Six Slated For Venezuelan Winter League

Six players from the Minnesota Twins' farm system will be playing in the Venezuelan Winter League this upcoming season, as they get themselves ready for Spring Training 2006. The list includes four pitchers and two position players, all of whom will be playing for the Aragua Tigers.

Six players from the Minnesota Twins' farm system will be playing in the Venezuelan Winter League this upcoming season, as they get themselves ready for Spring Training 2006. The list includes four pitchers and two position players, all of whom will be playing for the Aragua Tigers.

J.D. Durbin, Willie Eyre, and Beau Kemp are three of the pitchers who will be on the team, both coming from Triple-A Rochester. The hurlers will be looking to use the Winter League as a way to get into the Minnesota Twins bullpen in 2006, while raising their stock within the organization.

Durbin, who saw Major League action in 2004, is currently on the Twins 40-man roster. In 2005, he started 22 games for Rochester, but figures to be in the bullpen if he makes it back to the big leagues.

He finished the year with a 5-5 record to go along with his 4.33 ERA, and struck out 90 batters in 104-plus innings of work. His best start of the year was actually his last, when he picked up the victory by going seven innings, allowing one earned run against Syracuse.

In 2004, he appeared in four games for the Twins, starting one, and posting a 7.36 ERA.

Eyre, who was an International League All-Star in 2005, should be right in the mix for a spot in the Twins bullpen in 2006. He appeared in 56 games for the Red Wings in 2005, posting a 2.72 ERA. He won ten games, saved seven, and had an ERA under 2.00 through his last 15 appearances.

Kemp, who finished ninth in the Minor League with 62 appearances in 2005, proved to be one of the biggest cogs for the Red Wings run towards a playoff berth. He had an ERA of 3.38, and saved five games out of the bullpen.

In 2005, Kemp showed the ability to also work the ninth inning, as he posted a 1.21 ERA in 22-plus innings of work. He will be called upon to fight for a middle-relief spot in Minnesota's bullpen in 2006, and showed he has the stamina to work in any capacity.

The fourth pitcher in Patrick Neshek, who served as Double-A New Britain's closer in 2005. Neshek, who finished the year with 24 saves, should be the Red Wings closer in 2006. His ERA of 2.19 in 55 games, shows he has the stomach, and the guts to finish off games.

Josh Rabe, who battled injuries in 2005, will look to use the Winter League as a chance to right his ship. He batted only .239 in 90 games for Triple-A Rochester this past season, a far cry from his .278 career Minor League average.

The most intriguing player going to Venenzuela has got to be Daniel Matienzo, a converted catcher who put up monster numbers at Double-A New Britain this past season. Matienzo batted .282 in 138 games for the Rock Cats, blasting 23 home runs, while driving in 87 runs.

He was MVP of the Eastern League All-Star game, and showed the ability to play a pretty decent first base. Although his catching days are over, he should proved to be a good designated hitter/ first baseman, if he ever makes it to Minnesota.


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