Week three of Making the Team brings with it only minor changes. There is still no favorite in the backup catcher competition, no infielders are stepping up to take the final bench spot, and it seems as though manager Ron Gardenhire is leaning toward Pat Neshek starting the year in either Triple-A or extended spring training.
Wilson Ramos (C)
Ramos has hit well in 15 at-bats, posting a .400 batting average through six games. His defense seems to be serviceable, and it seems as if the Twins are giving Ramos a strong opportunity to compete with Drew Butera for the backup catcher role until Jose Morales can return.
Drew Butera (C)
Butera is going to need to beat Ramos with his defense and experience, because his bat isn’t anywhere near being flashy. Thus far, in only 12 at-bats, Butera has a .167 batting average.
Danny Valencia (3B)
Danny Valencia will almost certainly be in Minneapolis at some point during the 2010 season, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll be there when the team opens Target Field. With ample playing time thus far, Valencia has hit .286 in 14 at-bats and 8 total games.
Alexi Casilla (IF)
Alexi Casilla has had a difficult spring at the plate, hitting just .111 in nine games. The Twins have given him ample at-bats (18) nonetheless, and he seems likely to make the Opening Day roster with no options remaining and his fellow competitor providing even less production.
Matt Tolbert (IF)
Matt Tolbert’s current situation is simple: He has one option left and a trip to Triple-A seems likely. In 14 at-bats, Tolbert has no hits, and his defense hasn’t made up for a lack of plate production. He has made several defensive mistakes too.
Jacque Jones (OF)
It’s hard to see Jones making the team out of camp, but with both Casilla and Tolbert playing poorly, there’s a chance. If the Twins are comfortable having one less infielder and Jones hits well in the final weeks, his chance could become a reality.
Francisco Liriano (SP)
Francisco Liriano continues to pull away with the final spot in the rotation with every spring appearance. In seven innings, Liriano has surrendered a few runs, but has walked only one batter while striking out 12 hitters. The closer role remains a possibility, but if he’s good enough for that role, he’ll serve the team better as a starter.
Brian Duensing (SP)
Only one lefty is currently in the bullpen, and with Nathan’s injury, another spot may now be available. If that spot remains open, Brian Duensing seems like a likely candidate to take a spot in the ‘pen and serve as an additional lefty and the team’s long reliever.
Glen Perkins (SP)
Perkins has thrown 3.1 innings, given up 8 hits, and allowed 5 earned runs so far this spring. It isn’t quite the performance the Twins were hoping to see, and he isn’t doing the best job of showcasing himself for other teams. It’s hard to see him making the team with other candidates seemingly being better options, but it’s still possible.
Pat Neshek (RP)
Neshek has thrown four solid, scoreless innings so far. Nonetheless, Gardenhire seems to be leaning toward Neshek starting in either Triple-A or extended spring training with his comments. Neshek hadn’t thrown in 14+ months and his velocity could still increase.
Mike Maroth (RP)
As stated before, Maroth will begin the season at Triple-A with almost complete certainty. His spring outings will continue to build his case for potential injury situations during the 2010 season.
Anthony Slama (RP)
Anthony Slama could potentially make the bullpen if the Twins don’t bring in another closer and Neshek begins the season somewhere other than Minnesota. Even if he doesn’t make the team however, he’s likely to make his debut this season, and his spring outings, much like Maroth’s, will build his case.