Twins Scout Doesn't Let Albers Get Away Twice





MINNEAPOLIS—Sometimes, scouting a player the second time is even better than the first.

So it was for Twins scout Earl Winn, who spotted lefthander Andrew Albers pitching for Kentucky four years ago, but watched the Padres select him in the 10th round of the 2008 draft.

The next time Winn got a look at Albers, he made sure the Twins didn't hesitate again.

Albers developed elbow trouble that ultimately required Tommy John surgery, and the Padres released him in March 2010 after just seven innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He went back to Kentucky last winter to work out with his former college team in hopes another organization might give him a tryout. Winn watched Albers throw during one visit to campus, and alerted Twins area supervisor Tim O'Neill.

"The two of them were a little excited about him. The kid was throwing better than when we first talked about drafting him," vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "His arm was stronger than it had ever been, and he had developed a changeup, which he never had before."

Albers, who missed all of 2009 after surgery and pitched in the independent Can-Am League in 2010, had lined up tryouts with various teams. But the Twins signed the 25-year-old before he could complete his tour.

It worked out better than they imagined. Albers started the season with high Class A Fort Myers and went 4-1, 1.55 in 22 appearances (two starts). He earned a promotion to Double-A New Britain and went 4-1, 2.91 in 13 appearances (five starts). His increased velocity and control—80 strikeouts in 95 innings with just 14 walks—made him an ideal middle reliever and spot starter.

The Saskachewan native followed up that strong season by pitching 15 scoreless innings for Team Canada in the World Cup, striking out nine.

"He's got a slurve type of slider, and that changeup has come along," Radcliff said. "A lefty with three advanced pitches, that's a useful player. We knew a lot about him the first time we wanted him. We like him even better now."

TWIN KILLINGS

• The Twins named New Britain shortstop Brian Dozier, who batted .318/.384/.502, their minor league player of the year. Righthander Liam Hendriks earned pitcher of the year honors after posting a 111-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 139 innings between New Britain and Triple-A Rochester before making four September starts in the major leagues.

• Veteran minor leaguers Ray Chang, Michael Hollimon and Aaron Bates will return to Rochester in 2012 after the trio re-signed on minor league deals.