Happy Birthday–December 30

Frank Torre (1931)
Sandy Koufax (1935)
Jose Morales (1944)
Tom Murphy (1945)
Travis Baptist (1971)
A. J. Pierzynski (1976)
Brad Voyles (1976)
Grant Balfour (1977)
Jim Hoey (1982)

The original Jose Morales, Jose Manuel Morales Hernandez was a designated hitter for the Twins from 1978-1980. He was born in Frederiksted in the Virgin Islands, one of eighteen players from the Virgin Islands to make the major leagues. He signed with San Francisco as a free agent in 1963. It took Morales a long time to get a shot at the majors. First, he was in the Giants' system for five years, two in Class A and three in AA. There was a reason for that--he really didn't have a good year in AA until his last one, in 1968. That off-season, Oakland chose Morales in the minor-league draft. The Athletics moved him up to AAA, where he would stay for most of the next five years. He had a fine year in 1970 at AAA Iowa, hitting .306 with a .524 slugging percentage, but not only did he not get a September call-up, he was returned to AAA the next year. He had a down year in 1971, moved to the Mets' organization in 1972, and was back in AAA with Oakland in 1973. He hit .293 in 1972 and .355 in 1973, which finally got him a brief trial in the majors. Part of the problem was that he was without a defensive position--nominally a catcher, he was not considered good enough to play that position in the majors, and while he was a good batter, he lacked power, so teams were reluctant to make him a DH. He was sold to Montreal in in mid-September of 1973, and he was finally brought up to the big leagues to stay in mid-1974. Morales played for the Expos from 1975-1977 and was used primarily as a pinch-hitter, seeing only occasional duty in the field. He hit very well in that role his first two years, batting .308 in 321 at-bats. In 1977, however, he slumped to .203 in 74 at-bats, and was sold to Minnesota just before the 1978 season. Morales had three solid years for the Twins, hitting .297 with 12 homers and 101 RBIs in 674 at-bats. Morales became a free agent after the 1980 campaign and signed with Baltimore. He stayed with the Orioles for a little over a year, but was seldom used. In late April, 1982, he was traded to the Dodgers. He had two good years as a pinch-hitter, but then was released in June of 1984. Montreal signed him and sent him to AAA, but Morales was never brought back to the majors and retired after the season. After his playing career ended, Morales worked as a hitting coach for several years and was highly respected; however, he grew tired of the sometimes political nature of the job and retired, although he still occasionally works on hitting with professional ball players.  At last report, Jose Morales was living in the Orlando area.

Left-hander Travis Steven Baptist made 13 relief appearances for the Twins in 1998. He was born in Forest Grove, Oregon, attended high school in Hillsboro, Oregon, and was drafted by Toronto in the 45th round in 1990. A starter for most of his minor league career, he went through the Blue Jays' system at a rate of one level a year, reaching AAA in 1994. Then, however, he stalled, staying at AAA Syracuse for three mediocre seasons. He was chosen by Minnesota in the 1996 Rule 5 draft. Apparently, something was worked out with Toronto, because Baptist was in the minors in 1997. He had a very good year there, the first good year he'd had since 1992. He had another strong year at AAA Salt Lake in 1998, and made the majors for the last two months of the season. He pitched 27 innings for the Twins, going 0-1, 5.67 with a 1.67 WHIP. That was to be the high point of his career. Baptist got off to a poor start in 1999, went to the Boston organization, continued to pitch poorly, and was with the Pirates chain in 2000. In 2001 he went to the White Sox' system, and then pitched in independent leagues for two years before his career came to an end after the 2003 season. At last report, Travis Baptist was living in Jacksonville, Florida and doing color commentary on Jacksonville University baseball games.  He was also the president of Christ the King Athletic Association Baseball, a youth baseball program in Jacksonville sponsored by Christ the King Catholic Church.

Right-hander Bradley Roy Voyles did not play for the Twins, but he went to spring training with them in 2007. He was born in Green Bay, went to high school in Casco, Wisconsin, and attended Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, one of four major league players to attend that school. He was drafted by Atlanta in the 45th round in 1998. A reliever from the beginning, he pitched very well in the minors. In late July of 2001 he was traded to Kansas City, and after 11 scoreless appearances in AA he got a September call-up. He pitched well in 9.1 innings, started 2002 in AAA, but was called back to the majors in late April. He spent about half the season there, but did not do well in 22 appearances. He also split 2003 between AAA and the majors, pitching pretty well in AAA but not so well in the big leagues. He made some starts that season and was a starter in 2004. He was not pitching fairly well, but was released in mid-June anyway. Voyles pitched in AAA for the Yankees in 2005. He made three solid starts in AAA for St. Louis in 2006, but was released again in late May. Out of baseball the rest of the season, Voyles signed with Minnesota in early January of 2007 but did not make the Twins and pitched for the New Jersey Jackals. He pitched in the Northern League and in the Mexican League in 2008, then his playing career was over. His major league number are 0-4, 6.45, 1.86 WHIP in 40 appearances (68.1 innings), which may not sound like much but is better than most 45th round draft choices do. A few years ago, Brad Voyles was an instructor at the Dave Griffin Baseball School of Griffith, Indiana, coaching youth  baseball.  He does not, however, currently appear on that school's website, so information on what he is doing now was not readily available.

Catcher Anthony John “A. J.” Pierzynski played for the Twins from 1998-2003 and was the Twins' regular catcher for the last three of those years. Born in Bridgehampton, New York, he attended high school in Orlando, Florida. Pierzynski was drafted in the third round in 1994 by Minnesota. He hit for a good average throughout the low minors, although with little power and few walks. He struggled somewhat in his first couple of tries at AAA, hitting in the .250s, but took a big step forward in 2000, hitting .335 in 155 at-bats at Salt Lake. Pierzynski received brief call-ups in 1998-2000, getting a total of 120 at-bats, but became the regular catcher for the Twins from 2001-2003. He did in the majors pretty much what he had done in the minors, although he did also hit a good number of doubles. As a Twin, Pierzynski hit .301/.341/.447 for an OPS+ of 105 and made the all-star team once, in 2002. After the 2003 season, he was traded to San Francisco for Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan. He played one lackluster season for the Giants and then was released, signing with the White Sox. He has been the starting catcher for Chicago from 2005-2012, making another all-star team in 2006, the same year he received a tenth-place vote for MVP. He also hit double-digit home runs for seven consecutive seasons from 2003-2009. In 2012, at age 35, he had what may have been the best offensive season of his career, setting career highs in home runs (27), slugging percentage (.501) and OPS (.827) while winning a Silver Slugger award.  A free agent after the season, he signed with Texas.  He did not repeat his 2012 season, but was still a valuable player.  A free agent again, he signed with Boston for 2014 but was released in mid-July, signing with St. Louis for the rest of the season.  Once again a free agent, he signed with Atlanta for 2015, was their mostly-regular catcher, and had his best season since 2012, batting .300.  He could not repeat that in 2016, however, as he had the worst season of his career.  That brought his playing career to an end.  It was a good one, though.  His similarity scores at b-r.com show two Hall of Famers, Ernie Lombardi and Gabby Hartnett, plus guys like Benito Santiago, Yadier Molina, and Bill Freehan, which is pretty good company.  A. J. Pierzynski has been an analyst for Fox Sports since 2017.

Right-hander Grant Robert Balfour began his career with the Twins. Born in Sydney, Australia, he attended high school in Glenwood, Australia, and then signed with Minnesota as a free agent. A starter early in his minor league career, he was shifted to the bullpen in 2000. It took him a bit to make the transition, but he had a fine year in 2001 with AA New Britain, making two appearances with Minnesota that season. He struggled initially on his promotion to AAA, but had a good year there in 2003 as a sometime starter, sometime reliever, and spent about two months in the majors. He was with the Twins all of 2004, but battled injuries and pitched only 39.1 innings. He would miss most of the next two years with various injuries. The Twins gave up on him after the 2005 season, and Balfour became a free agent. He signed with Cincinnati, but appeared in only nine minor league games. Milwaukee selected him off waivers after the season, but while he pitched very well in the Brewers' minor league system, he made only three relief appearances for Milwaukee before being traded to Tampa Bay in late July of 2007. Balfour had a tremendous season in relief for the Devil Rays in 2008; he did not repeat that in 2009 (although he was still decent), but had another strong campaign in 2010. A free agent after the season, he signed with Oakland and turned in three more very good seasons from 2011-2013, becoming the Athletics' closer in 2011.  A free agent in 2014, he signed with Tampa Bay but had a poor year.  He started 2015 with the Rays, was released in late April, re-signed about a week later, and released again in late May, bringing his playing career to an end.  It was a pretty good career, though.  He appears to be something of a hero in his native Australia, having been inducted into the Baseball Australia Hall of Fame in February of 2015.  It appears that he currently divides his time between Tampa, Florida, and New South Wales, Australia.

Right-hander James Urban Hoey appeared in twenty-six games for the Twins in 2011. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, attended Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and was drafted by Baltimore in the 13th round in 2003. He pitched well in rookie ball but then started to have injury problems, making only two appearances in 2004 and nine in 2005. He was a starter through 2004, then switched to relieving. He pitched very well in Class A in 2006, not as well in AA, but was promoted to Baltimore in late August, where he did not do well in twelve appearances. He made forty excellent minor league appearances in 2007, twenty in AA and twenty in AAA, and came up to the majors for about two months, where he again did not do well. He missed all of 2008 with injury and struggled in AA in 2009, but pitched quite well in a 2010 split between AA and AAA. After the season, he was traded to Minnesota along with Brett Jacobson for J. J. Hardy, Brendan Harris, and cash.  Hoey started 2011 with Minnesota but pitched poorly and was sent back to AAA in late June.  He had a couple of decent months in Rochester and got a September call-up, pitching somewhat better but not all that impressively.  The Twins placed him on waivers after the season and he was claimed by Toronto.  He had a poor year at AAA Las Vegas, became a free agent, and signed with Milwaukee for 2013.  He pitched poorly in three AAA outings, was released, and spent the rest of the summer pitching for Somerset in the Atlantic League.  Control had not been a particular problem for Hoey prior to his 2008 injury, but it was after he came back.  He announced his retirement in February of 2014.  At last report, Jim Hoey was living in the San Francisco area and was working for Logitech G, "the global leader in PC and console gaming gear".  He also hosts an annual golf tournament to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.