It is good to be back and I guess one word describes the Twins farm teams this week, WOW! The four were a combined 18-9 in what clearly was their best week early this season. All four teams had winning records, with New Britain leading the way at 5-1.
There were lots of transactions and player news this week. Francisco Liriano, was sent to Rochester last weekend. D.J. Romero, was placed on Beloit's disabled list late last week. It was also revealed that, Henry Sanchez has re-injured his knee while playing in EST. The Twins activated Zach Day, assigning him to Ft. Myers. Ben Revere was promoted to Beloit from EST, where he has been playing both left field and center. Beloit placed pitcher, Michael McCardell, on the disabled list, replacing him with Santos Arias. The Twins also promoted pitcher Brad Tippett, from EST to Beloit, replacing Dominique Rodgers who was released. New Britain placed centerfielder Brandon Roberts on the DL while Rochester placed Matt Macri on the DL. The Twins activated Adam Everett, forcing them to return Brian Buscher to Rochester. They sold Rochester outfielder Jon Knott to Philadelphia. Rochester also released catcher, Eli Whiteside, activating Ryan Jorgenson from the suspended list. Kevin Slowey continued his rehab assignment at Rochester. Finally, Ft. Myers activated Dan Berg from the DL and Toby Gardenhire was promoted to New Britain.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (4-3, 14-15)
The Red Wings were 4-3 this week and are in fourth place, 6.0 games behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Perhaps the best news for Twins fans was the two starts this week by Glen Perkins. Perkins had his best outing of the season last Saturday, pitching a complete game shutout in the Wings 10-0 win with only 2 hits and 7K/1BB. He was almost as sharp last night, pitching 5.1 innings with 2 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 4K/4BB as the Wings won 6-4, lowering his ERA to 2.97 in 7 games (33.1 innings) with 27K/19BB. Brian Duensing is the team leader with 36.0 innings in 6 starts with a team best 2.75ERA, 1.03WHIP, 2-3 record and 20K/6BB. The Wings won Tuesday, 9-3, with Brian pitching 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 4K/1BB. Kevin Mulvey was the pitcher of record in Monday's 8-6 loss, pitching 4.2 innings with 9 hits, 7 runs and 4K/1BB. Mulvey had been excellent prior to this week with a 3.21ERA and 29K/11BB in 28.0 innings. Francisco Liriano made his first start back at Rochester in Wednesday's 4-2 loss, pitching 4.1 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs and 5K/3BB. Kevin Slowey made a rehab start in Thursday's 5-1 loss, pitching 5.0 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs (both solo home runs) and 9K/2BB.
Mariano Gomez continues to be excellent working out of the bullpen, with a 1.50ERA, 1.06WHIP and 14K/4BB in 13 appearances (18.0 innings). Tim Lahey was assigned to the Red Wings after being returned from Philadelphia who had selected him in last December's Rule V draft. In 4 appearances (7.0 innings), Tim has a 1.29ERA, 0.57WHIP, 9K/0BB and 3 saves. It appears the Twins are very fortunate that the Phillies were unable to find a spot on their roster for this excellent young reliever who was originally drafted as a catcher out of Princeton University. Ricky Barrett also continues to pitch very well with a 2.20ERA, 1.10WHIP and 14K/8BB in 10 appearances (16.1 innings). Carmen Cali, is a third lefty who has pitched well out of the bullpen with a 2.84ERA, 1.34WHIP and 12K/7BB in 12.2 innings.
After a slow start this season, Jason Pridie now has his average up to .300/.352/.427 with a team leading 4 triples and 19 runs scored. Rochester Democrat & Chronicle baseball writer, Jim Mandelaro, recently reported that the Wings have the best outfield in AAA with Pridie, Denard Span and Darnell McDonald. Span is hitting .286/.432/.286 with 8 runs scored and 8 stolen bases (10 attempts) in 35 at bats. McDonald is hitting .343/.395/.614. Catcher, Jose Morales, is slowly improving his numbers with a 12 for 39 performance the last two weeks, raising his average to .222.
New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (5-1, 14-12)
The Cats were hot this week and find themselves in third place, only 2.5 games behind division leading Portland.
Anthony Swarzak, began the week last Saturday with a solid performance in the Cat's 7-4 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 5K/0BB. He must have read Seth Stoh's report this week when he was named Pitcher of the Month for April, because he had one of his toughest outings last night, lasting only 4.0 innings with 7 hits, 5 runs and 3K/1BB in a game the Cats would win, 12-6. Swarzak now has a 3.30ERA with a 1.13WHIP in 6 starts (30.0 innings) with 32K/5BB. Oswaldo Sosa and Yohan Pino, both pitched very well in mid-week 7-1 and 11-2 wins. Sosa pitched 5.0 innings with 2 hits, 1 run and 5K/3BB with Pino also pitching 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs and 4K/1BB. Sosa now has a 5.75ERA in 20.1 innings with 15K/16BB and Pino has an excellent 1.80ERA in 25.0 innings with 18K/4BB. Not many fans or those writers who determine prospect status rate Pino very high. Perhaps it is his age, 24, or the fact he doesn't throw hard. The reality is however, that all this young man does is get batters out and win...with a combined record of 40-13 during his 4+ years in the organization. Ryan Mullins, was solid in Thursday's 7-4 win with 5.1 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs and 3K/5BB. Mullins is the team innings leader with 32.1 with a 3.06ERA, 1.52WHIP and 17K/14BB. Jay Rainville struggled in Sunday's 7-5 loss, pitching 4.0 innings with 9 hits, 6 runs and 2K/2BB.
Ben Julianel leads the Cats with 4 saves, appearing in 11 games (14.2 innings) with a 3.07ERA and 14K/10BB. Armando Gabino continues to be one of the teams top options out of the bullpen, with a 1.20ERA, 1.00WHIP and 13K/1BB in 10 games (15.0 innings). Perhaps a surprise to some, but not those who have followed his career, Kyle Aselton has an excellent 2-0 record with a 1.13ERA, 1.31WHIP and 12K/11BB in 8 games (15.1 innings). Former Cincinnati all-star, Danny Graves, continues his comeback with the Twins pitching in 4 games (6.1 innings) with a 2.84ERA, 1.11WHIP and 5K/4BB. Meanwhile, the young pitcher the Twins received for Kyle Lohse, Zach Ward, has been the Rock Cat's top reliever with a 0.54ERA, 1.26WHIP and 15K/10BB in 10 games (16.2 innings).
Luke Hughes, continues to hit as well as anyone in minor league baseball. Luke currently is second in the Eastern League batting race with a .367Ave, however, Luke Montz, who is hitting .382 for Harrisburg has only 68 at bats compared with Hughes 109. Hughes 9 home runs leads the League while his 20 rbi are tied for ninth best with his 25 runs scored 2nd best in the Eastern League. Brock Peterson has his average up to .276 with a league fifth best 9 doubles and third best 24 rbi. Although, David Winfree, is hitting only .220/.311/.429, he continues doing what he has done for the past three years, drive in runs. Winfree's 22 rbi are currently tied for fifth best in the league. Dustin Martin, has cooled a bit the past few weeks while he battled an injury, however, leads the team with 7 stolen bases in 7 attempts with and excellent .341/.387/.476. Toby Gardenhire, is hitting .500/.556/.625 in his first 8 at bats with the Cats while, Trevor Plouffe, has quietly raised his hitting average to a respectable .278/.327/.412 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, a home run and 10 rbi. Meanwhile, former top pick Matt Moses, has his average up .053 the last two weeks and is now hitting .268/.324/.351 with 8 doubles.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (4-2, 17-11)
Yes, the Miracle are in first place, 2.0 games ahead of Dunedin, Sarasota and Tampa who are a in a 3-way tie for second.
This week, Kevin Slowey was excellent in a rehab start last Saturday that the Miracle lost 3-2. Slowey pitched 5.0 innings of no-hit, shutout ball with 5K/1BB. Deolis Guerra struggled in both starts this week. He gave up 9 hits and 8 runs (7 earned) with 4K/1BB in Sunday's 8-3 loss, while lasting only 3.1 innings yesterday with 6 hits, 4 runs and 1K/2BB in a game the Miracle came back to win 11-10. His ERA is now up to 4.61 to go with a 1.50WHIP and 20K/12BB in 27. 1 innings with a 2-1 record. Tyler Robertson had a quality start in Monday's 4-3 win with 6.0 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs and 6K/3BB. Robertson now has a 2.84ERA, 1.54WHIP in 25.1 innings with 27K/12BB. Cole DeVries, had a solid start in Wednesday's 4-2 win, pitching 5.1 inning with 7 hits, 2 runs and 6K/1BB...and now has a 5.08ERA with a 1.59WHIP and 27K/7BB in 28.1 innings. Jeff Manship, leads the starters with 33.0 innings with a perfect 4-0 record, 3.27ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 29K/11BB. Thursday, Jeff was the starter in the Miracle's 11-6 win, pitching 6.1 innings with 4 hits, 2 runs and 6K/1BB. Alex Burnett, didn't get a start this week, however, has an excellent 2.91ERA in 21.2 innings.
Anthony Slama and Robert Delaney! This pair of short relievers has pitched a total of 29.2 innings for the Miracle, while allowing 1 earned run. Slama has a 0.00ERA and 0.71WHIP in 9 appearances (14.0 innings) with 19K/6BB and 4 saves. Meanwhile, Delaney leads the bullpen with 7 saves in 10 appearances (15.2 innings) with a 0.57ERA, 0.83WHIP and 17K/2BB. Danny Vais, is a perfect 4-0, appearing in 10 games (16.2 innings) with a 1.08ERA, 0.78WHIP and 12K/6BB. Former Kansas City starter, Zach Day, was transferred from EST to the Miracle, where he has a 1.29ERA in 5 games (7.0 innings) with 2K/1BB.
In past years, the Miracle pitching staff has been excellent with the hitters not providing the runs needed to compete in this pitching rich league. That is not the case in 2008 as the Miracle again scored in double figures twice this week. They continue to be led by, Rene Tosoni, who is hitting a league fourth best .353/.446/.447. This young prospect, who skipped A ball and is only in his second year of professional ball, is making everyone in the organization take notice. Danny Valencia has begun his season with very consistent play, hitting an excellent .290/.379.470 with 3 home runs and a league second best 25 rbi. Last year, Brian Dinkelman scored over 100 runs for the organization. This year he leads the Miracle with 19 runs scored with a .320/.405/.464 and his 9 doubles is tied for the team lead with Danny Valencia. Brian also leads the Miracle with 5 stolen bases in 6 attempts and should be making the journey north to New Britain by mid-season. A player who started slowly the first few weeks, however, has been hot these past two weeks (16 for 43) is second baseman/left fielder, Juan Portes. Portes is now hitting .310/.385/.405. First baseman, Johnny Woodard, leads the Miracle with 4 home runs with a .270/343/.449.
Beloit Snappers (A) (5-3, 11-17)
The Snappers were solid this week and are now in 6th place, 10.0 games behind Clinton.
Michael McCardell had been one of the team's top starters with a 2.53ERA in 4 starts (21.1 innings) with 24K/6BB prior to going on the DL. His replacement from EST was, Santos Arias, a 21 year old native of the Dominican Republic who was 2-3 with a 2.96ERA in the GCL in 2007. Arias had the best start of the week in Wednesday's 4-2 win, pitching 6.0 shutout innings with 2 hits and 5K/0BB. Michael Tarsi had two excellent starts this week, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 3K/2BB in Saturday's 3-0 loss and a complete game (8.0 innings) with 5 hits, 2 runs and 6K/1BB in last night's 2-1 loss. McCardell now has an excellent 2.53ERA, 1.31WHIP and 24K/6BB in 21.1 innings. David Bromberg also made two starts...pitching 5.0 innings with 9 hits, 5 runs and 5K/2BB in Saturday's second game that the Snappers won 6-5. On Thursday, he had a quality start, pitching 6.0 innings with 2 hits, 1 run and 9K/3BB in a 5-2 win. After a rough first few starts, Bromberg now has his ERA down to 5.70 with 34K/17BB in 30.0 innings. Brian Kirwan had an unusual rough start in Monday's 7-1 loss, pitching 4.1 innings with 8 hits, 7 runs (5 earned) and 1K/3BB...however, has a respectable 3.71ERA and 1.39WHIP in 30.0 innings. Daniel Berlind was solid in Sunday's 5-3 win, pitching 5.0 innings with 4 hits, 2 runs and 5K/1BB. Steven Hirschfield made his second start in Tuesday's 3-2 win, pitching 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 1 run and 1K/0BB. Hirschfield now has a team best 0.56ERA, 1.31WHIP and 6K/6BB in 6 games (16.0 innings).
Brad Tippett has a perfect 0.00ERA with 0.92WHIP in 2 appearances (4.1 innings) with 2K/0BB. Chalres Nolte was again solid this week and now has a 1.50ERA, 1.42WHIP and 15K/9BB in 8 games (12.0 innings). Matt Williams continued as a top option out of the pen, with a 2-0 record in 10 games (20.2 innings) with a save and 23K/7BB. The Twins are taking their time with 7-1, Loek VanMil...who now has a 3.72ERA, 0.93WHIP and 14K/3BB in 9.2 innings. Finally, Spencer Steedley, has a 2.00ERA, 1.00WHIP and identical 23K/7BB in 9 games (18.0 innings) with 1 save.
Last year's top pick, Ben Revere, moved up to Beloit this week. Ben split his time between left and center, getting 6 hits in 19 at bats with a double, run scored, 3 rbi and 1 stolen base in 3 attempts for a .316/.381/.368. Garrett Olson, saw his average dip a bit to .280/.317/.387 with 5 stolen bases in 7 attempts. Catcher, Dan Lehman, has only 39 at bats, however, leads the team with a .359/.444/.564 and a team best 2 triples. Steven Singleton, is healthy and hitting .330/.367/.440 with 13 runs scored, 13 rbi. Chris Parmalee, has a team high 6 doubles, 5 home runs and 20 rbi while hitting .253/.384/.544. Joe Benson, leads the team with 16 runs scored and is tied for the team lead with 6 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Benson continues to rebound from his early slump and is now hitting .238/.316/.366.
Player of the Week
Darnell McDonald was acquired last year as compensation when the Twins allowed Washington to keep Rule V pick, LaValle Speigner. Darnell was injured early this season, thus is a few at bats short of qualifying for the league lead in hitting. However, his team leading .343Ave would be third best and his team high 19 rbi are seventh best in the league and only 3 rbi behind two players tied with the second best with 34 and 35 more at bats.
This week, McDonald was 13 for 30 (.433Ave) with 10 runs scored, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 15 rbi and 2 walks. For the season, McDonald is hitting .343/.395/.614 in 70 at bats with 12 runs scored, 6 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs and 19 rbi with 3 stolen bases in 4 attempts.