It's only been around 30 games into this season and our team has already been reaping the benefits of our bountiful farm system. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the injury bug has been biting everyone on our team to some extent, and really testing our depth in several areas. While we haven't had any major, season-ending injuries yet (that happened before the season) all the nagging day-to-day injuries can start to rack up.
One of my primary concerns coming into the season was if we had the depth in our minors ready to step in and help out. Our major league team looked solid from top to bottom, but what if we needed to start filling in replacements during the season?
Well, whether it be rotation, bullpen, or positional players, we've answered everything thrown at us so far:
Filling in for a spot start to replace Blackburn, Manship came up and didn't miss a beat. Lasting 6 strong innings, and giving up only 2 runs and a walk while striking out 6 Indians, he looked every bit the big-leaguer -- and if I remember nothing more than the Cleveland announcers bemoaning our seemingly endless supply of pitchers in the minors.
Other than giving us the catharsis of finally seeing out what we've been missing out on, Ramos has been a more than capable player over this stretch, despite being way above his head. Despite getting off to a record-setting start, Ramos has understandably cooled and shown everyone that maybe he isn't quite ready to take the majors by storm yet, but it's still been fun to see his name pencilled into the lineup everyday -- and I have to admit that I don't get nervous or upset whenever I see him walk up to the plate because you can see the potential brimming out of him.
Talk about coming out of nowhere this year! Despite his obvious talent, I don't think anyone saw Burnett breaking camp with the big league team this year -- and I'm sure no one expected him to last this long. While his dominance from the minors hasn't translated completely, he by no means looks overmatched in a Twins uniform on a major-league mound. Averaging just over 1 strikeout per inning, he's one more reliable arm in our pen (which has been one of the best in baseball this year, despite the loss of Nathan). Obviously anything can happen but if Burnett keeps pitching at this level I don't see him heading back to the minors at all this year.
Until my dying day I'll say that his reputation as a defensive whiz catcher is vastly overrated -- but I think people mean to say that he calls a great game. And THAT I cannot deny. He definitely looks mature and confident in the crouch behind home-plate, and despite the fact that he doesn't really know how to connect with the bat, he still managed to show up Mauer's return to the lineup against the Orioles. Obviously I'd rather see Morales or Ramos playing when Mauer isn't in the lineup, but to have 4 major-league quality catchers on your roster is something most other major league teams can only dream of.
Sure, he only had a cup of coffee, but it's about time someone brought him up to get a look at the next level of competition. And how did he respond? How about a homerun in his first plate appearance! Ramos may have gone 4-5 in his debut, but Hughes absolutely jacked one in his first at bat. This is the kind of role-player production from unheralded sources that great teams can utilize.
So who's next? We could see Hughes or Manship again before the year is out. And we'll more than likely see Ramos again at least in September after his more than certain return to the minors.
We still have top prospects about to arrive from Rochester in the form of Danny Valencia, Anthony Slama, and Rob Delaney. There's speculation that Revere, Tosoni, and even Bromberg might get to taste big league action if needed this season.
By no means do I want anyone on our major league roster to become injured or ineffective, but I must admit that I'm excited to see who gets called up next!