Class A Slugger Develops Power Twins Envisioned





MINNEAPOLIS—Lance Ray's gradual development into a power hitter means he might eventually help the Twins win games.

That the corner outfielder/first baseman's increasing success is also proving some critics wrong—and Twins scouts right—well, that's just a bonus.

"The rest of the industry didn't think he was an eighth-rounder, but we thought he was," vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said, backing the recommendation of area scout Earl Winn. Ray signed out of Kentucky in 2010.

"Nobody cares what the media or other teams think of your picks," Radcliff said. "We were surprised to hear some of the talk—'That guy's not an eighth-round guy'—but that's fine. The first 40 or 60 or 80 picks, we're all picking from the same pile. After that, you take who you like, and we really liked him."

The 22-year-old Ray, a Las Vegas native, spent 2011 with low Class A Beloit. His lefty swing is smooth and natural, a batting stroke that Radcliff compared with former Braves and Indians outfielder David Justice.

"He's got a nice, classic, good-looking swing, very level and with a lot of adjustability," Radcliff said.

Ray's transition to wood bats after college took time, but the Twins were encouraged that he finished 2010 with 31 walks and 38 strikeouts at Beloit and Rookie-level Elizabethton.

His follow-up effort began slowly, but at midseason Ray tinkered with his swing and turned himself into the power hitter the Twins thought he might become. He smashed 11 of 16 home runs after the Midwest League all-star break, led the Snappers with 51 extra-base hits and batted .253/.335/.432 in 470 at-bats for the season.

"He started to show some lift in his swing, and he's got the bat speed to pull the ball. We think he'll hit some homers," Radcliff said. "He's still got work to do—his defense is just OK, so we're trying him at first base, too—but if he keeps hitting that way, we'll figure out a place to play him."

TWIN KILLINGS

• The Twins claimed switch-hitting shortstop Pedro Florimon on waivers from the Orioles. The 22-year-old batted .267/.344/.396 in 454 at-bats for Double-A Bowie last year.

• The Twins retained five of their six minor league managers for 2012. They filled out the Triple-A Rochester staff by hiring Gene Glynn as skipper and promoting hitting coach Tom Brunansky from Double-A New Britain.