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Twins Top Ten Prospect Review

14 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Before we start, a final reminder. It is the last day to enter the below contest:

World Series Contest

I am going to be holding some contests here and on Twitter and Facebook over the next week or two thanks to A&E who has now come out with “A&E Minnesota Twins Vintage World Series Films DVD.”  It includes both the 1987 and 1991 teams! The ’87 team beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. The ’91 World Series was the first that had two worst-to-first teams as the Twins and the Atlanta Braves played one of the greatest seven-game series ever, including Jack Morris’s amazing Game 7. So be sure to look here and other places for some contests for a free copy.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at my pre-season Top 30 Twins prospect list and see how they are doing through just over two months of the season. Some have impressed. Some have disappointed. And, seemingly to keep up with the big league club, there have been a bunch of injuries. This list was compiled and presented in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook -2011, after looking at a ton of stats and reading a bunch of scouting reports. It is a great example of how, with prospects, you just never know. Let’s get started:

  1. Kyle Gibson – RHP – Last night, Gibson gave up two runs in six innings, but fell to 3-6. However, he has a 3.79 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. In 71.1 innings, he has given up 71 hits, 17 walks and struck out 74. Many fans want the 23 year old to be pitching in the big leagues today. Honestly, I believe that if the Twins really needed a starting pitcher today, he could come up and fill in adequately. It’s exciting to see him striking out more than a batter per inning while still exhibiting tremendous control. He will likely be with the Twins this year, maybe even around the All Star break.
  2. Miguel Sano – 3B – Sano has been in Ft. Myers working out with the Extended Spring Training. He will likely soon be reporting to Elizabethton. After hitting .291/.338/.446 with the GCL Twins. Sano recently turned 18 years old. He is listed at 6-3 and 195 pounds, but he is bigger than that. He has huge legs and a hand shake that I have to assume rivals that of Adrian Peterson. Again, I know a lot of people want this Dominican Bonus Baby to be playing at a higher level, but there is no rush. Last year in the GCL, he struck out 43 times in 148 at bats with just 10 walks. This guy’s ceiling is up there with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, but let’s have some patience and let that power develop.
  3. Aaron Hicks – OF –  To look at Aaron Hicks’ .268 batting average this season in Ft. Myers only tells a small part of the story. Since May 1st, he is hitting .305 with 11 doubles and two homers. His season on base percentage is an impressive .375. Aaron Hicks has amazing tools. He has made some great catches in centerfield for the Ft. Myers Miracle this season, and has several assists due to a very strong and accurate arm. While he continues to walk, his strikeout rate has dropped some as well. To understand fully how much talent and athleticism he has requires actually seeing him practice and play. He is going to be a very good big leaguer. Keep the faith, and keep the patience.
  4. Joe Benson – OF – Benson got off to a very fast start this year in New Britain and then struggled from late April until mid-May. At that time, Benson went on a run that saw him hit .484/.556/.774 between May 24 and June 2. And then Twins doctors found something in his knee, so he had it scoped and will likely miss three weeks of action. Benson is ready defensively. He is a very good outfielder with great range and a big arm. In terms of speed, only Ben Revere is probably faster than him in the organization. Although he is not on pace to match his 27 home runs from 2010, his slugging percentage is better. Strikeouts continue to be what he needs to watch. After striking out every third plate appearance a year ago, he is striking out in one of four plate appearances so far this year.
  5. Alex Wimmers – RHP – After signing with the Twins last year in August, the two-time Big 10 Pitcher of the Year went 2-0 with a 0-57 ERA in 15.2 innings for the Miracle. He gave up just six hits, walked five and struck out 23. He returned to the Miracle to start this season, and it took him just five batters to walk as many as he walked last year, and a sixth batter to surpass it. And he hasn’t pitched for the Miracle since. The team immediately sent him to Extended Spring Training where he continues to work. He entered spring training with a hamstring injury. My hope is that the leg injury affected his mechanics and that he can get it back. That was two months ago, and he still isn’t back. So, hopefully he can get it back soon.
  6. Liam Hendriks – RHP – I wrote last week that Hendriks is now in the discussion, for me, of top Twins prospects. Still just 22 years old and with only 12 starts last year in Ft. Myers, the Twins decided that Hendriks was ready for Double-A. He has responded so far by going 6-2 with a 2.63 ERA. In 65 innings, he has allowed 58 hits, walked 14 and struck out 61. The Australian has thrown a Quality Start in eight of his last nine starts. In his last three outings, he has given up just two runs in 20 innings. He is a very smart pitcher, very competitive and I think has a chance to be very good.
  7. Angel Morales – OF – The Twins drafted Morales in the 3rd round in the 2007 draft out of high school in Puerto Rico, and he is still just 21 years old. Last year between Beloit and Ft. Myers, he hit .280/.362/.405 with 24 doubles, ten triples and five home runs. He also stole 29 bases. He is a very good outfielder with a strong arm. However, it is his arm that has caused him to miss all of the 2011 season. He fought elbow pain in spring, and they shut him down and had him rehab. He had a setback two weeks ago, and there was thought that he would need Tommy John surgery. When he got to the surgery, it was determined that they would just clean his elbow with arthroscopic surgery. This is obviously great news. I talked to GCL Twins coach and former big leaguer Milt Cuyler this spring training. We were watching Morales stand in the batter’s box against some bullpen pitching. He raved about Morales’s balance and approach. No one in the organization questions his power. Hopefully he can rehab and play some winter league ball in preparation for spring training.
  8. Ben Revere – OF – Twins fans have definitely already seen the best of Ben Revere. He can be a catalyst at the top of the lineup. He can hit a ton of singles and steal second at will. His range in centerfield is tremendous and he has shown the glove to play all three outfield spots. In 81 big league at bats, he his hit .272 and has just a .306 batting average with a .284 slugging percentage. In 132 at bats in AAA Rochester, he hit .303/.338/.364 with five extra base hits. We’ve also seen proof of the arm that we’ve heard so much about. We have seen the value and the excitement that the speed of Ben Revere brings to the table. We have also seen signs of why I may not have been crazy to have him as the Twins 8th prospect (many thought it was too low).
  9. Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Seeing Adrian Salcedo throw in the  bullpen, it is easy to see why scouts would be excited about his potential. He is long (6-4) and lean (175… if that). He has long arms and tremendous delivery. He is a terrific athlete as well, having seen him basically sprint the mile run. Still just 20 years old, Salcedo has been the Snappers most consistent start this season. Overall, he is 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA. In 72.2 innings, he has given up 68 hits, walked 18 and struck out 51. He has work to do, to be sure, but he is a very exciting prospect.
  10. Oswaldo Arcia – OF – You always have to be a little cautious of the numbers that hitters put up when they play at Elizabethton. In 2010, Arcia was the Appalachian League Player of the Year after he hit .375/.424/.672 with 21 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs for the E-Twins. He moved up to Beloit this spring and put on an offensive display in April. He hit .352/.420/.704 with eight doubles and five home runs in just 71 at bats. However, he went on the Disabled List on May 1 with a sore elbow. A week later, he had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow and is expected to miss two months. To watch him take batting practice in spring training was impressive. Everything he hit was solid. Line drives and home runs to all parts of the field. Of course, every time he came out of the cage, he would grab his left elbow. Arcia is compactly built and very strong. Hopefully he can get back to the Snappers and continue to mash.

To see my choices for 11-50, check out SethSpeaks.net, and for much, much more on these prospects and over 100 more Twins prospects, pick up a copy of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011.

Here are a couple more minor league notes:

  • LHP Pat Dean, the team’s 3rd round pick a year ago out of Boston College, missed the first six weeks of the season. He was named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week last week. On June 6, he threw six shutout innings. Then on June 11, he left the game with two outs in the 7th inning, having not yet allowed a hit in the game. He had issued two walks and struck out nine. So, for that week, he went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. In 12.2 innings, he gave up six hits, walked three and struck out 18. Not too shabby.
  • There are several Minnesotan in the Twins minor leagues including 25thround pick last week, AJ Petterson, the former Gopher SS. Here are the others:
    • Derek McCallum hit just .196/.276/.262 in 107 at bats in Beloit, but he was recently promoted to Ft. Myers. There, he has hit .241 in 29 at bats.
    • Nate Hanson was hitting .267/.327/.383 with 12 doubles and four home runs in Ft. Myers. Last week, he was promoted to AA New Britain where he has just one hit in 10 at bats. The hit was a double.
    • Matt Schuld is from Plymouth and pitched at St. Thomas. He is now 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA in 59.1 innings for the Ft. Myers Miracle.
    • Schuld’s former college teammate, 3B Roy Larson, is working in Extended Spring Training this season and will most likely report to Elizabethton.
    • Mark Dolenc went to Minnesota State- Mankato. He is in his second year at Double-A new Britain. He is hitting .257/.313/.337 with seven doubles, two triples and a home run in 175 at bats. He also has nine stolen bases.
    • Cole DeVries had a rough 2010 season between New Britain and Rochester. He began this season in New Britain where he went 0-0 with nine saves and a 2.28 ERA. In 27.2 innings, he gave up just 17 hits, walked five and struck out 33. He was promoted to Rochester where he has continued to pitch well. In six games (9.1 innings), he has give up just eight hits, walked four and struck out 12.
    • Andy Baldwin is 28 years old and spent the last three seasons with Tacoma, the Mariners’ AAA affiliate. The Duluth native has made ten starts for the Rochester Red Wings and is 3-5 with a 4.97 ERA. In 58 innings, he has 13 walks and 44 strikeouts.
  • The Twins signed 27 year old Cuban defector Dennis Suarez. He made an appearance in an Extended Spring Training game. Now he is starting for the New Britain Rock Cats. In his two starts, he has gone 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA. In his most recent start, he took the loss despite allowing just one run in seven innings. It will be interesting to see how he responds to Double-A and if he gets pushed forward.
  • A year ago, 2B Steve Singleton led the Twins organization with 43 doubles, all in New Britain. He began this season with the Rock Cats again and has had two stints with the Rochester Red Wings. He has 17 AA doubles, and now has seven more AAA doubles meaning he is currently on pace to eclipse 50 doubles this year.
  • Brian Dozier was my choice for Twins minor league hitter of the month of May. He was remarkably consistent through the first two months and in early June was finally summoned to play in Double-A New Britain. He went 3-8 in his first three games with the Rock Cats. Unfortunately in that third game, he was also hit in the face with a pitch. He had a fractured sinus bone. After seeing a specialist, it was determined that surgery was not needed. The doctor said that he could play as soon as the swelling goes down. He hopes within the next week.
  • Tom Stuifbergen first made a name for himself when he threw four shutout innings for Team Netherlands in the WBC a couple years ago. He is currently 2-4 with a 3.74 ERA in nine starts with the Ft. Myers Miracle. However, after coming back slowly from some shoulder discomfort, Stuifbergen has been terrific. In his past four starts, he has given up two runs in 24.2 innings. He is now consistently hitting 92 and 93 mph with his fastball, touching 94-95 at times. He has a four-pitch mix, but his changeup is tremendous.
  • Be sure to check out last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly for much more on the Twins minor league system.  

Any other thoughts or questions on the Twins minor leaguers? Feel free to comment here.

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Friday Notes

3 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I meant to blog last night after I got to my parent’s place, but I kind of fell asleep. So, here is a quick ten-minute blog posting for the morning.

  • First things first, I am on my way to the Twin Cities, in 11 minutes, for tonight’s TwinsCentric/KFAN’s Lindsay Viewing Party. The Twins play the Royals at 7:00 tonight, and we will all be at Smalley’s 87 Club down by Target Field. There will be drink specials throughout the night. There will be some prizes. Basically it is an opportunity for a bunch of Twins fans to get together and watch the Twins play. Sure, it’s been a frustrating year, but we can still have fun talking about the team. It is also an opportunity to contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations will be encouraged, but certainly not required. So, if you’re able, join us tonight!
  • I have to admit that I am thrilled that the Twins called up Brian Dinkelman. Drafted by the Twins in 2006 out of a small NAIA school in Illinois. He has gradually worked his way through the Twins entire system. He has been in big league training camp the last year. He has been very consistent, and he is again having a terrific year. It does tell us where the Twins season is going, sure, but you have to feel happy for a guy like that.
  • Of course, it comes, in part because Trevor Plouffe has struggled defensively, and he has made his way into Ron Gardenhire’s doghouse. Has Plouffe struggled? Sure. Is it as bad as Gardy and the team is making it sound? I don’t think so. But, as the Rochester Baseball Observer pointed out very well, the Twins need to trade Plouffe now because as long as Gardy is manager, he will never get a real opportunity. It’s all part of the double-standard that the manager has with some of his players. Plouffe gets called out for everything wrong he does and we rarely hear about the good stuff.. Danny Valencia gets called out every day for something. Matt Tolbert made a play the other day that he threw past Valencia at third that cost at least two runs. Gardenhire’s response? It was the right play, just a bad throw. And frankly, I agree. But Tolbert wasn’t thrown under the bus, was he? In fact, the only thing we heard was that Valencia wasn’t back in the right position. Well yeah, he tried to make the play in the hole. Plouffe is a doghouse guy, even though he is as good of a person as there is. It’s not the first occurrence of this. It happened to Pat Neshek a year ago. Matt Garza. Jason Bartlett. The only one that has escaped it is Glen Perkins, and I have no idea how that happened. Gardy learned from Tom Kelly who was notorious for being tough on your players, preferring sometimes the scrappy veterans. Gardenhire is the same way. And this isn’t a fire-able offense, but it is my one frustration with Ron Gardenhire.
  • Last night, I was on the Twins Minor League Weekly podcast with Travis Aune. We talked about last night’s box scores, some transactions and our players of the month of May, so please check it out. (Note, you’ll have to bear with a short technical difficulty early in the show, but it’s only about a minute)
  • The Twins acquired former top outfield prospect Jeremy Reed from the Brewers AAA team as depth at Rochester.
  • A few injury updates to report on.  It sounds like Aaron Hicks could be back within a few more days from his thumb bruise. I have heard that Brandon Roberts could be back from his oblique injury in the next week. Angel Morales is likely out 2-3 more weeks with his elbow injury. Estarlin de los Santos will be out at least another four weeks with his elbow injury. The Twins have gone the way of rest and rehab with elbow injuries again this year. It’s the way they went with Neshek and Loek Van Mil. This year, they have done so with Miguel Munoz, Angel Morales and Estarlin de Los Santos. Hopefully it is the right decision for them.
  • Brian Dozier, Danny Rams and Bruce Pugh were named to the Florida State League All-Star team yesterday. Congratulations to them.
  • SS/2B Steve Singleton and LHP Michael Tarsi were promoted from New Britain to Rochester yesterday after their game.
  • Final thought, I know people don’t like him and think it is all about the nepotism, but you have to have a ton of respect for Red Wings infielder Toby Gardenhire. Maybe it is just a small sample (ok, no maybe about it), but after a 2-4 day yesterday with two doubles, he is hitting .294 in AAA with six doubles. There’s no way he sustains that, but I do think it shows that he has worked really hard, and he can play at that level. Am I saying he’s great? No. But he should not get beaten up as bad as he does. And if he gets a brief promotion, oh well. I have no problem with that (well, depending on who comes off the 40 man roster to make it happen, of course.)

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

Almost Over… Almost!

14 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

It was yet another rough day for Twins fans on several levels, and it just gets harder and harder to hold out any hope. Last night, the Twins lost 2-0 to the Blue Jays which in itself is not a big deal. Ricky Romero was tremendous for 8.2 innings. He is one of the better left-handed pitchers in baseball and had a no-hitter into the sixth inning when Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe had soft singles. They got a couple of base runners on in the bottom of the 9th, but Frank Francisco came in and got Michael Cuddyer to check swing at a 96 mph fastball just off the black. On its own, this 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays with a terrific pitcher on the mound is not a big deal. Carl Pavano needed about 1950 pitches to get into the 6th inning, but he kept the strong Jays lineup off the scoreboard. Alex Burnett came on with two of Pavano’s runners on base and nobody out and didn’t allow the runners to score. He went out for the next inning and got a couple of runners on and Jim Hoey was brought in. He gave up a run on a bloop single with a bad Delmon Young throw. He then got a big double play. Glen Perkins was good again. Joe Nathan had a nice battle with Jose Bautista that Bautista won with a solo home run, but I thought Nathan looked much better.

The good news is that Delmon Young was back in the lineup. Again, based on what he did last year, this is a great thing. Trevor Plouffe was back in the lineup as well, and although he’s had just two good games, he at least appears to be a better option than the other options. Jim Thome will hopefully be back next week. Jason Repko will hopefully be back next week.

But, hope is certainly dwindling. Right now, this is a really bad baseball team. No, I don’t believe that it means someone should be fired, or even that anyone needs to be blamed. We’ve discussed all that before. It’s just a bad, bad year. As Aaron Gleeman pointed out after the game, if the Twins play at a 90-win pace the rest of the season, they will end the year with an 82-80 record. 82-80 probably won’t get them to the playoffs (although it could), and frankly, things are not going to just get better overnight, so really, they’ll have to play at an even better level.

And another thing, if Joe Mauer isn’t back in the Twins lineup by Memorial Day, he might as well sit out until the 4th of July. If Joe Mauer isn’t back my Memorial Day, then they need to allow Tsuyoshi Nishioka to use as much rehab time as he needs, and to let him spend time the 20 day rehab schedule playing in the minors and adjusting to American baseball. That is what would be best for his long-term future. If Joe Mauer isn’t back until after Memorial Day, then the Twins should start looking to deal, to be sellers for the first time in over a decade. They might as well start that process right away as many they can get more for guys in June than in late July. At that point, they might as well go with Valencia, Plouffe and Hughes in the Twins infield every single day to see what they have.

I’m not quite ready to discuss all of that, but it likely won’t be long before I start thinking about 2012.

And, that’s why it’s good to keep tabs on what is going on in the Twins minor league system. Yesterday, I posted a bunch of Twins minor league notes, but here are a bunch more:  

  • There have been some transactions:
    • With Delmon Young coming off of the Disabled List, it was Rene Tosoni sent back to Rochester. I think this makes sense. In my mind, Tosoni profiles as a big league starter while Ben Revere profiles as a fourth outfielder… that the Twins will likely make a starter.
    • With Tosoni going to Rochester, 2B Steve Singleton was sent back to New Britain (see how he did on Friday night), which of course makes no sense to me.
    • Ryan Mullins will go to New Britain.
    • Logan Darnell will report to Ft. Myers
    • Pat Dean and Ben Tootle are set to go to Beloit.
    • Last week, when Matt Parker was promoted to Beloit, it was because Kyle Knudson was put on the Disabled List.
  • Want to know what happens in Extended Spring Trainings? Todd Van Steensel is a right-handed pitcher that the Twins signed this offseason from Australia. He has a blog called The Clubhouse Chronicles that is absolutely terrific!
  • Allan de San Miguel is heading to Ft. Myers to rehab his elbow. He is not having Tommy John surgery at this time.
  • It’s Saturday morning, which means you will want to go to Twinkie Town for Roger’s Minor League Report.

If you have any questions or comments about the Twins minor league system, please feel free to e-mail me, ask me in the comments, or on Twitter.

Minor League Notes

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, New Britain Rock Cats 

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayBobby Lanigan, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Friday – Red Wings 4, Charlotte 6 – Scott Diamond gave up six runs on 11 hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. He struck out three. Carlos Gutierrez came in and threw 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out two. Phil Dumatrait pitched one scoreless inning. Ray Chang went 3-4 with a walk. Seven other players had one hit. Dustin Martin had a double and drove in three runs.

Rock Cats Report

Friday – Rock Cats 2, Portland 0 – Bobby Lanigan started and threw eight shutout innings to record his fourth win of the year. He gave up just three hits, walked none and struck out four. Jake Stevens records the same with a scoreless ninth. The offense managed just three hits. Steve Singleton was back from Rochester and went 2-3 with his 12th double and third home run.

Miracle Matters

Friday – Game 1 – Miracle 2, Dunedin 3 – Andrew Albers started the first game for the Miracle. He went five innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He also walked none and struck out three. Shooter Hunt came in and in the two innings he threw, he gave up one run. He walked one and struck out one. The team managed just six hits, and Ramon Santana had the only extra base hit, a double.

Friday – Game 2 – Miracle 1, Dunedin 7 – Tom Stuifbergen gave up three uearned runs on three hits in three innings. He walked none and struck out none. Matt Tone then gave up two earned runs on three hits in his two innings. He struck out two. Jhon Garcia gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in one inning. And Dakota Watts threw a scoreless ninth frame. Nick Romero went 2-3. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with a walk, and Danny Rams hit his sixth double.

Snappers Bites

Friday – Snappers, Quad Cities – Postponed by Rain.  

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

Friday Night Game Notes, Two Walkoffs

7 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins were on the good side of a blowout on Friday night. Meanwhile, down on the farm, all four affiliates played some close, very exciting games, so be sure to read all of those game stories below.

Let’s start first with the Twins. The Twins had a game last night like they really needed. It was fun to watch a game in which the Twins were the team to jump out to an early lead. With Tim Wakefield taking Daisuke Matsuzaka’s scheduled start, the Twins jumped to an early lead. Trevor Plouffe, batting second in the Twins lineup, hit a long shot over the Green Monster for his first home run, in his first at bat of the season. The Twins scored three more in the second inning. Denard Span drove in two runs with a hit. Later Ben Revere scored on a balk by Wakefield that Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, didn’t necessarily agree with. He was ejected. JD Drew hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second, and Adrian Gonzalez hit one over the Monster to cut the lead to 4-2 after four innings. But in the Top of the 5th, the Twins broke it open. Danny Valencia came up with the bases loaded, and drilled a double off the Monster that scored two runs. Drew Butera hit a hard grounder that the shortstop, Jed Lowrie, booted after being screened on the play by Valencia. All told, the game was now 8-2. Alfredo Aceves then balked in one more run on one of the most obvious balk calls ever. It was as is he started his delivery and forgot where he was and what he was doing.  

Plouffe was 2-4 with a walk, that home run and a stolen base that directly let to a run. Valencia, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer each had two hits.

Scott Baker was tremendous again. He gave up two runs on seven hits in eight innings. Both runs came on solo home runs. He walked just one and struck out eight. He gave up eight runs in 11 innings in his first two starts. He walked six and struck out nine. In his four starts since, he has given up five runs in 28.1 innings. He has walked four and struck out 25 strikeouts. Joe Nathan walked one in a scoreless ninth.

On Saturday, the Twins have a noon start. Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .264 BAA) will face off against Clay Buchholz (2-3, 4.81 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, .311 BAA).

The Twins blew out Boston for their first win at Fenway Park since 2007. Down in the minor leagues, the games were much, much closer!

Minor League Notes

Best wishes to Allan de San Miguel. The Australian catcher found the he has a torn UCL. He is expecting to find out today whether he will have Tommy John surgery or the standard Twins determination to just ‘rest and rehab.’ If it’s a torn UCL, get the surgery done right away and start the rehab right away.

David Bromberg called me last night and we discussed his injury, surgery and rehab. Again, it was about ten days ago that he was pitching his best game of the year when a line drive came back at him. He put up his arm to protect himself and broke his ulna. He could have done the ‘rest and rehab’ thing too, but was told he could be back and pitching sooner if he had surgery. So, earlier this week, he had the surgery and had five screws put into his arm. The surgery went well, and Bromberg is now in Ft. Myers where he will be in a cast the next two weeks. He’ll be on a throwing program and probably make a couple of rehab starts in EST and/or Ft. Myers.

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, Rochester Red Wings  

Friday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayBruce Pugh, Ft. Myers Miracle

Red Wings Ramblings

Friday – Red Wings 7, Gwinnett 5 – Before Thursday’s games, the Red Wings added Ray Chang and Steve Singleton. On Thursday, Chang played hero with a game-winning single. On Friday, it was Singleton’s turn to play hero. Eric Hacker made his first start since returning to the Red Wings. In 4.1 innings, he gave up one run (his first earned run allowed of the season) on four hits. He walked two and struck out three. Jeff Manship gave up two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings. Phil Dumatrait walked one in 1.1 scoreless innings. Anthony Slama gave up two unearned runs in the top of the 9th, to set the table. Steve Holm went 1-1 with three walks and drove in two runs with his single. Ray Chang went 2-4 with a walk and second double. Steve Singleton went 1-3 with a walk on Thursday. He started the Friday game 1-3 as well before he came to bat in the 8th inning. The Red Wings were down by a run and Singleton hit his first AAA home run to tie the game. Unfortunately Gwinnett scored those two unearned runs in the top of the 9th frame, but that just set the table. With two outs and two on, Singleton came to the plate again. This time, he hit a three-run game-winning, walk-off home run.

Kyle Gibson will start for Rochester on Saturday night (6:05 CT) against Gwinnett. Not certain who will start for the Braves. Julio Teheran (one of the top prospects in baseball) was supposed to start, but he was promoted to the Braves to make a spot start for Tim Hudson.   

Rock Cats Report

Friday – Rock Cats 10, Portland 7 – Down 7-3 going into the 8th inning, the Rock Cats scored two in the 8th and five in the 9th to win this game. Dan Osterbrock made his first Rock Cats start, and it didn’t go as well as he would have hoped. He gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks and two hit bats in 3.1 innings. Brett Jacobson threw 2.1 scoreless innings. He gave up a hit, walked two and struck out two. Spencer Steedley got four outs, two of them on strikeouts. Mike Tarsi walked two in a scoreless inning. Cole DeVries came on and pitched another scoreless inning for his seventh save. Michael Holliman went 2-4 with a walk. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with his first two AA doubles. Chris Parmelee came up big. He was 3-5 with his third home run and four RBI. He had a two-run homer in the 8th, and he drove in another run with a single in the ninth. Evan Bigley went 2-5 with his seventh double. Bigley, Dan Rohlfing and Yangervis Solarte each had doubles in that five-run ninth inning.

Deolis Guerra and his 8.31 ERA will take the mound for the Rock Cats at noon on Saturday.

Miracle Matters

Friday – Miracle 4, Jupiter 3 (10) – Down 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Ramon Santana singled in Anderson Hidalgo with the tying run. Fast-forward to the bottom of the 10th. Hidalgo singled and advanced to 2B on wild pitch. Ramon Santana came to the plate again and singled in Hidalgo with the game-winning run. Hidalgo is now hitting .338 after he was 3-4 with a walk in this game. James Beresford is hitting .347 after going 2-5. Jhonathan Goncalves went 1-2 with two walks. Aaron Hicks was 1-3 with two walks. Ramon Santana went 2-5, but I think it’s fair to say that his two hits were both fairly important. Andrew Albers started and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in four innings. Matt Tone then threw three shutout innings. Bruce Pugh gets the win after throwing three shutout innings, including four strikeouts.

On Saturday at 5:05 CT, Tom Stuifbergen will take the mound for the Miracle against Jupiter.

Snappers Bites

Friday – Snappers 3, Wisconsin 4 – Manuel Soliman started this game and gave up two runs on five hits. In five innings, he walked two and struck out seven. Michael Tonkin was charged with an unearned run in his two innings. Clint Dempster came in and gave up an unearned run on a walk and recorded just one out. Matt Hauser got the final five outs, three of them on strikeouts. The Snappers were without Danny Ortiz for this game (although he did pinch hit late in the game), so it should come as no surprise that they managed just six hits. Michael Gonzales drove in two runs, both on sacrifice flies. Lance Ray was 1-2 with a walk. Jamaal Hawkins hit his third double.

The Snappers travel to Cedar Rapids for a three game series. BJ Hermsen will take the mound to start for the team in the 5:35 game. You will recall that Hermsen is from a city about an hour from Cedar Rapids. Last year, he made a start in Cedar Rapids and took a no-hitter into the 9th inning.   

Wednesday Game Notes: Twins Sweep White Sox

5 May

Before we start, I will be on KFAN, The Fan Radio Network and KFAN.com at about 10:20 on the Paul Allen show.

The Twins may be struggling during the early part of this season, and it’s not hard to come up with several reasons why. There are the injuries to several key players. There is a lack of defense. There is a lack of offense. There is a lack of basics. There is the fact that as of now, nine players who started the year in Rochester have had to play for the Twins, ready or not. There are logical reasons to understanding the Twins early struggles. Speaking to the offense, when we see a lineup that includes Casilla, Repko, Butera, Holm, Tolbert, etc., we shouldn’t expect these guys to be hitting higher than they are.

The White Sox struggles likewise are surprising. Their bullpen, assumed to be one of their biggest strengths coming into the season, has been a mess. Their offense is horrible, almost as bad as the Twins. The difference is that the White Sox haven’t had the injuries. The offensive struggles have been from the guys that are their core. In other words, they don’t have guys on the Disabled List that they can look forward to coming back. Their lineup is their lineup.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins topped the White Sox 3-2 to complete a two-game sweep. Nick Blackburn gave up just one run on four hits in 6.2 innings. He walked four batters for the second straight game and struck out just one. Jose Mijares got the final out of the seventh inning. Glen Perkins came in for the 8th inning and gave up an unearned run on a walk and a hit. He got just one out before Ron Gardenhire went to his closer, Matt Capps. Capps got out of the 8th, and although he put a couple of guys on in the 9th, he got the save.

The Twins offense did not exactly return to juggernaut-mode in the series. They scored just four runs in the two-game sweep. Jason Kubel drove in three of the four runs. He hit the home run that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he drove in the first run of the game with a single in the first inning. He added a sacrifice fly later in the game. Rene Tosoni drove in the third run of the game that proved to be needed in the 3-2 win.

With another day off today, the Twins (11-18) will head to Boston for a four-game series against the Red Sox who are now 14-16. Amazingly, they are just four games out in the AL East.

As you know, Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere were on the bench for the Twins on Wednesday. They were added to the roster when Jim Thome and Jason Repko were put on the Disabled List. I would expect that when the Twins play on Friday night, Plouffe will be starting at shortstop and Revere will be manning the Green Monster.

Following the game on Wednesday afternoon, the Twins announced that backup catcher Steve Holm was being sent down to Rochester. No subsequent move was announced which, of course, made the Twitter world start thinking. The easy answer is that the Twins will promote either Danny Lehmann or Rene Rivera to the big league club. Either would need to be added to the 40 man roster. Because the Red Wings did not play on Wednesday and the Twins don’t play on Thursday. Holm could be playing for the Red Wings on Thursday night, and if he can, there is no reason that the player called up to wait until Friday to go to Boston. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me wonder if there isn’t something else going on. Could the Twins be looking to sign a free agent catcher? Could the Twins be working on finalizing a trade? If so, they would wait until the trade is officially finalized to announce the Holm move. So, again, I assume that it will be either Rene Rivera is 27 years old and hitting .200/250/.333 for the Red Wings. Danny Lehmann impressed in big league camp this spring. He has been the organization’s top minor league catcher the last two years. After going 6-13 (.462) in New Britain, he moved up to Rochester where he has gone 7-25 (.280) with a double and a home run. Of course, I prefer the Twins go with Lehmann, in part, because I prefer when the Twins promote from within. He was the Twins 8th round pick in 2007 out of Rice. He is the defensive equivalent to Drew Butera with a slightly better bat. I believe that Butera is a guy who can hit .180-210 in the big leagues (despite his current .111 batting average). I think that the 25-year-old Lehmann could hit .200-.240 in the big leagues.

As I mentioned on my podcast the other night, this is the time of year when transactions start happening in the minor leagues, and we saw some of that yesterday. Early in the day, the Twins:

  •  promoted C/OF Chris Herrmann from Ft. Myers to New Britain.
  • Josmil Pinto moves from Beloit to Ft. Myers to take his place.
  • Ray Chang was promoted to Rochester on Tuesday night (after the Plouffe promotion), and
  • last night, Steve Singleton got the call that he was also headed to the Red Wings.

Just as a reminder, I post all of this information, and much more, on Twitter immediately after I learn of it. So, if you want this kind of information sooner, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Ft. Myers beat Palm Beach last night 6-2. Kane Holbrooks picked up his first win. The right-hander gave up two unearned runs on six hits. In six innings, he walked one and struck out three. Blake Martin recorded the three-inning save. He didn’t give up any runs, hits or walks and struck out just one. Danny Rams went 3-4. Anderson Hidalgo went 2-4 with his fourth double. Aaron Hicks was 1-2 with two walks and a double.

Beloit beat Wisconsin 4-1. Adrian Salcedo went seven innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. Clint Dempster struck out five in two one-hit innings to record the save. Daniel Ortiz went 2-4 with his ninth and tenth doubles.

Since the Twins don’t play today, you can follow the Twins minor league teams throughout most of the day. Here are the times (all central) and starters:

  • Rochester hosts Gwinnett at 6:05. Anthony Swarzak will pitch against Braves prospect Mike Minor.
  • New Britain hosts a double-header against Richmond starting at 9:35 this morning. Steve Hirschfeld, my choice for Twins minor league pitcher of the month, will start the first game. Liam Hendriks will start Game 2.
  • Ft. Myers will host Palm Beach in their “Cinco de Miracle” game. Andrew Albers threw 4.2 scoreless innings in relief in his last appearance, and now he will get a start.
  • Beloit will host Wisconsin again today, starting at 11:00. Andrei Lobanov will start for the Snappers.

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

Minor Trending

26 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

The Twins had a much-needed off day on Monday, so today, let’s spend a little time talking about the Twins minor league system. We notice at the big league level which players get off to a hot or a cold start. It is the same thing in the minor leagues. Here are a few notes on the starts of players from the Twins affiliates:

Rochester Red Wings:

  • Trevor Plouffe has been able to start off very well. He is hitting .300 with three doubles, a triple and five home runs.
  • Kyle Gibson is again on the mound on Tuesday for the Red Wings. In his most recent start, he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He was named the Red Wings most recent player of the week.
  • Ben Revere is currently hitting just .203/.239/.234. Of course, he will be fine. However, in his past nine games, he has just four hits in 35 at bats.
  • Matt Brown has not played in the past four days. His batting average is down to .162 after he went 0-11 in his previous four games.
  • Jeff Bailey played well in spring training, and he has a game-winning, walk-off homer for the Red Wings, but he is struggling. His last hit was 11 days ago (April 15). In his past eight games, he is 0-23.

New Britain Rock Cats

  • Danny Lehmann made a strong impression on the big league staff in spring training, again. He began the season in Double-A and went 6-13 (.462) with a double. He moved up to Rochester recently where he has gone 5-14 (.357) with a double and a home run.
  • After being named the organization’s top minor league hitter in 2010, it’s great to see Joe Benson off to a fast start. He is hitting .379/.446/.638 with seven doubles, one triple and two home runs. One of his issues had been strikeouts. Through last night’s games, he has 13 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances. The one strikeout every five at bat ratio would be a great number for Benson. In fact, with Ben Revere and Brandon Roberts struggling in Rochester, and Rene Tosoni cooling off, is it possible that if Delmon Young needs to go on the DL for four or five days that they could call up Benson now for a week?  In his past six games, Benson is 9-23 with three doubles, a triple and a home run.
  • Yangervis Solarte is hitting .356 (with a .367 OBP) with six doubles, a triple and a home run. He has six hits in his past ten at bats.
  • Steve Singleton had 43 doubles for the Rock Cats in 2010 (along with four triples and seven home runs). With three doubles on Monday night, he now has seven doubles on this season with a home run. How he is still at Double-A is beyond me.
  • Cole DeVries amazing start to his 2011 season continues. In five games, he has 12.1 innings thrown. He has given up just two hits, one walk, and he has struck out 18 batters.
  • After a fast start, Ray Chang has four hits in his last 26 at bats.
  • Another veteran that the team signed was Michael Holliman. He played for the Detroit Tigers in 2008. After playing in independent league ball in 2010, the Twins signed him. He played very well in spring. He homered in his first regular season game with the Rock Cats. Since then, it’s been a struggle for him. He has three hits in 42 at bats this season, an .071 average.

Ft. Myers Miracle

  • Chris Herrmann’s nine-game hitting streak came to an end in a game that he went 0-1 with two walks. He started a new hitting streak last night. He is now hitting .355/.425/.516.
  • Minnesotan Nate Hanson ‘s 12 game hitting streak came to an end over the weekend. Since then he has gone 1-13 and is now hitting .296 with three homers. David Dorsey of the Ft. Myers News Press wrote a nice article on the First Baseman.
  • Danny Rams played well in spring camp too. He has started the season by hitting. 357/.419/.536 with three doubles, two triples and a home run. He is 8-17 in his past five games, and 14-33 over his past nine games. Like Benson, strikeouts will be worth watching with Rams. So far, he has 18 strikeouts in 62 plate appearances.
  • Through 11.1 innings, Shooter Hunt is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He has 12 strikeouts to go with nine walks. Still a lot of walks, but he has been able to have enough control for those walks not to come back to haunt him.
  • Steve Liddle is struggling. He is hitting just .136 on the young season, but he is also 2-21 in his past 7 games. It is surprising because the nephew of the Twins 3B coach had a terrific college career at baseball power Vanderbilt.
  • Aaron Hicks had a good first week, but in his last seven games, he has gone 4-27 and is now hitting .232.

Beloit Snappers

  • Danny Ortiz was my choice for Breakout Hitter of the Year for the Twins throughout the offseason. Through 15 games, he .360/.411/.680 with 5 doubles, a triple and three home runs. He has been remarkably consistent. In his first 25 at bats, he had nine hits. In his past 25 at bats, he has nine hits.
  • Oswaldo Arcia broke out last year as the Appalachian League MVP. He got off to a fast start, then recently went 1-14 to drop below .300. However, last night he went 2-4 to return to the .300 level.
  • Early in the year, Ortiz and Arcia were joined by Gunner Glad as the guys carrying this offense, but Glad has really struggled of late. He has just two hits in his last 19 at bats and is now hitting .222.
  • Glad’s University of Kentucky teammate Lance Ray, the Twins 8th round pick a year ago, has just three hits in his last 25 at bats. He is hitting .184. It is surprising because after signing last year, he played very well at Elizabethton and was promoted to Beloit. In 47 games with the Snappers, he hit .279/.377/.418 with 14 doubles and three home runs. In other words, he will get it turned around at some point.
  • Derek McCallum was the Twins 4th round choice in 2009 out of the University of Minnesota. He was in Beloit last year but was limited to just 47 games by two separate injuries. He hit just .228 last year, and due to the limited playing time, he returned to the Snappers this year. He’s been healthy, but he is hitting just .135 (5-37) He has three hits in his last 21 at bats which is a .143 average. That means he was 2-16 (.125) to start the season. It has been a struggle, and the 2B also is now playing a lot of left field.

Draft Notes – The draft experts at Baseball America put together their first mock draft, and with the 30th pick, their choice for the Twins was RHP John Stilson from Texas A&M University. The Twins drafted Stilson out of Texarcana Junior College two years ago, but did not reach an agreement with him at the time. In fact, on the deadline day in August of 2009, he and his American Legion team were in Fargo, playing in the American Legion World Series. Had he signed with the Twins, he would have been unable to play in the championship game. As you recall, the Twins went right up to the deadline that year to sign their first-round pick, Kyle Gibson.

Kolten Wong is a 2B from the University of Hawaii who has risen up draft boards. In the same mock draft, they have him going 27th to the Cincinnati Reds. Wong was the Twins 16th round pick in 2008 out of high school as a catcher.

There is a quick glance at who is hot and who is not with the Twins four full-season affiliates. It is important to remember that the season is still very young, that most of the players have played less than 15 games and have less than 50 plate appearances. The weather has made conditions difficult and rain/snow outs make it hard to get into a routine. As the weather improves, they will play every day and it will be interesting to see where some of these players are in another 300 or 400 plate appearances. But it is fun to follow.

Below is a quick minor league report. It is something that I do most days at SethSpeaks.net. It is a look at the highlights from the games of the night before, a hitter and pitcher of the year and some additional links when appropriate. Today, I have also included the team’s standings as play starts today.

Minor League Report

Be sure to check out last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly podcast here.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, New Britain Rock Cats  

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayCole DeVries, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Monday – Red Wings, Pawtucket – Another day, another rain delay. Kyle Gibson will pitch on Tuesday night against Buffalo. The Red Wings are currently 7-10.

Rock Cats Report

Monday – Rock Cats 9, New Hampshire 2 – Each of Liam Hendriks’ scheduled starts had been affected by rain. In fact, he was supposed to start on Saturday for the Rock Cats, but with the rainout, he was pushed back to Monday. With this start, he recorded his first win of the year. In six innings, he gave up two runs on four hits. He walked one, hit one and struck out three. He got eight groundballs to just two fly outs. Cole DeVries incredible start to his season continued. He recorded his second three-inning save pitching three more perfect innings and striking out six. Yangervis Solarte got the Rock Cats on the board with a home run. He was 3-5 in the game. Steve Singleton went 3-5 with three doubles. Joe Benson went 1-3 with two walks and his second home run.  The Rock Cats are now 9-6 and just 1.5 games out of first place.

Miracle Matters

Monday – Miracle 5, Charlotte 11 – The Miracle had been the Twins’ affiliate that you could count on for a game. On this night, their game was delayed by the rains, but they did get it in. Ryan Mullins started and gave up four runs on three hits and two walks in just one inning. Matt Tone gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in two innings. Edgar Ibarra threw four shutout innings before giving up three runs in the 8th inning. Shooter Hunt got the final five outs. He walked two and hit one but did not allow a run. Danny Rams went 2-4. Chris Herrmann went 1-3 with a walk.  The Miracle are now 10-8, a very solid start. They are in second place, but they are already 6.5 games behind the St. Lucie Mets, who are 17-2.

Snappers Bites

Monday – Snappers 3, Burlington 7 – Andrei Lobanov started and the Moscow-native gave up six runs (5 earned) on three hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Clinton Dempster got all four batters he faced out. Ryan O’Rourke gave up one run on three hits in two innings. Martire Garcia struck out two in his scoreless frame. Danny Ortiz remains on fire. He hit his fourth and fifth doubles in four at bats. Oswaldo Arcia went 2-4 with his second stolen base. Wang-Wei Lin was 2-4 with his first double.  The Snappers are 8-7 and 4.5 games back in the division.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments

Valencia Vaults Twins to Win

13 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Michael Cuddyer was 4-4 with a walk. Luke Hughes had two hits and drove in two big runs. Jason Kubel had two hits. The offense put together 13 hits in this game. But it was Danny Valencia who got to play hero on Tuesday night. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Valencia singled to right, driving in Jason Repko with the game-winning run. Valencia had been seeing the ball better in the game as shown by two walks. Finally, he started using the whole field, hitting the ball to right.

Brian Duensing started and gave up three runs (2 earned thanks to an error of his own) on eight hits and two walks in six innings. Jose Mijares came on with runners on in the 7th and got a big strikeout. Matt Capps than got the final two outs of the 7th inning. He also pitched a perfect 8th inning. Joe Nathan came in and pitched well in the 9th. And Dusty Hughes got the win against the team that let him go this winter with a 1-2-3 10th inning.

The pitching was terrific, but to me the best thing has been Gardy’s usage of the bullpen. I love that he is using his best bullpen arm (Capps) in the role that he used Jesse Crain in last year. It’s not the comfortable 9th inning save. It’s the two-runners on, one out, keep them from scoring situations.

LAST NIGHT’S PODCAST – The Twins game ended with about a minute left in the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. It was great to catch up with New Britain starter David Bromberg for a fun 15 minute discussion. Check out the podcast. The next will be Twins Minor League Weekly on Thursday night at 10.

SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DaySteve Singleton, New Britain Rock Cats

Seth Speaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayDavid Bromberg, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Tuesday – Red Wings 3, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 5 – Anthony Swarzak started and gave up three runs on six hits and three walks in four innings. He struck out two. Jim Hoey then struck out two in two innings. Kyle Waldrop took the loss. He was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk in his two innings. Phil Dumatrait threw one scoreless frame. Ben Revere went 3-4 with a walk.  

Rock Cats Report

Tuesday – Game 1 – Rock Cats 7, Harrisburg 1 – This game actually started on Monday night. Liam Hendriks struck out two in a scoreless inning. The Rock Cats already had a run as Steve Singleton led off the game with a double, stole third base and scored. And then the rains came. The game was suspended until Tuesday. David Bromberg was on the mound for the Rock Cats and he threw six shutout innings. He allowed six hits, walked none and struckout none. Cole DeVries gave up and unearned run in 1.1 innings, but Jake Stevens came on to strike out the last two batters to end the game and record his first save. Singleton went 3-5 with that double and stolen base. Evan Bigley went 3-4. Danny Lehmann was 2-4. Ray Chang was 2-5 with his fifth double and two RBI.  

Tuesday – Game 2 – Rock Cats 8, Harrisburg 2 – Steve Singleton was again the story in the regularly scheduled game. He went 2-4 with a walk, his second double and his first home run. Chris Parmelee had two doubles in four at bats. He drove in three runs. Joe Benson and Mark Dolenc were each 1-3 with a walk. Santos Arias made the start for the Rock Cats. He went 3.2 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and one walk. Brett Jacobson gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out three. Mike Tarsi got the final four outs, three of them on strikeout.

Miracle Matters

Tuesday – Miracle 3, St. Lucie 1 – Matt Harvey, the Mets top pick last year out of North Carolina, was the story in this game. He went six innings, striking out eight. Kane Holbrooks matched zeroes with him for the first five innings, but he gave up one run in the 6th. He gave up that one run on five hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Jhon Garcia came in and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings. Bruce Pugh got the final four outs. Chris Herrmann’s hot start remains intact. He was the team’s catcher for the first time this year. He also went 2-3 with a walk, his first double and an RBI. He is now hitting .529 on the early season. Brian Dozier notched his first double.  

Snappers Bites

Tuesday – Snappers 1, Clinton 0 – In a pitcher’s duel, the Snappers needed just one hit to record a win. Clinton starter Forrest Snow gave up no hits through the game’s first six innings. But he was replaced, and in the 7th inning, Oswaldo Arcia got on with a walk. Michael Gonzales singled on a line drive to right to break up the no-no. Danny Ortiz came up and hit a sacrifice fly to give the team a 1-0 lead. That was it for the offense. It was enough on this night for the Snappers pitchers. Manuel Soliman made his first start and gave up just one hit and a walk in four innings. He struckout six. Ryan O’Rourke gave up two hits in his two scoreless frames. He recorded four strikeouts. Martire Garcia got the win. He struckout three in two perfect innings. Matt Hauser gave up two hits, but no runs, in the ninth to record his first save of the year. He struck out two.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.