Here is the next installment of my initial 30 for 30 post. A refresher: these are the top 30 forgettable Twins. Once again, “forgettable” in this instance refers only to the players’ time in Minnesota. Also, this list is restricted to those players I remember watching or reading about as they played.
10. Dusty Hughes 2011: When I first saw Dusty Hughes pitch for the Royals in 2010, I thought to myself, “Wow! That is a cool name. I hope he plays for the Twins one day.” Little did I know what I was wishing upon the State of Hockey.
Even though he somehow managed to record one win in his 12.2 innings over 15 games, Mr. Hughes (not the same man) contributed a 9.95 ERA to the worst Twins team of all time. That will teach me to judge the merits of a professional athlete based solely on the coolness of their name.
9. Matt Fox 2010: Some guys just never get a fair shake. Matt Fox is one of those guys. Making his minor league debut in 2004, Fox basically spent his first five years in the Twins’ system as a successful swing-man, starting 59 of the 110 games he appeared in. He posted a sub-4.00 ERA in every year, except his debut year and 2005 which he missed due to shoulder problems. His AAA numbers are solid: 16-13 with a 3.95 ERA. Outstanding? No. Worth an extended look in the majors? No. Worth one early September major league start? OK, fine.
Target Field played host to 40,134 paying customers on September 3, 2010 to see the Twins beat the Rangers 4-3. Chances are, if you asked them today, not even half of them would be able to tell you who started that game. That’s right, it was The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Despite holding the eventual American League champions to two runs on four hits, Fox was denied the win, being lifted in the fifth inning after throwing 90 pitches.
Pretty impressive, though right? Well not impressive enough to get another chance with the Twins. Fox was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox six days later. Boston used him three times out of the bullpen, to unimpressive results. Oddly enough, in the 1.2 relief innings Fox pitched for Boston, he gave up the exact same number of hits (four) and runs (two) as he in his brief Twins career.
8. Tommy Watkins 2007: Where to start with Tommy Watkins? Why not the end? Tommy Watkins bobble-butt night. That’s right. That was a thing. Mr. Watkins, a native of Ft. Myers, Florida, was so popular during his two-year stint with the Twins’ Class-A affiliate, that the Miracle concocted a new type of bobble just to commemorate his greatness. Of course that “greatness” translated into actual numberees, would up much more similar to Drew Butera than Justin Morneau, or even Luis Castillo. In just under 200 games, Watkins hit .248 with 3 homers, 21 steals and 59 RBI.
Those numbers were actually pretty standard for his minor league career. In fact, when he finally retired after 12 years as a player, he finished with that same .248 batting average. Undoubtedly, his best season came in 2007, his first full year with Rochester. As a reward, he was brought up to help out during the injury-riddled disappointment of a season that saw the Twins finish in third place, 17 games out of first place.
He played nine forgettable games with the big club. Despite spending most of his time in the minors as something of a utility guy, playing every position, including catcher, most of his time in the majors was spent at third base, where he performed admirably, fielding all 19 of his chances cleanly and without error. 2008 saw Watkins back in AAA and by 2009 his playing career was finished. He started assisting Jake Mauer in Ft. Myers during the 2009 season and in 2010 was named the batting coach of the Beloit Snappers.
7. Terry Tiffee 2004-06: Don’t let the less-than-manly name fool you, Terry Tiffee has some power. He’s also an Olympic hero from way back in 2008 when the world at large, or at least the International Olympic Committee, considered baseball a sport worthy of world-wide competition. Tiffee was a part of the Davey Johnson-led U.S. team that took home what could possibly be the last Olympic bronze medal ever awarded to a baseball team.
Sporting a .295 average in 12 years, and contributing more than 100 home runs and 700 RBI, Tiffee has always had respectable minor league numbers. That might be why so many teams have been willing to give him a chance, at least at that level. After spending the first seven years of his career in the Twins system, including call-ups in each year from 2004-06, Tiffee spent time in the minors with six MLB organizations and the Independent League’s Lancaster Barnstormers.
6. Jason Pridie 2008-09: There was a time when the Minnesota Twins really must have liked Jason Pridie. In the 2005 Rule 5 draft, the Twins were drawn to this speedy outfielder who had shown some ability to hit for average and a little bit of power, selecting him from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Not having the roster space for him and unwilling or unable to work out a trade, Pridie was sent back to Tampa. Somewhere Bill Smith wept. Or so I assume. Smith must have been thinking the Twins let one get away, because in 2008, Pridie was included in what may be Smith’s signature move as general manager. Pridie, Brendan Harris and Delmon Young were brought in in exchange for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and minor-leaguer Eduardo Morlan.
Then something happened. Somewhere between acquiring and reacquiring Pridie,the Twins realized they didn’t actually want him. Despite maintaining, for the most part, the same level of play he had produced throughout his career, Pridie was never really given a chance with in the majors. Like the kid that begs and begs for a toy only to throw it callously in the closet next to the Jeff Christys and David Winfrees of the world, never to be played with again, Pridie saw six total plate appearances in two years with the Twins. He walked and struck out once each, and scored three runs, but never got a hit.
But the story of Jason Pridie is not all sad. For much like that discarded toy will one day be donated to the local Good Will, Pridie was claimed in 2010 by the New York Mets. Free at last, Pridie spent a large chunk of the 2011 season with the Metropolitans. Pridie finally did get that first hit on April 23, off of Barry Enright of the Arizona Diamondbacks.