gary Matthews, and Dickie Noles, which Lidge stole with funny, interesting stories while Matthews wore a cool hat.

sabr player panelgroup

(From left to right: Lidge, Matthews, Matthews' hat, Noles.)

Liz Roscher of The Good Phight hosted a meet-up at The Fieldhouse, where the crowd included Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus, Bill Parker and Mike Bates of SB Nation, and a bunch of Phillies fans who didn't believe me when I tried to pass myself off as Bill Baer from Crashburn Alley (and HardballTalk). After lots of Yuengling about 10 of us headed to a hole-in-the-wall called Giwa for Korean barbecue, which was so good that I'm now in search of Minnesota equivalents.

drinking and giwa

(Staying hydrated with BYOB while waiting for the food at Giwa.)

Stuffed with rice and meat, we waddled to McGillin's Olde Ale House, which is the oldest Irish bar in Philadelphia and was a great spot until open-mic night started and a guy with an acoustic guitar took the stage. That was our signal to exit and we went back to The Fieldhouse ... where the original group was now doing karaoke. You haven't lived until you've heard Bates sing "I Touch Myself" and then once you do hear it you're no longer into living.

bates karaokestar

(Bates singing "I Touch Myself" while in a Denard Span shirsey.)

I switched from beer to Jack and Coke, which became my primary drink of the convention in part because the caffeine kept me up all night without the benefit of my usual late-afternoon nap. And also because, you know, whiskey. Having downed a sufficient number of those I exited the karaoke fest and staggered back to the hotel lobby, where I found living legend Carson Cistulli and Temple in the middle of recording an episode of Fan Graphs Audio and decided to crash it.

cistulli and temple

(Cistulli and Temple engaging in what is commonly referred to as Podcast Gold.)

From there I went back to The Fieldhouse for a third time, drank them out of Jack Daniels (they ran out, seriously), and closed the place down while joined by the usual crew plus two "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners who happened to be in Philadelphia. And then a handful of us retreated to Dial's room until 4:00 a.m. or so for more drinking and some very loud arguing about Dave Kingman, collusion, 500 homers, and the Hall of Fame. You know, standard stuff.

sabr room drinking1

(Our bar once the actual bar kicked us out.)

I emerged from my coma at noon the next day and hit up DiNic's again for another sandwich with Rauseo, Giacalone, Dimino, and Dimino's buddy Clayton. After lunch we went to a Mitchell and Ness store with an incredible selection of vintage jerseys and a sound system pumping old-school hip hop. It was basically my favorite place on earth. With the afternoon killed, we took the subway to Citizen's Bank Park to see the Phillies-Braves game as part of SABR's group outing.

sabr subway

(How many SABR members does it take to ride the subway to a baseball game?)

SABR's section was 418 and my seat was in literally the third-to-last row in the entire ballpark, so before the first pitch was thrown some of us walked around the ballpark and ended up watching the entire game from the 100 level standing in the open concourse behind Delmon Young in right field. Young went 3-for-4 with a homer that landed about 15 feet away from me and we also saw Curt Schilling inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.

phillies ballpark2

(The seats I was supposed to sit in for the Phillies-Braves game.)

Big names like Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, and Dick Allen were in attendance, John Kruk introduced Schilling for what was a shockingly brief speech, and Darren Daulton got a standing ovation from the crowd one week after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 51. Oh, and one random guy noticed my "Thome Is My Homey" shirt and introduced himself by simply saying: "F-ing Thome, right?!" Right.

phillies game sabr1

(My actual "seat" between a White Sox fan and the world's smallest human.)

Riding the subway back I sat next to a guy singing "It's Getting Hot In Here" at the top of his lungs and then my group of idiots got lost underground in what seemed like the opening scene of a "Judgment Night" sequel. After trying a few locked doors, I gave up and said: "Guys, we can make a life here." Once we escaped the group expanded to include Cistulli, Temple, and other luminaries, who closed down the hotel bar after a staffer told us he needed to vacuum the place.

lobbybar3

(Temple giving my camera a dirty look in the otherwise emptied-out hotel bar.)

Not satisfied Dial, Dimino, Rauseo, Temple, Johnson, and longtime SABR buddy Mike McCullough took the festivities to my room, where hotel security knocked on the door at 3:00. We scrambled to hide like cockroaches while one of us answered the door with a promise to keep quiet and then essentially resumed screaming about flipping the lineup with relief pitchers and the value of Tiger Woods' life compared to my life until 4:30 a.m. Amazingly, security never returned.

sabr room drinking2

(Our bar once the actual bar kicked us out, the sequel.)

Up again at the crack of noon, I decided that making a longer, less-drunken appearance on Fan Graphs Audio might be fun and put out the Twitter bat-signal for Cistulli:

cistulli bat-signal

That's how things work in the high-stakes world of podcasting. We recorded an 84-minute episode that contained approximately 84 seconds of baseball talk, leaving a solid 82 minutes for our now-standard topics of comedy, mortality, religion, and the flaws of family members. Cistulli is one of my favorite people, online and in person, and as a devoted listener of his podcast it's always a lot of fun to be a guest. If you like me even a little bit, you should definitely listen.

pointathipster

("Witness, would you please point to the man who allowed Gleeman on his podcast twice?")

For our final night in Philadelphia a group of 10 walked to China Town for dinner at Sang Kee Peking Duck House, where the authentic Chinese food was balanced nicely by a big-screen television showing a replay of Wrestlemania. Back at the hotel our evening was made infinitely more entertaining by being joined in the lobby bar by a wedding party featuring a great-looking bride and a dozen great-looking bridesmaids.

btf chapter meeting1

(Baseball Think Factory's annual midnight chapter meeting.)

It was like watching one of those wild-life shows, except in this case the predators had absolutely no ability to catch their preferred prey. At one point a few of us spotted a guy from the wedding party schlubby enough to potentially pass for a SABR member talking up perhaps the least-attractive woman in the room. After their conversation she proceeded to follow him around while we offered running color commentary like a baseball broadcast. This went on for an hour.

socks and me tweeting2

(Just a picture of me sitting on the floor of a hotel room, tweeting alongside Dial's socks.)

Unlike the previous night, when we got kicked out at 2:00 a.m. in favor of vacuuming, the combination of a SABR convention final night and a raucous wedding party ensured no hotel employees would be encouraging us to leave. When the bar had to stop serving at 1:30 a.m. our waitress came up with a good plan involving multiple buckets of beer on ice, which fueled our silliness for quite a while longer (and led to a gorgeous $301 bar bill).

sabr bar bill1

(This is what a smart waitress thinking on her feet looks like.)

With a 9:00 a.m. train ride to the airport looming I called it quits around 3:00 a.m., officially putting an end to my 10th consecutive SABR convention. Nothing has really changed since that first convention in 2004. I still hang around with most of the same knuckleheads, plus some newer knuckleheads we've added to the group over the years, although there's a little stronger sense of "aren't we a little too old to be doing this?" permeating everything these days. But damn is it fun.

sabr43 badge

Next year's convention is in Houston and there's no way I'd miss it.

For more on my SABR convention experience, including what my voice sounded like after arriving home Sunday, check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

August 5, 2013

Gleeman and The Geek #105: Deadline Dud

Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included the Twins' lack of trade deadline moves, my trip to Philadelphia for the SABR convention, Oswaldo Arcia's return and Aaron Hicks' long-delayed demotion, bonding with people over Jim Thome, Drew Butera's departure, standing behind Delmon Young, what goes into the August waiver process, the looming roster logjam, and drinking all of the Jack Daniels.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 105

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.


This week's blog content is sponsored by the Twins Daily light rail pub crawl/Twins game, where you can join Aaron Gleeman, John Bonnes, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, and Seth Stohs for a day of bar-hopping and baseball on September 14. Space is limited, so book your spot.

August 2, 2013

Miguel Sano, Chad Rupp, David Ortiz, and the chase for Tim Laudner

sano and sluggers

Friends and family, we are gathered here today to drool over Miguel Sano's power potential.

As a 19-year-old last season Sano played 129 games at low Single-A and hit 28 homers. Not only did that lead the Midwest League, no one else had even 20 homers. And that's nothing compared to what he's doing now. Sano began this season with 16 homers in 56 games at high Single-A and has homered 10 times in 40 games since a promotion to Double-A. That adds up to 26 homers in 96 games and puts Sano on pace for the most homers by any Twins minor leaguer in 25 years:

                    YEAR      PA     HR
Chad Rupp           1997     491     32
Garrett Jones       2004     563     31
Mike Ryan           2002     600     31
David Ortiz         1997     594     31
Michael Cuddyer     2001     593     30
Matthew LeCroy      1999     506     30
David Ortiz         1999     563     30

Chad Rupp was a 44th-round pick in 1993 out of the University of Miami who hit .272/.352/.575 with 32 homers in 117 games at Triple-A in 1997. That season the Pacific Coast League as a whole hit .293 with a .465 slugging percentage, so Rupp's power wasn't as impressive as it looked and as a 25-year-old first baseman who hadn't hit much before that he was a non-prospect. He was out of baseball two seasons later.

Garrett Jones and Mike Ryan were longtime Triple-A fixtures for the Twins in the early 2000s, combining to play parts of 10 seasons there in the organization. Ryan had his 31-homer season as a 24-year-old in the hitter-friendly PCL, a year before the Triple-A team moved to Rochester. He hit .261/.330/.522 in 131 games, but never produced like that before or after. Ryan got a handful of brief chances with the Twins, hitting .265/.313/.408 in 285 plate appearances.

Jones is one of the Twins' most prolific minor-league sluggers, homering 31 times at Double-A in 2004 and then topping 20 homers at Triple-A in four of the next five seasons. He also hit just .259 with a .318 on-base percentage and 411-to-167 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 518 games at Triple-A and no tears were shed when he left the organization as a free agent in 2009. Jones signed with the Pirates, worked his way to the majors, and has hit .258/.319/.462 in 661 games.

Michael Cuddyer had his 30-homer season as a 22-year-old at Double-A, hitting .301/.395/.560 in 141 games in 2001. He was repeating the level following a mediocre season for New Britain in 2000 and didn't get an extended opportunity with the Twins until 2004, when he was 25. Cuddyer had good power for the Twins and is nearing 200 career homers, but he's topped 25 homers in a season just once with 32 in 2009.

Matthew LeCroy had his 30-homer season as a 23-year-old at Single-A in 1999 and then hit 20 homers in 89 games back at Single-A the next season before the Twins finally promoted him to the high minors. He continued to show big-time power at Double-A and Triple-A with 57 homers in 246 games, but never managed more than 17 homers in the majors because he struggled against right-handed pitching and served as a part-time designated hitter/first baseman/catcher.

David Ortiz is the only Twins minor leaguer to reach 30 homers twice in the past 25 years. He did it split between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 1997, hitting .317/.372/.568 in 140 games. And then he did it two years later at Triple-A, hitting .315/.412/.590 in 130 games. And now 15 years later Ortiz is closing in on 500 career homers, although only 58 of them came with the Twins.

What does all of that mean for Sano? Who knows. In terms of upside he's certainly more Cuddyer and Ortiz than Rupp and Ryan, but Sano is a year younger than Ortiz was in 1997 and two years younger than Cuddyer was in 2001. And if Sano stays in the minors for the entire season he may end up closer to 40 homers than 30 homers. Tim Laudner is the last Twins minor leaguer with 40 homers, going deep 42 times at Double-A as a 23-year-old in 1981. Sano was born in 1993.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Ticket King, a local ticket broker that doesn't charge check-out fees, offers in-store pickup, and specializes in Twins tickets. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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