Twins Invite 17 To Big League Camp

Duensing had a breakout 2007 season.

Here is a look at the 17 non-roster invitees for the Twins 2008 Major League Spring Training. Included are some known prospects from the Twins organization, as well as some players the Twins picked up this off-season. Take a look at who can expect to see this coming Spring at big league camp:

Catchers

Drew Butera: Butera came over to the Twins in the Luis Castillo trade from the New York Mets, and would play at two levels in the Twins organization. After struggling for the Fort Myers Miracle, Butera actually did better at the Double-A level, where he is likely to be during the 2008 season. Butera is a career .214 hitter.

Allan de San Miguel: The young catcher spent time between Fort Myers and Beloit last season, though he did not hit the ball consistently. After batting only .190 at Beloit, de San Miguel had a one game appearance in Fort Myers, going 1-3. He is one of the top defensive catchers in the organization, and should be back with the Miracle in 2008.

Eli Whiteside: Whiteside is a 28-year old backstop who has spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles. Making his Major League debut in 2005, Whiteside has mostly been a minor leaguer his whole career, and is an experienced catcher. He will likely see time with either New Britain or Rochester in 2008.

Infielders

Tommy Watkins: Watkins had a breakout season in 2007, as he was a constant contributor to the Rochester Red Wings all season long. A fan favorite in Rochester, Watkins hit .272 for the Wings, and had a career-high 22 doubles. For his efforts, the Twins promoted the young infielder to the big league club in September, and he did not disappoint in his Major League debut. Watkins hit .357 in nine games after his call-up, and could be the utility player the Twins have been looking for.

Chris Basak: Basak spent most of the 2007 season in the Yankees organization, and even made his Major League debut with the Bronx Bombers during the season. However, he spent most of the time in Triple-A, which is where he was once he came over to the Twins. Basak hit .242 in 12 games with the Red Wings, and will likely be back with the team in 2008.

Howie Clark: Clark is basically a career minor leaguer, though he has gotten a few cups of tea in the big leagues over the years. Clark made Major League stops in Toronto (2003, 2004 and 2007) and Baltimore (2002 and 2006), and is a career .262 hitter in the big leagues. He will likely be with Rochester in 2008, and will serve as a veteran bat in the lineup, and a veteran presence in the clubhouse, though he could see time with the Twins during the year.

Randy Ruiz: The Twins will be the fifth stop on the career journey for Ruiz, who has serious pop in his bat. The 30-year old slugger has 150 career home runs, including hitting over 20 in a season four times. If Garrett Jones makes the Twins right out of Spring Training, Ruiz is the odds on favorite to supplant him at first base for the Red Wings.

Felix Molina: Molina has long been a fan favorite in New Britain, and will get his chance at the Triple-A level in 2008. A clutch hitter who can hit for a high average, Molina is a slick-fielding second baseman who brings a veteran presence to any lineup. He will likely see time at second base in Major League camp, but will be back in minor league camp before long.

Alejandro Machado: The 2007 season was a lost cause for Machado, who was expected to fight for a spot on the Twins Opening Day roster during Spring Training. However, injuries plagued him all season long, and he did not appear in one game during the 2007 season. The Twins will once again look for him to make a splash in Spring Training, as he is back to 100 percent.

Outfielders

Jon Knott: Knott is a 29-year old outfielder who has worked his way up to the Major Leagues in each of the past two season with San Diego and Baltimore respectively. Knott has tremendous home run potential, and is likely to get a long look at camp this season. If he makes the team, he gives the Twins instant power off the bench, and that is something the Twins are looking to add for the 2008 campaign.

Pitchers

Zach Day: Nearing full recovery from rotator cuff surgery in 2006, Day signed a minor league contract with the Twins and will be given a chance to earn a spot in the starting rotation. Day went 1-1 in nine late season starts for Class AAA Omaha in 2007. The 29-year-old veteran owns a 21-27 lifetime record in the majors with the Expos, Nationals and Rockies.

Brian Duensing: Those familiar with TwinCitiesDugout.com already know all about Duensing, who has gone from middle of the road prospect to top prospect status in a little over a calendar year. The young left-hander won 15 games between New Britain and Rochester this past season, and lost only six. He has a career 3.15 earned run average in three minor league season.

Ricky Barrett: Barrett was one of the better relievers in the International League last season, as the Red Wings called on the young left-hander early and often. Winning five games and posting a 3.42 earned run average, Barrett showed why he is considered one of the top lefty relievers in the Twins organization.

Casey Daigle: Maybe known mostly because he is married to Team USA Softball star pitcher Jennie Finch, Daigle has Major League experience, and could seriously challenge for a spot in the Twins rotation in 2008. Still only 26-years old, Daigle has the make-up to pick up the ball every fifth day, and the Twins are very excited to see what he bring to the table.

Mariano Gomez: Gomez is a 6'6'' left-hander who was released from the Cleveland Indians farm system. In eight seasons with the Indians, Gomez won 28 games, and posted a respectable 4.15 earned run average. He will likely be with Rochester if he can latch on with the Twins organization.

Randy Keisler: A former second round draft selection of the New York Yankees, Keisler has been with a plethora of teams during his ten-year professional career, but hopes to find a home with Minnesota in 2008. A decent starting pitching option, Keisler does not overpower with the fastball, but has a good arsenal of pitches. He'll be looked at as a possible starter for the Twins.

Armando Gabino: A former Rule V draft choice of the Twins back in 2004, Gabino was incredible as a reliever for the Twins system in 2007. Making three stops, Gabino finished the 2007 season with an earned run average under 2.00 in his 48 appearances, including a 0.00 earned run average in 10 appearances for New Britain.

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