Yesterday I made the annual trip to Peoria to catch the "prospects" for our Beloit Snappers, low-A team for the Minnesota Twins.
Thanks to Roger's excellent minor-league reports I actually felt I had some familiarity with the Snapper players. And true to Minnesota Twins' organizational form, the pitchers were much more impressive than the hitters. In fact, I doubt I've ever been to a game where more batting averages for both teams hung around the Mendoza Line (or should we call it the "Punto Line"?) There was one extra-base hit - an opposite field double - and more broken bats than hard-hit balls.
The Snappers "mashed" their way to a 2-1 win with six hits, two of which were bunt singles by third-basemen Garret Olson (.219 ba) and first-baseman Matt Betsill (.189 ba). In true Twins fashion, the Designated Place-Holder (I can't really call him a "Hitter") was Daniel Berg (.205 ba, 3hr in 293 ab's). The Twins line-up also featured Chris Cates (.173 ba) and Danny Santiesteban (.208 ba). Yeesh. Also, for the second straight year, second round draft picks Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson were out of the line-up with injuries. So it comes as little surprise that Peoria pitching had gone 15 innings against the Snappers without allowing a hit until Joe Benson singled in the second inning.
The good news is that Benson was 2-4 with a run scored and Chris Parmalee hit the ball hard in three at-bats and made a nice running catch in right. More bad news is that Benson is hitting .242 and Parmalee .236. But as Roger has pointed out, these guys are young and full of promise.
As expected, the Snapper pitching was sharp. Alex Burnett, a 12th-rounder from 2005, improved to 9-7 by going 5 2/3 innings, with 5 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts. Aaron Craig from Rochester, MN was impressive in middle relief, and Anthony Slama'd the door shut with a two inning save, with five of his outs coming by strikeout. He was gassing it right by the Chiefs. (According to the Chief scoreboard all pitchers were between 97 and 99 on the radar gun, even their curveballs. Is this more bush-league fun for the kids?)
But, again, my enthusiasm for the Snapper pitching was tempered by the fact that the Chiefs' "prospects" included no draft picks higher than the fourth round. I assume this was not the cream of the Cubs' crop.
Chris Cates made some sterling plays as shortstop, but honestly, there are bigger players at Williamsport. If the Twins are going to draft and play a 5'3" guy they could at least get him some pants that fit.