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Updated: October 13th, 2011 10:19am
Twins' minor league POY Dozier hot in fall league; winter ball begins

Twins' minor league POY Dozier hot in fall league; winter ball begins

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and front office members have made it clear that jobs are up for grabs heading into next season for a team that lost 99 games in 2011.

One of those jobs is shortstop, and one of the potential applicants is Brian Dozier, who was named Twins' minor league position player of the year on Wednesday, along with right-hander Liam Hendriks, who was named Twins' minor league pitcher of the year.

Dozier, who is currently hitting .368/.429/.575 with a double and a homer in his first five games for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, hit .320/.399/.491 with nine home runs, 12 triples and 33 doubles between High-A and Double-A last season while playing mostly shortstop.

The Twins aren't forced to place Dozier on the 40-man roster until after the 2012 season, but if he continues his hot hitting into spring training the team may have no choice but to speed up his promotion.

Dozier, 24, is regarded as a sure-handed shortstop and second baseman, but some within the organization believe he may lack the necessary range to be an above-average, every-day shortstop.

Hendriks, 22, posted a 3.36 ERA with 11 strikeouts and only 21 walks in 139 1/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A before posting a 6.17 ERA with 16 strikeouts and six walks in 23 1/3 innings for the Twins in September.

Dozier's Solar Sox teammate Aaron Hicks has just two hits in 20 fall-league at-bats (.100/.250/.200). Catcher Chris Herrmann has three hits in eight at-bats (.375) and has drawn three walks (.545 OBP) in three games.

Pitchers Cole DeVries, Brett Jacobson, Bruce Pugh and Dakota Watts have combined to give up 20 earned runs in only 16 2/3 innings.

The Arizona Fall League runs until mid-November.

Benson, Tosoni set to begin winter ball

Outfielder Joe Benson went 0-for-3 while batting seventh and playing center field in the season-opener for Tigres de Aragua of the Venezuelan Winter League on Wednesday night.

Benson made the jump from Double-A to the major leagues in September but struggled to a .239/.270/.352 batting line with three walks and 21 strikeouts.

This after Benson posted a .284/.387/.491 line for New Britain with 16 homers, four triples and 29 doubles.

The Venezuelan Winter League runs until early January, and Benson will be joined in that league by several players in the Twins organization:

Twins playing in Venezuelan Winter League:
OF Joe Benson -- Tigres de Aragua
OF Rene Tosoni -- Cardenales de Lara
LHP Jose Mijares -- Tigres de Aragua
RHP Lester Oliveros -- Caribes de Anzoategui
RHP Andrew Baldwin -- Caribes de Anzoategui
RHP Deolis Guerra -- Navegantes del Magallanes
RHP Pedro Guerra -- Navegantes del Magallanes
RHP Cesar Circina -- Tigres de Aragua
RHP Jhon Garcia -- Tigres de Aragua
LHP Edgar Ibarra -- Tigres de Aragua
RHP Miguel Munoz -- Tigres de Aragua
C Josmil Pinto -- Tigres de Aragua
OF Oswaldo Arcia -- Tigres de Aragua
OF Jonathan Goncalves -- Tigres de Aragua
OF Yangervis Solarte -- Tigres de Aragua

* The Dominican Winter League rosters have not yet been fully set, but it's likely there will be Twins players in that league as well.

Other winter ball notables:
LHP Johan Santana -- Navegantes del Magallanes, VWL
C Jesus Montero -- Navegantes del Magallanes, VWL
C Miguel Montero -- Navegantes del Magallanes, VWL
3B Pablo Sandoval -- Navegantes del Magallanes, VWL
SS Asdrubal Cabrera -- Leones del Caracas, VWL
OF Bobby Abreu -- Leones del Caracas, VWL
2B Omar Infante -- Caribes de Anzoategui, VWL
1B Dmitri Young -- Caribes de Anzoategui, VWL
RHP Joel Zumaya -- Caribes de Anzoategui, VWL
2B Martin Prado -- Tigres de Aragua, VWL
OF Lastings Milledge -- Tigres de Aragua, VWL
OF Scott Podsednik -- Tigres de Aragua, VWL
RHP Francisco Rodriguez -- Caneros de los Mochis, Mexican League

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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