Minor League Report...April 21, 2007

Play Ball.  Yes, last night was the second consecutive day that all four teams got their games in.  Today, the Red Wings will have Opening Day II in an effort to hold the festivities that had to be cancelled on their first attempt.  This week, the Red Wings and Rock Cats both had games cancelled for four straight days, and both have now lost a total of 8 games to the weather.  

So everyone who is wondering why Matt Garza has struggled or why Moses or Span isn't hitting...please give them a chance to play under normal conditions for a few weeks.  

This week the four full-season teams had a .500 record with 10 wins and 10 losses.  

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (2-2, 5-3)

The Red Wings are in second place, 2.0 games behind Buffalo.

Last night the Wings had a nice 6-2 win over Pawtuckett with Scott Baker pitching a gem.  Baker, who got his first win (1-0) in his second start, allowed only 2 hits in 8.0 innings with no runs and 8K/0BB lowering his era to 1.69.  Scott's performance last night followed another gem by Kevin Slowey in the makeup half of Thursday's double header.  Slowey pitched 5.2 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 9K/0BB.  Kevin has 2 wins in 2 starts this season with a 0.00 era and 11K/0BB.  I guess if Kevin is on the mound you better be swinging, eh?  Kevin is also making the Twins take notice and will Mr. Radke, Jr. be the player to join the starting rotation if/when a certain current starter is replaced?

Last night was also the first time that Matt Moses (.200Ave) had a multi hit game, 2 for 4, with a run scored and 1 rbi.  The hitting star
last night was Garrett Jones who was 3 for 5 and is now hitting .316Ave with a team high 9 rbi.  The pleasant surprise early this year has been Matt Tolbert, who is playing regularly with Casilla up for the Twins, who is now hitting .381 with a triple, home run and 6 runs scored in 31 at bats.  Tolbert is a solid middle infielder who can play second, short and some third making him an ideal future utility player for the who plays about 120+ games a year.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (1-2, 3-5)

The Cats are in a three team tie for fourth, 4.5 games behind Trenton.  In a six team league that also means they are in a three team tie for last.  But having every game scheduled cancelled from Monday through Thursday is tough.

The top pitching performance this week was by lefty Brian Duensing, who got a win with a 5.2 inning start when he allowed 5 hits, 2 runs with 4K/1BB.  Jose Mijares, who is on the 40-man roster, has been perfect in his four appearances this year.  Mijares has pitched 4.1 innings with 0 hits, 0 runs and 5K/1BB.  Mijares appears to be settling in nicely at AA and I for one look for him to make an appearance in Minnesota by September at the latest.  On the flip side, Dan Powers has struggled at AA, allowing 9 hits and 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings.  I won't print his era, but Powers will get on track as he was excellent last year at both Beloit and Ft. Myers.

Catcher Korey Feiner saw his average drop .144 this week when he was 3 for 9, yet is still hitting a team high .474Ave.  In my opinion, the top every day prospect in the organization is David Winfree, who was 3 for 11 this week and is now hitting .333Ave/.382OBP/.533SLG.  Trevor Plouffe continued to play well at AA, with a 3 for 12 week and is now hitting .276Ave.  Outfielder Matt Allegra was signed over the winter as a minor league free agent out of the Oakland organization.  Matt had a great game last night getting his first homer, and is now hitting .261Ave/.370OBP/.391SLG.  Speedy centerfielder Brandon Roberts also had a better week, 4 for 11, raising his average to .241.  He has been unsuccessful in his first two steal attempts, but I don't expect anyone is doing a lot of running in near freezing conditions.  Slugger Brock Peterson is hitting only .200Ave, but does have a double, home run and 4 rbi out of his 5 hits in 25 at bats.  Veteran Felix Molina was 2 for 9, raising his average to .095.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (3-3, 7-7)

The Miracle played six games this week, and currently find themselves in 3rd place, 4.5 games behind Sarasota.

Jay Rainville had a good week, but we will talk about him later.  Alexander Smit saw his era drop to 5.65 pitching 5.0 innings in his only start with 6 hits, 2 runs and 3K/1BB.  Top prospect, and Seth Stoh's top football picker, Kyle Waldrop, also had one start pitching 5.1 innings with 4 hits, 0 runs and 6K/2BB.  Oswaldo Sosa, who was hit with a line drive during a previous start, also had a good start pitching 5.0 innings with 4 hits, 2 runs and 8K/2BB.  The stars of the staff however have been two relievers.  Many on this site are huge fans of Cuban native Eduardo Morlan.  The Twins have finally decided to keep him in short relief as he is sharing the closer role with Angel Garcia.  Morlan pitched in two games this week with 0 hits, 0 runs and 3K/1BB.  In four appearances this season, Morlan has 2 saves with 1 hit and 0 runs allowed in 7.1 innings.  Yohan Pino also pitched in two games with 3.2 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs and 6K/1BB.  Pino doesn't throw hard, yet has 9 strikeouts in 7.0 innings with the same era as Morlan, 0.00.

2006 draft pick Whit Robbins got hot this week, going 6 for 13 with a double.  Robbins now leads the team with a .333Ave/.480OBP.  Outfielder Edward Ovalle is a lessor known player who had an excellent season at Beloit last year.  Ovalle was 7 for 21 this week with a double and 4 rbi, raising his average to .293.  When asked about future sluggers in the organization the other night, Bert and Dick struggled to come up with any names other than Garrett Jones...until Dick also mentioned Erik Lis.  Lis, who led the system in many hitting categories last year, was 7 for 20 this week including a double, home run and 7 rbi to raise his system leading rbi total to 13 (a bit misleading as Rochester, Beloit and New Britain have all had so many cancellations).  

Three players at Ft. Myers had terrible weeks however, with Juan Portes, Toby Gardenhire, and Eli Tintor going a combined 4 for 52.  Portes was the leader of that group with 2 hits as his average slumped to .212.

Beloit Snappers (A) (3-4, 6-6)

The Snappers had a tough trip to Iowa where they dropped four games to division leading Clinton.  The Snappers are tied for second, 3.0 games behing Clinton.

At first glance I was going to feature Jeff Manship as this week's Player of the Week as he doesn't belong in Beloit.  However, until several starters at Ft. Myers move up to New Britain...he will likely stay in southern Wisconsin.  Manship started two games this week, pitching 13.1 innings with 8 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 17K/0BB.  Yes, Mr. Manship has 23 strikeouts and 0 walks in 19.0 innings this season...and has yet to get his first decision.  Alex Burnett will not turn 20 until this season is nearly over, yet is one of the top pitchers on the Snappers roster.  Burnett also had 2 starts this week, pitching 10.0 innings with 11 hits, 5 runs and 9K/2BB.  Former Gopher Cole DeVries made his first start this week, pitching 4.1 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 3K/1BB.  Rob Delaney has been perfect out of the pen, pitching 5.2 innings in 2 games with 1 hit, 0 runs and 9K/0BB.  Yes, 9 of 17 outs were by strikeout.  Sounds like someone who should be Manship's roommate in Ft. Myers in a few weeks?

Danny Valencia had another great week when he was 7 for 20 with a double, 3 home runs and 6 rbi.  Valencia's four home runs in Beloit's dozen games is double what any other player has.  Valencia is now hitting .364Ave/.432OBP/.758SLG.  Brian Dinkelman was the top player in the nation when the Twins drafted this middle infielder last year.  Brian was 6 for 25 this week and is now hitting .278Ave/.435OBP.  Garrett Olson continues to hit well, going 8 for 28.  And all of you who have Chris Parmalee as a top 10 prospect, well he had a very good week.  I expect Chris has never played in sub-freezing temperatures, however, he warmed up this week when he was 6 for 19 with 3 doubles, a triple and 3 rbi...raising his average to .242 with a .485SLG.  Danny Santiesteban is another warm climate kid who struggled with a 1 for 15 week.  There are many of us who are huge fans of Santiesteban and have confidence that he will get it going in the coming weeks.

Featured Player of the Week

This week's pick could certainly have been Jeff Manship or Kevin Slowey.  And with the week Whit Robbins had, he would also be deserving as would Erik Lis with 7 rbi.  But this week's Player of the Week must be Ft. Myers starter Jay Rainville.  

Jay was taken by the Twins in the first round of the 2004 draft with fellow high school pitchers Kyle Waldrop and Anthony Swarzak (second round) and Minnesota Gopher Glen Perkins.  After a second half of the season at Ft. Myers in 2005 when Rainville was only 19 years old, he had a 4-3 record, 2.67era and 35K/6BB in 54.0 innings.  That performance appeared to separate Jay from his fellow 2004 picks and put him on the fast track to Minnesota.  Unfortunately, Rainville had shoulder surgery prior to the season and didn't pitch until the fall Instructional League.  

This season Jay returns to Ft. Myers.  He had an excellent week, pitching 11.1 innings in 2 starts with 9 hits, 2 runs and 3K/1BB.  This former hockey player whom has often been compared to a young Roger Clemens appears to be back on track.  As his shoulder strengthens his velocity and strikeouts should return, as will his trip north.  It is great seeing this young man back on the mound in a Mircale uniform and on behalf of all Twins fans everywhere, welcome back Jay.        


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