The Fort Myers Miracle A ball team gave the major league Twins a battle in yesterdays final spring training game. Like Rochester and New Britain, Fort Myers has a lot of players who have previous experience at this level.
Levi Michael isn't one of them. As the Twins first round choice last year, he headlines the roster at Fort Myers. The last time the Twins took a college middle infielder with their first pick was Chuck Knoblauch in 1989. Knoblauch started the 1989 season at low A and then was moved to high A as a shorstop. In 1990 he stared the year at second base in AA and the next year he helped the Twins win the World Series as a rookie.
Michael is not likely on that kind of fast track. But he is starting in high A ball and could easily end the season at AA. Like Knoblauch there is a chance he will end up at second base in the big leagues, but he will start out at shortstop for Fort Myers.
The Fort Myers starting staff looks like it will be Pat Dean, Adrian Salcedo, Manuel Solimon, BJ Hermsen and Marty Popham. Dean is a 2010 third round choice, Salcedo has been a highly touted prospect and is still only the third youngest player on the Fort Myers roster. Solimon is a former third baseman who throws very, very hard. Hermsen is in his second year at Fort Myers. Popham is an older guy who was a minor league rule 5 choice.
The bullpen includes Ricky Bowen, Tony Davis, Jhon Garcia, Jose Gonzalez, Matt Hauser, Edgar Ibarra, Bruce Pugh, and Caleb Thielbar. I don't think any of these guys are top prospects, but that is typical of A ball. With a few exceptions, talented pitchers are used as starters to give them innings and the opportunity to develop all their pitches.
That catchers are Josmil Pinto, Dan Rohlfing and Danny Rams. Rams was a second round choice in 2007. He still projects to have major league power, but he will be playing the outfield and first base in addition to catching. Rohlfing and Pinto appear to the organization guys.
The starting infield looks to be Michael Gonzales, Danny Santana, Michael and Jairo Perez.
Andy Leer and Anderson Hidalgo are the backups, with Danny Rams playing some at 1b. Aside from Michael and Rams, the rest of the infield doesn't have any top prospects.
The outfield looks like it will have Angel Morales in center, with Orlando Arcia and Lance Ray at the corners. Ryde Rodriguez is the fourth outfielder. Arcia is a top prospect who was added to the major league roster and spent time in the big league camp. Morales has been seen as a top prospect with above average speed and power, but has had injury issues slow his development. Ray was an 8th round pick in 2010. Danny Rams will also play in the outfield corners.
If you were ranking the prospects here it would be Michaels, Arcia, Morales, Salcedo, Rams, Dean, Solimon. That doesn't mean the other players have no chance. They are far enough from the big leagues that they will have a lot of opportunities to develop.
It appears Fort Myers is going to start with a veteran team with a lot of guys capable of putting up big numbers. With little apparent room at New Britain and Rochester, it will be interesting to see how that works if they show they need a bigger challenge.
Here is how the lineup was set up for the game with the Twins: