Minor League Report...August 19th

With the GCL Twins and New Britain out of their races, the rest of the system played well in their drives for league championships with four teams either in first place or within a game of first.  For the week, the system had a record of 24-15-1 with Ft. Myers leading the way with a 6-1 week.  

My wife and I will be spending much of the next two weeks in the French Wine Country, thus this will be my last report until September 9th when I will recap the seasons for all the teams in the system.


Kevin Slowey received a spot on the USA Olympic Qualifying Team which will participate in a Tournament in Havana, Cuba from August 25th through September 7th.  Colby Miller was promoted from Ft. Myers to New Britain to replace Slowey.  Recently signed pitcher Jeff Manship was promoted from the GCL to replace Miller at Ft. Myers.  Two players who hadn't played lately for Beloit were placed on the DL.  Slugger Erik Lis has a broken Hamat bone from a swing last Friday and top rookie Whit Robbins is out with a lower back problem.  Beloit's roster is now short three players, meaning callups from the GCL or Elizabethton are likely next week.

The Miracle swept last weeks Florida State League awards with Anthony Swarzak receiving Pitcher of the Week and Brock Peterson awarded Player of the Week.  Alexander Smit was awarded the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-4, 72-56, 2nd/-1.0)

The Red Wings went 0-3 this week before recovering with wins in three of their last four.  They currently trail division leading Scranton by 1.0 game with a crucial two game head-to-head series this weekend.  They lead Buffalo and Indianapolis by 5.0 games for the wild card.  Considering that following this weekend, Scranton and Buffalo play each other in 7 consecutive games, the Wings are in great shape for a wild card spot should they not win the division championship which is great news for Wings fans who haven't seen the playoffs for 9 years.

Mike Smith had two starts (1-1) following his brief stint with the Twins, allowing 6 runs in 5.0 innings in his loss and 4 runs in 5.0 innings in his win.  Dave Gassner gave up 1 run in 4.0 innings in his first start this week and 7 runs on 9 hits in 4.0 innings in last night's loss.  Jason Miller had a good start in Monday's 3-0 loss, pitching 5.0 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 4K/1BB.  The best performance this week was from Scott Baker in Wednesday's 5-0 win, pitching 6.2 shutout innings with 4 hits and 6K/1BB.  The Wings continue to miss Pat Neshek as Beau Kemp appeared in 2 games, pitching 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 2 runs and 4K/1BB.   Kevin Cameron also appeared in 2 games, pitching 3.1 innings with 6 hits, 4 runs and 3K/0BB.  Although he is not on the 40-man roster, Jason Miller is the lefty most deserving of a September callup with a 3.69era and 73K/31BB in 83.0 innings pitched.  

Veteran Quinton McCracken was hot this week, going 7 for 20 with 4 runs scored.  Alex Romero continues to recover from his early season struggle with a 5 for 20 week and is now hitting .259Ave.  Slugger Garrett Jones was 7 for 24 with another home run (18) and 7 rbi, increasing his system lead to 84 rbi.  Andres Torres was 7 for 23 with 2 triples.

New Britain (AA) (3-4, 54-68, T5th/-15.0)

The Rock Cats are tied with New Hampshire for last place in their division, 15.0 games behind Trenton and New Hampshire.

Kevin Slowey got the win on Sunday in his last game before joining Team USA, pitching 7.0 innings with 2 hits, 0 runs and 7K/2BB with a season ending 3.19era.  Brian Duensing had his best start since moving up from Ft. Myers, pitching 6.1 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 7K/2BB.  Duensing was the starter in Tuesday's thriller that the Cats won 2-1 in the 16th after 15 scoreless innings.  With his era down to 3.38, will Duensing get a spot in the Arizona Fall League?  Adam Harben has pitched better the last few weeks after returning to the starting rotation.  On Friday, Harben got the win pitching 5.1 innings with 8 hits, 3 runs and 3K/3BB.  Nick Blackburn has been forced back to the rotation with 2 starts, pitching 9.0 innings with 15 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 5K/1BB.  Top pick Glen Perkins pitched 5.1 innings in his loss with 8 hits, 5 runs and 9K/1BB.  Julio DePaula has been a star out of the Cats bullpen with an era that is now 2.04.  This week he appeared in 3 games with 6.0 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 unearned run and 3K/2BB.  Lefty Jay Sawatski has also seen his era go down to a current 3.39.  This week Sawatski appeared in 2 games, pitching 5.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 unearned run and 5K/1BB.

Centerfield prospect Denard Span was 6 for 24 with a double, 3 rbi and his 20th stolen base in 30 attempts.  Danny Matienzo had a big game last Sunday when he was 3 for 3 with 2 walks, 3 runs scored, 5 rbi and 2 homes runs.  Although Matienzo is only hitting .246Ave this season, he leads the team with 15 home runs and 66 rbi.  Garrett Guzman had another good week raising his average to .278 with a 9 for 25 week including 3 doubles, 4 runs scored and 3 rbi.  Trent Oeltjen was 8 for 23 and continues to lead the team with a .297Ave.  Shortstop Alexi Casilla had another great week, going 7 for 21 with a double and 3 runs scored, however, he was caught in his only attempt at a stolen base this week and now has 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts for the Rock Cats (47 total stolen bases between Ft. Myers and New Britain).      

Ft. Myers (Hi-A) (6-1, 32-21, 1st/+1.5)

As the end of the season approaches, the Miracle were on fire (6-1) as they regained first place with a 1.5 game lead over Clearwater.  In five consecutive wins between Monday and Thursday, the Miracle pitching staff allowed a total of 3 runs in wins of 2-1, 3-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-1.  

Kyle Waldrop has been sharp since his promotion, leading off the string of great starts on Monday with 7.0 innings, 6 hits, 1 run and 3K/1BB.  Recently promoted Jeff Manship got the start in the second half of Monday's double header pitching 2.0 perfect innings with 3K/0BB.  Including Thursday's relief appearance, the former Notre Dame Ace pitched 3.2 innings allowing 1 unearned run with 5K/1BB.  Oswaldo Sosa continued Tuesday with 6.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 2K/1BB.  On Wednesday, Kyle Aselton put in his bid for Pitcher of the Week pitching 6.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 7K/0BB.  Staff Ace Anthony Swarzak also pitched 6 shutout innings on Thursday with 2 hits and 4K/2BB.  Only Josh Hill didn't dominate this week, pitching 2 games with 11.0 innings, 10 hits, 7 runs and 14K/6BB.  Reliever Jose Mijares returned to action with 2 appearances, pitching 2.0 innings with 0 hits, 0 runs and 3K/0BB.  Dan Powers also appeared in 2 games with 2.0 innings and 1 hit, 0 runs and 3K/0BB.  

David Winfree continues to make up for lost time.  Winfree is now hitting .284Ave with 10 home runs and 38 rbi in 197 at bats.  Brandon Roberts got his 45th stolen base last night and is now hitting .329 since joining the Miracle.  Brock Peterson got his 19th home run on Wednesday and is now just one behind the franchise record of 20 shared by Matt LeCroy and Tommy Peterman.  Peterson may have a future in Minnesota as he now has 19 home runs, 70 rbi and a .300Ave.  Former top pick Trevor Plouffe has seen his average move up the past few weeks to .244Ave which is the highest of the season.  

Beloit Snappers (A) (5-2, 33-22, 1st/+0.5)

The Snappers split a crucual 4 game series with Quad Cities this week and now have a 0.5 game lead over Kane County and Quad Cities.  For a young team that has now lost Erik Lis, Whit Robbins, Paul Kelly and Andrew Thompson to season ending injuries, their pitching staff has taken over their drive for a second half championship.

Only recently acquired Zach Ward failed this week as he gave up 6 hits and 5 runs in 5.0 innings in his losing start on Monday.  Yohan Pino won his two starts while allowing only 1 run in 11.0 innings with 7 hits and 10K/2BB.  Pino now leads the team and trails only Matt Garza for the system lead with a 12W-2L record even though 35 of his 40 appearances have been out of the bullpen.  Alexander Smit followed up his award winning week including his selection as my Pitcher of the Week with an unacceptable outing, pitching 3.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 2K/6BB.  Eduardo Morlan put in his bid for Pitcher of the Week winning both starts, pitching 7.0 shutout innings on Sunday with 1 hit and 9K/3BB.  Last night Morlan pitched 5.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 6K/1BB.  Reliever Danny Vais appeared in 3 games, pitching 5.0 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 5K/0BB.  Tryout camp signee Dan Leatherman appeared in 3 games, pitching 5.2 shutout innings with 3 hits and 9K/2BB.  Since joining the Snappers, Leatherman has a 0.61era in 14.2 innings.

The one player who has stepped up following all the injuries is Dwayne White.  White was 12 for 24 this week including 6 runs scored and 2 rbi.  Recently promoted Matt Betsill also had a good week with 2 multi-hit games while Edward Ovalle had 4 multi-hit games during a week of 11 for 24.  

Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (6-1, 38-19, 1st/+6.5)

After seeing their lead cut to 4.0 games last week, the Twins took charge this week and now have a 6.5 game lead over Kingsport with 10 games remaining.  With a league best record of 38-19, the Twins are in great shape for their second  consecutive Appalachain League championship.

Brian Kirwin pitched a gem last Saturday, pitching 6.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 7K/1BB.  He struggled on Thursday with 9 hits and 6 runs in 4.1 innings, however, his first professional season has been very successful.  Jose Castillo had two great starts pitching 5.0 innings on Sunday with 4 hits and 2 runs followed by another gem last night, when he pitched 7.0 innings with 6 hits, 1 run and 8K/0BB.  Alex Burnett pitched another great game on Tuesday, with 5.0 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs and 5K/0BB.    Danny Hernandez got his 14th and 15th saves, pitching 3.1 shutout innings in 3 appearances with 3 hits and 4K/0BB.  Former first round pick Matt Fox appeared in 2 games with 4.2 innings pitched, 5 hits and 3 runs.

Brian Dinkelman made his claim for Player of the Week with a week of 15 for 37, including 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 10 rbi.  Greg Yersich will compete with his week of 12 for 31 with 3 doubles.  2006 fourth round pick Garrett Olson saw his average move up to .333 following a week when he was 14 for 28 including 2 doubles, a triple, 9 runs scored and 6 rbi.  Danny Valencia also had an excellent week when he was 12 for 34 with 2 doubles, 6 runs scored and 6 rbi.  Including Robbins who is on the DL at Beloit, Olson and Valencia give the Twins three excellent third base prospects from this year's draft who all are hitting over .300.  With Moses and Winfree ahead of them, third base may be one of the strongest positions in the system...although none will be ready until after 2007.

GCL Twins (Rookie) (1-4-1, 26-25, 2nd/-6.5)

After leading the GCL much of the short season, the Twins were 1-4-1 this week, falling to 6.5 games behind the Red Sox with only 2 games remaining.  Wednesday's game ended in a 0-0 tie when rain came in the 8th inning and the game which would normally be made up later in the season went into the books as a tie because the season ends on Monday.  

Their best pitching performances this week were from 7'1" Loek VanMil (7.0ip, 4hits, 0runs and 2K/3BB) and David Bromberg (7.0ip, 1hit, 0runs and 9K/0BB) who leads the team with his 2.66era and a 1.18WHIP.  Third round pick Tyler Robertson had 2 starts, pitching 6.0 innings on Saturday with 8 hits, 3 runs and 8K/0BB, following it with a 4.0 inning performance yesterday with 4 hits, 4 runs and 5K/3BB.  Closer Brad Tippett is another young Aussie who has 10 saves this season with an era close to 2.00.  

The Twins bats were silent this week with Wilson Ramos leading the way with 2 multi-hit games as did Deibinson Romero who was 9 for 19 with 3 doubles.  Infielder Matt Lawman also has hit well during his rookie season with 2 multi-hit games this week as did Wilson Ramos, who will end his rookie season with an average near .300.    

Questions of the Week

With four teams having legitimate chances of winning their divisions and making the playoffs this is the best year for the Twins system in many years.  Will 1-2-3 or all 4 win their divisions and/or make the playoffs?  Last year we had one champion, how many will we have this season?

Watch for my final Player and Pitcher of the Week next Monday on Seth's site.  I will announce my Twins System All-Star Team on Seth's site later this fall.  Following my return from France I will begin a series on in which I review all the players in the system by position.


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