Plouffe heads new list of E-Twins

By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff

  For the third time in the past four years, the top pick of the Minnesota Twins organization will begin his professional baseball career in an Elizabethton uniform.
  Trever Plouffe, a 17-year-old shortstop out of Northridge, Calif., and the 20th pick overall in the 2004 First Year Players Draft signed with the Twins and has been assigned to the Appalachian League squad this week.
  Plouffe, one of the top shortstops in the draft, had a solid senior season with a .509 batting average, adding six home runs and 20 RBIs for Crespi High School.
  He received a $1.5 million signing bonus and full tuition to attend the University of Southern California. He was a 2004 High School All American and was a member of the USA Youth National Team.
  Right-handed pitcher, J.P. Martinez, the ninth-round pick from the University of New Orleans, former Ole Miss shortstop and 16th round pick Matt Tolbert, 26th round outfielder Deacon Burns of Northern State will also begin with at Joe O'Brien Field.
  It was hinted that 25th pick Kyle Waldrop, a right-handed thrower from Tennessee state champion Farragut High would begin in state, but he will report to the Gulf Coast League.
  Minnesota's three other first round/compensation selections were also from the mound. The location of Minnesota's Glen Perkins, Rhode Island high schooler Jay Rainville and Central Florida's Matthew Fox haven't been released on the Twins official website.
  Fox, the 35th overall pick, signed after a solid 14-2 season with a 1.85 ERA at Central Florida. He was the Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year and was a first team and second team All-America selection.
  Former 2003 Elizabethton Twins player Paul Mutch died suddenly of a rare heart condition known as Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a debilitating heart condition.
  The 21 year-old pitcher from Brisbane, Australia was a member of 2003 Appalachian League champion Elizabethton Twins.
  "The Elizabethton Twins baseball community is in shock today as it has lost a member of our family," said general manager Mike Mains. "Paul had the ability to make everyone around him feel good about what they were doing.
  "He was a tremendous person and all of our fans loved him and loved what he brought to the game of baseball," he said. "Paul was always the first to volunteer to make public appearances in our community. He was a team leader on and off the field and will be one player I will never forget nor will our fans."
  Paul was very active in promoting baseball in Australia. He was a member of the 2004 Athens Olympic Shadow Squad.
  Last year's Elizabethton team was balanced with talent, but had the determination to pull away with the league's title.
  Many Twins players were at the top of several Appalachian League individual statistics last season, and have continued their success at the top level.
  Most of last year's team is now with the Midwest League's Swing of the Quad Cities Single-A club in Davenport, Iowa.
  The team has struggled somewhat, but several of last year's Elizabethton players are seeing success.
  Shortstop J.R. Taylor is one of the team's leading hitters, while former Elizabethton third baseman Brock Peterson had 11 doubles off 44 hits with 23 RBIs two weeks ago.
  Denard Span, Angel Garcia, Kyle Phillips, Ryan Spataro, Dusty Gomon, Josh Johnson and Justin Arneson are also on the team.
  As far as pitching goes, Julio DePaula has shown the most success. The crafty thrower has a winning record with an ERA under 2.00.
  Errol Simonitch and Jimmy Speigner also are listed as statistical leaders on the mound for the squad.
  Former Twins Danny Matienzo, Ron Perodin, Doug Deeds and Trent Oeltjen were listed as four of the top five hitters for the Fort Myers Miracle Single-A squad a week ago.
  Joe Mauer has had his share of bad luck this season.
  The number one pick in the 2001 draft for Minnesota started the first two games for the Twins before he tore cartilage in his knee.
  Mauer started out rough after being activated from the disabled list two weeks ago, only going 1-of-14 with that one hit a three-run homer to give the squad a win over Detroit last Sunday.
  However, he bounced back with two doubles on Wednesday.
  He has been listed as the top newcomer/prospect in the majors this season and has a good chance to turn things around with a comeback in Minnesota.
  (Information from Elizabethton Twins and Minnesota Twins)