Minor League Report...September 1, 2007

It is hard to believe, but the minor league seasons are nearly over.  As several teams make a run for the playoffs, others are struggling as evidenced by a 21-20 week for all six teams.  The low spot of the week may have been that two teams were no-hit this week.  Beloit was no hit by four pitchers on the Peoria staff while Clearwater's Andrew Carpenter pitched a complete 7 inning no-hitter against the Miracle.  

There again was a lot of player movement which included Chris Heintz return to the Twins to replace Dennys Reyes who was placed on the DL with Tim Lahey moving up to Rochester.  Catcher David Hernandez has moved up to Beloit to replace arguably Beloit's best player, catcher Wilson Ramos who was placed on the DL.  Finally, because he wouldn't make a start in the Appy League playoffs, Henry Reyes moved up to Beloit where he made his first start on Thursday.  Eduardo Morlan was promoted to New Britain while Eli Tintor appears to be tired after the long season, left the Beloit Snappers and has been placed on the Restricted List.  

It is being reported by Jim Mandalero that the Twins will recall three players today, Kevin Slowey, who will start on Tuesday, Lew Ford and Luis Rodgriguez.  There will apparently not be any other callups until Rochester finishes their season.

David Bromberg was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year and Ozzie Lewis was the Player of the Year.  Kevin Slowey and Jose Morales were named to the International League All-Star Team.  Garrett Guzman was named an Eastern League All-Star while Eric Lis was named to the FSL All-Star squad.  Meanwhile, 7 E-Ton Twins were named to the Appy League All-Star team...OF-Ozzie Lewis, P-David Bromberg, 1B-Rene Leveret, 3B-D.J. Romero, SS-Estarlin De Los Santos, C-Greg Yersich and OF-Rene Tosoni.  Lastly, the Twins named 7 to the Arizona Fall League...Pitchers Nick Blackburn, Ryan Mullins, Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak, plus 3B/1B David Winfree, catcher Drew Butera and shortstop Trevor Plouffe.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-3, 75-66)

The Wings are battling to make the playoffs, yet each day their chances become a bit longer.  They now trail division leading Scranton by 7.0 games.  They are tied for second and in the wild card race with Buffalo whom they lost to last night.  However, both teams trail Richmond by a game and a half.

Kevin Slowey made an excellent start in Sunday's 4-3 win, pitching 5.0 innings with 6 hits, 1 run and 6K/2BB.  Last night he was on a pitch count related to Tuesday's start for the Twins.  Like so often happens before a pitcher is called up, he wasn't his best last night pitching only 4.0 innings with 7 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 4K/1BB.  Kevin's 1.89ERA leads the IL by well over a run.  David Gassner had two excellent starts, pitching a total of 11.2 innings with 9 hits, 4 runs and 7K/2BB.  Brian Duensing had an excellent start with 7.0 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs and 9K/1BB.  Nick Blackburn lost a heartbreaker Thursday, 1-0, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 unearned run and 5K/1BB.

Jose Morales is in a heated battle for the IL batting championship.  As of last night, his 3 hits raised his average to .316 which trails Buffalo's Ben Francisco who is at .318Ave.  Richmond's Martin Prado is at .314Ave while Columbus' Braxton Watson is at .313Ave.  Denard Span continues to hit like someone who wants to be noticed by the Twins, with a .324Ave in August bringing his average up to .264 for the season.  Matt Tolbert has seen his average settle in just under .300...currently at .295Ave.  

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (4-5, 65-72)

After flirting with .500, the Rock Cats have fallen back and remain in 4th place, 14.0 games behind Trenton.

Glen Perkins made a disappointing rehab start on Tuesday, pitching 2.0 innings with 7 hits, 6 runs and 1K/1BB.  It was also reported that he did not cover first base on one occassion and failed to back up a base on another.  Anthony Swarzak made one great start and another solid one.  On Sunday he pitched 6.0 innings with 4 hits, 2 unearned runs and 5K/0BB.  Last night he pitched 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 4 runs and 3K/4BB.  Eduardo Morlan made his first appearance Thursday night, pitching 1.2 innings with 3 hits, 1 run and 3K/2BB.  Armando Gabino continues to impress since his promotion as he now has made 9 appearances (15.0 innings) without allowing an earned run.  Tim Lahey put up excellent numbers before his recent move up to the Wings...pitching in 50 games (78.1 innings), Lahey had a 8-4 record with 13 saves, a 3.45ERA and 56K/33BB.  

Garrett Guzman continues to lead the team with a .298Average with 13 home runs and a team leading 80 rbi.  Trevor Plouffe is headed to the AFL after hitting .274Average with a team high 37 doubles and 75 runs scored.  David Winfree's average continues to move up to .262 while Brandon Roberts has settled in at .295Average.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (4-3, 38-30)

The Miracle now appear to be out of the playoff hunt in fourth place, 3.5 games behind Clearwater.

Zach Ward had been this year's tough luck pitcher, however, he appears to be tiring much like the last few weeks last year after his trade to Beloit.  He gave up 7 runs (6 earned) in 3.1 innings on Wednesday with his excellent ERA now up to 4.08 along with his 5-17 record.  Errol Simonitsch had two fantastic rehab starts this week, pitching 14.0 innings in two wins with 9 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 14K/1BB.  Kyle Waldrop had a good start pitching 6.0 inning with 5 hits, 2 runs and 3K/2BB.  Rob Delaney continues to be excellent at the end of the game.  Delaney has appeared in 17 games with 7 saves and a 1.54ERA with 27K/10BB in 23.1 innings.  Winston Marquez is a 19 year old lefty from Johan Santana's home town, Tovar, Venezuela.  He moved up from the GCL Twins after their season ended, pitching his first inning with the Miracle last night...allowing 3 hits with 3 runs and 0K/1BB.  

Erik Lis is the lone Miracle All-Star.  He currently is hitting .272Average with a team high and league seventh best 16 home runs, a league fourth best 34 doubles and league leading 91 rbi.  Danny Valencia has a system high 17 home runs (11 at Beloit) with a .290Average since joining the Miracle.  Juan Portes had a big night last night, going 3 for 4 with his 12th home run, a walk and 4 rbi.  Portes is a solid prospect who is now hitting .268Average with 62 rbi, 24 doubles and 70 runs scored.

Beloit Snappers (A) (1-7, 31-35)

The Snappers are in the playoffs due to their winning the first half.  However, they are young and tired and with their top three hitters, best starter and top closer all in Ft. Myers they appear to have run out of gas and find themselves in fifth place, 9.0 games behind the Quad Cities.  Can their tired starters get a second wind and turn it around when the playoffs start on Wednesday?

Nearly all of their excellent young starters struggled this week.  Brian Kirwin had two starts, pitching 11.0 innings with 14 hits, 9 runs (5 earned) and 5K/3BB.  Alex Burnett had pitched like an ace much of the season, however, this week he pitched only 9.2 innings in two starts with 9 hits, 5 runs (3 earned) and 7K/3BB.  Tyler Robertson is being rested for the playoffs as he made only one appearance in relief on Tuesday, pitching 3.0 innings with 1 hit, 1 unearned run and 5K/0BB.  It is likely he will be the game 1 starter.

Beloit sustained a huge loss this week when catcher Wilson Ramos went on the DL.  He may been the leading candidate for Beloit's MVP after hitting .291Average with 8 home runs, 17 doubles, 42 rbi and 40 runs scored in 292 at bats.  Eli Tintor was hitting .286Average prior to his departing this week.  Joe Benson is hitting .245Average while Chris Parmalee is hitting .238 but is amongst the league leaders with 15 home runs and 68 rbi.  Now that the Appy and GCL leagues have ended, will the Twins promote any players from either team to help the Snappers in the playoffs?

Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (4-1, 50-18)

The Twins finished their 68 game season with 50 wins and faced the Danville Braves in the championship series for the third straight season (they won in 2005 and lost last year).  

In Game 1 on Thursday they were tied 0-0 after five innings when the game was delayed by rain.  Starter Michael Allen was excellent pitching the first 5.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 5K/2BB.  After the game was resumed, starter Michael Tarsi pitched another 5.0 shutout innings with 1 hit and 9K/1BB.  With the game tied and two out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Estarlin De Los Santos walked before Rene Tosoni stepped up to the plate and hit a 2-run walk off home run...Twins 2, Braves 0.

Last night the Twins traveled to Danville to meet the Braves in the second game of their three game series.  The Twins started Michael McCardell as they were saving Appy League Pitcher of the Year David Bromberg for a final game 3.  Well, Mr. Bromberg will wait awhile for his start as McCardell pitched 6.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 7K/1BB.  Spencer Steedley pitched the final 3.0 innings with 2 hits, 1 unearned run and 4K/1BB.  Several hitters got their bats going with D.J. Romero, Greg Yersich and Wesley Connor all getting 2 hits.  

So the Twins are Appy League Champions for the second time in three years.  But how good is this team and will some of their tremendous hitters continue to develop?  Those are interesting questions, however, all seven of their All-Stars appear to be special players who should have realistic chances of moving all the way up to the Twins.

The Appy League Pitcher of the Year was David Bromberg who completed his season with a league best 9-0 record with a league fourth best 2.78ERA with a league best 81 strikeouts along with 32 walks in 58.1 innings.  Bromberg is 19 years old and was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2005 draft and signed last year as a draft and follow.  I for one believe that the elimination of the draft & follow provision in the recent CBA may have a significant negative impact on teams such as the Twins.  Michael Allen is also a 19 year old who was another draft and follow taken in the 13th round of the 2005 draft.  Allen had a 4-2 record with a league ninth best 3.47ERA with a fourth best 70 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 62.1 innings.  

Henry Reyes was their fourth best starter so he moved up to Beloit as he would not make a start in the championship series.  Reyes is a 19 year old starter, who was in the DSL last year, who tied for the second best record in the league at 7-2, with a 2.87ERA and 68K/17BB in 53.1 innings.  Michael Tarsi and Michael McCardell were amongst the leagues best with 5-2 and 5-1 records, respectively.  Tarsi had an excellent 2.22ERA with 59K/13BB in 52.2 innings while McCardell had a 2.00ERA with a league third best 70 strikeouts and only 5 walks in 45.0 innings.

Brad Tippett worked out of their bullpen in short relief, compiling a league second best record, 7-1, with a 0.93ERA and amazing 51K/4BB in 38.2 innings.  Closer Blair Erickson joined the team late after appearing in the CWS, however, earned a league second best 11 saves in 18 appearances.  Blair finished with a 1.53ERA and 17K/3BB in 17.2 innings.  Championship series star Spencer Steedley finished with a 2-3 record in 18 appearances with a 2.92ERA and 51K/12BB in 37.0 innings.  

The E-Ton hitters have been talked about since the day their season began.  Ozzie Lewis was the Appy League Player of the Year after he put up a league second best .323Average with the third most hits (76), fourth most doubles (18), third most home runs (9) and fourth most rbi (50).  Most hitting categories included several E-Ton Twins amongst the leaders, such as runs scored with Estarlin De Los Santos and D.J. Romero tied for the most (60) with Rene Tosoni third best at 58.  The hit leaders were Romero first (78), Lewis third (76) with De Los Santos and Rene Leveret tied for fourth (75).  Lewis had the fourth most doubles (18) while Romero was ninth best with 16.  De Los Santos had the second most triples (6), while Lewis and Romero were tied for the third most home runs (9) with Leveret tied for sixth best (8).  

Leveret ran away with the rbi lead with 65 while Romero was third with 52 and Lewis fourth with 50.  De Los Santos had the third most stolen bases (27) with Tosoni (13) and Mark Dolenc (12) in the top ten.  Lewis has the league's second best batting average (.323) with Romero third (.316), catcher Greg Yersich sixth (.312), Leveret eighth (.307) and Tosoni tenth (.301).  Other players who had excellent seasons included outfielder Wesley Connor who hit .293Average and outfielder Mark Dolenc who finished at .287.  

It is likely most of these players will move up to Beloit next year with maybe one or two jumping up to the Miracle.  Some will certainly disappoint next year, however, with all this talent moving up Beloit should have another young, championship team in 2008.

GCL Twins (Rookie) (3-0, 37-19)

The Twins pulled away the last few games finishing the season as the West division champions, 5.0 games ahead of the Orioles.  They then played the North division champion Yankees in a 1-game playoff for the right to face the best team in the league (East Champion Dodgers) in the championship series.        

Starter Santos Arias pitched 6.0 innings with 8 hits, 3 runs and 5K/1BB.  Charles Nolte pitched an inning of no hit relief before closer Danny Rondon gave up 3 hits and 3 runs in the Yankee's come from behind 6-4 win as the Twins season came to an end.

The Twins season was lead by a starting staff that included Dan Berlind who had the leagues third most wins (6-2) with a fifth best 1.93ERA and seventh most strikeouts (52) in 56.0 innings.  Arias finished with a 3-4 record and eleventh best 2.96ERA with 46K/13BB in 54.2 innings.  Lefty Winston Marquez had a 3-3 record with a 3.04ERA and 35K/30BB in 47.1 innings.  Aussie Liam Hendriks had a 4-2 record with a sterling 2.05ERA with a league seventh best 52 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 44.0 innings.  

Fellow Aussie Jarrod Eacott finished with a 3-0 record in 15 appearances with a 2.28ERA and 19K/10BB in 27.2 innings.  Charles Nolte had a 1.85ERA with a 3-0 record in 14 appearances with 22K/11BB in 24.1 innings.  Closer Danny Rondon had a league best 12 saves in 20 appearances with 16K/11BB in 23.2 innings.  

Top pick Ben Revere was one of the top players in the league, finishing with a league seventh best .325Average, league best 46 runs scored and 10 triples, and league second most stolen bases (21 in 30 attempts).  Revere had two errors in 50 games while striking out only 20 times in 191 at bats with 13 walks for a .388OBP.  St. Olaf's Andrew Schmiesing had the team's second best average of .321 with a .421OBP.  Unfortunately, he was not available for the playoffs as the Twins had agreed that he could return to St. Olaf's to play football in his senior season.  Juan Richardson is a third baseman who had a league 10th best .317Average with a fifth best 33 rbi.  Second baseman Yangervis Solarte also had 33 rbi and a .303Average.  Second round pick Danny Rams had a .258Average in 97 at bats after he signed well after the season was under way.  Third round pick Angel Morales struggled early in the season, however, was one of the Twins top hitters the last month of the season...finishing with a .256Average with 2 home runs and 11 stolen bases.

Featured Players of the Week

Rene Tosoni was the Twins 36th round pick in the 2005 draft out of British Columbia.  He attended Junior College and was signed by the Twins as a draft and follow in 2006, however, 2007 was his first year of professinal baseball.

Tosoni had an exellent season for the E-Ton Twins, finishing amongst the league leaders in several offensive categories.  Tosoni had the league third most hits (58), eighth most stolen bases (13 in 17 attempts), and tenth best batting average (.301).  He also had 13 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs and 31 rbi in 236 at bats.  He also had only two errors playing primarily right field.

This week Tosoni was 9 for 25 with 2 walks, a double, 2 home runs, 4 runs scored and 3 rbi.  However, the highlight had to be his walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning for the E-Ton Twins game 1 win over the Danville Braves.


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