November 21, 2015

Is a once-heralded Twins prospect on his way to Asia?

Kennys Vargas, who stands six-foot-five and weighs around 280 pounds, has attracted interest from a ball club in Asia, the Pioneer Press reported earlier this week.

Vargas made a splash with the Twins in 2014, showing he could hit with power during the second half of the season. But he struggled at the plate the following season and wound up back in the minors.

If he packs his bags for Asia, he won’t be the first member of the Twins to look abroad for a playing opportunity.

Pitcher Kris Johnson passed through Minnesota after a short stint with the Pirates (his time with the Twins was just as long), and then he headed to Japan to play for the Hiroshima Carp.

His limited playing time and stats in the U.S. no longer matter because Johnson pitched well last season, finishing with a record of 14-7 and an ERA of 1.85.

Japan can sometimes be a godsend for the former Major League ballplayer who can’t quite advance their career in the U.S. Wladimir Balentien comes to mind. After four uninspiring seasons of baseball with the Mariners and Reds, Balentien signed with the Yakult Swallows. He eventually would go on to set the single-season home run record in Japan by hitting 60 in 2013.

But baseball in Japan isn’t to be taken for granted and certain ballplayers, including those with much higher profiles, have descended on Japan for the money and learned a hard lesson (see Kevin Mitchell).

Japan has been home to professional baseball since the 1930s and has produced its share of Major League-like stars, such as Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 home runs over 22 seasons for the Yomiuri Giants. The quality of play in Japan has been described as “Four-A,” falling between Triple-A and Major League baseball.

Jason Pridie, who played briefly for the Twins in 2008-2009, also is headed to Japan to play for the Carp.

Hiroshima Carp announced they have come to a contract agreement with new foreigner Jason Pridie. $465K + incentives https://t.co/aMEbRq6DQo

— NPB on reddit (@NPB_Reddit) November 20, 2015

Thanks everyone for the messages and well wishes. Excited to join the Carp and help bring a championship to Hiroshima!

— Jason Pridie (@MrPriddles) November 20, 2015

Extra innings…

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier picked up one vote in the recently released results for AL MVP — and that one vote came from The (Tacoma) News Tribune’s sports columnist John McGrath.

Well, why not?

Although Dozier struggled in the second half of last season, he once again led the team in home runs with 28 and finished in the top 10 in MLB in runs scored, doubles and extra base hits.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.