Happy Birthday–September 4

Tillie Walker (1887)
Eddie Waitkus (1919)
Hawk Harrelson (1941)
Paul Jata (1949)
Doyle Alexander (1950)
Frank White (1950)
Mike Piazza (1968)
Luis Lopez (1970)
Aaron Fultz (1973)
Pat Neshek (1980)
Jordan Schafer (1986)
Cody Martin (1989)
Andrelton Simmons (1989)
Aaron Slegers (1992)

Cody Martin was drafted by Minnesota in the 20th round in 2010, but did not sign.

Outfielder/first baseman Paul Jata did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system in 1976.  He was born in Astoria, New York, went to high school on Long Island, and was drafted by Detroit in the fifth round in 1967.  His minor league numbers don't stick out, but he was always very young for his league, reaching AA at age 20 and AAA at age 21.  He made the Tigers out of spring training in 1972 at age 22 but was used mostly as a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement, getting only 71 at-bats through July 19.  At that point he was sent to the minors, coming back for three games as a September call-up.  Given his age and his role, he didn't do so badly:  .230/.296/.257 in 74 at-bats.  Unfortunately, those would be his major league career numbers.  He split 1973 between AA and AAA and had what may have been his best year in the minors.  After the season, he was traded to Minnesota for Jim Nettles.  He'd had numerous knee problems, however, and elected to retire.  After sitting out the 1974 and 1975 seasons, he decided to give baseball one more try.  He played in AA Orlando in 1976 but appeared in only 22 games, batting .242/.351/.306 as his knees apparently could not hold up.  His playing career ended after that.  At last report, it appeared that Paul Jata was living in Newport, Kentucky.

Left-handed reliever Richard Aaron Fultz played for the Twins in 2004. He was born in Memphis, went to high school in Munford, Tennessee, attended North Florida Community College, and was drafted by the Giants in 1992 in the sixth round. He pitched pretty well in rookie ball that year and in Class A in 1993, but was traded to the Twins in August of 1993 with Andres Duncan and Greg Brummett for Jim DeShaies. After just over two years (1994 and 1995) in the Twins system, Fultz was released, and he went back to the Giants. He generally had to repeat levels in the minors, with the result that he did not reach AAA until 1998. Fultz was not particularly impressive in AAA in either 1998 or 1999, but made the Giants with a strong spring training in 2000. Fultz spent three years with the Giants as a middle reliever, posting ERAs in the mid-fours, but was allowed to become a free agent after 2002 and signed with Texas. He did not pitch particularly well for the Rangers, and was again allowed to become a free agent, signing with the Twins for the 2004 campaign. Fultz appeared in 55 games for the Twins, going 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 50 innings. The Twins placed him on waivers after the season, and he was selected by Philadelphia, for whom he had his best year in 2005, going 4-0 with a 2.24 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 72.1 innings. He did not repeat his success in 2006, and again became a free agent, signing with Cleveland for 2007. He did a good job for the Indians, going 4-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 37 innings, but was again released after the season. He has since played in the Detroit, Colorado, and Cincinnati organizations, as well as playing in Taiwan. Fultz played a little independent ball in 2009 before retiring in June.  In recent years he has been a pitching coach in the Philadelphia organization and is currently the pitching coach for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

Right-handed reliever Patrick John Neshek was with the Twins from 2006-2010. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin, went to high school in Park Center, Minnesota, and was drafted in the 45th round out of high school by the Twins in 1999. He did not sign, choosing instead to go to Butler University. The Twins kept watching him, and drafted him again in 2002 in the sixth round. He spent roughly a year at each minor league level, and pitched well at all of them, posting a WHIP below 1.00 in each of his first two minor league seasons. He came up to the Twins in July of 2006, and continued to pitch very well, becoming the Twins’ top set-up man. In 2007, he was one of five players who was in the running for the final spot in the all-star game, losing to Hideki Okajima. Neshek then began to battle injuries, undergoing Tommy John surgery, and missed most of 2008 and all of 2009. He came back in 2010, beginning and ending the season in Minnesota but spending most of it in Rochester, where he was decent but no more than that.  The Twins waived him in March of 2011 and he was claimed by San Diego.  He was up and down a few times in 2011; he’s was again decent but no more in AAA and not very good in the majors.  A free agent after the season, he signed with Baltimore for 2012 and pitched very well in AAA but did not get promoted.    He was purchased by Oakland in early August and was awesome in 24 appearances, striking out sixteen in 19.2 innings while posting an ERA of 1.37 and a WHIP of 0.81.  Unfortunately, he could not sustain it in 2013.  He wasn't awful, but he wasn't particularly good, either.  A free agent after the season, he signed with St. Louis and was not considered to have particularly good odds of making the team.  He not only made the team, he had an awesome year, going 7-2, 6 saves, 1.87 ERA, 0.79 WHIP in 67.1 innings (71 games).  He also made his first all-star team that year.  Despite that, the Cardinals allowed him to become a free agent, and he signed with Houston for 2015.  He was very good for them for two seasons.  After the 2016 season he was traded to Philadelphia.  He continued to be very good, but as the Phillies were a long way out of the race he was traded to Colorado in late July, for whom he continued to pitch well through 2018.  He was off to a good start in 2019, but then started to struggle and was injured (or, more likely, was injured and then started to struggle).  He went on the injured list in late May and made only one appearance after that.  He became a free agent after the season and did not signed with anyone, bringing his playing career to an end.   As a Twin, Pat Neshek was 11-6, 3.05, 1.01 WHIP.  He appeared in 132 games and pitched 129.2 innings.  At last report, Pat Neshek was living in Melbourne Beach, Florida, and was continuing to pursue baseball card and autograph collecting.

Outfielder Jordan James Schafer played in sixty-eight games for the Twins from 2014-2015.  He was born in Hammond, Indiana, went to high school in Winter Haven, Florida, and was drafted by Atlanta in the third round in 2005.  He started slowly, not doing much in rookie ball in 2005 or in Class A in 2006, but broke through in 2007, hitting .372 in low A and .294 in high A, where he spent most of the season.  He had a solid year in AA in 2008 and started 2009 as the Atlanta Braves' starting center fielder.  He didn't hit, however, and was sent to AAA in June, where he played in only nine games before getting hurt and missing the rest of the season.  He did nothing in the minors in 2010 and wasn't doing much in 2011 when he was promoted to Atlanta and made the starting centerfielder again in late May.  He hit better than he'd done in 2009, but not a lot better, and was traded to Houston in a deadline deal in late July.  He spent a month in AAA and then became the starting centerfielder for the Astros, where he continued to not hit much.  He was still the starter in 2012, but still didn't hit, and lost the job in early August.  He was waived after the season and went back to Atlanta, this time as a reserve.  He hit a little better in that role, but was doing nothing in 2014 when he was waived again and selected by Minnesota in early August.  He was the Twins starting left fielder the rest of the season and had the best stretch of his career, hitting .285 with an OPS of .707.  That was enough to convince the Twins to keep him around for the start of the 2015 season, but he went back to being who he had been, batting only .217 in 69 at-bats before being released in mid-June.  He did not sign with anyone the rest of the season, but signed with the Dodgers in 2016 with the idea of becoming a pitcher.  He appeared in thirty-nine minor league games, mostly in relief at AA.  It was kind of a mixed bag:  his ERA was 3.91, but his WHIP was 1.45.  On the other hand, he did strikeout 57 batters with only 18 walks in 48.1 innings.  A free agent after the season, he signed with St. Louis for 2017.  He injured his elbow, though, and appeared in only thirteen minor league games, all as an outfielder or DH.  In 2018, however, he signed with the Giants and returned to pitching, appearing in seven games in AAA.  He was released in early June and his playing career came to an end.  His numbers as a Twin (in 199 at-bats) were .261/.313/.327.  At last report Jordan Schafer owned Athletic Performance Factory in Highland, Indiana.

Shortstop Andrelton A. Simmons came to the Twins for the 2021 season.  He was born in Mundo Nobo, Curacao, attended Western Oklahoma State College, and was drafted by Atlanta in the second round in 2010.  He hit fairly well in the low minors, was considered an excellent defender, and made the jump from AA to the majors in early June of 2012.  With the exception of some rehab assignments, he has been there ever since.  He did not bring his bat with him to Atlanta--an average of .256 with an OPS of .666 with the Braves, but he did bring his glove, winning two Gold Gloves.  He even finished fourteenth in MVP voting in 2013 despite batting just .248.  He was traded to the Angels after the 2015 season, and while he wasn't exactly Cal Ripken he did improve with the bat, posting an average of .281 with an OPS of .722 for them.  He also received two more Gold Gloves and more MVP consideration, finishing eighth in 2016 and fifteenth in 2017.  He was a free agent after the 2020 season and signed with Minnesota.  He has posted the worst offensive numbers of his career in 2021, batting .220/.284/.275 at this writing.  In his prime, he had a little pop in his bat, but that seems to have disappeared--he hit fourteen homers in 2017 and eleven in 2018, but only ten in the last three seasons combined.  He turns thirty-two today and will be a free agent after the season.  One suspects he will sign with someone for 2022, but it seems doubtful that it will be Minnesota.

Right-hander Aaron Allan Slegers appeared in eight games for the Twins from 2017-2018.  He was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, attended Indiana University--Bloomington and was drafted by Minnesota in the fifth round in 2013.  He was outstanding in just 19 innings for Elizabethton that season.  He was fairly good for Cedar Rapids in 2014 and did very well for Fort Myers in 2015, although he struggled in six starts in Chattanooga that season.  He was much better for Chattanooga in 2016 and had a fine season for Rochester in 2017.  He made four appearances for the Twins, one in August and three in September--the first was good, the others not so much.  In 2018 he again pitched well in Rochester but again not so well in Minnesota in four appearances.  The Twins waived him after the season, and he was claimed by Pittsburgh, but the Pirates sold him to Tampa Bay just before the 2019 season.  He spent the year in AAA other than one game in the majors in August.  He has made eleven appearances for the Rays in 2020 and did quite well.  The Rays were not particularly impressed, however, and traded him to the Angels in the off-season for "unknown compensation".  He began 2021 in the majors and started quite well, but got progressively worse.  He has spent most of the last three months in the minors and has not done well there, either, making one wonder if he might be trying to pitch through an injury.  As a Twin, he was 1-2, 5.90, 1.28 WHIP in 29 innings.  He turns twenty-nine today.  It's still possible that he could have a decent major league career, but the chance of it happening is getting smaller.