Happy Birthday–October 19

Mordecai Brown (1876)
Fred Snodgrass (1887)
Bob O'Farrell (1896)
Al Brazle (1913)
Walt Bond (1937)
Sandy Alomar (1943)
Al Gallagher (1945)
David Palmer (1957)
Mark Davis (1960)
Tim Belcher (1961)
Dave Veres (1966)
Keith Foulke (1972)
Horacio Estrada (1975)
Michael Young (1976)
Randy Ruiz (1977)
Jose Bautista (1980)

The Twins chose Tim Belcher with the first pick of the 1983 draft, but he did not sign.

Outfielder/first baseman Walter Franklin Bond played in ten games for the Twins in 1967. The 6’ 7’ Bond was born in Denmark, Tennessee, attended Lane College in Jackson Tennessee (the only major league the school has produced), and was drafted by Cleveland in 1957. He provided solid production throughout his minor league career. Bond jumped from Class A to the majors in 1960, but was not ready, and went to AAA in June. He did quite well there, but stayed there through 1963 with the exception of brief shots with the Indians in 1961 and 1962. There were rumors that race played a part in Cleveland's decision to keep Bond in the minors, although this cannot be proven. After the 1963 season, the Cleveland front office learned that Bond had leukemia. The disease was in remission, but the Indians quickly sold Bond to the Houston Colt .45s. Houston was willing to give him a chance, and he spent two full seasons in the majors with them. Bond had a good year in 1964, hitting .254 with 20 homers. In 1965, however, Houston moved into the Astrodome, and he was able to hit only 7 home runs. In April of 1966, Bond was traded to the Twins for Ken Retzer. He again had a big year in AAA, and started 1967 with the Twins. Unfortunately, Bond's leukemia returned, and his condition deteriorated. Used mostly as a pinch-hitter, Bond was doing well in that role, but was released by the Twins in mid-May. He appeared briefly with the Mets' AAA team in Jacksonville, but then his career was over. As a Twin, he had 16 at-bats, hitting .313 with a home run and 5 RBIs. Sadly, Walt Bond passed away on September 14, 1967 in Houston at the age of 29. Walt Bond is a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

Left-hander Horacio (Jimenez) Estrada did not play for the Twins, but was in their minor league system for about two months in 2003. Born and raised in San Joaquin, Venezuela, he signed with Milwaukee as a free agent in 1992. It seems likely that he continued to play in Venezuela for a couple of years, because he does not show up in American minor league statistics until 1995. He struck out a lot of guys, but he also had some control trouble, and was up-and-down in his minor league career. He made his first major league appearance in 1999, playing in four games in May. In 2000 he seemed to have a breakout season at AAA Indianapolis, going 14-4, 3.33 with a 1.22 WHIP. He made seven appearances for the Brewers that season, but did not do well. Despite his AAA season, the Brewers gave up on him, putting him on waivers on March 27, 2001. Florida claimed him, but put him back on waivers on March 30, and he was claimed by Colorado. Estrada wasn’t too bad in Colorado Springs, but again failed in four appearances in the majors, and he has not gotten another big league shot. He was a free agent after the 2001 season, played in AAA for Arizona in 2002, was a free agent again after the season, went unsigned, and signed with Minnesota in early July of 2003. He made five starts in New Britain and pitched very well, going 2-1, 3.34, 1.05 WHIP, but was a free agent again after the season. He was out of baseball in 2004, played briefly in AAA for Baltimore in 2005, then went to the Mexican League. He stayed there through 2008, also played in Italy in 2008. That’s the last that b-r.com has about him, but he apparently is playing for Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League again this season. He’s only thirty-seven, and he’s left-handed. It seems very unlikely that he’ll ever appear in the majors again, but for a left-hander, where there’s life, there’s hope.

First baseman/outfielder Randy Radames Ruiz played in twenty-two games for the Twins in 2008. Born and raised in the Bronx, he attended Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska, one of two major league players that school has produced (T. J. Bohn), and was signed as a free agent by Cincinnati in 1999. It took him a long time to advance in the minors; despite putting up decent numbers, he was in rookie leagues for two years, and spent an additional four seasons in Class A. Finally promoted to AA in 2005, he spent most of three seasons there before finally getting 22 games in AAA in 2007. Along the way, Ruiz was released by the Reds after the 2002 season, by Baltimore after 2003, by the Cardinals in March of 2004, by Philadelphia after 2005, by the Royals in the April of 2006, and by the Yankees after 2006. Signed by the Phillies before 2007, he was sent to the Pirates as part of a conditional deal. In a month, the Pirates sent him back. The Phillies released him in July, and he signed with the Giants, who released him at the end of the season. Ruiz is nothing if not persistent, and every time he's been released, some team has been willing to sign him. In November of 2007, it was the Twins, and after a big year in Rochester Randy Ruiz finally made his big-league debut in August of 2008. He did fairly well in 68 at-bats, hitting .274/.338/.355 with 1 homer and 7 RBIs, but was released again after the season. Once again, there was a team that wanted him. This time, it was Toronto, and after another big year in AAA Ruiz spent the last two months of the season with the Blue Jays, hitting .313/.385/.635. He started 2010 with Toronto but rarely played and was released in mid-May. He then went to Japan to finish the season and stayed there for 2011.  He began 2012 there as well, but signed with Arizona and played very well for AAA Reno, batting .331 with 14 homers in 181 at-bats.  He turns thirty-five today and obviously has some short-comings, but he has also hit .272/.332/.488 in 217 major league at-bats. It seems like he’s done enough that someone would want to give him a chance as a bench player, but apparently no one does.