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Twins Organizational Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers

6 Feb

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.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve pointed out the organizational depth charts for the Twins hitters. We’ve looked at catchers, 3B, 1B, Middle Infielders and Outfielders. Today, I’ll take a look at the starting pitchers. Now, especially as I move to the lower levels, I won’t pretend to know which players will move to the bullpen. Often, due to innings limits, some ‘starters’ will begin the season in the bullpen. Others will begin the season as starters and get moved to the bullpen later due to innings. Frankly, most of the pitchers in the lowest levels have been starters their whole lives and some will be given at least some opportunity. As we saw with Carlos Gutierrez, even guys destined for the bullpen can be given an opportunity to start to work on pitches and gain arm strength.  

That’s OK, though, because the biggest purpose of this was to provide the organization’s depth. I need to reiterate that these are just 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  

Carl Pavano (RHP), Francisco Liriano (LHP), Scott Baker (RHP), Jason Marquis (RHP), Nick Blackburn (RHP)

Gardy has announced Pavano as his Opening Day starter, an obvious choice based on last season. He’s been solid in his 2 ½ seasons with the Twins, most important he has provided a ton of innings despite an alarmingly low strikeout rate. There’s no question that Francisco Liriano has the best stuff of anyone on the staff, but if he can’t find control of his fastball, it will be another frustrating season. It is a contract season for Liriano, so the goal has to be for him to have a strong season. In 2011, Scott Baker was easily the Twins top starting pitcher. He was pitching the best he had in his career, until elbow problems curtailed his season. Nick Blackburn averaged 200 innings pitched his first two seasons while posting solid ERAs. He’s been pretty bad ever since getting the long-term contract. Unfortunately, the contract has given him many opportunities and likely will continue to do so. He misses very few bats, so we can just hope that a lot of baseballs get hit right at a defender. Many Twins fans are down on the Jason Marquis signing, and although I’m not a bit fan of the contract, he has actually had a pretty solid big league career.

Rochester Red Wings

Liam Hendriks (RHP), Scott Diamond (LHP), Aaron Thompson (LHP), Jeff Manship (RHP), Deinys Suarez (RHP)

We saw Hendriks and Diamond late in the 2011 season. Hendriks was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year and likely needs another half-season. Diamond had his moments, but overall 2011 was the first year in his career that he really struggled. He says he has made some adjustments, so we’ll see how it goes. Manship came up with the Twins and his first major league victory came on the final weekend of the 2009 season, when the Twins needed to sweep the Royals. He was supposed to be in the Twins bullpen last season, but he was hurt the entire season. He likely will pitch in the Twins bullpen, but they may have him start in Rochester first. Aaron Thompson is intriguing, at least. He will turn 25 years old later this month. He debuted with the Pirates last season, but in 7.2 innings, he gave up 13 hits, walked six and struck out just one. He has just six AAA games under his belt, and his AA career numbers are 15-37 with a 5.03 ERA in 96 games (80 starts). Deinys Suarez signed with the Twins last spring. The Cuban defector split time between New Britain and Rochester, not pitching particularly well either place.

New Britain Rock Cats

David Bromberg (RHP), Logan Darnell (LHP), Tom Stuifbergen (RHP), Marty Popham (RHP), Dan Osterbrock (LHP), Bobby Lanigan (RHP)

Bromberg’s 2011 season was unfortunately a lost season. He began the season in Twins spring training, but he went back to New Britain, had a line drive break his arm, spent a lot of time rehabbing, came back too quickly, shut it down, worked hard and then found out the Twins had removed him from the 40 man roster. However, he will be just 24 years old throughout the 2012 season, so don’t forget about him. Logan Darnell was a 2010 draft pick who started last year in Beloit and got all the way to New Britain. Stuifbergen had a solid season in Ft. Myers, had a terrific one-start showing in Rochester, and then was the pitcher of the year in the World Cup tournament that his Netherlands team won. He was then knighted in his homeland. Sir Tom Stuifbergen should spent this season with the Rock Cats. Dan Osterbrock missed most of last season with shoulder problems which was unfortunate because he was coming off of a very good season in 2010. Bobby Lanigan was in the Rock Cats rotation all throughout the 2011 season. Some think his stuff (specifically his slider) will play very well out of the bullpen, and we may see some of that this year too. Marty Popham was selected by the Twins in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. He has pitched in Hi-A, AA and AAA each of the past two seasons. He should spend this season in AA.

Ft. Myers Miracle

BJ Hermsen (RHP), Pat Dean (LHP), Adrian Salcedo (RHP), Alex Wimmers (RHP), Manuel Soliman (RHP), Ryan O’Rourke (LHP), AJ Achter (RHP)

This is certainly an intriguing group of pitching prospects. If not for Liam Hendriks’ terrific 2011 season, my starting pitcher of the year choice would have been BJ Hermsen who pitched very well in Beloit and followed it up with a solid performance in Ft. Myers (minus a rough final start). Alex Wimmers had a rough 2011 season too in Ft. Myers, but it ended with the seven inning no hitter. Assuming he has his control issues under control, he could move quickly. Adrian Salcedo has long been a top ten Twins prospect, and he’ll move up to the Miracle. Manuel Soliman was the innings-eater for the Snappers last year despite only having pitched now for three years. He is an intriguing prospect, but for him to remain a starter, he will need to improve his secondary pitches. Pat Dean is definitely a solid prospect  but like so many others, he missed a lot of time with injury in 2011. His season started about six weeks late, but he still pitched for three teams (including a late-season spot start in New Britain). Ryan O’Rourke is a tough, competitive left-hander with a nasty slider. When I saw him pitch in Beloit last summer, my comment was that I didn’t think big league left-handed hitters could hit that slider. He was successful as a starter, but he could also become a very good relief pitcher, so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses. The game I saw AJ Achter start last year, he was tremendous. He touches 90-91 with the fastball, but he has a terrific changeup and a curveball that had good bite.

Beloit Snappers

Tim Shibuya (RHP), Madison Boer (RHP), Matt Summers (LHP), Matt Bashore (LHP), Tim Atherton (RHP), Matt Tomshaw (LHP), Derek Christensen (RHP) 

Tim Shibuya was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year and threw seven innings of a no-hitter for the E-Twins. A smart pitcher with a full mix of pitches, he should adapt well to the Midwest League. Madison Boer and Matt Summers both began their pro careers in the E-Town bullpen. Each unsurprisingly dominated. Boer struggled upon his promotion to Beloit. It is likely the Twins will have each start. I believe Boer will move to the bullpen, but I think Summers can stick as a starter. Matt Bashore was a first-round pick in 2009 and has pitched very little since. However, reports indicate that in Instructs last fall, he was looking really good and throwing as high as 93 mph again. He could be one to watch in 2012. Matt Tomshaw was the Twins 43rd round pick just last year. Like many, he was given a shot with the Ft. Myers Miracle after a couple appearances with the GCL Twins. Like few, he was very successful for the Miracle. My guess, however, is that he will step back to Beloit and start. Derek Christensen had a terrific season as a starter with the E-Twins. The side-winder may eventually move to the bullpen but his combination of deception, fastball and slider make him a very intriguing prospect. Tim Atherton was with the Twins organization a few years ago as an infielder. The team let him go, but he came back in 2011 as a pitcher, and he pitched very well. He has all the pitches, but all will need to further develop.

Elizabethton Twins

Tyler Jones (RHP), Corey Kimes (LHP), Brett Lee (LHP), Chris Mazza (RHP), Angel Mata (RHP), Hung-yi Chen (RHP)

There are plenty of pitchers from the 2011 draft and from last year’s GCL team that will not be heading to Beloit to start the season. Tyler Jones was the 11th round pick a year ago out of LSU. He’s got great upside, throws hard, good breaking pitches. Kimes is a four year college guy who should probably be up in Beloit due to age, but he got hurt last year shortly after signing. Brett Lee and Chris Mazza both signed very near the deadline and didn’t pitch in 2011. Angel Mata and Hung-yi Chen were the two most intriguing pitching prospects from last year’s GCL team. Both have good stuff and are young.

GCL Twins

Hudson Boyd (RHP), Trent Higginbotham (RHP), Kuo-hua Lo (RHP), Austin Malinowski (LHP)

Boyd and Higginbotham are two very high ceiling high school picks from last year. The Twins had to go over-slot to sign their second supplemental first round pick from Ft. Myers. He touched 96-97 at times last year. Higginbotham was a late-round pick but the Twins went way over slot to sign him as well. He touches 94-95, and some believe he can be a top of the rotation starter or a dominant closer. Time will tell for both of them. Lo signed last year from Taiwan, and he’s fairly advanced for his very young age. He also has hit 94 mph on a radar gun. He debuted in Instructional League last year, and will likely be with the GCL Twins in 2012. Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick out of Centennial High School (MN). He gave up a scholarship to Arizona to sign at the last minute with the Twins.   

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS 

1.)    Liam Hendriks, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) Alex Wimmers, 4.) Adrian Salcedo, 5.) Tom Stuifbergen, 6.) Manuel Soliman, 7.) Hudson Boyd, 8.) BJ Hermsen, 9.) Pat Dean, 10.) Matt Summers 

SUMMARY  

The Twins starting pitching was really bad last year. That was a combination of struggles, injury and poor defense. For the Twins to be successful, Carl Pavano needs to throw 220 innings with a league-average ERA and WHIP. Francisco Liriano will have to pull his regain control of his fastball and show a little bit of self-confidence. Scott Baker needs to pitch like he did the six weeks before he got hurt. All three need to stay healthy. I personally think Jason Marquis will be just fine. He’s not going to post a sub-3 or sub-4 ERA, but I think he can do what Pavano did in 2011. Blackburn needs to pitch like he did his first two seasons… or so badly that Liam Hendriks gets called up. Frankly, there’s not much else waiting in the wings, ready to contribute right away as a starter. Manship can be solid, but I think the team has moved him to the bullpen in their minds. Diamond will have had to improved quite a bit to say he’s ready (which is possible).

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare though. There are some solid pitching prospects throughout the minors. Kyle Gibson should be back in 2013 (if not late in 2012). Alex Wimmers could move very quickly as well. There are several pitchers that have the potential to be a decent #3 pitcher, if all goes well on the way up. The Twins have been successful with “Twins-like” pitchers. Guys like Hermsen, Salcedo, Stuifbergen and Shibuya fit that mold. The Twins have added some power arms in the last draft or two, especially in 2011’s draft with Boyd, Higginbotham, Jones, Boer, Summers, Corey Williams and others. It will be interesting to see how they develop. 

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!

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 Pitchers of the Month

4 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Yesterday, we looked at some of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system in June and named Aaron Hicks of the Ft. Myers Miracle as the hitter of the month. Today, I want to share with you some of the top pitchers in the Twins minor league system in the month of June. We have a new name at the top of the list this month. Steve Hirschfeld was my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month in both April and May. He had a very solid June too, but was just honorable mention. There are a couple of the same names in the Top 5 again, but the top three are new names.

I’ll name the top 3 relievers and the top 5 pitchers, but I’ll start with just a few honorable mentions:

  • New Britain – Steve Hirschfeld – 5 GS, 2-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 30.0 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 16 K
  • Ft. Myers – Logan Darnell – 5 GS, 2-1, 2.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 30.2 IP, 33 H, 7 BB, 8 K
  • Beloit – BJ Hermsen – 4 G, 3 GS, 3-0, 2.42 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 26 H, 6 BB, 15 K
  • Ft. Myers – Matt Tone – 9 G, 1-1, 1 save, 1.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 15 IP, 9 H, 12 BB, 17 K

Let’s start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:

Number 3 – Rochester – Anthony Slama – 10 G, 1-1, 1 save, 1.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 17 K

For the second straight month, Slama is the #3 reliever in the organization. He actually spent about a week with the Twins and pitched on the last day of May and June 4. Combined, he threw 2.1 scoreless innings for the Twins. He returned to Rochester and was again very good. Although one of the two runs (and three of the five walks) he gave up came on the final day or June, he has been pitching very well. In his previous four outings, he struckout 13 in 5.2 innings. Anthony Slama deserves to be in the big leagues, for someone.

Number 2 – Beloit – Clinton Dempster – 8 G, 1-0, 2 saves, 0.77 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 14 K

Dempster was the #2 choice for reliever of the month in May too. It was another tremendous month for him. The lefty gave up just one run in the entire month. He was incredibly dominant. The 16th round pick in 2010 continues to beg the question, Why is he still in Beloit? However, pitching has been the story for the 2011 Snappers, and with such strong starting pitching, it has been great to have someone so dominant at the backend of games.  

And the SethSpeaks.net Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month of June is:

Rochester Red Wings – Andrew Albers – 9 G, 1-0, 1 saves, 1.04 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 18 H, 2 BB, 19 K

Albers asked for an received a tryout, and it is fair to say it went well as he signed with the Twins shortly before spring training. Although he began the year at Extended Spring Training, the already-25-year-old lefty first pitched for the Miracle on April 13. Since then, he has really been terrific. On the year, he is 4-1 with a 1.68 ERA and seven walks and 41 strikeouts in 48.1 innings. Albers was the 10th round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2008. He missed all of 2009 with injury, was released, and last year pitched in 40 games for Quebec in the independent Can Am League. The Canadian, who went to college at Kentucky, is definitely taking advantage of this new opportunity.

With that, let’s jump to the starting pitchers. Here are the Top 5 Starting Pitchers for June:

Number 5 – Beloit – Adrian Salcedo – 4 GS, 1-0, 2.30 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 27.1 IP, 20 H, 4 BB, 24 K

Salcedo is just 20 years old, but he has been terrific for the Snappers in 2011. He is 5-3 with a 2.88 ERA. He was even better in June. In fact, his worst outing may have been his 0.2 inning stint in the Midwest League All-Star game in which he gave up two runs. Typically, Salcedo doesn’t walk many, but it was also good to see him get more strikeouts in June. He was #4 on this list last month. Although he falls to #5, he actually pitched much better.

Number 4 – New Britain – Liam Hendriks – 5 GS, 3-0, 2.03 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 31 IP, 36 H, 4 BB, 23 K

Hendriks is in the Top 5 for the third straight month. The 22-year-old Australian continues to get better with each start. With a win on July 3, he is now 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA on the season. Like most on this list, Hendriks does not hurt himself with walks. He will give up some hits, but he is able to work out of situations. He began June with seven shutout innings. He had a hiccup and gave up four runs in five innings in mid-June. He gave up one earned run in his other three starts in the month. He jumped from 5 to 4 on this list since last month. In my Top Twins prospects list, he jumped from #6 to #4 since the beginning of the season.  

Number 3 – Beloit – Pat Dean – 4 GS, 2-0, 1.46 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 27 K

Dean was my choice during the offseason as the breakout pitching prospect for 2011 in the Twins minor league system. Unfortunately, his season did not start on time due to some shoulder concerns. He made his 2011 debut with the Snappers on May 15th. He was at full strength for June and to no surprise, he was very good. So good, in fact, that his final start of June was supposed to be with the Ft. Myers Miracle. However, he did make one last start in Beloit knowing he would be promoted following the game. On June 11, Dean threw 6.2 scoreless innings, walking two and striking out nine. He was removed from the game having not allowed a hit. In his start before that, he threw six shutout innings and gave up six hits, a walk and struck out nine. It was a great month for Dean.

Number 2 – Beloit – Ryan O’Rourke – 7 G, 4 GS, 2-0, 1.59 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 16 H, 2 BB, 29 K

Last month, O’Rourke was an honorable mention selection as a relief pitcher. He began June with two relief outings, then made two starts. Then he made one more relief appearance before the All Star break. He came back from the break as the second-half opening night starter for the Snappers. As you can see, he has transitioned to the rotation well. The key stat from his June stat line has to be the two walks and 29 strikeouts. The left was the Twins 12th round pick a year ago. By the way, be sure to check out his blog, The Daily ScoreBored.

And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:

Ft. Myers – Tom Stuifbergen – 5 GS, 3-0, 0.87 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 31.0 IP, 25 H, 7 BB, 16 K 

I mentioned several times that Stuifbergen ended June having allowed just four earned runs over his previous 43+ innings. Obviously that streak began in mid-May when he was back at full strength from a sore shoulder. Stuifbergen has taken large strides forward in 2011. His fastball velocity has increased from the 88-91 range to the 90-93 range and has even touched 95 at times. He has one of the best changeups in the organization. He has a slider and continues to work on a curve ball. Although his first July start did not go as he would hope, Stuifbergen is definitely making a name for himself.

Congratulations to the three choices for players of the month, all from the Ft. Myers Miracle, OF Aaron Hicks, LHP Andrew Albers and RHP Tom Stuifbergen. But Congratulations to all of those players mentioned in these two articles on a great month of June. We saw many transactions in June, and I would anticipate a few more in July.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Monday Morning Notebook

14 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

After winning on Friday night, the Twins lost a 3-2 decision to the Braves on Saturday night in a great game, and then got beat up a bit on Sunday afternoon in a 7-3 loss to Kris Medlen, Troy Glaus and the Braves. The Twins will have a day off on Monday before starting a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Target Field. Thursday’s matchup between Francisco Liriano and Ubaldo Jimenez is one that should be very exciting to watch. Of course, depending upon the Twins getaway day lineup on Thursday, Jimenez could dominate.

On this off day, here are some links for you to peruse:

Here is a quick glance at what happened on Saturday in the Twins minor league system:

SethSpeaks Saturday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Brock Peterson – Rochester Red Wings

SethSpeaks Saturday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Edgar Ibarra – Beloit Snappers

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jair Fernandez – New Britain Rockcats

SethSpeaks Sunday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jhon Garcia – Beloit Snappers

Red Wings Report   

Saturday – Rochester 10, Toledo 6 Glen Perkins had been pitching much better of late, but this was not a start in the right direction. The lefty gave up six runs on eight hits (3 HR). He walked two, hit one and struck out two before being ejected with one out in the 5th inning. Rob Delaney came in and went the next 2.2 innings, allowing only a hit and striking out six. Anthony Slama pitched a scoreless inning. Brock Peterson went 3-5 with his 12th double and 11th home run. Dustin Martin went 2-4 with a walk and two doubles. Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-4 with four RBI. Toby Gardenhire went 2-4 with three runs scored. Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales each went 2-5.

Sunday – Rochester 3, Toledo 8 It was a rough start for Matt Fox. The righty gave up six runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings. He uncharacteristically walked seven while striking out six. Jose Lugo then gave up two runs on two hits (both homers) in 3.1 innings. He struck out five. Jason Repko and Matt Macri each went 2-4. Brian Dinkelman hit his fourth home run.   

New Britain Notes

Saturday – New Britain 8, Altoona 7David Bromberg pitched a terrific game for the Rockcats. In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits and two walks. Cole DeVries came in and gave up three runs on four hits in his inning. Matt Williams gave up three runs (1 earned) on three hits. Jair Fernandez went 3-5 with two doubles. Chris Parmelee was 3-5. Mark Dolenc hit his fourth and fifth doubles. Brandon Roberts went 2-5 with his fourth double. Yangervis Solarte went 2-5 with his eighth double. Juan Portes went 2-4. Erik Lis went 2-2 before Ben Revere surprisingly came in to pinch run. Revere went 1-2 in his first game back after being hit in the eye.  

Sunday – New Britain 5, Altoona 6Carlos Gutierrez had a tough start. He gave up six runs on ten hits and two walks, but he was able to go 7.2 innings. Loek Van Mil got the final out. Jair Fernandez went 3-5. Mark Dolenc went 3-4 with his sixth double and seventh stolen base. Yangervis Solarte went 2-5 with his ninth double. Chris Parmelee went 2-5.  

Miracle Matters

Saturday – Ft. Myers – Florida State League All-Star game. Chris Herrmann caught the middle innings and went 0-1. Billy Bullock gave up two runs on three hits in the third inning.   

Snappers Snippets

Saturday – Beloit 14, Bowling Green 1Edgar Ibarra put together his start of the season. He went seven innings and gave up only an unearned run. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out ten. Eliecer Cardenas struck out two in a scoreless inning. Matt Tone struck out one in a perfect inning. James Beresford went 3-5. Aaron Hicks was 2-4 with a walk and his 14th and 15th doubles. Angel Morales went 2-3 with two walks, his 12th double and fifth triple. Steve Liddle and Reggie Williams were each 2-3. Williams hit his third homer. Danny Rams went 2-5.

Saturday – Beloit 1, Bowling Green 3Angel Morales went 2-3 with a walk, a double and a triple. Unfortunately, they were the only two hits of the day for the Snappers. Michael Tonkin started and gave up two runs on five hits and five walks in five innings. Dakota Watts came in and gave up one run on one hit, one walk and one hit batter in one inning. Jhon Garcia threw two shutout innings. Kane Holbrooks pitched a scoreless ninth inning.   

Any thoughts of the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.