Twins' Goncalves Makes Three-Level Leap To High-A





MINNEAPOLIS—It wasn't exactly a raffle drawing, farm director Jim Rantz said. And the Twins didn't draw straws, either.

But the last-minute decision to assign outfielder Jonathan Goncalves to high Class A Fort Myers was more happenstance than master planning.

Call him the Accidental Outfielder.

Goncalves has been perhaps the Miracle's most consistent hitter this season, which is a minor miracle in itself, given that he was expected to spend the season in the Rookie-level Appalachian League.

"He's completely overrun our plans for him," Rantz said. "He's kind of taken off now. He's jumped the line a little bit."

Signed out of Venezuela in 2005, Goncalves batted .287/.374/.337 with six doubles through 178 at-bats for Fort Myers, an assignment that came about when the Miracle roster suffered a rash of injuries.

Rather than shuffle outfielders at low Class A Beloit, the Twins decided to give Goncalves a battlefield promotion and cross their fingers. Rantz delivered the news during extended spring training.

"He was just across the street (at the Twins' extended spring complex), and we knew he can play all three outfield spots," Rantz said.

"He's been in the system for five years but had never played with a full-season team. So we asked him to help."

Goncalves doesn't project as a power hitter, but as his 160-pound frame fills out, the Twins believe he will develop gap power. His strikeouts have escalated (53) due to the better pitching, but he's also drawing more walks (23).

"He's surprised us with how well he uses the whole field at Fort Myers," Rantz said. "He's learned a lot in a short time."

So much so that Goncalves was not demoted when short-season ball began play. "You move a kid back after he's done so well, you break his spirit a little bit," Rantz said. "He's moved up his timetable by a year or two. He helped us out, and he's helped himself."

TWIN KILLINGS

• A sprained right wrist, suffered by diving for a fly ball, sidelined top outfield prospect Aaron Hicks with Beloit. The Twins were concerned enough about their 2008 first-rounder that they called him to Minneapolis to be examined by the team's specialists. No serious ligament damage was detected.

• An emergency appendectomy forced Fort Myers righthander Liam Hendriks, an Australia native, out of the Futures Game. Triple-A Rochester closer Anthony Slama replaced him at the game.