Following two winning weeks, the organization played .500 ball at 13-13.
There were several transactions, beginning with Nick Punto being placed on the DL and replaced by Alexi Casilla. Although Casilla had a terrible start this year at .219/.350/.250 in April, he was hitting .350/.435/.350 in 20 at bats in May while having 18 walks versus 18 strikeouts this season. Following Casilla's promotion, the Twins signed former Arizona Top pick, Sergio Santos. Santos had been hitting .183/Average for Syracuse after hitting .250/.325/.477 with 20 home runs in 432 at bats in the Eastern League (AA) in 2007. Rochester also placed Darnell McDonald on the DL for a second time this year and lost Howie Clark yesterday, when he was called up by the Twins to replace Matt Tolbert who was placed on the DL with a thumb injury. Clark, who has a lifetime .262 Average in several stops in the majors with Baltimore and Toronto, was hitting .284/.331/.422 with 1 home run, 7 doubles and 3 triples in 116 at bats for the Wings. Rochester activated Matt Macri and Tommy Watkins from the DL to replace McDonald and Clark. Errol Simonitsch was promoted to New Britain following a rehab assignment at Ft. Myers. Frank Mata returned to the active roster for the Miracle. It was also reported that Andrew Thompson left EST and will continue his physical rehab at home. After missing all of 2007, it remains to be seen if this once promising second round pick will ever again play for the Twins, however, it now appears it will be 2009 at the earliest. Finally, New Britain infielder Steve Tolleson was named the Eastern League Player of the Week following a week in which he was 9 for 23 for a .391Ave, .783SLG with a double, triple, 2 home runs, 10 rbi and 2 stolen bases.
This week we will take a look at the Top 5 home run hitters in the organization with the only surprise in this group being the organization's home run leader.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-4, 17-26)
The Red Wings improved from last week's 7 game losing streak, remaining in fifth place in the league, 12.0 games behind Scranton/WB.
Francisco Liriano made two starts, beginning with his best performance of the year last Saturday in the Wings 3-2 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 2 runs and 5K/2BB. He followed that up with a better game in Thursday's 3-1 loss, pitching 8.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 4K/1BB. Thursday, he threw 93 pitches with 61 strikes and 32 balls with his fast ball in the 90-91 range and topping out at 93. Liriano now has a 4.28ERA with 19K/15BB in 27.1 innings. Jim Mandelaro quoted him as saying that he was almost back!
Philip Humber also made two solid starts this week, pitching 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 4 runs and 1K/3BB in Sunday's 4-2 loss. Philip followed last night with a 6.2 inning performance with 6 hits, 3 runs and 1K/3BB in a 5-4 loss. Humber, who has a 5.09ERA, has only 22 strikeouts with 19 walks in 40.2 innings. Former all-star Danny Graves made a spot start in Monday's 5-1 win, pitching 4.0 shutout innings with 2 hits and 2K/0BB. Kevin Mulvey was the starter in Tuesday's 7-5 loss, pitching 3.2 innings with 6 hits, 5 runs (1 earned) and 2K/2BB. In 8 starts (41.2 innings), Mulvey has a 3.89ERA, 1.56WHIP with 38K/17BB. Brian Duensing had an unusual tough start in Wednesday's 10-7 win, pitching 4.2 innings with 9 hits, 5 runs (2 earned) and 1K/2BB. Brian leads the staff with 9 starts (52.1 innings), a 3.44ERA and 1.22WHIP with 27K/12BB.
Tim Lahey appeared in 2 games this week, picking up 2 saves in 3.2 innings with 1 hit, 0 runs and 8K/0BB. Lahey now has a 1-2 record with 5 saves in 9 games (14.1 innings) with a 3.77ERA, 1.05WHIP and 21K/1BB. After joining the team late following his return from the Phillies, Lahey is settling nicely into the Red Wing's closer role following Bobby Korecky's promotion to the Twins. Carmen Cali also appeared in 2 games this week (3.0 innings) with 2 hits, 1 run and 4K/0BB. For the season, Cali has apeared in 14 games (18.0 innings) with a 4.00ERA, 1.33WHIP and 17K/8BB.
Brian Buscher continues to hit very well for the Wings following a 13 for 39 (.333Ave) week with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 8 rbi. Brian's 6 home runs leads the Wings and are the fourth best in the organization. Darnell McDonald has battled injuries this season, however, he was the International League's third best hitter prior to his second trip to the DL....336/.392/.600 with 4 home runs, a team high 11 doubles and 26 rbi. Many expected Jose Morales to have a huge season following a phenominal 2007 in which the Red Wing catcher lost the league batting title during the last week of the season. Jose was still dealing with the effects of last September's serious ankle injury and hit only .233/.263/.301 in 73 at bats in April. This month however, Morales is reminding everyone that 2007 was no fluke, hitting .326/.341/.442 in 43 at bats. This week the Red Wings faced Columbus and former Twin Garrett Guzman, who is hitting .165/.274/.216 in 97 at bats.
New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (1-5, 20-19)
The Rock Cats couldn't maintain last week's excellent pace, losing another 1.5 games to league leading Trenton and dropping into fourth place, 5.0 games out.
Yohan Pino got the loss in last Saturday's 5-3 loss, pitching 5.0 innings with 6 hits, 5 runs and 2K/1BB. A New Britain writer reported that the Rock Cats weren't happy with Pino's performance and he was skipped on Thursday with Errol Simonitsch getting the start in a 7-6, 11 inning loss. Simonitsch pitched 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 5 runs (4 earned) and 2K/2BB in his first appearance since his rehab in Florida. Ryan Mullins had a solid start in Sunday's 7-4 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 2K/2BB. Pino and Mullins each have a 3.25ERA which is the best amongst the starters. Anthony Swarzak rebounded from his toughest start of the year in Monday's 11-4 loss, pitching only 4.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs (only 1 earned) with 4K/3BB. Jay Rainville had one of his best starts of the year in Tuesday's 4-2 loss, pitching 6.1 innings with 7 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 2K/1BB. Oswaldo Sosa got the loss in Wednesday's 5-2 loss, pitching 5.2 innings with 9 hits, 5 runs and 3K/4BB...resulting in his ERA moving up to 7.20 in 8 games (35.0 innings).
Zach Ward continues to be one of the better relievers in the organization, appearing in 2 games this week (4.1 innings) with 3 hits, 0 runs and 4K/1BB...dropping his ERA to .036 with a 1.12WHIP and 22K/12BB in 25.0 innings. Ward appears to be another example of the Twins scouting strength, having acquired him from Cincinnati for Kyle Lohse when he was pitching in the Class A MidWest League. Jason Miller dropped his ERA to 3.12 pitching 2.1 shutout innings in his only appearance with 4K/1BB.
The best news of the week for the Rock Cats is that Luke Hughes returned from missing several games with his tenth home run in his first at bat Thursday night. Hughes continues to lead the Eastern League in hitting at .381/.440/.687 while his 10 home runs also lead the league, Rock Cats and Twins organization. Hughes 32 runs scored also leads the organization and are second best in the Eastern League. David Winfree is only hitting .223/.303/.468, however, had 2 home runs this week to give him 9 which is second best in the Eastern League and the Twins organization. Winfree had 4 rbi this week giving him a team high and organization second best 33 for the season. Toby Gardenhire is hitting well for the Cats since his recent promotion, .324/.390/.378. Erik Lis continued his hot pace with a 10 for 24 week (.417Ave) with 7 doubles. After starting his AA career with a .202/.264/.321 April, Lis is hitting .457/.500/.761 in 46 at bats in May. Lis also has 13 doubles which leads the Cats and is tied for the organization lead.
Fort Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (5-2, 26-15)
The Miracle picked up 2.5 games on Tampa and moved back into first place, 2.0 games ahead of the Yankees who they split with on Thursday and Friday.
Tyler Robertson got the win in last Saturday's 11-3 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 run and 7K/3BB. He didn't get the win in Thursday's 6-5, 10 inning win over Tampa. He did have an excellent start however, pitching 7.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 9K/0BB. Robertson now has an excellent 3.53ERA with a 1.57WHIP and 45K/16BB in 8 starts (43.1 innings). Jeff Manship wasn't his sterling self in Monday's 7-2 loss, pitching only 4.0 innings with 10 hits, 6 runs and 8K/2BB. Will he turn it around in tonight's rubber game with the second place Yankees? Cole DeVries wasn't sharp in Sunday's 7-5 win, pitching 5.0 innings with 10 hits, 5 runs and 1K/3BB. He was excellent however, in yesterday morning's 3-2, 11 inning loss to Tampa. The ex-Gopher pitched 7.0 innings with only 4 hits, 1 run and 6K/1BB. Cole has a team high 47.1 innings with a 4.56ERA, 1.50WHIP and 34K/12BB. Deolis Guerra followed his excellent start last week with a 5.0 inning outing with 6 hits, 5 runs and 2K/1BB, getting the "W" in Tuesday's 10-6 win. The young man with the best ERA (2.97) of all starters, Alex Burnett, got the win on Wednesday, pitching 6.0 innings with 9 hits, 3 runs and 2K/0BB in a 5-3 win.
Robert Delaney appeared in 3 games this week (4.1 innings), earning 1 save and getting a win, however, he allowed 4 hits and 2 runs...raising his ERA to 1.29. Meanwhile, Anthony Slama appeared in two games (3.0 innings), picking up his 6th save while allowing 1 hit, 1 unearned run and 5K/1BB. Slama now has a 0.41ERA, which trails only Zach Ward as the second best in the organization. Danny Vais continues to be as good as any Twins reliever, pitching in 2 games (3.0 innings) with 2 hits, 0 runs and 3K/2BB...dropping his ERA to 0.75 with a 0.83WHIP. Frank Mata appeared in 3 games as he returned to the Miracle with 2.2 shutout innings with 3K/1BB.
Rene Tosoni was 6 for 18 (.333Ave) this week and continues as one of the team's top hitters with a .325/.430/.452. Brian Dinkelman leads the team with 28 runs scored while hitting .324/.422/.446 with 19 walks compared with only 14 strikeouts in 148 at bats. Dinkelman is also tied for the team and organization lead with 13 doubles while leading the team with 7 stolen bases in 8 attempts. Danny Santiesteban had a good week, 4 for 13 (.308Ave), and is now hitting .247/.320/.315. The team's DH, Whit Robbins, was 6 for 20 this week (.300Ave) and has a remarkable 24 walks compared with 15 strikeouts in 89 at bats for a .247/.409/.427 in 89 at bats.
Beloit Snappers (A) (4-2, 20-20)
It has been a struggle, however, the Snappers fought their way back to .500 this week, moving up to fourth place, 8.5 games behind Clinton.
Brian Kirwin is slowly earning the role of staff Ace, following a week in which he had two solid outings. He was the starter in last Saturday's 5-4 win, pitching 5.1 innings with 9 hits, 4 runs and 2K/1BB. Last night, Brian pitched 6.0 innings with 8 hits, 2 runs and 2K/2BB. Brian leads the team with 44.0 innings with a 3-1 record, 3.68ERA, 1.39WHIP and 30K/13BB. Santos Arias got the loss on Monday, 6-5, when he pitched 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 6K/1BB. David Bromberg started Tuesday's 7-5 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 9K/2BB. David now has his ERA down to 4.93 with an amazing 52 strikeouts in 42.0 innings with 22 walks. Michael Tarsi got the win in Wednesday's big 11-3 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 9 hits, 3 runs and 7K/2BB. Danny Berlind has a solid 3.62ERA with a 1.42WHIP in 32.1 innings following Thursday's 4-2 loss when he pitched 4.1 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 0K/1BB.
Blair Erickson was perfect in relief this week, appearing in 2 games (3.2 innings) with 0 runs, 0 hits and 7K/0BB. Blair now has a 3.68ERA in 13 games (14.2 innings) with 21K/5BB. Steve Hirschfield appeared in 2 games (5.2 innings) with 2 hits, 0 runs and 5K/0BB. Steve now has a team best 0.73ERA with a 1.01WHIP with 16K/7BB in 24.2 innings. Loek VanMil got his ERA down to 1.96 following 2 games (3.2 innings) with 2 hits, 1 unearned run and 2K/1BB.
Chris Parmalee hit his 7th home run this week, which is third best in the organization and tied for third best in the MidWest League. Parmalee also leads the Snappers with 25 rbi, however, has struck out 44 times in 118 at bats compared with a team, league and organization high 29 walks. Ben Revere continues to hit as well as anyone in the organization, getting 10 hits in 27 (.370Ave) at bats this week. If Ben had another 20 some at bats, he would be leading the league in hitting with his .397/.443/.534. Ben had another four multi hit games this week while scoring 5 runs with a double, 2 triples and 4 stolen bases in 5 attempts (he now has 10 steals in 16 attempts). Joe Benson had one of his best games as a Twin last night, when he was 3 for 4 with a run scored, double, triple and rbi...raising his average to .252/.333/.406 with 47 strikeouts and 14 walks in 143 at bats. Benson leads the Snappers with 26 runs scored and 10 doubles. He is tied with Revere for a team high 3 triples. I expect most of us had never heard of Jair Fernandez when the Twins acquired him from Seattle as compensation for R.A. Dickey who was selected as a Rule V pick. The Seattle organizatin is known for its catching depth, and the Twins scouts may have identified a gem. Fernandez is a 21 year old native of Colombia who is in his second year in the MidWest League, where he hit .260/.343/.277 for Wisconsin last year. Jair was 7 for 13 (.538Ave) this week, with 2 doubles, a home run, 4 runs scored and 4 rbi, and is now hitting .358/.389/.507. Steve Singleton was 10 for 23 (.435Ave) with 5 runs scored, 2 doubles and 2 rbi. Singleton has the fifth best average in the league (.343/.381/.431) with 7 walks and only 16 strikeouts in 137 at bats.
Although we have been talking about him for well over a month, Luke Hughes is a surprising organization leader with 10 home runs. His teammate, David Winfree, is second with 9, followed by Chris Parmalee (7), Brian Buscher (6) and Danny Valencia (5).
Co-Players of the Week
When two players have incredible weeks, they both must be recognized for their efforts. Danny Valencia has been hitting very well for the Twins since he slipped to the 19th round of the 2006 draft following an excellent career with the University of Miami. Danny's .326Average currently ranks as the sixth best in the Florida State League where his 5 home runs is only two behind the league leaders (7). His 13 doubles are tied for the second best in the league and best in the organization, while his 36 rbi leads both the FSL and the Twins organization.
This week, Danny was 12 for 24 (.500Average) before leaving the game on Thursday. He did not play on Friday, however, there has been no report of the reason for his absence so it is hopefully day-to-day. Danny scored 8 runs this week while driving in 9 runs with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs.
As productive as Danny Valencia was, Rochester centerfielder Denard Span matched him...hit for hit. Span doesn't qualify for the International League batting lead after missing a few weeks while with the Twins, however, if he did have another 20+ at bats his .364 Average would be tied for the league lead. Span has a .462OBP and .523SLG with 22 runs scored, 5 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 rbi and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. He also has an excellent 16 walks with only 17 strikeouts in 88 at bats.
This week Span was 12 for 25 (.480Ave) with 10 runs scored, 5 rbi, 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 3 stolen bases in 4 attempts. He also had 5 walks and 2 stolen bases. Denard hit home runs in three consecutive games (Monday-Wednesday) which hadn't been done for Rochester since it was done by Justin Morneau and Chris Heinz in 2004.
After being abused by so many fans on blogs throughout the Twin Cities the past few years, it is a tribute to Denard that he continued to work hard and believe in himself. Rather than going into a funk following spring training when he lost a hard fought battle to Carlos Gomez, he returned to AAA and played well earning his first promotion to the major leagues when an injury opened a spot on the Twins roster. I for one am elated to recognize this fine young man and Danny Valencia for their excellent performances this week.