Notes: Third-base picture still cloudy
Moses tested at second and outfield in Instructional League
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' search for a permanent third baseman has been ongoing over the past few seasons.Despite getting by with some temporary solutions in Michael Cuddyer and Nick Punto, the Twins have been hoping that one of their prospects in the Minor Leagues would emerge as the club's everyday third baseman of the future. But it's appearing more and more as though that player will not be Matt Moses. Moses, the club's first-round Draft pick in 2003, was one of the prospects who attended the club's Instructional League in Fort Myers, Fla., which ended on Thursday. According to Minor League Director Jim Rantz, the club had Moses focus on other defensive positions during that time -- including second base and the outfield. "It's a way of giving him some more versatility," Rantz said. "It's not looking to be a permanent change right now, but we're looking at some options if we do decide to move him." Though the defensive switch was a significant change for Moses over the past few weeks, Rantz said that the focus remained on the player's swing and helping him find his stroke. Moses spent a bit of his time trying the new positions in-game, but the hope was to get him feeling comfortable offensively. "Sometimes a player does carry his at-bats with him to the field and vice versa," Rantz said. "I just think he never got going at Triple-A with the bat, and it got him off to a bad start." Moses began the year as the third baseman for Triple-A Rochester. He struggled both offensively and defensively, hitting just .224 in 48 games with the Red Wings and committing 10 errors. It was enough to cause the club to demote him to Double-A New Britain when they promoted third baseman Brian Buscher to Rochester in mid-June. There is still optimism within the organization that Moses can develop at third, but his glove has long been an issue. The bigger concern, though, has been Moses' offensive struggles, which the club feels have limited his development, as he is not expected to be a factor in the race for the third-base job this spring. "He's still got a lot of work to do on both ends of the field," Rantz said. "But he's still a young person, and we think he has a lot of potential with the offense -- including a chance to hit some home runs. His biggest asset is going to be his bat." More third-base watch: With the free-agent market looking lean in regard to available third basemen, the Twins have kept a watch on some of the other options in their system. Buscher is one of a few Twins prospects playing for the Aragua Tigres in the Venezuelan League, which kicked off last Thursday. Buscher has just one error so far in five games at third base. Buscher, who is expected to play through December in Venezuela, is hitting .300 (6-for-20) with two doubles and three runs scored. Matt Macri has continued to deliver a strong offensive performance for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League. He is batting .348 with two home runs, two doubles and three RBIs in seven games. He also has yet to make an error. Another option at third? One third baseman who likely will be available this winter is a former Twin -- Corey Koskie. The Brewers announced this week that they would not pick up Koskie's option for 2008, allowing him to file for free agency after the World Series. Whether Koskie would be an option for the Twins depends on if he will be healthy enough to come back and play next season. Koskie missed the entire 2007 season due to the effects of post-concussion syndrome, which he began feeling in July 2006. And even Koskie admitted that his playing career might be in danger of being finished. "I still want to get better, I still want to play," Koskie said on Sept. 28. "I would love to get back out there at this point, because just playing, I would know I'm better. I'm still hoping to be playing somewhere next Spring Training. If I'm not better by January, then maybe it's over." Fall ball updates: Joining Macri on the Desert Dogs is shortstop Trevor Plouffe, who was the club's first-round pick in the June 2004 Draft. Plouffe has three doubles in seven games, but it's his strikeout numbers that are somewhat alarming. He has struck out nine times in 26 at-bats. Right-hander Nick Blackburn gave up three earned runs over two innings in his first start for the Desert Dogs, and right-hander Eduardo Morlan pitched another scoreless inning on Tuesday, making it three scoreless innings for him so far in the AFL. Lefty Ryan Mullins and right-hander Anthony Swarzak have each given up two runs over their first two starts. Also playing for the Tigres are pitchers Yohan Pino, Jose Mijares, Brain Bass, Bobby Korecky and Frank Mata. Pino has given up just one run over four innings, and Bass has allowed just one run over 8 1/3 innings. Camp dates: The Twins announced this week that they will hold four youth-training camps over the fall and winter. The camps are open to kids 8 to 18. The dates are as follows: Nov. 23 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Dec. 26-27 at the Metrodome, Jan. 21 at Northwestern College in Roseville and Feb. 18 at Hamline University in St. Paul. Twins alumni and other coaches will participate as speakers and instructors. For more information or to register for camps, visit www.twinsbaseball.com/trainingcamps or call 612-375-7510. Twins tidbits: The Twins' front office and coaching staff are holding their organizational meetings in Fort Myers this weekend. After that, some of the staff will head out to Arizona to catch some of the prospects playing in the AFL. ... Francisco Liriano completed his rehab program in Fort Myers and has headed home to the Dominican Republic for now. Liriano did not face any hitters off the mound before leaving on Thursday, but he will not take part in winter ball. He's on a maintenance program at home and is still expected to be ready to compete for a spot at the start of Spring Training.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.