With anywhere between a few weeks and a bit less than a month, every team except New Britain is in a playoff race with the Rock Cats awakening to climb out of the cellar. With the races on, all teams except the two Rookie League teams had winning records this week with an overall system record of 24-16.
I would also like to comment this week about fmmiraclegal. Dianna spends so much time at the GCL and Miracle games...and always gives us in depth information on what is happening with the many players that pass through the Twins home base in Ft. Myers. Without Dianna's information, we all would have a much harder job of knowing who is where in this system.
The Red Wings released Erubiel Durazo. Although he is not on the DL, Whit Robbins has not played for over a week as the Snappers rest his knees. Korey Feiner was placed on the DL by the Miracle and is out for the season. With the Miracle down to one catcher, Jeff Christy was promoted from Elizabethton to Ft. Myers. The Twins placed Francisco Liriano on the DL, calling up Boof Bonser. They also placed Rondell White on the DL (which almost guarantees that he will not have enough at bats to guarantee next year's contract) and recalled Lew Ford from his rehab assignment in Rochester. Mike Smith was returned to Rochester and Matt Garza was called up to make his first start last night. Lavale Speigner was promoted to Rochester from New Britain, and David Shinskie skipped a level and was promoted to New Britain from Beloit. Finally, Adam Hawes was activated from the DL by Beloit. Alexi Casilla was the Twins Minor League Player of the Month for July. Dan Leatherman was the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month. Brandon Roberts was the Topps Florida State League Player of the Month for July as the Juan Castro trade keeps paying dividends.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (5-2, 69-52, T1st/+5.5)
The Red Wings recovered from a tough 8 game road trip to go 5-2 this week and are tied in their battle for a division championship with Scranton. They have a 5.5 game lead over third place Ottawa as the Red Wings battle for their first playoff spot in 9 years.
Alex Romero has come on these past few weeks, going 10 for 25 (.400) this week with 4 walks, a double, triple,, 5 runs scored and 3 rbi. His batting average went up .024 this week to .260 as Romero makes a claim for Player of the Week and a spot on the Twins sometime in 2007. Lew Ford was 8 for 29 in his rehab assignment with 6 walks, 2 doubles, 5 runs scored and 2 rbi.
Terry Tiffee was the star in Monday's most unusual game of the year (or ever for Rochester). After giving up an early lead in which his error played a role, the Red Wings were down 8-4 with 2 outs and 2 on base in the 9th. Andres Torres grounded out to second to end the game. As the teams left the field, the umpire indicated that there had been catchers interference, awarding Torres first base to load the bases bringing up Tiffee who promptly hit a grand slam homer to tie the game. The Wings went on to win in the 10th on a Quinton McCracken pinch hit double. For the week, Tiffee (who is now hitting .289Ave) was 6 for 20 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 5 rbi. Garrett Jones hit his system leading 17th home run (tied with Brock Peterson) with 5 rbi this week for a system leading 77 rbi.
David Gassner completed his rehab assignment to Ft. Myers, making his first start on Tuesday pitching 5.0 shutout innings with 1 hit and 5K/3BB. Scott Baker had two excellent starts, pitching 7.1 innings on Sunday with 8 hits, 2 runs and 6K/1BB and 7.0 innings last night with 7 hits, 2 runs and 6K/1BB. Beau Kemp had 1 save in 4 appearances, pitching 4.2 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 0K/2BB.
New Britain (AA) (4-2, 51-64, 5th/-12.5)
The Rock Cats had a winning week as they crawled out of the basement for the first time in awhile, trailing Trenton by 12.5 games.
Alexi Casilla is making a strong claim for the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. He was 5 for 21 this week and is now hitting .277 in AA after hitting a league leading .331 at Ft. Myers. Casilla stole 2 more bases this week and now has a perfect 16 steals in 16 attempts during the month he has been in AA. Including Ft. Myers, Casilla has now stolen 47 bases this season while being caught stealing only 6 times. Doug Deeds continues his hot streak with 9 hits in 22 at bats this week including 3 doubles to lead the team with 32. Deeds is now the team's leading hitter with a .294 average, one point ahead of Trent Oeltjen who also had a good week (8 for 22). Matt Moses is holding his average at .251, however, had a double, 2 home runs and 10 rbi this week including 6 rbi last night.
Adam Harben has returned to the starting rotation with two very good starts this week (12.0 innings, 14 hits, 5 runs and 10K/4BB). Kevin Slowey and Brian Duensing both struggled in their starts this week and Glen Perkins had a short start as he is returning from missing a few games with a sore arm. Julio DePaula continues to be one of the better relievers in the system with 3 appearances this week, pitching 4.2 innings with 1 hit, 0 runs and 1K/1BB dropping his era to 2.25. Lefty Jay Sawatski also had a solid week, appearing in 3 games pitching 6.2 innings with 4 hits, 0 runs and 6K/2BB.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (5-2, 26-20, 2nd/-1.0)
The Miracle gained 2 games on Division leading Clearwater and now trail by only 1.0 game.
Brandon Roberts continues to be amazing since his trade at the all-star break. This week Roberts was 10 for 27 with 3 doubles and a home run. Roberts, who has been hitting .337 for the Miracle, scored 6 runs and had his 19th stolen base in 22 attempts since his joining the Miracle 48 games ago. Like Casilla, Roberts is on track to have over 60 stolen bases this season. David Winfree appears motivated to prove to everyone that he is the player who earned the Minor League Player of the Year award last season. Winfree, who is now hitting .289Ave, was 10 for 29 this week with 2 doubles, a home run, 4 walks, 3 runs scored and 3 rbi. The hottest hitter this week who also is in contention for Player of the Week is Deacon Burns. Burns struggled all season with an average around the Mendoza line, however, this week has looked more like the extra base machine we all knew last year at Beloit. Burns raised his average this week to .239 going 12 for 29 with a double, home run, 4 runs scored and 3 rbi. Brock Peterson hit 3 home runs this week and now has 17 to go with his 64 rbi and .292Ave.
Kyle Aselton will certainly be in contention for Pitcher of the Week with 2 wins in 2 starts (10.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs (0 earned) and 11K/9BB including Saturday's 5.0 inning no-hit performance. His main competition may be teammate Anthony Swarzak who at the age of 20 has taken over the role of Ace now that Garza and Slowey have departed. Swarzak also won his 2 starts this week, pitching 7.0 innings on Sunday with 6 hits, 2 runs and 3K/2BB. He followed up with a sterling performance last night, pitching 7.2 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 11K/1BB.
Beloit Snappers (A) (4-2, 28-20, T2nd/-0.5)
The Snappers, who are tied with Kane County, are hot on the trail of Quad Cities...if they only hadn't lost their double play combo of Kelly and Thompson.
Matt Betsill was promoted from Elizabethton last week after several infielders went on the DL. Betsill is also in contention for Player of the Week this week with 8 hits in 19 at bats with 3 runs scored, 2 rbi and is hitting .381 in 21 at bats. Erik Lis continues to rake with 8 hits in 22 at bats this week including 2 doubles for a system leading 37 and 3 home runs for a team leading 16. Lis also had 10 rbi this week for a total of 70 this season which trails only Garrett Jones. Eli Tintor has been quietly playing very well, including an 8 for 25 week raising his average to .286.
Alexander Smit made his claim for Pitcher of the Week on Thursday, getting the win in his 7.0 shutout innings with 1 hit and 11K/0BB performance. Since moving into the starting rotation at the beginning of July, Smit is 5-0 with his era dropping from 4.60 to 3.20 and now has 109 strikeouts in 84.1 innings pitched. Ryan Mullins got 2 wins this week (12.0 innings, 11 hits, 3 runs and 14K/4BB) including last night's 6.0 shutout innings. Yohan Pino had an off night in his 3rd start of the season while Eduardo Morlan pitched a gem on Monday (7.0 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs and 6K/1BB).
Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (3-4, 32-18, 1st/+4.0)
The Twins lost four straight early in the week and saw their lead over Kingsport get cut almost in half. With only a few weeks left, the Twins need a good week to sew up another championship.
Danny Valencia continues his hot performance since his recent signing. This week Valencia was 8 for 30 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 rbi and is now hitting .319. Garrett Olson is another recent draft pick who is playing very well. This week Olson was 8 for 26 and is now hitting .295. Steve Singleton continues to lead the team in hitting (.337Ave) after a week of 4 for 12. Brian Dinkelman was 6 for 19 and Yancarlos Ortiz was 8 for 18 and is now hitting .264Ave.
Alex Burnett continues to lead the team in innings pitched with 57.1 innings. Burnett had no decisions this week in 2 starts (12.0 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs and 15K/2BB). Jose Lugo also had two excellent starts (1-1) pitching 13.1 innings with 11 hits 3 earned runs and 9K/0BB. Staff Ace Sean Land had another off start when he gave up 7 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits in 4.2 innings. Matt Williams appeared in 3 games (6.1ip) giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs with 5K/0BB. Danny Hernanez got another save (14) while dropping his era to 3.43. Hernandez now has 29 strikeouts in 21.0 innings.
Gulf Coast League Twins (Rookie) (3-4, 25-21, 2nd/-3.0)
The GCL Twins struggled a bit this week and with time being short may have lost their chance of overtaking the cross town Red Sox for a Division championship.
Eric Santiago was 4 for 13 and is now hitting .303Ave. Joe Benson was 8 for 25 with with 4 walks, 3 doubles, a triple, home run, 3 runs scored and 5 rbi. Benson is now hitting .281 and clearly is an excellent outfield prospect for the future. Chris Parmalee is hitting .287 with a league leading 8 home runs and now has 29 rbi in 38 games. Wilson Ramos was 8 for 20 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 4 rbi. Mark Dolenc was 9 for 25 with a double and 2 triples.
Jeff Manship was a surprise signee out of the University of Notre Dame. This may or may not have something to do with Notre Dame's coach leaving for LSU, but whatever the reason it is good news. Manship doesn't belong in a rookie league as evidenced by his first 2 performances when he pitched 5.2 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 10K/1BB. Although it is late in the season, will Manship move up to Elizabethton or Beloit next week? Loek VanMil had an excellent start on Thursday, pitching 6.0 innings with 2 unearned runs, 6 hits and 5K/2BB. Brad Tippett got his 10th save in 2 appearances pitching 2.0 innings with 2 hits, 0 runs and 3K/0BB and now has a 1.83era. Omar Alcala had one short start and David Bromberg had one good start and another short start. Alcala leads the staff with 45.2 innings with a 3.35era while Bromberg has 43.2 innings with a 3.09era.
Question of the Week
Now that Lew Ford is back in Minnesota, will Doug Deeds get the call he deserves and move up to Rochester who is short of outfielders?
Watch for my Pitcher and Player of the Week announcement on Seth's site on Monday.