As everyone who watches the Twins on television on a regular basis realizes, the Twins announcers regularly do a godawful job pronouncing the names of opposing (and occasionally minor-league or recently-called-up) players. This led me to think about the potential major-leaguers of tomorrow that would wreak havoc with Dick n Bert’s commenting. I had planned to do a list based on all players in the minor leagues, but it simply was too big an undertaking, so I limited it directly to Twins minor-leaguers (I also stayed out of the DSL, as very few of those players will be seen in the majors). Here are my criteria:
- Likelihood to see the majors
- Confusion on the interwebs or TV about pronunciation and/or spelling
- How many syllables the name possesses
- How common the name is
- Whether the name is foreign-sounding
Honorable Mention – Miguel Angel Sano / Miguel Jean
I don’t include the uberprospect in the below list because no one really disputes how to pronounce his name. The problem is that no one seems to be sure what to call him. Everyone has known him as Miguel Angel Sano for the last many months, as his name was constantly in the news, but after he signed, several news outlets reported that he wanted to be known as “Miguel Jean.” No word on what to do with the “Angel.” Simply put: I expect this to all be figured out by the time he reaches the majors, but until it is…
10. Wilson Ramos
There is really only so much that DnB can do to this one. However, the likelihood that they will indeed have to figure it out is very high, as he’ll be a starting catcher for somebody someday, unless he gets injured or forgets how to hit. The DnB debate will be between “Rah-mos” and “Ray-mos.” Anyone wonder which one DnB will use? That’s right – the wrong one.
9. Santos / Henry Arias
Simply put, the number of variations on “Arias” are compelling: “Ahr-ee-ass,” “Ahr-ee-ahs,” “Ahr-eye-ass,” “Ahr-eye-ahs,” “Ahr-ee-ess,” “Ahr-eye-ess,” “Air-ee-ass,” “Air-ee-ahs,” “Air-eye-ass,” “Air-eye-ahs,” “Air-ee-ess,” “Air-eye-ess.” Frankly, if/when one of the Arias’s make it to the major leagues, I expect to sit and watch with a bingo card with each possible pronunciation in a square.
8. Adrian Salcedo
Salcedo is one of the lucky few to make the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the GCL Twins. Once there, he raked. He’s still very young and low in the minors to predict that he will make the majors, but his last name meets all my criteria above (minus the spelling controversy). Hopefully DnB have a chance to mess up his name sooner rather than later!
7. Deibinson Romero
So. I personally first saw Romero play last spring training during a nationally-televised matchup against the Boston Red Sox. During the game, the MLB.tv announcers pronounced his first name five(!) different ways. I don’t think I could have thought of five ways to pronounce his name before that broadcast. Given that DnB have trouble with names that most announcers don’t, the odds of them coming up with a sixth pronunciation are pretty good.
6. Yangervis Solarte
Just try to read the name out loud. (*Waits*). You said it wrong. The Venezuelan Solarte has a name for the ages. See “Arias” above. There is also a great potential for humorous placing of the EMphasis on the wrong syllable.
5. Ludovicus [Loek] Jacobus Maria Van Mil
Oh, silly Dutchman. Actually, he is the odds-on favorite in this list to be pronounced correctly by DnB, simply due to Bert’s status as a Dutchman himself (though he was raised in California). However, I am going to upgrade his level based on a) the oddity that is van Mil (he’s 7’1”, and would be the tallest pitcher in history if he makes the majors) and b) the high probability of bad pronunciation by every other announcer in the game. And who knows: DnB may yet surprise me.
4. Estarlin[g] de los Santos
So. Considerable controversy over how to spell de los Santos’ first name. SethSpeaks and the Twins’ official site has no “g”, but baseball-reference.com does, along with several other sites. That aside, “Estarlin” is exactly the sort of name that DnB do a great job of going out of their way to mispronounce: 3+ syllables, not common, not English. Perfect!
3. Rene Tosoni
I have no idea how to pronounce Tosoni’s first name. Is it “rehn?” “Reen?” “Renee?” I’m sure someone out there in bloggerland does, but that doesn’t mean it will transfer to DnB. National recognition after his turn as MVP in the Futures Game did nothing to resolve the confusion over how to pronounce his first name. In one segment on ESPN the day after the Futures Game, three different anchors referred to Tosoni by three different pronunciations, which was simply awesome.
2. Angel Morales
I rank Morales so high here for several reasons. First, he is extremely likely to make the majors for some team, even if not for the Twins (given the Twins’ current outfield depth, he might make eventual trade bait, not a popular idea, to say the least). However, The fact that, when DnB look at Morales’ name, they’ll see “Angel,” as in “Angels we have heard on high, falalalalalalalala.” I, for some reason, have little faith that DnB will take the effort to pronounce his name in the normal, Latino fashion: “Ahn-hel.” His last name will be pronounced wrong as well, just like Jose Morales’ name was, but I can forgive that.
1. Jan Řeháček
I’ll be entirely honest with you: I have no idea how to pronounce Jan’s name, first or last. A player out of the Czech Republic, he spent 2009 with 4 different teams. He pitched for the Konica Minolta Pioniers in the Netherlands (24 1/3 IP (18 G), 1.48 ERA, 24 K), pitched for the GCL Twins after signing in July (6 IP (4 g), 1-0, 7 K – 1 BB, 0 ER), for the Czech national team in the Baseball World Cup (4 1/3 IP, 4 K – 3 BB, 3 H), and finally for the Czech team, the Arrows Ostrava (15 1/3 IP, 1.17 ERA, 18 K). It’s hard to project a future for Jan based on his past, as he has played very little against good competition (six innings in the low minors is the definition of “small sample size”). However, I feel comfortable that if he does ever make the majors (he’s 23 now, so odds aren’t good), neither Dick nor Bert will have any luck pronouncing his name.
Thoughts? Did I miss anyone?