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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Third Basemen

25 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – Now Available as an e-book for $6.99 by clicking here. You can, of course, still get the print version for $13.99 by clicking here

We have looked at the catchers and the first basemen in the Twins organization the past two days. Today, I’ll be looking at the third basemen. Again, the purpose of this series is two-fold (if not more). First, it’s a look at the depth at or near the big leagues. Second, it’s a glance at the depth at the position throughout the system. You can find out who might be coming up to the Twins if there is a need, and you can find out who the prospects to watch might be.

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Danny Valencia (Luke Hughes, Jamey Carroll)

2011 was a difficult year for Valencia. In the first half, his numbers struggled thanks to a lot of at-‘em balls. His high BABIP in his rookie season was evened up by his low BABIP in his sophomore season. He can hit, and hitting in the bottom third of the lineup, he will succeed. His defense wasn’t as good in 2011 as 2010 either. More disturbing, he was the player blamed most by the manager, which makes no sense. I expect a solid season out of Valencia in 2012, maybe somewhere along the lines of .280/.340/.450 with 30+ doubles and 12-15 home runs. As I’ve pointed out before, I won’t be even a little surprised if Ron Gardenhire says that Sean Burroughs is competition for a starting job. Burroughs will get plenty of at bats in spring training though. And Luke Hughes, who is out of options, should again receive plenty of at bats and time in the field at three infield positions including 3B. Jamey Carroll is really a middle infielder, but some seem to think he might be a 3B option as well. I can’t see that.  

Rochester Red Wings

Sean Burroughs. Ray Chang

Burroughs was once one of baseball’s top prospects, then struggled, then got into drugs and alcohol. But he had a nice comeback season last year that saw him reach the big leagues for the first time since 2006. He did a nice job as a pinch hitter for Arizona. He is known as a very good defensive third baseman, which bodes well for him. He has also shown the ability to hit for average. I really believe that although he likely isn’t in direct competition with Valencia for a starting job, he is likely going to be battling Luke Hughes and maybe Tsuyoshi Nishioka for the final bench spots. With Trevor Plouffe also likely on the bench many nights, Gardy may find it important to have a left-handed bench bat.

Ray Chang made a very good impression last year in spring training. He went to New Britain and played well. He was promoted to Rochester where he played even better, hitting 3rd many games for them. Unfortunately, he broke his fibula and missed almost two months. He will likely get time at 3B and at SS for the Red Wings.

New Britain Rock Cats

Deibinson Romero, Michael Hollimon

Romero was once considered a very good, high ceiling prospect. Following a injury-riddled season in Beloit, the Twins added him to the 40-man-roster. He struggled and was removed from the 40-man-roster a year later. Many questioned his work ethic, but he responded in 2011 with a solid year in AA. He could have become a free agent after the 2011 season, but he quickly resigned with the Twins.

Likewise, the Twins and Hollimon quickly agreed that he would return to the Twins rather than enter free agency. Between New Britain (97 games) and Rochester (29 games), he hit 19 doubles and 18 home runs. He primarily played 2B and LF but also go some time at the hot corner. The Twins drafted him in the 49th round in 2003 but he didn’t sign. In 2008, he got 25 plate appearances with the Tigers. He had six hits, including two doubles, a triple and a home run.

Ft. Myers Miracle

Anderson Hidalgo, Jairo Perez

Hidalgo has been in the organization since 2006. He has moved up one level each year and was with the Miracle last year. His .274 batting average was the lowest of his career. In 2010, he was the only Beloit Snappers player to hit over .300 (.316). He has an unorthodox swing at the plate that many wonder if it will adapt as he moves up the ladder. Defensively, he’s a little below average.

Jairo Perez seemingly came out of nowhere last year. He spent the first two months of the year in Extended Spring Training, but after joining the Snappers in mid June, he hit .337/.413/.580 with 20 doubles and 15 home runs. He had missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery. He primarily played 3B but also played a few games at 2B. He is a little guy who takes a monstrous swing. He is not fast and his range is limited, so 3B is a better option.

Beloit Snappers

Miguel Sano, Roy Larson, Adam Bryant

I think most Twins fans have heard pretty much everything about Miguel Sano. He is the consensus top prospect in the Twins farm system. He got the big signing bonus. He draws comparisons to Miguel Cabrera and other great power bats in the game. He had a lot of errors last year in Elizabethton at both shortstop and third base, but he can flat-out hit. He hit .292/.352/.627 with 18 doubles, seven triples and 20 home runs in 66 games for the E-Twins. His power potential is off charts. The Twins are typically patient with their young prospects’ development. The same should be true of Sano. As much as his offensive game is advanced, there are more aspects of the game that he needs to work on. He needs to make more contact. He needs to run the bases better. And he needs to play better defense and just mature, in general. I would expect him to spend the whole season at Beloit.

Adam Bryant was the team’s 9th round pick just last year, and as a four-year college senior, he signed quickly and was sent to Beloit where he held his own. He played all three infield positions and was solid with the bat. He’s a solid, all-around player who will likely advance as a utility player. The Twins signed Larson out of the University of St. Thomas. He’s 6-6 and struggled in E-Town, but he has very quick hands and bat speed. He can play both corner infield spots. Due to his age (he’s 24), he’ll likely have to advance through the lower levels quickly.

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Travis Harrison, Javier Pimentel

It will be interesting to see where Harrison and Pimentel will play in 2012. The assumption is that both will go to Extended Spring Training. Harrison was the team’s supplemental first-round pick in 2011 out of high school in California. He has a bunch of power potential and some believe that he could also become an all-around hitter. Pimentel was signed in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic for about a $700,000 signing bonus. He split the 2011 season between the Dominican Summer League and the GCL. I think he would likely head to the GCL again, but he has very good potential as well. Signed as a shortstop, he already spent most of his time at third base in 2011.

TOP THREE PROSPECTS

1.)    Miguel Sano, 2.) Travis Harrison, 3.) Jairo Perez

SUMMARY

Third base is Danny Valencia’s for the near-term. Sean Burroughs provides some quality depth. This would be a position where the Twins are quite strong at the lower levels (with Sano, Harrison and Pimentel), but there is not much help above Beloit for 2012, at least not anyone that would have any long-term potential. We’ll need to wait until at least 2014 to see Sano (and that’s only if he advances on the Joe Mauer path), and Harrison and Pimentel are likely 2016 arrivals. Will Sano be able to stick at 3B? How will Valencia fare through his pre-arbitration and arbitration years? 

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

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Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year

6 Sep

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Note – Listen to last night’s final episode of Twins Minor League Weekly where Travis Aune and I talked about everything throughout the Twins minor league season. We discussed our choices as top players for each team and in the organization, how each team did, and much, much more. Check it out here!

As games finished on Labor Day in the Twins minor league system, the Twins minor league season came to an end. New Britain had an opportunity to make the playoffs had Reading lost and the Rock Cats won. Unfortunately, the R-Phillies won their game. The Elizabethton Twins were the lone playoff team in the organization, although they lost in the first round. It was a disappointing season in the Twins farm system. However, there are a lot of guys who had very good seasons. Today, I’ll present for you my choices for the Twins Minor League Hitter, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher of the Year in three separate blog entries. We will start with the Relief Pitchers. Feel free to debate them, or ask any questions you may have in the Comments section:

Starting Pitcher of the Year

There were a lot more good hitters up for Hitter of the Year consideration, or at least mention, than there were pitchers this year. There will be more of a countdown.

#10 – Aaron Bates – Rochester Red Wings (.316/.408/.439, with 23 doubles, 7 HR, 37 RBI)

Didn’t even sign with the Red Wings until May, but played well throughout the season.

#9 – Oswaldo Arcia – Beloit Snappers/Ft. Myers Miracle (.291/.335/.531, with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 13 HR, 51 RBI)

Missed a month with elbow surgery, but came back and moved up to Ft. Myers. Great power to all fields. Very quick bat.

#8 – Michael Gonzales – Beloit Snappers (.289/.371/.468, with 27 doubles, 1 triple, 15 HR, 76 RBI)

Consistent performance in his second season with Snappers. Lost 30+ pounds, and his bat speed was much improved.

#7 – Chris Parmelee – New Britain Rock Cats (.287/.366/.436, with 30 doubles, 5 triples, 13 HR, 83 RBI)

2006 top pick finally gets that big league promotion today. He had a very solid, consistent season with the Rock Cats. He also improved his defense at 1B while still occasionally playing in RF.

#6 – Yangervis Solarte – New Britain Rock Cats (.329/.367/.466, with 36 doubles, 3 triples, 7 HR, 49 RBI)

The 24-year-old Venezuelan hit .300 or higher every month of the season. He also led the organization with 36 doubles.  

#5 – Miguel Sano – Elizabethton Twins (.292/.352/.637, with 18 doubles, 7 triples, 20 HR, 59 RBI)

He had just 290 plate appearances, yet I just couldn’t put him any lower on the list. Sano’s 20 home runs is third-most in Elizabethton history. His 45 extra base hits led the team. At just 18 years old, it was a remarkable season for one of the team’s brightest future stars.  

#4 – Jairo Perez – Beloit Snappers (.337/.413/.580, with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 15 HR, 60 RBI)

Perez missed the entire 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery. His 2011 season didn’t start until June, and yet when he was activated by the Snappers, he did nothing but hit the rest of the summer. Not a large man, Perez takes a huge swing and as you can see, he made a lot of contact in 2011.

#3 – Joe Benson – New Britain Rock Cats (.285/.388/.495, with 28 doubles, 4 triples, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 13 SB)

The Twins 2010 Minor League Hitter of the Year is certainly a candidate to repeat again in 2011 despite missing 4-5 weeks because of knee surgery. Benson is a remarkable athlete with tremendous power and speed. He had great range in the outfield and a very strong arm. The weak point in his game is his contact rate, which did improve significantly from 2010 to 2011. He was also promoted to the Twins and will be flying to Minneapolis on Tuesday. It would be great for him to be able to make his big league debut against his home town White Sox. Benson will be a key for the Twins in the next year or so.

#2 – Eddie Rosario – Elizabethton Twins (.337/.397/.670, with 9 doubles, 9 triples, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 17 SB)

It is hard to put a player from one of the short-season teams up this high on the list, but Rosario was the Appalachian League MVP this year and posted incredible numbers. His 21 home runs were just one shy of Paul Russo’s E-Town single-season record. He also hits for average. He has great speed. Plays very good centerfield and has a canon for an arm. The Puerto Rico high school product drafted in the 4th round just one year ago will soon turn 20. After five homers in June and six homers in July, Rosario hit ten home runs in August. It will be interesting to see how his game translates to the full season.  

Hitter of the Year – Brian Dozier – Ft. Myers Miracle (.320/.399/.491, with 33 doubles, 12 triples, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 24 SB)

Dozier was drafted as a senior out of the University of Southern Mississippi after leading his team to the College World Series. After signing, he hit .353/.417/.431 in Elizabethton. Last year, he started the season by hitting .278/.347/.338 in 39 games in Beloit. He was promoted to Ft. Myers where he hit .274/.352/.354 with 11 doubles and his first five pro home runs. It was surprising when he received an invitation to big league spring training but he made a strong showing. He returned to Ft. Myers and hit .322/.423/.472 with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs in 49 games. He then moved up to New Britain and hit .318/.384/.502 with 22 doubles, seven triples and seven home runs in 78 games. His .885 OPS led the Rock Cats (Benson was at .883). Dozier is not the fastest runner, but he stole 24 bases. He is said to have average range and an average arm, but pitchers I have talked to that have had Dozier playing behind him, love it. Dozier will be representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. He will likely receive another invitation to big league camp next year, and depending upon what other moves that Twins make in the offseason, he could make his debut with the Twins any time in 2012!

Feel free to discuss in the Comments section.

Minor League Scoreboard (Perez, Benson, Wimmers and More)

27 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Here are the scores and highlights from the last two days of Twins minor league baseball:

Rochester Red Wings

On Tuesday, the Red Wings topped the Louisville Bats 11-3. Liam Hendriks started and gave up all three runs (on 5 hits) in the first inning. On the game, he went six innings and gave up just those three runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out three. Brian Dinkelman went 3-5 with his 20th double. Aaron Bates was 2-4 with a walk and his 15th double. Rene Rivera and Dustin Martin were each 2-5 with a double.

On Wednesday, it was a pitcher’s duel between the Red Wings and the Bats. Andy Baldwin started and threw five shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked two and struck out one. Jake Stevens threw two scoreless innings. Kyle Waldrop got the final eight outs for the win. Denard Span went 2-5 with a double and a stolen base. He played nine innings. Aaron Bates went 2-4 with his 16th double. Chase Lambin went 2-5.  

New Britain Rock Cats

Tuesday night, the Rock Cats lost 5-4. Dennys Suarez started and gave up five runs on seven hits. In seven innings, he walked four and struck out six. Brett Jacobson threw two scoreless innings. Deibinson Romero was 2-4 with his 17th and 18th doubles. Joe Benson was 2-4. Michael Hollimon hit his 11th homer.

The Rock Cats had a double header on Wednesday. In the first game, the teams needed 11 innings to decide a winner. The Rock Cats won 7-6 when Chris Parmelee singled in Deibinson Romero with the game-winner. Joe Benson went 4-5 with a walk, his 21st double, 8th home run and three RBI. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with two walks and his fifth home run. Brian Dozier, Nate Hanson and Deibinson Romero went 2-5 on the day. Romero hit his 19th double. Andrew Albers started and gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk in 4.1 innings. He struck out five. Dakota Watts then gave up two run on four hits and a walk in 2.2 innings. He struck out four. Deolis Guerra struck out three in three scoreless innings. Tyler Robertson struck out two in a perfect innings.

The second game did not go well for the Rock Cats. They lost 17-3 to New Hampshire. Bobby Lanigan gave up 11 runs (6 earned) on 14 hits in 2.2 innings. Spencer Steedley gave up just one hit over the next 2.1 innings. Infielder Chris Cates threw the final two innings. He gave up six runs on four hits and four walks. He did strike out two. Brian Dozier went 3-4. Joe Benson was 2-3. Michael Hollimon hit his 12th home run.

Following the games, Albers was sent back to Ft. Myers. David Bromberg was activated from the Disabled List.

Mark Dolenc Report – On Monday, Dolenc went 4-5 with a double, triple and the game-winning hit in the Rock Cats big extra inning win over New Hampshire. In the three games since then, he is 0-7. On the season, he is now hitting .279/.333/.357 with ten doubles, four triples and two homers. He has 16 stolen bases as well.

Ft. Myers Miracle

On Tuesday, the Miracle lost a 2-1, 11 inning game to Tampa. They managed just six hits, and Aaron Hicks had two of them. Jhon Garcia started and gave up just one run on six hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five. Matt Hauser threw three scoreless innings before allowing the winning run in the 11th inning.

Angel Morales was activated, and Ramon Santana was released.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Miracle lost 6-1 to Tampa. Miguel Munoz came off of the Disabled List and made his first start since April. Unfortunately, he left after recording just one out and giving up five runs on five hits and a walk. He left the game injured. He had been rehabbing an elbow injury, so obviously best wishes to him as he finds out what’s going on and needs to be done. Edgar Ibarra went 4.2 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out three. Alex Wimmers threw the final four innings. He gave up one run on four hits. He walked none and struck out two. James Beresford went 2-3 with a walk. Oswaldo Arcia, Josmil Pinto and Nick Romero each doubled.

Aaron Hicks is in a bit of a slump. He is now 2-31 in his last eight games.

Beloit Snappers

The Snappers had the day off on Tuesday. The day off did wonders for their bats as the Snappers won 21-8 over Burlington. Jairo Perez was the star in this one. He went 4-5 with a walk, his 11th double, 10th and 11th home runs and eight RBI. Not a bad week’s worth in one game. Michael Gonzales went 3-4 with his 19th double. Wang-Wei Lin went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth homer. Reggie Williams went 2-6 with his second double and second home run. Danny Santana went 2-5 with a walk and his 22nd stolen base. Andy Leer was 2-6. Ryan O’Rourke started and gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out five. Blayne Weller struck out two in two scoreless innings. Nelvin Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 inning and hit a double. Ben Tootle pitched the final inning and gave up four runs on four hits and a walk.

Elizabethton Twins

The E-Twins beat Burlington 6-4 on Tuesday. Tim Shibuya gave up two runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings. He didn’t walk any and struck out five. Steven Evans got one out (and walked one). Matt Summers got the final out of the 7th. Then Madison Boer gave up two runs on two hits and two walks. He struck out two in his two innings. Max Kepler was 2-3 with his first triple. Eddie Rosario was 2-5 with his 5th triple. Miguel Sano went 2-4.

The E-Twins had a day off on Wednesday.

GCL Twins

The team was postponed by rain on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the team lost 5-2 to the Rays. They managed just six hits. Candido Pimentel and Dereck Rodriguez each went 2-5. Hein Robb went the first four innings and gave up only an unearned run on five hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out three. Kyle Wahl gave up an unearned run in his two innings. Markus Solbach then gave up just one hit in two scoreless innings. Luis Nunez struck out two in two scoreless innings. Marcus Limon gave up three runs (2 earned) on two hits and a walk in two innings.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Live from Beloit: Game 2 (and, another Twins minor league no-hitter)

17 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Seriously, it may just be me. Maybe I am bad luck for the Snappers? Is it possible? I have now been to four Snappers games in the past two years and the team has gone 0-4 when I am there after last night’s 5-2 loss at the hands of the West Michigan White Caps.

This game was really about one bad inning, and a play that is rarely seen. Manuel Soliman started for the Snappers and really pitched well through four innings. He gave up a game-starting single but had no problems in the first inning. He pitched a perfect second inning. He got a double-play to end the third inning with just three batters faced. In the fourth inning, he gave up only a two-out single. He looked great. He was throwing hard. He was throwing strikes. He got a couple of great plays behind him. And then came the fifth inning. It started with a double and was followed by a run-scoring single. Then Danny Santana mis-played a ball at shortstop to set up a situation with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. The Snappers set up the bunt defense. The batter bunted it back at Soliman, who fielded it, turned and fired a strike to 3B. Unfortunately, 3B Adam Bryant had charged in on the bunt and no one was covering 3B. The ball rolled all the way down the 3B line to the wall where Reggie Williams fielded it and got it in. However, the two base runners had scored and the batter got to 3B. Clearly flustered, Soliman stopped his delivery on the next pitch for a balk to score that runner. Catcher Jhonatan Arias did all he could to help calm Soliman. Afte a flyout, he gave up two weak singles before getting the final two outs on a weak grounder to 1B and a strikeout. Amazingly, Soliman went back out for the 6th inning. He gave up a home run on the first pitch of the sixth frame, but he followed with a strikeout and two easy outs.

Sam Spangler came in for his second appearance with the Snappers and he got all six batters that he faced out including striking out the side in the 8th inning. Michael Tonkin came in for the 9th and looks like a different pitcher than he did a year ago when he was starting. He struck out three in the inning with a single in between. The Snappers managed just four hits and a walk in the game. Danny Ortiz had two of them.

Most of the hitters that started on Friday night started on Saturday night as well. The changes were that Jhonatan Arias replaced Tobias Streich behind the plate and Reggie Williams started in left field in place of Derek McCallum. But there were several changes. On Friday night, Jairo Perez played 3B, Adam Bryant played SS and Danny Santana played 2B. On Saturday night, Perez played 2B, Bryant played 3B and Santana played shortstop. Also, on Friday night, Danny Ortiz played right field, Lance Ray played at 1B and Michael Gonzales was the DH. On Saturday night, Ray moved out to right field, Gonzales played 1B and Ortiz was the DH.

So, although I wrote notes on many of these players yesterday, here are my thoughts following the second game of those that played:

  • Wang-Wei Lin – He was 1-4, and the hit was a two-out bloop single to give the Twins their first run. He does take solid at bats and has a good, line drive swing. However, I really think that he is a solid defensive centerfielder. He gets really good jumps on the ball and covers a lot of ground. In BP, he actually showed some power.
  • Adam Bryant – Bryant has really impressed me. Without knowing the background, I do have to wonder why he was still around in the 9th round of this year’s draft. In this game, he grounded out to short and struck out looking twice. He also worked the only walk on the game, although that was a four-pitch walk. He did a nice job at 3B. He definitely fits that Twins mold. In the 7th or 8th inning, he dove for a soft liner in the 3B coach’s box that he had no chance to catch. He must have done something to a finger because he kept the glove off of his hand except literally when the pitch was being delivered. But, he stayed in the game. He has good speed and range at both of those infield spots. In batting practice, it is line drive after line drive from gap to gap.
  • Jairo Perez – 0-4 with two groundouts to short and two strikeouts, but man, he is fun to watch. He takes a big swing at all times. He can catch up to fastballs, but clearly struggles on breaking pitches. That said, just visually it appears that he can adjust. He did alright at 2B, although I don’t think he’d be a gold-glover. One bouncer, he should have either sat bat for a big hop or charged it for a short hop. He got a middle hop and played it like a 3B, just knocked-it-down, picked it up and threw out the runner by a ½ step. But he made most of the plays. Definitely looks like a 3B though.
  • Michael Gonzales – He was also 0-4. He had a deep fly to center field in his first at bat. In his second bat, he hit a high, towering shot that the right fielder caught at the fence. He grounded into a 3-6-3 double play, but although he isn’t fast by any means, he is no longer plodding along. Defensively, he did a nice job at 1B. He had to pick a couple of short-hops, and his 6-6 height allowed him to make a very nice jumping catch down the line. Could he move up to Ft. Myers? Probably. But I also think it’s good that he just stay in Beloit and (hopefully) continue to succeed rather than get pushed too much.
  • Lance Ray – Ray was 1-3 with a double. The double was absolutely crushed off the base of the wall in right field. The guy just has a great swing. He’s not big but he has big power. He can impress in batting practice, but he doesn’t consider himself any type of hitter. Travis and I talked to him before the game, and he said he knows he has some power but doesn’t consider himself a power hitter. He does hit line drives from gap to gap and sometimes he’ll get one. (Note – again, he may be just humble too because he did crush that opposite field bomb the night before.) He played right field in this game and did a solid job out there. But again, not a lot of opportunities.
  • Daniel Ortiz – Ortiz DHd in this game, so I nothing more to report on his defense. But he can hit. He went 2-3. In the fourth inning, he hit a double one pitch after Ray’s double. Like Ray, he crushed it and it hit the base of the wall in right field nearly exactly to the same spot as Ray’s. He added another solid single through the right side of the infield. He has had some base running issues. On Friday night, he was doubled up at 1B on a fly out to center field. On Saturday after reaching second base late in the game, he was picked off (easily). He’s not slow, but he also isn’t real fast.
  • Reggie Williams – In Williams first game back with the Snappers, he was 0-3. He made the plays he could in left field, although he didn’t have any difficult ones. His first at bat ended with a fly-out to right, but it was after an eight-pitch at bat. He popped up to first base and struck out in his other at bat. He works hard. He’s taken extra swings each day. Everyone loves the guy, so you hope that he can adjust and turn that work into some line drives in the box score. He’s willing to play anywhere in the field.
  • Jhonatan Arias – Arias was 0-3 with two strikeouts, but he can hit a very impressive long foul ball too! He has a nice swing. Defensively, he does a nice job catching. He has a good, but not great arm, and he clearly is still working on the throwing portion of the game.
  • Danny Santana – Speed. Speed and more speed. It is easy to see that Santana has some serious upside. In the second inning, he went far to his left on a ground ball up the middle. He fielded it in short center field, spun and threw a rocket to 1B for an out. Two innings, later, he couldn’t decide whether to stay back or charge a ground ball (with a runner on 1B, he probably should have charged) and ended up booting it. So defensively, we’ve seen the great and the not at all great. But he does have a very strong arm and good range. In his first at bat, he hit a line drive past a diving 2B and turned it into an easy double. He struck out in his next two at bats. One wasn’t so bad, and the other one was ugly.
  • Manuel Soliman – Take away the bad bunt play mentioned above, and I was very impressed with Soliman. He does throw hard. He didn’t walk anyone. He was mainly a fastball pitcher. He occasionally threw a changeup, and a couple were good, but that pitch will need to improve. He threw very few sliders, and a couple of them were really, really good. But again, it is a work-in-progress. Basically, it appears that he is succeeding at this level with one really good pitch, solid control and two pitches that have a long way to go. That’s the reality of now, but it’s exciting because if he can add those two pitches, he could be really, really good.
  • Sam Spangler – Left-hander, threw hard, and had a good breaking ball. In his first inning of work, he got a soft liner to 1B, a line out to right field, and a weak ground ball. Then he struck out the side in the 8th inning. One of them came on a very impressive slider that Arias knocked down and threw to first base for the out. The others came on a very good strikeout.
  • Michael Tonkin – Last year, he threw an OK fastball and a good curveball as a starter when I saw him. This year, he is in the bullpen, and it looks like he is throwing harder. He also gets more movement in it. He struck out the three batters he got out and made a couple look silly. The single that he gave up was on a fastball that was tailing away from a left handed hitter who just put it into play and hit it softly into left field.

Travis and I got to the ball park at about 3:15 for the 7:00 game. We went in and were able to watch the Snappers work, and wow, did they work! The bullpen pitchers were running and playing some catch. Adrian Salcedo and BJ Hermsen were playing a lot of long toss. Friday’s starter Ryan O’Rourke and today’starter AJ Achter just threw a little from close range. When that was done, they all went and did the stretchy bands and other agility drills. The catchers were working really hard on footwork and on quick releases. They then went on the infield and used that training on throws to 2B. The infielders and outfielders stretched, ran some, threw, used stretchy bands and agility work. Then, I watched one of the most extensive rounds of PFP with bunts, ground balls, pickoff plays and so much more. It was really quite an impressively run thing. At that point, the Snappers took their normal batting practice. Again, Paul Molitor, Joel Lepel, Bill Springman and Erik Rasmussen were all there and working hard with the various groups. Meanwhile Terry Ryan sat in the bleachers jotting notes and observing. There were quite a few scouts in attendance on this night and many of them took time to spend a minute with Ryan.

Following batting practice, we were able to get five minutes or so with some of the Twins players. First, we spent time with Ben Tootle, the hard-throwing reliever who had surgery on his rotator cuff last year. He was terrific and was happy to discuss his rehab and where he is and where he wants to get and more. Next, we talked to Lance Ray about his time at Kentucky, his slow start and how he turned it around and the goals for the rest of the season. Finally, BJ Hermsen answered our questions about his pitches, being back in the Midwest League after spending about six weeks there last year, and what he continues to look to improve. Hermsen’s work-ethic has been very evident these past two days, so I asked some questions about that as well. Following one of the innings, Manuel Soliman was walking toward the clubhouse, but he came over to me and shook my hand and said hi and thanks for coming. So, that was very neat.

Reggie Williams was sent back to Beloit from Ft. Myers. He went to a batting cage under the LF line bleachers and did some tee-work. I watched a bit and then we talked for awhile. Before getting too far into the discussion, he asked me if I was still doing my shows and the blog and all that. People rave about what a tremendous person that Williams is. He wasn’t getting at bats in Ft. Myers, so the move to Beloit makes sense. He’ll likely play all over the field, but maybe mostly splitting time in LF with Derek McCallum.

Before the game, we headed out to our section. We were located in the All-You-Can-Eat section. What an absolutely amazing deal for fans! For $30 ($25 if you order ahead), you can sit down the right field line in a picnic table area, and you can eat, as you would guess, all you want. There were hot dogs, brats and hamburgers. There were chips, peanuts and much, much more. You could drink pop, water or even more adult beverages. It is an incredible deal for anyone, but especially for groups of any number.

Following the game, the Snappers promotion was a second straight night with a fireworks display. The shows are really incredible compared to other fireworks shows I’ve been at. It’s a great promotion and I do believe that a lot of fans are there for that reason.

As we were leaving, there were still autograph hounds waiting for players from both teams to leave the clubhouse. I saw Ryan O’Rourke and introduced myself. Remember yesterday when I wrote about his incredible intensity when he is pitching? Well, in person on a day he didn’t pitch, he is just the opposite. Very cordial, very friendly and it was a nice five minute discussion about his outing and his pitches and such.

Travis and I will be at Pohlman Field for the Snappers/West Michigan game at 2:00. There are heat warnings so it should be interesting. Following the game, we will take off and head to the Twin Cities. It will be a late night, so I can’t promise a blog on Monday. However, on Sunday night at ten, there will be an episode of the SethSpeaks.net Sunday Night Twins podcast in some form. Then Travis and I will host another Twins Minor League Weekly on Monday night at 10 and likely discuss the trip and the Snappers much more. So be sure to listen to those shows.

Finally, a huge thank you again to Jeff Vohs, the GM of the Snappers and Justin Waters in media relations for being incredibly friendly and hospitable to us while we’ve been here. We will try but really can’t put into great words just how cool the fan experience is at Pohlman Field and also watching the Snappers. These guys work incredible hard and deserve a ton of credit. And again, I do encourage Twins fans to head to Beloit for a couple of games if you are able to. It’s well worth it.

Here is the Saturday Minor League Scoreboard, starting with the second combined no-hitter in the Twins system in the last few weeks:

Elizabethton beat Greeneville 6-0 last night, and the story completely is the pitching. Tim Shibuya started and went seven no-hit, no run, no walk innings. He struck out six. Garrett Jewell pitched a scoreless inning. Steven Gruver then pitched a hitless inning including two strikeouts to complete the no hitter. The three pitchers also did not walk a single batter. It was not a perfect game because the E-Twins had three errors (two catcher’s interference, and a Miguel Sano error), and also hit one batter. Sano went 2-4 with his fifth triple. Eddie Rosario hit his fourth triple. Niko Goodrum, Kennys Vargas and Matej Hejma each hit a double. Shibuya improves to 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA for the E-Twins.

The Rochester Red Wings beat Buffalo 4-2. Dustin Martin went 3-4 with his third triple and ninth home run. Andy Baldwin gave up one run on five hits in six innings. Dusty Hughes pitched a scoreless inning. Kyle Waldrop gave up a run on two hits in his inning. He struckout two. Jim Hoey picked up his fourth save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Carlos Gutierrez and Jeff Manship both have sore arms. Gutierrez was put on the Disabled List. Also, yes, I did here that Steve Singleton has been freed by the Twins. He was released by the team and I think it is completely unfortunate, of course. It actually tells me quite a bit, but hopefully Singleton will be able to find another team to give him a real chance. Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise in some way. Obviously you know I wish Steve nothing but the best!

New Britain beat Portland 5-4. Dennis Suarez gave up four runs on five hits in 6.2 innings. Spencer Steedley struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Then Matt Schuld came in to protect the one-run lead. He struckout three (and walked one) to earn his first save. Nate Hanson went 2-5 with his seventh double. Evan Bigley was 2-5 with his 23rd double and his fifth stolen base. Mark Dolenc was 2-4 with his 14th steal. The Rock Cats had six stolen bases in the game.

Ft. Myers lost 7-4 to Daytona. Jhon Garcia gave up five runs (4 earned) on ten hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. Clinton Dempster gave up two runs on five hits in 2.1 innings. Steve Liddle went 2-4 with a home run. Nick Romero went 2-4 with his 14th double and third stolen base.

The GCL Twins lost 5-3 to the GCL Red Sox. Bobby O’Neill gave up three runs (2 earned) on four hits in three innings. He struck out three times. Mark Trau got one out and walked one before Marcus Limon came in and gave up two runs over the next 2.2 innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four. Cole Johnson struckout three in two scoreless innings. The GCL Twins managed just four hits. Aderlin Mejia went 1-3 with a walk.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

Live from Beloit: Game 1

16 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

You may have heard that Travis Aune, my co-host on Twins Minor League Weekly and the blogger at Travis Twins Talk, and I were heading to Beloit, Wisconsin, this weekend to see three games of the Beloit Snappers, the Twins Low Class A affiliate. A year ago, I was able to make the trek with Josh Johnson of Josh’s Thoughts and really enjoyed it, so I am totally looking forward to this trip as well. Sure, BJ Hermsen threw great again on Wednesday, and Adrian Salcedo pitched well on Thursday, so we won’t see them, but that doesn’t mean that there is no one here to watch. There is still plenty of talent, and you never know which of these guys will be competing for a spot with the Twins in coming years. Since I write the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, co-host two episodes each week of Twins Minor League Weekly and generally focus on the Twins minor leagues, it’s great for me to get to Beloit and see these guys play.

If you’re a Twins fan and understand their philosophy of building from within, or even if you just have seen how many transactions that Twins have made between Minnesota and Rochester, you can fully understand the fun I find and the value in knowing the Twins farm system. As I can attest, box scores, stats and scouting reports are wonderful, but there is nothing like actually watching the players in person.

The Twins Triple-A affiliate is in Rochester, New York. The Double-A affiliate is in New Britain, Connecticut. The High Class A affiliate is in Ft. Myers, Florida, where they also have their GCL Twins team. Their advanced rookie league team is in Elizabethton, Tennessee. So, if you want to make a trip and spend a weekend watching Twins minor leaguers develop, make the short drive to Beloit, Wisconsin. A year ago when Josh and I went, we got to see Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales, Brian Dozier, Daniel Santana and several other prospects. Not only that, but Angels’ 19-year-old outfielder Mike Trout played for Cedar Rapids, the team the Snappers were playing. Watching him, he was head and shoulders the best player on the field. The 2011 Snappers team may not have the big name, like Hicks, this year, but they do have some talent, and later in this blog, and in subsequent blogs, I will be writing more and more about them.

I left work at noon on Thursday, and left Warroad at about 2:30. I picked up Travis in Perham at about 6:45, and we headed down to Chanhassen. We arrived there at about 10:00 and met the Twins Geek, John Bonnes, at Buffalo Wild Wings for a little bit. On Friday morning, we left Chanhassen and beat rush hour traffic. We took 94 east and basically took that to 39 south to Beloit. We arrived in Beloit by about 1:15. That was a 6 hour drive that included a stop at Perkins in Menomonie, and a Rest Area stop. So again, if you’re from the Twin Cities, it is only about a 5 ½ hour drive.

We checked into the hotel we had reservations for, the same hotel that the West Michigan team will be staying in during the upcoming series. Around 3:30, we made the short trek over to Pohlman Field, the Snappers home ballpark. There, we were introduced to the GM of the Snappers, Jeff Vohs, on the field. He was kind enough to spend a good 20 minutes talking to us, answering all out questions. As the GM of the Snappers, he wears many hats. Obviously there is the business side of things, the concession stands, the payroll, making sure everything is up and running, etc. However, he also has to do things like play meteorologist before games to help determine rainouts, or determine if a dry field should have the tarp put in it in case of rain before the next day. He helps the grounds crew during the game to drag the infield, and before the game, he’s on the tractor making sure the infield dirt is smooth as can be. He arranges for the special promotions including last night’s and tonight’s fireworks displays, and then has to be out by the fireworks when they are shot off. We joked that during his offseason, when he’s doing sales and promotions and speaking engagements and such, he’s only working 50 hours as opposed to the 80 hours he works each week during the season. At that point, we were corrected, he likely works much more than 80 hours each work during the season.

But as you know, I enjoy watching batting practice. While we are in town this weekend, minor league pitching coordinator Erik Rasmussen is also in Beloit. So is minor league hitting coordinator Bill Springman. Paul Molitor was on the field hitting ground balls, watching BP and talking to players and then he was in uniform and in the Snappers dugout during the game. Terry Ryan was also there, sitting in the stands observing all that was going on. During the game, he sat behind home plate with several other scouts, including White Sox scout Jerry Krause (who you may remember for his role in putting together those Bulls championship teams).

Last night, the Twins lost the third and final game of their three game set against South Bend by a score of 10-2. Hermsen and Salcedo had won the two previous games. Saturday through Monday, the Snappers will play three games against West Michigan. Here is the quick highlight/summary of the game we watched:

Ryan O’Rourke started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits in four innings. He walked five and struckout four. Nelvin Fuentes came in and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out two. Ben Tootle gave up one run on one hit and one walk in one inning. Bart Carter came in and the lefty gave up three runs on four hits in his innings. Finally Jose Gonzalez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame. Lance Ray led the offense. He was 2-4 with his 22nd double and ninth home run. Danny Ortiz and Daniel Santana each went 2-4.

That’s the high level, now what you really want to read, my thoughts and notes:

Ryan O’Rourke – he was a little bit more wild in this game than he has been all year. He entered the game with a miniscule 1.98 ERA, and watching him on the mound, I can understand why. First, watching him come out onto the field before the game to prepare, you can see how intense and competitive he is. When he is on the mound, he works very fast. He catches the ball from the pitcher, takes the sign and delivers. Of his five walks, one was intentional and three of them were to South Bend’s leadoff hitter, a lefty that stood right on top of home plate. He has a good fastball, and worked both sides of the plate. However, left-handed batters had absolutely no chance against O’Rourke’s slider. As I watched him, I could only think that he could almost already be a bullpen lefty up at higher levels just because of that pitch. He has a good to better-than-good fastball, and a great slider. He also threw a few changeups, but that was a pitch that needs work. If he can gain control of that change up, he can continue forward as a starter. If not, he could still have a great career as a lefty bullpen arm with two very good pitches!

Nelvin Fuentes – Completely the opposite of O’Rourke in terms of pace of the game. He walked around, took his time delivering, and looking at the fielders around him, he kind of lost them a little. He has good stuff, decent fastball, OK breaking ball, and what appeared to almost be a screw ball. He struggled though. He almost worked out of O’Rourke’s 5th inning mess, but a pitch around (or just below) the knees was called a ball. The next pitch was lined to center for a base hit and an inherited runner scored. The next batter drilled a double to the gap to score another. In his next inning, he gave up monstrous home run before getting the next two batters out. A single and another hard-hit double later, but he stranded them with a strikeout of the nine hitter. He’s had a lot of success, so I’m chalking this up to ‘one of those games’ but the pace did make it more difficult to watch.

Ben Tootle got an inning and he was all over the place. He has a high leg kick, to go with the high socks, and a motion that looks like it would be hard to know where the elbow is, where the shoulder goes and where the release point is. He didn’t have much control, but he does throw hard. He’s not a big guy. I didn’t see a breaking ball for a strike, although not many fastballs were either. He gave up a single, a walk, then got a line out before a sacrifice fly. Clearly if he can gain any control, he has a future in the bullpen.

Bart Carter – The lefty was pitching his second game for the Snappers after being promoted from E-Town where he walked two and struckout 24 in 12.2 innings. Decent fastball, rolling curveball that a couple of times broke quite sharply. If you look at his box score line (1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER), you would assume he got drilled. Not at all the case. The leadoff hitter blooped a single just over a leaping Danny Santana. The second batter reached on a rolling single that Santana went far to his left to just miss. The third batter hit a hard hopper down the 3B line that Jairo Perez made a very good play on, but had no chance at an out at any of the bases. The cleanup hitter came up and hit a bouncer hard off of the dirt in front of home plate and it bounced over the 1B head and into right field for a two run single. He then got a 1-6-3 double play and ended with a strikeout. Not a good line, but he didn’t pitch poorly at all.

Finally, Jose Gonzalez came in. Reports I got last year and wrote in the Prospect Handbook were that he was a shorter version of Jose Mijares. He is not tall. He has a little gut about him. But he is left-handed and throws hard. He throws across his body just enough to probably keep hitters uncomfortable, and he does throw pretty hard.

Wang-Wei Lin led off and I thought he looked comfortable at the plate. He took some good at bats and worked in a walk. He twice stayed back nicely and grounded out to the shortstop who also made a very nice play up the middle on one of them. One the first grounder to short, instead of running through the bag, he watched the play occur. Defensively, he is very solid in CF. He showed good range. Has a strong and accurate arm, and he’s not afraid to get his uniform dirty.

Adam Bryant batted second. He was the Twins 9th round pick just this June and did a nice job. He isn’t flashy at all, but he made the plays at shortstop and has an arm to play that position. In his second at bat, he lined a shot over the right fielder and showed very good speed racing into third for a triple. With runners on second and third in the 5th, he hit a fairly deep fly ball to right-center. Tobias Streich was on 3B and Danny Santana was on 2B. Both tagged. The CF made the catch and a perfect throw to 3B to get Santana out before Streich could touch home plate. Not really Santana’s fault for going. Took a perfect throw. Not Streich’s fault, he went hard to try to score. It didn’t turn out well, turned into a strange double play, but it was a good piece of situational hitting.

Jairo Perez played 3B and batted third. He is not a big guy, yet he has 8 home runs in his first full month with the Snappers after missing all of 2010 and the first two months of 2011 after Tommy John surgery. He walked his first plate appearance before grounding out to short the second time. He then hit a hard ground ball/line drive down the 3B line for a double. In his final at bat, he got a pitch at the letters and tomahawked the ball high into the night sky. It was caught on the warning track in very deep left field. When it left the bat, I was sure it was gone.

Michael Gonzales is still a big man. However, it is very clear that reports that he lost 30+ pounds in the offseason were accurate. He looked a little more mobile at 1B, and his swing does look vastly improved, much, much quicker than it did one year ago. In batting practice, he hit some balls a long way, and he hit a lot of line drives. He also struggled on some pitches up and popped them up which made me think that he still has some room for improvement in the bat-speed category. But it’s great to see that he’s putting up good numbers across the board. In the game, he had just one hit, a first inning line drive single to right in which he pulled a good fastball. In his third at bat, he straight down on a ball on the outer part of the plate and hit what we all assumed was a gapper to left center, but the left fielder covered a ton of ground and made a spectacular catch to rob him of an RBI double. He then walked in his final plate appearance.

Lance Ray was very impressive. He is not real big, but he has a very strong, smooth, left-handed swing. In his second at bat, he drilled a double over the right fielder’s head. In his third at bat, he took a pitch away and hit a long home run to the opposite field that hit off of the new scoreboard. That was truly impressive! In his final at bat, he hit a ball to right field that we thought was long gone, but it was caught on the warning track. He had a very impressive night at the plate. He played 1B in this game, with Gonzales DHing and looked pretty smooth over there. He also plays a lot of outfield.

Danny Ortiz, as I have mentioned many times, packs a big punch in a small body. He is not big, but he is very strong and can hit the ball a long way. In the game, he had two ground ball singles between first and second. He played right field and showed a strong arm. He looked natural out in right field, very comfortable, which is to say that he is a solid outfielder but we didn’t exactly see him have to do anything too difficult.

Derek McCallum was recently demoted from Ft. Myers. He was drafted as a 2B, but has been playing primarily outfield this year. He looked OK out in left field. Offensviely, he has a good approach at the plate. In his first at bat, he lined a shot that the left fielder caught. In his final at bat, he hit a semi-deep fly ball to center. In between, a strikeout and a pop up to 3B.

Tobias Streich is known for his defense abilities behind the plate, but most reports I’ve read said he had an average arm. He does a great job behind the plate. Nothing got by him and that included some sharp sliders in the dirt. Very impressed by his glove. However, South Bend was 5-5 on stolen base attempts in this game. That said, obviously the pitchers have something to do with that. However, the South Bend second run came when a runner stole third and Streich’s throw sailed into left field. But again, he did a great job behind the plate and seemed to really work well with the pitchers. His trips to the mound seemed very well timed.  

Danny Santana is really, really fast. He also looks very solid at second base. He has a lot of range and he has a cannon for an arm and he seems to like showing it off. With a 2-4 night last night, he got his OBP over .300 again. In his first at bat, he laid down a perfect drag bunt down the first base line. He was caught stealing soon after, but the catcher’s throw was right on the bag and it was still close. He was another who was robbed by the South Bend left fielder (Chris Jarrett) on a liner. His last at bat, he grounded out to 2B and it was a close play. Santana has a ton of tools. He definitely is taking better at bats than when I saw him play his first game with the Snappers last year and he swung at everything.

So there you have it. Some pretty detailed game notes and things that I noticed. Again, I don’t claim to be a scout by any means, but it is pretty neat to be able to make your own evaluation of these players that we see in box scores.

The post-game fireworks display was very impressive! It may be worth the 5 ½ hour from the Twin Cities for just that. Tonight’s game is at 7:00 and we will get to see Manuel Soliman, which I am very excited about! On Sunday at 2, the Snappers will start AJ Achter against West Michigan. Come on over! There’s also a noon game on Monday!!

If you have any questions or comments on the Beloit trip, the team, etc., please feel free to e-mail me or leave Comments.

Here is the rest of the Friday night Minor League Scoreboard:

The Rochester Red Wings lost 8-4 to Buffalo. Kevin Slowey started and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. Dusty Hughes came in and got the final out of the fifth, but not before giving up two more earned runs on two hits and a walk. Cole DeVries gave up three runs on five hits in two innings. Jake Stevens pitched a scoreless ninth. Jeff Bailey went 3-5 with his 14th double and fifth stolen base. Rene Tosoni went 3-5 and threw out a runner at third base from right field. Chase Lambin was 2-5 with his 14th double. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 with his 11th double.

The New Britain Rock Cats lost 10-6 to Portland. Brett Jacobson gave up two runs on two hits in 3.1 innings. He walked one and struck out two. Blake Martin threw 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and four walks. Deolis Guerra got just two outs, and he gave up four runs on one hit, two walks and a hit batter. Tyler Robertson got the final two outs but not before giving up four more runs on three hits and a walk. Deibinson Romero was 2-4 with his sixth homer. Chris Cates was 2-4 with his sixth double. Evan Bigley notched his 22nd double, and Chris Parmelee hit his 18th double. Chris Herrmann went 1-3 with two walks and his fourth home run.

Ft. Myers needed a Miracle, and they got it in their 5-4 win over Daytona. Logan Darnell started and gave up three runs on seven hits. In 6.2 innings, he walked none and struck out seven. Brad Stillings came in and gave up one run on two hits and two walks before getting the final out of the 7th. Ricky Bowen came into the 8th inning with the bases loaded and no out, and he got a double play and a strikeout to get out of the jam. He pitched a quick ninth inning for the save. James Beresford went 2-4 with a walk, his seventh double and first stolen base. Steve Liddle went 2-4. Aaron Hicks hit his fourth homer.

Elizabethton topped Greeneville 7-0. David Hurlbut started and threw seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out five. Nick Alloway threw two scoreless innings in relief and gave up one hit and walked two. Miguel Sano went 2-5 with his fourth triple and third stolen base. Nick Lockwood went 2-4 with his eighth double. Max Kepler went 2-4 with a walk. Eddie Rosario hit his third triple.

The GCL Twins lost 7-4 to the GCL Rays. Jorge Polanco went 3-5 with his third double and first triple. Drew Leachman went 3-4. Dereck Rodriguez was 2-4 with his third double. Hein Robb started and went 3.2 innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on four hits and a walk while striking out five. Nick Cicio gave up two earned runs on four hits in 1.1 innings. Mark Trau struckout three in two scoreless innings. Gonzalo gave up one run on two hits in two innings. He struckout two.

Any other questions on the Twins minor leagues? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

SethSpeaks.net June Twins Minor League Hitters of the Month

3 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It is hard to believe that the third month of the season is now complete and it is already July. It is again time to take a look at June and determine the SethSpeaks.net June Minor League Hitter and Pitchers of the Month. As always, there are some really good options which is why I do a Top 5 for hitters and starting pitchers and the top three relievers.

Today, I’ll be posting my choice for the June Hitter of the Month. In April, the winner was Danny Ortiz of the Beloit Snappers. Last month, the selection was Ft. Myers shortstop Brian Dozier. Soon after the calendar changed from May to June, Dozier was promoted to Double-A New Britain where he got off to a fast start before being hit in the face with a pitch. He returned to action after missing less than two weeks and has been playing even better. He missed too much time to qualify for the June player of the month, but check out these number. He went 16-48, and hit .333/.418/.500 with four doubles and two triples.

Also, the Twins short-season affiliates started late in June. There were some quick starts, but with less than 45 at bats, none of the players had enough playing time to get considered for more than mention.

Before getting to the Top 5, here are some guys who just missed the subjective list:

  • New Britain – Chris Parmelee (32-99) .278/.388/.412 with three doubles, two triples, two home runs and 14 RBI.
  • Ft. Myers – Anderson Hidalgo (24-81) .296/.345/.457 with nine doubles, two homers and 9 RBI.
  • Beloit – Lance Ray (25-81) .309/.398/.407 with eight doubles, and eight RBI
  • Elizabethton – Eddie Rosario (.357/.421/.720) with two doubles, a triple, five home runs and 13 RBI.

Number 5 – Beloit – Michael Gonzales – 1B (33-101) .327/.361/.525 with 6 doubles, a triple, four home runs and 19 RBI.

Gonzales gets the #5 spot for the second straight month. He had a nearly identical OPS as he did in May, however, he went about it a different way. In May, he was a walk-machine. In June, he didn’t walk as much, but he had a terrific slugging percentage. Gonzales started in the Midwest League All Star Game. At 6-6, Gonzales had a ton of power potential, but a long, slow swing in 2010. He lost 30 pounds in the offseason and has a much quicker swing and the numbers are showing. I can’t help but wonder if he should be promoted to Ft. Myers, but we forget that the 23-year-old spent just one year in junior college before the Twins drafted him in the 9th round of the 2008 draft. It will be good to see if he can continue to put up numbers throughout the second half.   

Number 4 – Rochester – Dustin Martin – OF (34-105) .324/.408/.533 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers and 14 RBI.

In 2009, Martin posted a .670 OPS in his first season in Rochester. Last year, he improved that number to .733. Through half of 2011, the 27-year-old is posting a .780 OPS for the Red Wings. Martin was the 26th round pick of the New York Mets in 2006. A year later, he and Drew Butera came to the Twins in exchange for Luis Castillo. After hitting .195 in May, Martin was a force in the middle of the Red Wings lineup in June.   

Number 3 – Beloit – Jairo Perez – IF (27-68) .397/.475/.618 with three doubles, four homers and 16 RBI.

Perez signed with the Twins way back in 2006, but it would not be surprising if most Twins fans had never heard of him until this month. He spent two years in the Dominican Summer League, and then hit .217 in 2009 in the GCL. Then, he missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery. His rehab contributed to him missing the first two months of the 2011 season. He was promoted to Beloit and debuted with a 2-4 effort on June 8th. He has continued to rake ever since. He had multi-hit games in eight of his 20 games played. He walked a lot, hit for power and drove in a ton of runs. He has a .414 BABIP to this point, so it may not be maintainable, but he certain started out well for his new team.

Number 2 – Rochester – Trevor Plouffe – IF/OF (22-71) .310/.388/.648 with five doubles, two triples, five home runs and 13 RBI.

Of course, when Trevor Plouffe was Jairo Perez’s age, he was in his second season in Triple-A Rochester. Unfortunately, the 25 year old is still in Rochester. When Plouffe was sent down (And bashed by the organization) early in June, he could have sulked. Especially when he had to miss a week of games with a bad finger. Instead, he just continued to do what he had done all year, and that is destroy the baseball. He leads the organization with 15 total home runs this season. Plouffe is now playing all around the field for the Red Wings in an attempt to make him more of a utility player, a role many in the organization envisioned for him the last few years.

The SethSpeaks Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month of June is…

Ft. Myers OF Aaron Hicks (23-83) .337/.466/.530 with eleven doubles, one triple, one home run and eight RBI.

The team’s #1 prospect is also the choice for the team’s #1 minor league hitter of the month in June. Hicks has been playing very well now for the last two months, showing that he is taking his incredible tools, and they are now becoming skills. One of the reasons that he has been so highly touted, by me and others, is his ability at such a young age to take walks. He walked 20 times in June alone. In June, he knocked a lot of doubles. A perfect illustration of the type of player he is and hopefully will become was the extra innings game this month in which he went 3-3 with three walks and three doubles. Will the home run power come? I think so. He is very strong. His defense is already there. He has recorded many outfield assists this month because of his great arm. Now the key for Hicks, and for many top prospects, will be to become more and more consistent. In his first month in Hi-A Ft. Myers, he posted a .593 OPS. In May, he increased that number to .830. In June, his OPS was 996. Like his OPS, Hicks’ prospect stock continues to rise.

June was another difficult month for most hitters in the Twins system, but there were many that do deserve recognition for great play, many beyond the above list. Wait until tomorrow I post my choices for the June Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month. There are a lot of very strong options and many were considered!

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.