Reusse's Reality from Florida: Tale of 2 Prospects
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FORT MYERS -- The Twins were hoping to get a solid look at outfielder Oswaldo Arcia in big-league camp before sending him across the parking lot to the minor league complex. This was going to be a great spring for that since exhibition games started way early - on Feb. 23 - because of the World Baseball Classic.
Arcia is a 21-year-old from Venezuela and was the Twins Minor League Player for 2012. He played in Class A Fort Myers and Class AA New Britain last season, with a combined 61 extra base hits (17 home runs), 98 RBIs and a .319 average.
As impressive were the reviews heard from a couple of players who had been Arcia teammates in 2012. They talked about a power-packed swing and the ball leaping from the sweet spot of his bat.
And then Arcia showed up in Fort Myers. By consensus, he was "not in the best of a shape,'' and then he came up with a side pull.
The 12th exhibition was played Wednesday -- an 8-7 mess in favor of Puerto Rico's World Baseball team -- and there still has been no sign of Arcia.
The minor leaguers have their first official workout today. The earliest a player on the 40-man roster can be optioned is March 11. The way things have gone for Arcia, he could be assigned to the Rochester Red Wings without having an at-bat in a big-league exhibition game.
The scenario from Arcia enthusiasts had been that he would impress in spring training, go to Rochester for a few weeks and tear it up, and then Chris Parmelee or someone else would have to make room for him in right field -- for the last 100 games of 2013 and for years to follow.
"I haven't seen a lot of him, but that kid can really hit,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We were going to play him quite a bit here in the early going.''
There are always disappointments in spring training, and the absence of Arcia so far has been among them.
And, even in the down years, there are always eye-catchers in spring training. You know about several of the starting pitchers: Kyle Gibson, now back from Tommy John surgery, and Alex Meyer and Trevor May, the prize prospects acquired in the Denard Span and Ben Revere trades.
Gibson is 6-foot-6, May is 6-5 and Meyer is 6-9. Throw in Mike Pelfrey, 6-7, and Jared Burton, 6-5, and prospect B.J. Hermsen, 6-5, and it's the darndest collection of tall drinks of water you've ever seen in a clubhouse.
Pelfrey will be in Twins' rotation. Gibson should be with him. Burton will be a main part of the bullpen once again. May and Hermsen will be in Rochester's rotation. Meyer probably will start the season at Class AA New Britain.
Yet, there's another tall fellow - 6-foot-7 Michael Tonkin - who could be setting himself up for being a piece of the Twins' bullpen during the first half of the schedule.
You're hearing from Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson about the life in Tonkin's right arm. He was drafted in the 30th round out of high school in 2008 and spent 2 ½ seasons in rookie ball -- the Gulf Coast Twins and then Elizabethton, Tenn.
He finished the 2010 season at low-A Beloit, was back there for the full season in 2011, and back there again to start 2012. Obviously, it was not a quick process for Tonkin to gain standing as a hard-throwing reliever on the ruse, but he did so last season -- splitting 44 appearances exactly between Beloit and high-A Fort Myers.
He pitched 69 1/3 innings, allowed 53 hits and had 97 strikeouts. Then, he went to the Arizona Fall League and did OK in 10 appearances against his fellow prospects.
Gardenhire has gone out of his way to mention Tonkin a couple of times lately, with the endorsement: "He's another big, tall guy who can fling it up there.''
Tonkin's notoriety in the Twins organization until last season was when team officials said: "You know he's Jason Kubel's brother-in-law?''
The fact Kubel is married to Tonkin's sister is merely trivia now. Now, it's his future -- perhaps this summer -- as a power righthander in the bullpen that gives him attention from the Twins.