A lot has gone on since my last post, so I'll try to hit the highlights quickly:
Despite allowing just 7 R in 28 IP vs. the Mariners, the Twins dropped 2 out of 3 games, thanks to scoring only 5 R themselves. That can happen when Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau combine for just a handful of hits in the series and the rest of the lineup is weak.
Another tough outing for Anthony Swarzak as he lost all control on Monday night in Oakland. Meanwhile, Glen Perkins pitched 7 shutout innings in his last rehab start with Fort Myers, so it's a foregone conclusion that he'll be recalled next week. However, since Perkins' scheduled game was rained out on Monday, it looks like Swarzak will get one more chance on Saturday against the Cubs. I'm sure he'll fare better than he has in his last 2 outings. Either way, I don't think it's been any worse a first stint in the Majors than what Kevin Slowey was able to do in June of 2007, and he's turned out OK.
Alexi Casilla has surely banished himself to the minors again with his shaky fielding in Tuesday night's horrible 9th inning. It makes more sense for him to get regular playing time in Rochester and have Matt Tolbert be the bench guy when Nick Punto returns on Friday anyway. It looks as though Punto will slide over to 2B in order to keep Brendan Harris' bat in the lineup. It should be an upgrade over Casilla or Tolbert, so I guess we can live the limited range.
I hope Span isn't out too long with his dizziness. There is no obvious replacement for him at the top of the lineup.
Carlos Gutierrez was promoted to New Britain last week, the third high-profile promotion within the system after Rob Delaney and Steve Tolleson moved up to Rochester. There are still others that need to move, however: Anthony Slama and Danny Valencia ought to get the call to AAA, and Spencer Steedley and Joe Testa should advance a level as well. A lot of these names are relievers who are old for their levels - they ought to be placed in a league that challenges them, moving through the system more aggressively than some of the younger guys.
There is a dearth of middle-infield depth in the Twins' system, especially at SS, but the Twins used their 4 early-round draft picks on college pitchers. Most analysts were keen on the picks, particularly first-rounder Kyle Gibson, a top-10 (if not top-5) talent who slid to #22 because of a stress fracture in his forearm that cost him significant velocity in his final college starts. The Twins' doctors believe that he will make a full recovery in just a few weeks. (Of course, they also didn't initially think that Francisco Liriano or Pat Neshek would need surgery, and look what happened there.) Still, if all goes well, the Twins could wind up with the steal of the first round. The other guys have the potential to move quickly through the system. And the Twins drafted plenty of MI on day 2, including Gopher 2B Derek McCallum.