Twins Send Seven To Arizona Fall League

Every Fall, the Twins send some prospects to Arizona to work on their game, and possibly get them ready for a their big test to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. This Fall, the Twins are sending some of their biggest name prospects to the prestigious league, hoping to help the prospects hone their talents after the regular season ends.

Nick Blackburn, Starting Pitcher
Blackburn had one of the better seasons of any of the Twins Minor League pitchers in 2007, as he really helped Rochester out when they lost guys like Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Matt Garza to the Minnesota Twins. For a while there, Blackburn was one of the better starters in all of Minor League Baseball, as he threw 40-plus scoreless innings. As of press time, Blackburn is 10-3 for the Red Wings, and has a very tiny 2.47 earned run average. In 142.2 innings of work, Blackburn has walked only 18.

Brian Duensing, Starting Pitcher
After a stellar start to the season for the New Britain Rock Cats, making nine starts, Duensing was promoted very early to the Rochester Red Wings. The former Nebraska Cornhusker did not let the organization down, as he went on to be a key to the Rochester Red Wings success in 2007. The young left-hander won ten of his 17 starts for Rochester, and also went on to throw three complete games. In total, Duensing has won 14 games, and has made himself possibly the best left-handed starting pitching prospect in the Twins organization.

Ryan Mullins, Starting Pitcher
Sure Mullins has been hit hard since joining the Rochester Red Wings, but that does not mean he is having a terrible season. The young left-hander began the year at High-A Fort Myers, and earned himself two promotions this season. After dominating the Florida State League, Mullins went on to post an earned run average under 4.00 in his 12 Eastern League starts, and was an obvious choice when the Red Wings needed a starter late in the season. He'll be able to use the time in the Arizona Fall League to his development, and will be in the rotation for Rochester next season.

Anthony Swarzak, Starting Pitcher
Suspension aside, Swarzak has actually had a good season when he has been on the mound. He did lose 50 games due to the suspension, so him being sent to the Arizona Fall League is kind of a no-brainer. The right-hander, who is touted by many as possibly the best young right-hander in the system, needs more innings on the mound this season, and the AFL will give him the opportunity to face some of the best young prospects that the Minor Leagues have to offer.

Drew Butera, Catcher
The Twins got Butera when they traded away starting second baseman Luis Castillo to the New York Mets, so they will hope to see more of Butera when he is in the Arizona Fall League, and get a real observation as to where he figures in the organizational depth chart. He could well put himself into the upper echelon of Twins catching prospects with a good showing in the league, and possibly be the starting catcher in either New Britain or Rochester next year. He has hit better in the Twins organization than he was with the Mets, which is a good sign.

Trevor Plouffe, Shortstop
During Spring Training, TwinCitiesDugout.com said that the 2007 season would be a breakout season for the young shortstop, and offensively, it has. Though he has made 32 errors from his shortstop position, Plouffe hit the ball very well as a very young member of the Eastern League this season. Add to the fact that he may very well be the face of the Twins middle infield for years to come, and the Twins will be looking at how he hits some of the best pitching prospects in Minor League Baseball this fall. He hit an amazing 36 doubles for the Rock Cats this season, and has added some power to his arsenal.

David Winfree, Third Baseman
The 2007 season was not exactly the season that David Winfree was hoping for when we saw him at Spring Training this past March. However, he has hit better as of late, and with a good showing in Arizona, could cement his place as possibly the Twins third baseman of the future. The time in Arizona will serve to give him more at-bats, as he did not look comfortable at the plate for most of the season. Hopefully, he can get back on track.


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