See also: Wednesday’s Daily Dish
See also: Today’s Baseball America Prospect Report
When the call came, Rochester manager Stan Cliburn’s advice to Boof Bonser was simple.
“My advice to him was, ‘Don’t try to do anything different than what you’ve been doing,’ ” Cliburn told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “Be Boof Bonser.”
You probably remember Bonser as the Giants’ first-round pick in 2000, but it’s with the Twins that he makes his major league debut Sunday in Milwaukee. Bonser came to Minnesota in the A.J. Pierzynski trade that also netted the Twins closer Joe Nathan and lefthander Francisco Liriano, who also moves into the rotation.
But Bonser deserves attention for more than being a footnote in the Liriano trade. His accomplishments in the International League the past two seasons–including the strikeout title last year–speak for themselves. And this year, he’s gone 3-2, 2.01 with 47 strikeouts (fourth in the league) in 49 innings with Rochester.
In all the excitement of his callup, Bonser remembered to first call his parents (“It should always be your parents first,” he told the paper), who will make the trip from St. Petersburg, Fla., for the game.
“My nerves are spinning,” Boof told the paper. “My start. That’s going to be crazy.”
Bonser takes Kyle Lohse’s place in the rotation. Lohse had gone 2-4, 8.92.
Biding His Time
High Class A Visalia’s John Jaso still hasn’t appeared in a game as a catcher this year, but he’s making his mark as a DH in the meantime. Jaso, who split time between the two positions in the first half of last year in the Midwest League but was used exclusively as a DH in his final 16 games, is still recovering from shoulder surgery that ended his 2005 campaign on August 7. He hopes to be back behind the plate sometime in the next month, according to the Visalia (Calif.) Times-Delta.
“Big league managers are looking for a catcher who is good defensively–hitting is a bonus,” Jaso told the paper. “My main part that I have to work on is catching, calling a game, and working with the pitching staff.”
But if hitting is a bonus, the Oaks will take it. Hitting behind talented Devil Rays prospects Fernando Perez, Reid Brignac and Shaun Cumberland, Jaso is beginning to drive the ball like he did last year, when he hit .307-14-50 in 332 at-bats. He homered for the third straight game in Visalia’s 6-3 win against Modesto on Wednesday, after hitting just one home run in his first 26 games this year. Jaso is riding a 12-game hitting streak and hitting .333-4-17 on the season.
“I’ve just been working with my hitting coach every day, working on getting my swing back,” Jaso told the paper. “I’ve been getting hits here and there, but when you’re hitting in the middle of the order, that’s when you’re expected to get RBIs and hit with a little more power. I’m trying to get to that point where I’m staying back on the ball and hitting with more power.”
The Twins scouting department has built their strong reputation by getting value from players drafted out of high school, but their 2005 draft is looking great for it’s college selections.
Righthanders Matt Garza (first round, Fresno State) and Kevin Slowey (third round, Winthrop) have been dominant all season for high Class A Fort Myers, and first baseman Erik Lis is looking like a potential steal in the ninth round out of Evansville.
Not surprisingly, Lis dominated the Rookie-level Appalachian League in his debut as he hit .315/.356/.577 in 168 at-bats last summer and he has maintained that pace this spring for low Class A Beloit.
The lefthanded hitter hit .308 in April and has been on a tear of late. By going 8-for-13 in his last three games he has raised his season line to .352/.447/.609, with six home runs, 22 walks and 17 strikeouts in 128 at-bats. Lis, 22, can be found all over the Midwest Leagues leader boards, as he ranks second in average, first in on-base percentage and third in slugging.
Going into his junior season, Lis had some draft buzz but struggled early on as he tried to do too much. He rebounded to hit .322/.398/.564, but still fell to the Twins in the ninth round. He is probably limited to first base defensively, but if he keeps hitting like this, it won’t be a problem.
Logging The Miles
Being a minor league baseball player means you’re going to travel a lot. But Derin McMains has reasons to be jet lagged more than most.
The utility infielder in the Giants system has seen most of the country in the past week, serving as a Mr. Fix-it to plug holes when they cropped up.
McMains, who has spent most of the season at Double-A Connecticut, was promoted to Triple-A Fresno on May 8. According to the Norwich Bulletin, McMains arrived in Fresno at 1:30 p.m., and played in an extra-inning game that night. The team then went to the airport at 4 a.m. to fly to New Orleans for the team’s next series. McMains played in the next three games with Fresno, but as the Giants got ready to leave, the team shipped McMains back to Double-A Connecticut, which means he hopped on another flight to bring him back to Norwich.
“I still have some of my clothes and bats in Fresno waiting to be shipped,” McMains told the paper. “I’ve got like three outfits and I have to recycle. But you just take the essentials and leave the rest behind and hopefully the team takes care of it quickly so you can get your stuff and get back to what you’re used to.”
Carl Pavano’s return to the Yankees rotation hit a bump in the road as he left a rehab start with Trenton after throwing nine pitches. Pavano struggled to hit 85 mph before leaving with arm soreness . . . The Dodgers promoted lefthander Greg Miller to Triple-A Las Vegas. Miller was 1-0, 0.79 with 24 strikeouts and 13 walks in 23 innings and one save. He held batters to a .154 average . . . Six top pitching prospects take the hill in International League games today. The list: Lefthanders Jeremy Sowers (Buffalo), Tom Gorzelanny (Indianapolis) and David Purcey (Syracuse) and righthanders Hayden Penn (Ottawa), Anthony Lerew (Richmond) and Jason Hammel (Durham) ‘¦ Red Sox lefthander David Wells will make a rehab start Sunday in Scranton.