It is hard to believe, but another minor league season is nearly over. Following two wonderful weeks of 27-14 and 22-19, the Twins organization put up another unbelievable week (26-13) with all teams except Rochester having winning records.
There again was significant player movement and transactions. Many have wondered whatever happened to 2006 24th round pick, shortstop Nick Papason, who signed after the 2006 summer season. He had been on the DL all summer prior to being activated last weekend by the GCL Twins. With the 2007 draft signing deadline on Wednesday, the Twins signed their #4 pick Reggie Williams. They were unable however, to sign top pitcher Nathan Striz (#5 selection) who will now attend the University of North Carolina. Striz and #13 selection, Elliott Soto, were the only selections of the first 16 rounds not to sign.
The Twins traded Ramon Ortiz to Colorado for 3B/infielder Matt Macri whom they had drafted out of high school in 2001 (17th round) before he attended Notre Dame. In an effort to help Rochester in their playoff run, they assigned Macri to the Red Wings and selected Scranton (NY Yankees) infielder Chris Basak off the waiver wire. Basak is a 28 year old second baseman who had a cup of coffee earlier this year with the Yankees. To replace Ortiz, the Twins returned to 11 pitchers and recalled Garrett Jones for the third time this season. Glen Perkins made a 1.0 inning start on Tuesday for the GCL Twins...in a game that was suspended after the first inning by rain. Perkins has moved up to New Britain where he will make his next rehab start later this weekend. The Red Wings activated Chris Heintz from the DL and Erik Lis was named last week's FSL Player of the Week.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-4, 69-59)
The Wings had a rough week as they fell 5.0 games behind the division leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Durham also has continued to win and now leads the Wings by 2.0 games in the Wild Card race.
Kevin Slowey made two wonderful starts, beating Scranton last Saturday, 4-1, when he pitched 8.1 innings with 7 hits, 1 run and 5K/2BB. On Thursday he was again in control, pitching 7.0 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 4K/1BB. Unfortunately, he was hit (in the butt) by a line drive and had to leave the game after 7 innings. Closer Bobby Korecky couldn't hold the lead, in part due to sloppy defense as the Wings lost a game, 5-4, they should have won. Julio DePaula is tied for the league lead with 11 wins (11-5) out of the pen to go with a solid 3.04ERA. Nick Blackburn was back to normal on Monday, pitching 7.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 3K/0BB. Jason Miller made a spot start when David Gassner was unable to make his scheduled start. Miller pitched 4.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 run and 1K/0BB. Brian Duensing wasn't given a lot of defensive support as the Wings lost both of his starts this week...pitching 5.0 innings with 5 hits, 6 unearned runs and 2K/3BB on Sunday and 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 2K/1BB last night. After a rough start on Tuesday (3.1 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs and 2K/2BB), recently acquired Jerome Williams pitched 3.0 solid innings out of the pen last night with 3 hits, 1 run and 0K/3BB.
After a 1 for 3 night last night, Jose Morales finds himself in second place in the batting average race at .325...a point behind Buffalo outfielder Ben Francisco at .326. Matt Macri had a double in 4 at bats last night in his debut. Macri played 3B and batted fourth in the Wings order. Brian Buscher got a hit as a pinch hitter last night in his first appearance following his recent medical problems with the Twins. Chris Heintz was activated from the DL yesterday, going 2 for 4 as the designated hitter. Lew Ford is ripping the ball with a .304Average and 2 home runs in 79 at bats with the Wings. Denard Span is hitting .255Average with an August average of .290...Span also has 24 stolen bases in 38 attempts. After a several week slump, Matt Tolbert has been hitting better and has his average back above .300 at .304.
New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (3-3, 56-63)
As the time to season's end shortens, the liklihood of the Cats finishing the season with a .500 record is slipping away. The Cats continue in 4th place, 15.0 games behind league best Trenton.
Jesse Floyd didn't pitch this week, however, continues to lead the Cats with 115.0 innings (5-9 record with 4.85ERA). A good example of the turnover to the Cat staff this season is that their closer, Tim Lahey, has the third most innings on the team, 71.2. Lahey has a 8-3 record with a 3.14ERA and 10 saves. Anthony Swarzak had a decent start last Saturday, 5.2 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs and 1K/1BB; followed by an excellent start on Thursday when he pitched 6.1 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 5K/0BB. After a tough start his first few games in April followed by his 50 game suspension, Swarzak has salvaged his season with a 4-4 record, 3.63ERA, 1.16WHIP and 60K/18BB in 67.0 innings. Oswaldo Sosa has certainly adjusted to the jump to AA. On Sunday he pitched 5.2 innings with 3 hits, 1 run and 2K/3BB...followed by a tough loss last night when he pitched 6.2 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 3K/3BB...and now has a 1-3 record with 3.31ERA with 24K/10BB in 35.1 innings. Yohan Pino, who was promoted with Sosa, also had an excellent start this week in Wednesday's 3-2 loss...pitching 8.0 innings with 9 hits, 3 runs and 6K/3BB. Recently promoted Armando Gabino made two excellent appearances out of the pen, pitching 3.1 innings with 2 hits, 0 runs and 5K/2BB.
David Winfree has not had the type of season he, the Twins and most fans were looking for. Recently however, he has been one of the hottest hitters in the system and had not a teammate also have an unbelievable week Winfree likely would have been Player of the Week. David was 9 for 21 (.421Average) with 3 runs, 4 rbi, 1 BB and a double...raising his average to .251. Fellow top third base prospect Matt Moses has struggled of late as his average slipped to .253 since his hot first week after he was returned from Rochester. Garrett Guzman continues his excellent play with 2 multi hit games and is now hitting .304Average with a team leading 71 rbi. Trevor Plouffe continues to hit very well with a .278Average while leading the system with 34 doubles and leading the Cats with 69 runs scored. Infielder Luke Hughes also continues to have a very respectable season with a .283Average.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (6-0, 32-23)
Holy Cow! Can you believe that the Miracle are in the midst of a twelve game winning streak? They have gone from a sub-.500 team a couple weeks ago, putting themselves in the hunt for the playoffs...currently in 4th place, 2.5 games behind Dunedin. It all started with the promotion of Valencia, Dinkelman and Woodard from Beloit. Are their enough games left for them to make it?
What is ironic is that their excellent starting pitching hasn't been as good as earlier in the season. However, with Mullins, Pino, Sosa and others up to New Britain...that is certainly understandable. What is unbelievable is that Zach Ward got 2 wins this week, improving his record to 5-15! Recent Player of the Week Ward pitched 5.0 innings last Saturday with 7 hits, 5 runs and 8K/1BB. It wasn't his best start, yet he got the win as the Miracle offense put up 7 runs. Last night Ward was better, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs (2 earned) and 5K/2BB. Ward now has a 3.44ERA in 123.0 innings. Jay Rainville made another great start on Sunday, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 4K/0BB...for a team leading 125.0 innings with a 3.24ERA and 95K/29BB. After struggling a bit in his first few games back from AA, Kyle Waldrop pitched a gem in Thursday's 9-5 win, with 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 0K/1BB in 6.0 innings. Waldrop now has a 6-3 record with a 3.00ERA in 75.0 innings. Errol Simonitsch made another rehab start on Tuesday, pitching 4.2 innings with 8 hits, 4 runs and 3K/1BB. Jeff Manship is tied for the team lead with 7 wins (7-3 record) in only 10 starts for the Miracle. Jeff pitched 6.0 innings on Wednesday with 7 hits, 2 runs and 5K/1BB...giving him a 2.67ERA with 56K/19BB in 60.2 innings. Rob Delaney now has 6 saves in 13 appearances (18.0 innings) with a 1.50ERA and 22K/8BB. Eduardo Morlan made two appearances this week, 3.0 innings, with 2 hits, 0 runs and 7K/0BB while picking up his 17th save. Morlan now has 88 strikeouts with only 17 walks in 61.1 innings with a 3.38ERA.
Dustin Martin continues to hit like a different player since joining the Miracle. This week he was 7 for 24 with his average now at .313. Erik Lis is another player who is on a tear and certainly could have been this week's Player of the Week...with 9 hits in 27 at bats including 1 double, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 5 runs scored and 11 rbi. Lis is amongst the system leaders with 28 doubles while leading the system with 16 home runs and 85 rbi. Lis, who is hitting .329Average with 7 home runs and 24 rbi in 17 games in August, will finish amongst the franchise all-time leaders in home runs and rbi. Brian Dinkelman, who has scored 44 runs in 48 games, is hitting .290Average while Danny Valencia is hitting .280Average with 5 home runs and 25 rbi since their mid-season promotion from Beloit. Steve Tolleson also continues to hit well with a .288Average and 25 stolen bases in 34 attempts. Another player that hasn't gotten a lot of publicity this season is Juan Portes who now has 9 home runs, 51 rbi, 61 runs scored, 22 doubles and 4 triples with a .265Average.
Beloit Snappers (A) (4-2, 29-23)
The Snappers have slipped a bit the past few weeks, and now are in third place, 5.0 games behind Quad Cities.
This is the first time Tyler Robertson, Alex Burnett, Brian Kirwin and Cole DeVries have been on full-season teams. One reason for their recent slump may be that these young starters could have tired arms as they have not been as sharp as earlier in the season. Burnett did make two good starts this week, pitching 10.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs (1 earned) and 7K/3BB. Brian Kirwin lasted only 1.2 innings in his only start, allowing 4 hits, 6 runs and 2K/3BB. Matt Fox continues his comeback, pitching 4.1 innings with 5 hits, 6 runs and 5K/4BB. Dan Leatherman made a spot start, going 4.0 innings with 4 hits, 5 runs and 0K/2BB...2 days after pitching 2.0 innings of perfect relief with 4K/0BB. With 6 days rest, Tyler Robertson pitched 5.0 innings last night with 5 hits, 1 run and 8K/0BB. Anthony Slama continues to pitch well as their closer with 7 saves in 15 games (16.1 innings) with a 2.20ERA and 26K/7BB. Matt Williams has also been solid and now has a 2.78ERA in 22.2 innings. This week Matt made 2 appearances, pitching 6.1 innings with 3 hits, 0 runs and 5K/2BB. Last night Aaron Craig pitched 3.0 innings of relief with 3 hits, 0 runs and 2K/1BB...getting his ERA down to 2.66 in 44.0 innings.
Eli Tintor struggled at Ft. Myers and the first few weeks back at Beloit. He is not, however, struggling any longer and is another player who had a phenominal week and could'a, maybe should'a, been Player of the Week. Eli was 12 for 27 with (.444Average) 2 doubles, 1 triple, 8 runs scored and 2 rbi. Tintor is now hitting .301Average in 176 at bats with 29 runs scored, 11 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs and 26 rbi. Wilson Ramos has just plain been playing at the highest level possible...nearly every game since his promotion from EST. Ramos had three more multi-hit games this week and is now hitting .296Average with a .450SLG. Has any other player in the organization made as much improvement this season as Ramos? Steven Singleton has also been solid since his promotion, with three consecutive multi-hit games this week to bring his average up to .277. Joe Benson is hitting a respectable .271Average this month with his average for the season now up to .246. Chris Parmalee broke out of his recent slump with 3 multi-hit games this week including his team leading 14th home run. He also leads the team and is amongst system leaders with 64 rbi.
Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (6-2, 43-15)
Just what type of team is this year's E-Ton Twins? On Monday they scored 22 runs in a 22-3 win. Yet, on Tuesday only scored 4 runs in a doubleheader...but won both games, 3-2 and 1-0. The answer is a very good team that can win with pitching and/or hitting. A team so good that they clinched their division championship on Thursday and now lead second place Kingsport by 14.5 games.
David Bromberg leads the league with 8 wins (8-0) to go with his league third best 2.45ERA in 51.1 innings with 70K/31BB. Brad Tippett is second with a 7-1 record and 1.16ERA in 31.0 innings...and he works out of the bullpen. Henry Reyes is tied for the third most wins at 6-2 with a 3.17ERA in 48.1 innings. Michael Allen has the 9th best ERA in the league, 3.24, wo go with a 4-2 record in 58.1 innings. Blair Erickson has only appeared in 14 games, yet has a league second best 8 saves (1.98ERA). Michael McCardell was promoted to Elizabethton after a great start with the GCL Twins. McCardell has the 8th most strikeouts (53) in only 33 innings. Caleb Moore has now appeared in 8 games since his change from a catcher at Ft. Myers to a closer in Elizabethton. Moore has pitched 8.2 innings with a 4.15ERA, 7 hits, 4 runs and 8K/2BB.
The hitters are another story, even though several Twins Execs have recently made a point of mentioning that they all should expect a greater challenge next year in A ball. This combination of a 2005 draft pick, catcher Greg Yersich who was demoted from Beloit; a 2007 college pick in the 21st round, outfielder Ozzie Lewis; the 2005 36th round draft and follow pick out of Canada, Rene Tosoni; and three Latin players who all played for the DSL Twins in the DSL summer league before joining the GCL Twins last summer, Rene Leveret, Deibinson Romero and Estarlin De Los Santos. As of this morning, 5 were amongst the top 9 hitters in the league with Lewis #2 (.333Average), Yersich #3 (.331 Average), Tosoni #4 (.316Average), Leveret #8 (.308Average) and Romero #9 (.306Average). Romero and Lewis are tied with the league's second most home runs (9) while Leveret leads the league with 61 rbi in 56 games. Romero and Lewis are tied for second with 47 rbi each. De Los Santos leads the league with 57 runs scored, while Tosoni is second with 53, Romero third with 51 and Leveret fifth with 48. De Los Santos is also tied for the league lead with 25 stolen bases.
Gulf Coast League Twins (Rookie) (4-2,32-15)
The Twins have a 2.5 game lead over the Orioles, with 9 games remaining. They play the Orioles twice more including the last game of the season. It should be exciting to see if both Rookie teams can have championship seasons.
Santos Arias pitched two great games this week. Last Saturday he pitched 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 unearned run and 6K/0BB. Last night he pitched 7.0 innings with 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 9K/3BB...and now has a 2.77ERA in a team high 48.2 innings. Like Arias, Winston Marquis is 3-3 after a good start this week, 5.0 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs and 3K/3BB. Dan Berlind wasn't as good as he had been as demonstrated by his 5-2 record, pitching 4.0 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 2K/2BB...raising his ERA to 2.00. The best start of the week was by Aussie Liam Hendriks, who got his record up to 3-1 and ERA down to 1.32 following an outing in which he pitched 5.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 7K/1BB. Danny Rondon got his 11th save in 18 appearances (21.0 innings) with a 0.43ERA and 15K/11BB. Dutch native Tom Stuifbergen pitched well and now has a 0.90ERA in 10.0 innings.
Ben Revere continues to play very well and is now hitting .313Average with a league leading 38 runs scored, 19 stolen bases (26 attempts) and 9 triples in 41 games/160 at bats. St. Olaf's Andrew Schmiesing is hitting .321Average, .421OBP in 109 at bats. Juan Richardson broke out of his mini-slump and is now hitting .318Average with 28 rbi. Yangervis Solarte leads the team with 29 rbi. Recently signed 43rd round pick, catcher Andres Diaz played his first game while Nick Papason has now played in 3 games with 3 hits in 9 at bats. Leadoff hitter Jeanfred Brito has scored 35 runs while hitting .294Average. This year's 14th round pick, catcher Daniel Rohlfing is hitting .273Average while second round pick, catcher Danny Rams is hitting .250Average with 5 doubles in 72 at bats. Third round pick, Angel Morales has seen his average move up to .233 during the past week.
Anderson Jose Hidalgo is a 5'9, 172 pound, second baseman/infielder for the DSL Twins. This native of Valencia, Venezuela, who will turn 19 early next month, is playing for the DSL Twins after being with the VSL Twins last summer.
In 2006 Hidalgo had a .310Average in 242 at bats for the VSL Twins/Cubs, with 28 runs scored, 13 doubles, 3 home runs, 43 rbi, 23 walks, 22 strikeouts and 17 stolen bases in 28 attempts.
This year he is playing in the DSL where he is amongst the league's top 20 hitters with a .312Average. He has 27 runs scored in 186 at bats, plus 13 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs, 28 rbi, 27 walks, 27 strikeouts and 8 steals in 16 attempts...with a .406OBP.
Featured Player of the Week
Brock Peterson came off the DL last week and his big bat immediately resumed producing big hits for the New Britain Rock Cats.
Peterson is a great baseball story that was surprising beginning with the day he signed with the Twins after being drafted in the 49th round of the 2002 draft. More surprisingly, this high school player began his career with the Twins at Elizabethton in 2003 where he hit for a .290Average with 53 runs scored, 9 doubles, 1 triple, 9 home runs and 31 rbi in 207 at bats.
The next season he hit .253Average in the Quad Cities with 66 runs scored, 21 doubles, 0 triples, 7 home runs and 65 rbi in 454 at bats. In 2005 Brock was promoted to Ft. Myers where he did reasonably well, hitting .250Average with 49 runs, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 12 home runs and 60 rbi in 424 at bats.
He repeated at Ft. Myers in 2006 where his career appeared to take off, hitting .291Average with 65 runs scored, 21 doubles, 4 triples, a franchise record 21 home runs and 75 rbi in 447 at bats. That performance earned him a promotion to New Britain, where this big first baseman has continued to hit like a prospect whom was drafted in the high rounds, certainly not like a 49th round pick. Brock currently has a .283Average in AA with 54 runs scored, 17 doubles, 3 triples, 14 home runs and 51 rbi in 321 at bats.
After being activated off the DL last week, Brock was a major reason the Rock Cats were able to play .500 ball this week, getting 8 hits in 19 at bats (.421Average) with a triple, 3 home runs, 9 runs scored, 5 rbi and 5 walks.
Although several players such as Winfree, Lis, Martin and Tintor could have been this week's selection, with the week he had Brock Peterson is certainly worthy to be featured as this week's Player of the Week.