Happy Birthday–May 15

Joe Evans (1895)
Jimmy Wasdell (1914)
Al McBean (1938)
Yukata Enatsu (1948)
Bill North (1948)
Rick Waits (1952)
George Brett (1953)
John Smoltz (1967)
Scott Watkins (1970)
A. J. Hinch (1974)
Josh Beckett (1980)
Justin Morneau (1981)
Brian Dozier (1987)

Yukata Enatsu was one of the first closers in Japan, recording 193 saves.

A. J. Hinch was drafted by Minnesota in the third round in 1995, but did not sign.

Left-hander Scott Allen Watkins pitched for the Twins for about two months in 1995.  He was born in Tulsa, went to high school in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and was drafted by Minnesota in the 23rd round in 1992.  A reliever throughout his minor-league career, his numbers were not particularly impressive until 1995, when he posted a 2.80 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, 20 saves, and 57 strikeouts in 54.2 innings (45 games) for AAA Salt Lake.  He was often used as a LOOGY; in nearly half of his 27 appearances, he faced only one or two batters.  He was not particularly successful in that role, as in a small sample size left-handers hit him nearly as well as right-handers.  For the last two months of 1995, Watkins had no decisions with an ERA of 5.40 and a WHIP of 1.52.  He pitched 21.2 innings spread over 27 games.  Watkins was back in AAA in 1996, but could not duplicate his success of the prior season.  From there, he started moving around.  He was in the minor league systems of Colorado and Kansas City in 1997, in the Texas organization in 1998, in the Cubs chain in 1999, and at AAA with Colorado again from 2000-2001.  He had varying degrees of success, but did not make it back to the majors.  His playing career ended after the 2001 season.  It appears that Scott Watkins has gone back to his home town of Sand Springs, and is a special ed teacher and youth baseball coach there.

First baseman Justin Ernest George Morneau played for the Twins from 2003-2013.  He was born and raised in New Westminster, British Columbia and was drafted by Minnesota in the third round in 1999.  He hit well throughout the minors, hitting over .300 in his first three professional seasons, but the Twins took their time with him:  Morneau was in rookie ball for two years, was in Class A for all but ten games in 2001, and was in AA all of 2002.  He began 2003 in AA, but was advanced to AAA after 20 games.  He got his first chance at the majors in 2003 spelling Doug Mientkiewicz, which is not an easy thing to do.  He was in the majors about half the season.  He started 2004 in Rochester, but after he hit .306 with 22 home runs in half a season, Mientkiewicz was traded and Morneau became the Twins’ regular first baseman, a job he retains to this day.  He struggled in 2005, but played well from 2006-2010.  He was playing extremely well in 2010, hitting .345 with an OPS of 1.055, when he suffered a concussion in mid-July and missed the rest of the season.  He struggled in 2011 due to a combination of a wrist injury and lingering concussion problems.  He did better in 2012, but was still not the Justin Morneau of old.  He was doing no better in 2013 when he was traded to Pittsburgh at the August deadline for Alex Presley and a player to be named later (Duke Welker).  A free agent after the season, he signed with Colorado for 2014.   He undoubtedly was helped by playing in Coors Field, but he still had a fine season, winning the batting title with a .319 average.  He had a good season in 2015 when he could play, but concussion issues struck again and he missed over half the season, going out in the middle of May and not coming back until September.  He was a free agent after the season, but had elbow surgery and is currently unable to play, which is probably why he has not signed with anyone for 2016.  His best season to date is 2006, when he hit .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs and won the Most Valuable Player award.  He received MVP consideration the next two years as well, finishing second to Dustin Pedroia in 2008.  He made the all-star team every year from 2007-2010 and has won two Silver Slugger awards.  Justin Morneau turns thirty-five today.  Given his age and injury history he's not a good bet for a long-term contract, but if he can prove he's healthy you'd think someone would give him a chance.  One suspects almost all Twins fans are still rooting for him to play well for a while yet.

Infielder James Brian Dozier has been an infielder for the Twins since 2012.  He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, attended the University of Southern Mississippi, and was drafted by Minnesota in the eighth round in 2009.  He spent most of 2009 in Elizabethton, most of 2010 in Fort Myers, and most of 2011 in New Britain.  He started to develop a little power in 2011, hitting 33 doubles, 12 triples, and 9 home runs.  He split 2012 between Rochester and Minnesota, not batting particularly well in either place.  He drew a decent number of walks in the lower minors, leading to solid on-base percentages.  In 1,405 minor league at-bats, he hit .298/.370/.409, but in 200 plate appearances in AAA he hit .232/.286/.337.  He had primarily been a shortstop until 2013, when the Twins moved him to second base. He showed surprising power, hitting eighteen homers after never having hit more than nine in a season in the minors.  He increased his power the next couple of seasons, hitting twenty-three homers in 2014 and twenty-eight in 2015, a number which helped him make his first (and so far only) all-star team.  He's never hit for a high average above AA, and given that he's twenty-nine today it seems unlikely that he will.  He draws a good number of walks, but other than in 2014 his on-base percentage is not what you would like from someone who bats in the top of the order.  He got off to a horrible start in 2016, but has done better recently.  At this writing, Brian Dozier has hit .239/.314/.409 in over 2200 major league at-bats, all with the Twins.  He is likely to remain the Twins' starting second baseman for some time yet.