Red Wings’ first baseman Chris Colabello – who went 4-for-4 with a walk and a home run in Sunday’s 14-5 win against Buffalo – has been named the International League’s Player of the Week the league office announced today.

The 29-year-old — in his second season in affiliated ball — had an impressive Triple-A debut going 9-for-15 with two home runs, three RBI and six runs scored in the first four games of the season.

After spending the first seven years of his professional career in the independent Can-Am League out of AssumptionCollege in Worcester, Mass., Colabello hit .284 with 19 home runs and 98 RBI with New Britain (AA) last season finishing as the runner-up in Eastern League MVP voting. The Twins signed Colabello out of the Can-Am league as a minor league free agent on February 2, 2012.

Current Twins’ outfielder Wilkin Ramirez won the last IL Player-of-the-Week (August 27-September 3) honors in 2012. In total, the Wings had four Player and Pitcher of the Week winners last season, per Red Wings’ PR.


There was a Wind Advisory from the National Weather Service in effect in part of Western New York Sunday which would affect the 1:05 start and duration of the Red Wings’ (1-3) game against Buffalo. The strong wind was also blowing straight out of left field.

The wind was not a concern for Rochester’s right-handed starter Virgil Vasquez, who earned the win in a 14-5 victory at Frontier Field to avoid an 0-4 start.

“I was really excited it was 70 degrees out,” he said. “You come out, you feel warm; you don’t have to wear three layers underneath. Wind is what it is. No one can change any of that. Both teams have to pitch with it.”

Vasquez allowed just six hits in six innings, but four of those were solo home runs. As someone who likes to work down in the zone, throw strikes, and induce groundballs, Vasquez blamed himself for leaving those pitches right over the middle of the plate.

“They get paid to hit. We get paid to pitch,” he said. “They took advantage of the mistakes which is what good hitters do.”

The Red Wings hit three of their own courtesy of Clete Thomas, Brandon Boggs, and Mike Colabello. Despite the four earned runs, Vasquez, who is back in affiliated baseball for the first time in two years, was pleased with the outing, particularly in developing a relationship with his backstop.

“I enjoyed playing with (catcher Eric) Fryer and that’s always good,” Vasquez said. “He always asked me, ‘Is this a good tempo?’ Some catchers wait to give the sign, but he was always right on it so we can work faster and it keeps everyone else into the game.”

Vasquez threw 84 pitches, 56 for strikes and also did not allow a walk or strikeout a batter.

Rochester scored five runs each in the first and second inning and the Bisons never made a comeback attempt. All of their runs came off of home runs: three solo and one plated two. The Red Wings’ offense forced Buffalo to pull its starting pitcher Tyson Brummet after 1/3 innings.

It’s unusual to see a pitcher go six innings on April 7 – in this case, just four games into the regular season. Vasquez, though, says he threw almost 300 innings over the course of the last year to prepare for this season and make himself stronger. Between throwing to his high school team in Santa Barbara, Calif., playing for Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League and in Australia with the Perth Heat, Vasquez says he was close to 290 innings.

The Red Wings head out on their first long road trip of the season tomorrow which consists of a three-game series against Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) and a four-game set at Pawtucket (Red Sox), both of which are division opponents.


Red Wings Opening Day BP - 4-6-13


The Red Wings are 0-3 in their first series of the season against the Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays), with the fourth and final game of that series this afternoon.

In baseball, it feels like – even in a 144 game minor league full-season  — that through the first…let’s say 40 games, everything can be said with the disclaimer, “It’s early, but…” And then there are times when the early, freezing April/May part of the season here in Western New York feels disjointed from the prime time of the summer, in reflection.

That’s a long way of saying there’s no reason to be concerned. Via Red Wings’ play-by-play man Josh Whetzel on Twitter, “Joe Altobelli’s 1971 team started 0-5 and would later be considered one of the greatest Wings teams in franchise history,” and “last Wings team to start 0-3 (1997) wound up winning Governors Cup.”

 ***

Joe Benson is in the lineup today and playing right field, while Oswaldo Arcia is DHing. Clete Thomas has played two games at center field including today. Benson came in as a pinch hitter in Saturday’s 9-2 loss (did not start) and lined out to right field after a three-pitch at-bat on an 0-2 count. Manager Gene Glynn says that the team is being cautious with the 25-year-old prospect.

“Joe has a little tweaked hand – he didn’t play much at the end of spring training,” Glynn said following Monday’s loss. “He’s been rehabbing that, so we’ve brought him slow. It’s all a part of the plan. You’re going to see Joe a lot. But as of right now, we’re taking it slow. He says he’s fine, everything’s good with him.”

 Benson dealt with a hamate bone injury that year that limited him to just 37 Triple-A games. Today he’s hitting 7th in the lineup.

 ***

Tyler Robertson is scheduled to join the Red Wings in Scranton tomorrow.

The lefty reliever appeared in two games to start the year with Minnesota pitching just one inning while allowing a home run with two strikeouts. The former third-round pick struggled in spring training this season despite making the Opening Day roster, allowing 11 runs on 18 hits in 12 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League action.


The Rochester Red Wings have a roster, a schedule and now it’s time to play baseball!

The team arrives in Rochester Monday, participates in media day and the Welcome Home Dinner for fans Tuesday, and works out Wednesday before Opening Day Thursday, April 4 against Buffalo (the new AAA affiliate of the Blue Jays) at Coca-Cola Field at 2:05 p.m.

Following game No. 2 in Buffalo Thursday at 1:05, Opening Day at Frontier Field is set for Saturday at the same time. Gates open at 11:30 and festivities begin at 12:25.


This is a helpful and comprehensive guide to the new roster, via new PR director, Tim Doohan. Some other features:

-17 players have major league experience

-7 members were originally drafted by the Twins

-5 are making their AAA debut

The Rochester Red Wings today announced their Opening Day roster for the 2013 season. The roster includes the likes of Red Wings veterans RHP Anthony Slama, INF/OF Brian Dinkelman and RHP Kyle Gibson as well as upstart prospects such as OF Oswaldo Arcia and C Chris Herrmann. The Wings initial roster includes 12 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and four outfielders.

The Red Wings open their 11th season as the Minnesota Twins top affiliate on Thursday, April 4 at 2:05 p.m. against the Buffalo Bisons at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo. Rochester returns to Frontier Field for the home opener on Saturday, April 6 at 1:05 p.m.

The initial 25-man roster features 12 returning Red Wings from the 2012 squad, 17 players with Major League experience – including nine who appeared in the Majors last season – and seven players who are on the Twins 40-man roster.

As previously announced, Gene Glynn will return for his second season as the manager of the Red Wings. Last season, Glynn guided the Wings to a 72-72 record after Rochester had lost 90-plus games in both 2010 and 2011.

Glynn will be joined on the bench by first-year coaches Tim Doherty (hitting coach) and Marty Mason (pitching coach). Doherty was an assistant hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox in 2012 after spending nine seasons with the independent Kansas City T-Bones. Meanwhile, Mason, who spent 11 years as the bullpen coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, was the pitching coach for the Daytona Cubs (A) in 2012.

PROJECTED STARTERS (ALPHABETICAL):

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With Major League Baseball opening day scheduled for March 31, it’s finally that time of spring training where we start to see the Red Wings’ roster take more shape.

The Twins announced today that RHP Anthony Slama, LHP Caleb Thielbar and RHP Kyle Gibson were optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

Slama, at age 29, is in a different position than the two other pitchers as enters his fifth year in Rochester. This spring training the 2006 39th-round pick allowed 5 runs (3 earned) with 2 strikeouts and 5 walks in 2 1/3 innings with the Twins. Slama is coming off a season in which he simply dominated Triple-A. As has been his role for at least the last three years, Slama was responsible for closing out games. He finished 2012 with a 1.24 ERA, striking out almost 14 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately for him, his season was abruptly broken up before a major league promotion when he broke a bone in his leg fielding a groundball.

Gibson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, had a chance to make the opening day rotation. The 25-year-old appeared in four spring training games, starting two, and finished with 8 ER, 14, H, 4 BB and, more positively, 8 K in 8.0 innings. Gibson was able to play in Rochester at the end of the year as part of his journey coming back from surgery, but he finished with a 9.45 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. In that stretch in August and September of last year, the first-rounder had a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but allowed seven runs on 11 hits.

Thielbar advanced to Rochester from Fort Myers last season after he was cut from the Brewers and spent time in Independent Ball in 2011. The South Dakota State alum finished 2012 with a 2.45 ERA combined in the three levels. He struggled in Rochester to the tune of a 3.57 ERA and an even 2.00 K/BB in 40 1/3 innings. Thielbar allowed 6 runs on 6 hits — but struck out 6 — in 4 1/3 innings this spring.

This is good news for the Red Wings because all three players have shown that they can be successful at the Triple-A level. This is also good news for Liam Hendriks and Cole DeVries as they strive to prove they are major League caliber pitchers.


sportbygettyimages:

China v Brazil - World Baseball Classic First Round Group A
Infielder Ray Chang of China fields during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group A game between China and Brazil at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome on March 5, 2013 in Fukuoka, Japan.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Former Red Wing and current Red.

sportbygettyimages:

China v Brazil - World Baseball Classic First Round Group A

Infielder Ray Chang of China fields during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group A game between China and Brazil at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome on March 5, 2013 in Fukuoka, Japan.

Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Former Red Wing and current Red.


It’s difficult to project a minor league roster – particularly Triple-A where names change at a higher rate than lower levels. Could some familiar names stick around for 2013? Here are the minor league free agents from the 2012 Rochester Red Wings via Baseball America, updated as the offseason progresses.

(last updated: Feb. 19)


Pitchers:

-David Bromberg: The 2005 32nd round pick out of high school signed with the Pirates. At 6’5”, 240 lbs. Bromberg is a big right-hander who posted a 2.75 ERA in 19 2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts and 10 walks last season. In 71 2/3 innings at Triple-A Rochester over two years (2010 and 2012), he owned a 3.64 ERA and 2.74 K/BB. Over a seven-year minor league career with the Twins, Bromberg was the Florida State League Most Valuable Pitcher in 2009 and the Appalachian League Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2007 as well as a three-time All-Star.

-Jeff Manship: The 27-year-old reliever signed with the Rockies for the upcoming season. Manship played an important role in Rochester’s pitching staff in 2012 as both a long reliever and starter when the roster was switched around as the Twins searched for starting pitching in the system. The Notre Dame alumnus made 12 appearances for Minnesota last season posting a near-right ERA in 21 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts and seven walks. Manship still has youth on his side, but has struggled to stay healthy over his career. If he does get a chance to play for Colorado, Coors Field will not be forgiving for someone who has allowed more than one home run a game on average over 86 innings in the majors.

-Kyle Waldrop (AAA): The 6’5” Waldrop will continue to be in the Twins organization in 2013 following a season in which he pitched 21 1/3 innings in the majors to the tune of a 2.53 ERA. Waldrop dealt with injuries in 2012 (only pitching 39.0 innings in the minors between Rochester and Fort Myers) but he is known as a sinker, groundball pitcher with great control. He hasn’t gotten a legitimate look from the Twins in the bullpen, but at age 27, this might be the time the Twins want to know what they have with a former No. 25 overall pick.

-Brendan Wise (AAA)

-Luke French (LHP) (AA)

-Matt Maloney (LHP) (AAA)


Catchers:

-Rene Rivera (AAA): The Puerto Rican native played 45 games with the Twins in 2011, but was unable to return to the Bigs last season and was passed over for a September call-up for Chris Herrmann. Now he’s agreed to a minor league deal with the Padres which includes an invite to major league spring training. A strong defensive catcher and pitch-caller, Rivera hit .226/.307/.385 with 10 home runs and 14 doubles in 95 games in Rochester. Rivera was a go-to player for manager Gene Glynn because of his steady and dependable presence behind the plate; but he also showed some versatility in 2012 by playing seven games at first base – something he hadn’t done since 2008 – and even appeared as a pitcher in a game, where he struck out one batter in a scoreless inning following a 19-inning game Aug. 6. Always looking out for his pitching staff, Glynn said it was Rivera who volunteered to go to the mound to save some arms following the marathon event the night prior.

-J.R. Towles (AAA): The Texas native and former top catching prospect for the Houston Astros signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Towles signed with the Twins heading into 2012 thinking that their circumstances would lead to time in the majors: Joe Mauer’s decreasing playing time behind the plate, Drew Butera’s lack of offensive production, and Ryan Doumit’s need to play elsewhere than behind the plate for the last-place team. That never happened for Towles, though, as he hit a meager .214/.280/.315 with one home run, 14 doubles, 36 strikeouts and 12 walks in 189 plate appearances. Limited to just 52 games as a backup catcher behind Rene Rivera (including some DL time late in the season), Towles’s first year in the Twins system after spending eight years with the Astros was a disappointment. Obviously, there is no starting position open with the Cardinals because of MVP-caliber Yadier Molina, but Towles must be entering this agreement with St. Louis the same way as he did with Minnesota: maybe he can get a chance in the majors as a backup or third-catcher if he can show he can hit again like he did as a prospect (in nine seasons in the minors, Towles has a line of .262/.382/.448 with the ability to reach 12 home runs).

Infield:

-Ray Chang (AAA): The 29-year-old is still looking for his first Major League call-up and now he’ll have to try and break through with the Cincinnati Reds. Chang, an infielder who mostly played third base with the Red Wings, was not an everyday player in 2012 and appeared in just 131 games over two years in Rochester while hitting .255/.313/.309 with two home runs and 15 doubles in 482 plate appearances overall. This, from spring training 2011, is still my favorite story involving Chang.

-Michael Hollimon (AAA)


Outfield:

-Clete Thomas (AAA): The outfielder who started 2012 as a starter with the Detroit Tigers will remain with the Twinsand has an invite to major league spring training. In 109 games in Rochester, Thomas hit .232/.281/.405 with 12 home runs.

-Rene Tosoni (AA): The British Columbia native was an early recall from Triple-A to the Twins in 2011 following just 18 games in Rochester to replace Delmon Young who went on the disabled list and it looked like he could be a 4th-outfield option. He did not play for the Twins in 2012 and in those 73 games the year before, the 36th round pick hit .203/.275/.343 with five home runs and seven doubles in the majors. Now a member of the Brewers’ organization for 2013, Tosoni is coming off an injury-plagued year in which he played just 21 games in Rochester.

-Matt Carson (AAA): The BYU product was an every-day, dependable outfielder for Rochester and he will take that presence to Indians organization. At age 31, Carson played 115 games in Rochester, posting an OPS of .804 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI. His strong defense and stable offense earned him a major league call-up with Minnesota – his first appearance in the Bigs since 2010.


Ask a 2012 Red Wing position player who they looked forward to working with or who understood their mindset and helped them get better at the plate.

The answer was always Tom Brunansky.

From recent call-ups to demotions, older players to Triple-A newbies, the former Twin and World Series Champion in 1987 who hit 271 career home runs was a panacea for batters that came through Rochester.

The same goes for Red Wings pitchers and Bobby Cuellar: ‘He knows my tendencies’; ‘Wherever we leave off, he knows where to pick up’; ‘He knows what I’m thinking,’ were common responses concerning the Texas native.

But 2013 Red Wings will have to start fresh with a new hitting and pitching coach since the Twins announced Monday that both Brunansky and Cuellar were promoted to the big club to fill in the coaching staff following a massive lay-off: Cuellar as the new bullpen coach, and Brunansky the hitting coach.

Brunansky, or ‘Bruno’ as players called him, has three years’ experience as a minor league hitting coach – first with the GCL Twins in 2010, the Double-A Rock Cats in 2011 and finally Rochester. In April, Brunansky described being a hitting coach as “being around your own kids, teaching them how to ride a bike,” meaning he has to be able to teach and watch them struggle simultaneously. He also stressed developing a communicative and individual relationship with the players he instructed: for example, dealing with Chris Parmelee and Danny Valencia involved a different set of strategies. And players always trusted his approach and empathetic mindset given his major league career.

Cuellar has been Rochester’s pitching coach for four years, but also has major league coaching experience: he was the Pirates’ bullpen coach in 2006-07 following a first stint as Red Wings pitching coach. Cuellar was a hitting coach for the Rangers, Expos, and Mariners.

“He’s an extension of (pitching coach) Rick Anderson in that bullpen,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said via the Pioneer Press. “He knows our personnel, knows our pitching philosophy, and he’s got the pitching background. We like Bobby quite a bit. He’s had quite a few good years for us in different capacities.”

For a team with consecutive 90-loss seasons, disposing of the old coaching staff (sans manager Ron Gardenhire, Anderson and Joe Vavra who was reassigned as an infield instructor and third base coach) makes sense. The Twins front office made a statement that things needed to change: that people need to take responsibility for losing too much.

But does that still count when the promotions are from within? That’s not exactly starting from scratch, even though this is a new opportunity for one of them.

For Rochester, and for the Twins’ upper-farm teams, their promotion is not beneficial. One of the most significant qualities both Cuellar and Brunansky possessed was familiarity. When Parmelee was sent down to Rochester, he and Bruno “instantly…had our way that we work together.” Brunansky was Parmelee’s New Britain hitting coach. The foundation was established so they could get to business quickly to correct Parmelee’s mistakes without having to feel each other out to start from scratch in building a working relationship.

Cuellar was a familiar face in Rochester which also influenced his effective coaching. He knew players from year-to-year, promotion-to-demotion and was able to remedy or develop a player without the introductions in many cases.

Their expertise was well-recognized and respected. Rochester manager Gene Glynn often deferred technical and player-specific questions to the two coaches since they would be better equipped with their deep knowledge of each player’s past and present. Without the familiarity, players will be sent down from the Twins or promoted from New Britain and might not know who their coaches are or how they’re going to work together.

The promotion also could negatively affect Rochester’s momentum. Of course, it’s hard to predict what a Triple-A season is going to look like this far away, but the Red Wings are coming off a more respectable .500 season. Having rapport amongst a minor league trio of coaches is important to streamline player development.

For now, Glynn remains as the manager and the replacements will be announced this offseason.