Jake Mauer has been around baseball for his entire life. Of course he's known as "Joe's Brother" but it wasn't long ago that Jake was also trying to make a name for himself as a player. The Twins drafted Jake in the 23rd round of the 2001 draft, the same year they took Joe in the first round. But an ongoing elbow injury forced Jake from playing, so instead of riding off into the sunset, he remained involved with the game he loved, as a coach. He got his first managerial job in 2008 when he was given the reigns to the Gulf Coast League Twins. He finished second in the Southern division with a 35-21 record. In 2009, Jake lead the GCL Twins to a first place in the Southern division with a nearly identical record of 34-21.
During his time with the GCL Twins, Jake was applauded for the way he worked with such a diverse group of players. After the promotion of Jeff Smith to New Britain following the 2009 season, the Twins promoted Jake to Ft. Myers where he'll manage the reigning Florida State League South champions.
When taking a first glance at the roster, it looks like Jake will have his work cut out for him in 2010. The Miracle don't have nearly as threatening of a team as they had a year ago with top prospects Ben Revere, David Bromberg, Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee having all been promoted to Double-A New Britain. Other top prospects Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales will both start the year back in Beloit.
The Twins drafted Shooter Hunt in the supplemental first round of the 2008 draft after a successful collegiate career at the University of Virginia and (most notably) Tulane University. He was one of the best pitchers in the draft, but concern over his control made him available when the Twins took him with the 31st overall pick. He was handed a $1.08 million signing bonus and assigned to the Appalachian League where he struck out 34 batters and walked only six while giving up one earned run in four starts. He finished the year by making seven starts for the Beloit Snappers. He posted a 5.46 ERA and had a 34/27 K/BB ratio.
His struggles continued when he returned to Beloit in 2009. Hunt appeared in seven games - five of them starts - between April and May for the Snappers. In just 17 2/3 innings, he had an 18/33 K/BB ratio (no, those numbers aren't switched) with a 10.70 ERA.
He was placed on the disabled list with a strained groin muscle, which many hoped was the cause for his poor control. He was sent to Extended Spring Training and eventually joined the Gulf Coast League Twins in June, but Hunt's struggles persisted. He appeared in another seven games - five of them starts - and had an 8/25 K/BB ratio in 15 innings.
Hunt's season came to an end in July when the Twins sent Hunt home to "clear his head." Despite some believing he was struggling with poor mechanics, the Twins believed his problems stemmed from problems "upstairs." He hasn't pitched in a meaningful game since, so it remains to be seen whether or not the Twins prognosis was correct. Hunt has worked primarily as a starter throughout his career, but my guess is that he'll work out of the bullpen (at least at first) in Ft. Myers.
Hunt has perhaps the most electrifying 'stuff' in the organization, but he can't hit the strike zone to save his life. The Twins (and Jake) hope that they cured his yips on the mound, but at this point, they may need a miracle.