116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Here is some leftover stuff from an interview Tuesday afternoon with Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. He was in town to observe and evaluate the Cedar Rapids Kernels and gave some thoughts on some players.
He also talked about returning as GM after taking two years off. Twins ownership asked him to come back in that role last season on an interim basis.
The "interim" tag has since been removed.
"We're in some tough times now," he said. "Our owner and our president asked me to come back. I was still working with the club, was very familiar with what was going on, very familiar with the people in place. They just asked me, and I came back. We have not done too well, we've got some work to do. I accepted the challenge. There's something about being in the game, no doubt."
Naturally, Byron Buxton's name popped up in the conversation. He's hitting .277 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 130 at-bats at high-Class A Fort Myers and is considered one of the top minor-league prospects in all of baseball.
"He has come a million miles in the last calendar year," Ryan said. "About a year ago today, he was in Elizabethton, still finding his way. He took off when we got him to instructional league in Florida in October and November and December. He had a little difficult time when he started as a pro. I think that's about as safe a statement as I can make. I was there when he came into the Gulf Coast League, and he had all he could handle to get comfortable with the pro game. He has made just huge strides. I can't tell you how pleased we are with what he is doing. All the attention, the accolades and all the adulation that comes with being the second pick in the draft, he has responded. And that's why people are ranking him up there in the top five prospects in the game."
"Not only does he have those skills - he can really run, and he can really throw, and he can really go get a ball. He's got a quick bat, and he's got a pretty good idea of the strike zone. He's putting up numbers ... I don't think there's a manager or coach that doesn't think this guy's got a chance to be a hell of a player. But with all that being said, I think his makeup is equal to his playing ability. He's a good kid. He's just a good teammate, a bit of a quiet leader, but he's got some of that leadership in him.
"There are a few things he needs to clean up. Some of his baserunning, reading pitchers and their moves, situations, jumps. But for the most part, he's got a pretty good grasp of this game for a young kid."
The million-dollar question, of course, is when Buxton will reach Minnesota. It's an unfair question at this point, for sure.
The Twins hope he stays away from injury (he had a nail removed on a big toe recently) and continues to progress at the rate he did this season.
"He's on the fast track, I'll put it that way," Ryan said. "It'll all be dictated by him. Not necessarily what I think or what (field coordinator) Joel Lepel thinks, or Paul Molitor thinks. If the kid dominates leagues, we usually move them after a certain time of dominance. We kept him here. I think people expected us to move him out of here before we did. There was a reason we left him here, because we wanted to make sure and all that good stuff that he's on the fast track. We haven't seen him slow down quite yet."
Here are some of Ryan's thoughts on a few other Kernels:
(On Adam Brett Walker and whether he has a chance to be a big leaguer)
"Yeah, he does, just because of his power potential. He looks like a major leaguer, he drives balls like major leaguers, he runs like a major leaguer. Now it's just a matter of polishing up fielding, throwing accuracy, release, his ability to lay off pitches out of the zone. But he's kind of what they look like up there where I watch them. It was good that home run (Monday night) was on a slider because you're almost certain he can handle a fastball. Big, strong, athletic, has good makeup. Yeah, he has a chance to be a big leaguer."
(On infielder Jorge Polanco)
"I like Polanco. Going to get to see him play shortstop (Tuesday), which is good because I certainly think he's athletic enough to play short. He has excelled this year. I don't think many of us thought he was going to do this from the get-go because he started at 19 ... He's one of the youngest players in this league, and he's a switch hitter, he can run and throw, turn a double play. The most impressive part of his game is that he has shown the ability to hit and hit from both sides for a high average."
(On shortstop Niko Goodrum)
"I know him a little better than some. He can play a lot of places, is athletic enough to do a lot of things. His main objective, for me, is just to bring his whole game together with some consistency. He'll show flashes. He can run, he can throw, he can field, he's got range, he's a switch hitter, he can steal a base. But now it's just a matter of 'All right, let's put this game together.'
"He's got a great frame, we all know that. In fact, he's going to fill in and be a big man here. But I don't think he's ever going to lose the ability to stay at shortstop. I don't know how many errors he has, but I think most of them are unforced. That's one of the things I'm always after him about. Finish a play. You go get a ball, you range left or you range right, your hands are plenty good, then you don't finish the play. That's not good enough. So this kid has a lot of what we're looking for. A lot of it is certainly physical ability, but he also has mental toughness and leadership in him. He should be a good player. I keep telling him that. He should be a good player."
(On outfielder-first baseman Max Kepler)
"He's got a great frame, is athletic, has a beautiful swing. He's a young man, and unfortunately we couldn't get him on the field in March, April and May. That was disappointing because he missed time. Now that he's here, he's holding his own. He's got plenty of power potential, he can run, he can play left, center, right and first, which is good for a left-handed thrower. There's a (high) ceiling in him as well. He's a good kid, a great worker."