Twins 2006 Minor League Free Agents

Here is a list, and some background information, on the Twins 18 Minor League free agents. Some of these players had great season in 2006, and should definitely be kept. Other did not perform so well, but it is always hard for an organization to bid farewell to players who they have taken the time to develop.

Henry Bonilla, RHP
Bonilla was drafted by the Twins in the eighth round of the 2000 draft out of Tulane University. The 2006 season was his third as a member of the Rochester Red Wings, and he was used as both a reliever, and a starter. He appeared in 35 games, won three, and picked up a save. The highlight of his season was his start against Pawtucket on May 8, when the right-hander threw 5.1 innings in recording his second win of the season. After his third win on May 21, Bonilla did not get into the win column again.

Tristan Crawford, RHP
Crawford appeared in 46 games for the New Britain Rock Cats in 2006, and is a reliever that the Twins would like to bring back into the fold. Scouts have told me that he has the potential to crack a Major League bullpen at some point in his career, and he was pretty solid all season long for the Cats. In 98.1 innings, Crawford struck out 97 batters, and held the opposition to a .238 batting average.

Julio DePaula, RHP
DePaula had a great season for the Fort Myers Miracle and the New Britain Rock Cats, as he earned a promotion from the High-A Miracle at the end of April. In his eight appearances with the Miracle, DePaula did not allow an earned run, and batters were hitting only .145 against him. Once promoted, DePaula continued to give batters fits, posting a 2.57 earned run average in 43 games. At 23-years old, DePaula is a guy who could really develop into a top relief prospect.

Matt Ford, LHP
Ford was another member of the Rochester Red Wings who split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation. Ford struggled for most of the season, which is not good in a free agent year. He posted a 4.50 earned run average throughout the year, but looked noticeably more comfortable as a reliever. As opposed to a 5.63 earned run average as a starter, Ford had a 3.71 mark as a reliever, and it looks like that is where his future is.

Beau Kemp, RHP
Kemp was one of the best relievers in the International League in 2006, and it has been made clear to me that the Twins fully want to re-sign him. Having a rubber arm, Kemp appeared in 49 games for the Red Wings this past season, and had a sparkling 2.32 earned run average. He racked up 89.1 innings pitched, and while he struck out only 35 batters, he was used in key situations all season long. Once resigned, he should be in big league camp this spring.

Luis Maza, 2B
Maza struggled big time this season, and also refused to be interviewed by us during a Columbus Clippers series. There were plenty of high hopes on Maza coming into the 2006 season, but he never seemed to get on the right track, though playing everyday for the Red Wings. At .207, Maza struggled to keep himself above the Mendoza Line all season, and while he was once considered one of the top middle infield prospects in the organization, a year that this has serious repercussions.

Quinton McCracken, OF
McCracken was once a very good Major League ballplayer, but it seems he is a fringe talent these days. However, he provided the Red Wings with good veteran leadership and a shot in the arm when he came over mid-season, and he could be a big help to the Red Wings once again in 2007 if the Twins decide to resign him. He batted .284 in 31 games for Rochester after coming over from the Reds, and his .304 batting average in August really helped the Red Wings clinch a playoff spot.

Donaldo Mendez, SS
Mendez joined the Red Wings in July, and was a steady glove and bat from the shortstop position. He is a player that the Twins may try to keep, due to his ability to play a very good shortstop. He batted .276 during his time in the International League, and could be a guy that fits in as a fringe player who can really help the Red Wings in 2007.

Colby Miller, RHP
Miller joined the Fort Myers Miracle in May, after rehabbing an injury. His season was in fact a weird one, as he struggled in High-A, but was dominant once he was promoted to New Britain. Miller posted a horrid 5.22 earned run average in his 20 Florida State League appearances, but had a nice 2.55 clip in his five outings in the Eastern League. A former third round pick of the Twins, Miller had been stuck in Double-A for the 2004, and 2005 seasons, and with a little more time, could finally see the International League.

Jason Miller, LHP
Miller is a left-handed pitching prospect that I feel the Twins should agree to a contract with as soon as possible. After a successful 2005 season with the New Britain Rock Cats, Miller did it all for the Red Wings in 2006, and I feel he should be given a chance at big league camp this spring. He pitched from both the bullpen and the starting rotation, and he was unhittable out of the pen, posting a 1.82 earned run average from that spot.

Pete Munro, RHP
Munro was one of the reasons why the Red Wings were able to keep their season going after losing so many key players to the parent ballclub. He is a guy who should be back in the rotation in Rochester next season, and he is also a guy who never complains about anything. He had a 3.45 earned run average during the month of August, as he helped the Red Wings into the postseason.

Mike Smith, RHP
Smith is another guy who was a key component for the Red Wings this past season, and he even made a start for the Minnesota Twins. Smith won 11 games for Rochester this past season, and was seen as the team's ace during the times when guys like Boof Bonser, Scott Baker, and Matt Garza were being leapfrogged over him and into the Minnesota rotation.

Andres Torres, OF
Torres, who was once a top Major League prospect for the Detroit Tigers, is a player who I would love to see the Twins keep, and maybe develop into a back-up outfielder for them. He is a heady player, who though he endured some slumps this season, showed flashes of brilliance in the field. One more year in the Twins system, and he is only going to get better.

Thomas Watkins, SS
Watkins batted only .218 as a member of the New Britain Rock Cats in 2006, but once he was promoted to Triple-A ball, he was like a new player. He delivered multiple clutch hits for the Red Wings, and really held down the shortstop spot in the absence of promoted Jason Bartlett. He batted .281 as the Wings number nine hitter, and even drove in 23 runs in 60 games. This kid is definitely a keeper.

Gil Velazquez, INF
Velazquez began the season with the New Britain Rock Cats, but after batting .375 in eight games, he was promoted to Rochester. After batting .364 in the month of May after his call-up, Velazquez battled an injury and a slump, which really put the kybosh on his 2006 season. Still, he is a player who I think the Twins would benefit more than they would get hurt by having in their system, and if he stays healthy in 2007, there is no reason why he can't put up better numbers.

Kevin West, OF
West was one of the best bats in the Red Wings lineup during the 2005 season, but after tearing up his knee over the winter, it was not even a given that he would play in 2006. West did come back, blasting a home run in his first game as a member of the Fort Myers Miracle, but he was not the same player. He was rated as one of our top-50 players this past season, and hopefully the Twins will keep him and allow him to get back to 100 percent.

Glenn Williams, 3B
Williams is far gone from the days when he was getting hits in every game he played for the Minnesota Twins. He batted only .257 in 118 games for the Red Wings this past season, though he did turn it up in crunch time during the Wings' playoff push. I would love to see him get another shot in Minnesota, possibly as Nick Punto's back-up at third base.

Shawn Wooten, C
Wooten almost made the International League All-Star team this past season, but he will forever just be a fringe Major Leaguer. He is a solid Triple-A backstop though, and with the lack of depth in the Twins catching spot in the farm, Wooten is seen as a hot commodity within the organization. He should be able to develop young talent like Caleb Moore, and Jose Morales.

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