Happy Birthday–December 4

Jesse Burkett (1868)
Shano Collins (1885)
Bob Shawkey (1890)
Harvey Kuenn (1930)
Mike Couchee (1957)
Lee Smith (1957)
Stan Jefferson (1962)
Bernardo Brito (1963)
Jerome Williams (1981)
Matt Fox (1982)
Carlos Gomez (1985)

Mike Couchee was drafted by Minnesota in the second round of the January Secondary draft in 1978, but did not sign.

Outfielder Bernardo (Perez) Brito played for the Twins in 1992, 1993, and 1995. He hit 295 home runs in the minors, but only five in the big leagues. Born in San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic, Brito was signed by Cleveland as a free agent in 1980. He was young, and it showed, as he struggled his first few seasons. In 1984, however, he hit .300 with 19 home runs for short-season Class A Batavia. It would be several years before he batted .300 again, but Brito continued to show power, hitting over 20 homers in nine of the next ten minor league seasons, seven of them at AAA.  He won six home run titles in the minors, two in Class A, two in AA, and two in AAA.  When he did top .300 again, he did it three times in a row, from 1993 to 1995. Despite his minor-league success, he never really got a chance in the majors, batting 14 times for the Twins in 1992, 54 times in 1993, and five times in 1995. His major league line was .219/.237/.466. Brito was released by the Twins in late June of 1995. He then signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters, finishing 1995 and playing 1996 there. Brito played briefly for Sioux Falls in the Northern League in 1998. While there's no way to know whether he could have done anything in the majors, it seems odd, given his success at AAA, that he was never given any kind of a chance in the big leagues. At last report, Bernardo Brito was the head coach of the Dominican Baseball Academy in San Cristobal, but that last report is several years old now.

Right-hander Jerome Lee Williams did not play for the Twins, but he was in their minor league system for about a month in 2007. He was born in Honolulu, and according to Wikipedia is of Hawaiian-Chinese-Portuguese-Spanish-Japanese-Norwegian-African-Filipino-American ancestry. He went to high school in Page, Australia, attended Southeast Louisiana University, and was drafted by San Francisco in the first round in 1999. He pitched very well throughout his minor league career, spending a full year at each level. He made ten starts in a second season at AAA in 2003 when he was called up to the Giants. He pitched pretty well for them for two seasons, going 17-12, 3.77, 1.28 WHIP from 2003-2004. He got off to a slow start in 2005 and was traded to the Cubs in late May in a trade that involved LaTroy Hawkins. He did pretty well for the Cubs the rest of 2005. He started 2006 in Chicago and did pretty well in four outings, but had a disastrous fifth outing and was abruptly sent to the minors. He never really got it going again after that. He remained in AAA for the rest of 2006, was chosen off waivers by Oakland after the season, but released a few months later. He signed with Washington for 2007 and started the season in their rotation, but after pitching poorly in five out of six starts he was sent to AAA, never to return to the majors. The Nationals released Williams in early August and the Twins picked him up. They sent him to Rochester, where he went 0-1, 9.00 in eight appearances (eleven innings). He moved on to the Dodgers’ organization for 2008 and to Oakland for 2009, then moved to Taiwan for the 2010 season. Injury may have played a part in how suddenly he fell apart; he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff in 2007, but given how quickly he declined, one wonders if there may have been a problem before that. He came back to the United States in June of 2011, playing in AAA for the Angels.  He did quite well there, going 7-2, 3.91, 1.26 WHIP in ten starts.  After that season, we wrote "If he can stay healthy, it’s not impossible that he might still help some major league team."  Well, he stayed healthy, mostly, and he did help a couple of teams.  He was decent for the Angels in 2012 and 2013, became a free agent, signed with Houston, was released in July, signed with Texas, was waived in August, and was chosen by Philadelphia, for whom he made nine pretty good starts.  He went back to the Phillies in 2015 but was not good at all, going 4-12, 5.80.  He became a free agent after the season and did not sign until June, when St. Louis picked him up.  His numbers don't look good for 2016, but all eleven of the earned runs he gave up came in two of his eleven relief appearances.  That fact didn't help him any, though, as he went unsigned and pitched in the Atlantic League in 2017, not doing very well there.  He turns thirty-six today.  He may pitch somewhere in 2018, but it may be time for Jerome Willliams to move on to the next phase of his life.

Right-hander Matthew Jacob Fox made one start for the Twins in 2010. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, went to high school in Coral Springs, Florida and Parkland, Florida, attended the University of Central Florida, and was drafted in the first round by Minnesota in 2004. He made a steady rise through the minors, advancing one level at a time (excluding 2005, which he missed due to injury), and putting up pretty solid numbers at every stop. He was not outstanding at Rochester in 2010, but he was not terrible by any means, either: he went 6-9, 3.95, 1.42 WHIP. He came up to Minnesota on September 3 of that year for an emergency start, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in 5.2 innings for an ERA of 3.18. Those are his career statistics for the Twins, because he was placed on waivers and chosen by Boston on September 9. He made three appearances for the Red Sox, giving up four hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. He was back in AAA in 2011 with Boston and did fairly well, going 10-4, 3.96, 1.20 WHIP.  He became a free agent after the season and signed with Seattle.  He was injured most of the season, making only eight minor league stars at various points in the Seattle organization.  He started 2013 with York of the Atlantic League, signed with the Mets in mid-May, and spent the rest of the season in AAA Las Vegas, where he was pretty average.  He was a free agent after the season and went unsigned, apparently ending his playing career.  At last report, Matt Fox was a marketing development manager for the Coca-Cola Company in Orlando, Florida.

Outfielder Carlos Argelis (Pena) Gomez played for the Twins from 2008-2009. Born in Santiago in the Dominican Republic, he signed with the Mets in 2002. It is unclear what he did for the next couple of years, because he does not show up in the minor league stats until 2004, but he presumably was playing ball someplace, probably in a foreign rookie league. Gomez was remarkably consistent in the minors, hitting around .270-.280 at each level. He was with the Mets for about half of the 2007 season, then was traded to the Twins with Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey for Johan Santana. A colorful, fast, exciting player, he did not perform particularly well at the plate, hitting .248/.292/.352 in nearly 900 at-bats with the Twins, for an OPS+ of 72. In early November of 2009, the Twins traded Gomez to Milwaukee for J. J. Hardy. He was the Brewers’ regular centerfielder much of the season, but lost time due to injury and the failure to hit when he was healthy.  He began 2011 as the starter again, but again failed to hit and lost the job.  He also again lost time due to injury. He regained the starting center field job in 2012 and had his first good offensive season, hitting .260/.305/.463 with 19 home runs, more than double his previous career high. He also stole a career-high 37 bases.  In 2013 he was even better, hitting .284/.338/.506 with twenty-four home runs and forty stolen bases, making the all-star team, and winning the Gold Glove.  He essentially repeated that season in 2014, although he did not get the Gold Glove again.  He was having a lesser, though still decent, year in 2015 when he was traded to Houston in late July.  He did little for the Astros the rest of the season and did even less for them in 2016, getting released by them in mid-August.  He signed with Texas two days later, played well for them the rest of the season, and had a solid year for them in 2017 as well.  He turns thirty-two today and is a free agent.  He's played very well sometimes and not very well other times.  One assumes he'll sign with someone for 2018.

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