Minor League Report...May 31, 2008

The Twins farm teams had a wonderful week at 17-10, with all four clubs having winning records.  With Dick and Bert talking about how many players from the 2006 draft are already contributing at the major league level and the draft scheduled for this coming week, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the Twins players from the 2006 draft are doing.

The Snappers and Miracle exchanged relievers this week, with Blair Erickson moving up to Ft. Myers and Danny Hernandez being returned to Beloit.  The Miracle also activated Eli Tintor from the Suspended List following his 50 game suspension.  I also had missed the release of Rochester's Aaron Craig several weeks ago.  The Twins picked up lefty reliever Craig Breslow on waivers from Cleveland, who replaced Bobby Korecky who was sent back to Rochester.  To make room for Breslow on the 40-man roster, they moved Pat Neshek to the 60-day disabled list.  Dianna is reporting that Rene Leveret is in EST as he is coming back from an injury and looks to being ready for the second half of the season.  Six members of the Miracle were selected to the FSL All-Star game, Pitchers Jeff Manship, Robert Delaney, Anthony Slama and infielders Danny Valencia and Brian DinkelmanRene Tosoni was also selected, however, is injured and will not play.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (4-3, 23-33)

Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Chronicle & Democrat has been questioning whether Red Wings management made the correct decision when they signed a two year extension with the Twins earlier this season.  After earlier reporting that the Wings roster looked like one that should contend for a championship, he has been critical of Twins management for not promoting the best young prospects from New Britain rather than leaving the Wings shorthanded and filling openings with signings of several minor league veterans.  The Wings responded with their best week in a month, including a four game winning streak which was the first time this year that they won more than two straight.  The Wings remain in fifth place, picking up a full game and are now 12.0 games behind the Scranton/WB Yankees.

Although the roster has been hit with the many callups to the Twins and a key injury to Denard Span, the real problem has been that their starting pitching has not pitched well.  Thus, the reason they had a nice winning streak this week was the performance of their starters in those four games.  After pitching very well in April (3.21ERA in 28.0 innings), Kevin Mulvey had struggled this month until his start on Saturday in a game the Wings would lose, 9-1.  Prior to the bullpen blowup, Mulvey pitched a strong 5.0 innings with 6 hits, 1 run and 2K/2BB.  Kevin followed that with another solid start in Thursday's 4-3 win, pitching 7.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs and 9K/0BB.  Another key piece of the Santana trade, Philip Humber, has a 5.19ERA with only 29 strikeouts and 27 walks in 50.1 innings.  Philip had his best start of the year in Tuesday's 12-0 win, pitching 6.0 shutout innings with only 3 hits and 5K/4BB.  Danny Graves continued his comeback with a solid 5.2 inning outing in Wednesday's 6-3 win, allowing 8 hits, 3 runs and 3K/1BB.  Francisco Liriano wasn't as sharp as his last two outings, however, the Wings still got a 7-6 win on Monday when he pitched 6.2 innings with 7 hits, 6 runs and 4K/1BB...indicating that he will likely spend several more weeks or months in Rochester as he works to return to the Twins.  Last year Brian Duensing was one of the most pleasant surprises in the organization when he moved up to Rochester where he had a 11-5 record with a 3.24ERA in 116.2 innings.  Brian hasn't been as sharp this year with a 5.19ERA and 2-5 record in 50.1 innings.  This week Brian struggled in a 11-1 loss on Sunday when he pitched 4.2 innings with 9 hits, 8 runs and 5K/2BB.  Even though the Wings lost last night, 6-3, Brian was more like the pitcher Rochester fans loved last year, pitching 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs and 5K/0BB.

Brian Buscher had a big week, going 9 for 25 (.360Ave) with 3 doubles.  Jose Morales also had another great week, 8 for 21 (.381Ave), and is hitting .369/.391/.464 in May following a .233/.263/.301 April.  Darnell McDonald returned from his second stint on the DL, with a 8 for 27 (.296Ave) week including his twelfth double, a triple and 2 home runs.  Randy Ruiz has been solid in his first season with the Twins organization.  This week Ruiz was 11 for 28 (.393Ave) with 3 doubles.  Garrett Jones has also battled injuries this spring and was hitting only .184Ave entering this week, when he was 9 for 24 (.375Ave) with 5 doubles, 2 homes runs and 5 rbi.  The Wings need a healthy Jones and Span along with solid starting pitching if they are to have any hope of recovering from their dismal start and salvage their 2008 season.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (4-3, 27-27)

After several losing weeks, the Cats got back to .500, moving up a spot to third place and gaining a half game on Trenton whom they trail by 7.0 games.

One of the most promising starting pitchers in the organization is Jay Rainville, who was taken as a supplemental pick in the 2004 draft.  This young man rose rapidly through the organization until he missed all of 2006 following shoulder surgery.  Jay returned last year, pitching well for Ft. Myers and earning a promotion to AA where he struggled in April with a 10.29ERA in 21.0 innings.  He has been better in May and this week pitched his best two games since being named a MidWest League All-Star in 2005.  Jay was the winner last Sunday, 6-3, when he pitched 6.0 shutout innings with only 2 hits and 3K/3BB.  Last night the Cats won 2-1 behind Jay's 6.1 innings with 6 hits, 1 run and 3K/2BB.  It is great to see this young man making progress and his performance this week was seriously considered for Player of the Week.  Anthony Swarzak hasn't been as sharp as he was in April when he had a 2.08ERA in 26.0 innings.  This week Swarzak allowed 6 hits and 4 runs with 5K/2BB in Saturday's 5-2 loss.  He then allowed 7 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) with 10K/2BB in Thursday's 10-6 loss...finishing May with a 6.00ERA in 30.0 innings with 26K/14BB.  Ryan Mullins had a great outing in Wednesday's 3-2 win, pitching 7.0 innings with 5 hits, 2 unearned runs and 3K/2BB.  Oswaldo Sosa was the loser on Tuesday when the Cats lost 6-4, pitching 5.0 innings with 6 hits, 4 runs and 5K/3BB.  Errol Simonitsch was recently added to the Cats roster from EST where he was rehabbing from an injury.  He immediately stepped into the starting rotation when Yohan Pino was placed on the DL.  He didn't have a good outing on Monday when the Cats lost 15-11 behind his 4.1 inning start in which he allowed 11 hits and 10 runs.  Ben Julianel made 4 appearances this week (5.0 innings) with 2 hits, 0 runs and 3K/2BB, picking up 3 saves (10) and dropping his ERA to 2.28.

David Winfree's average is slowly moving up to .228/.294/.440.  David was 9 for 30 this week (.300Ave) with 2 doubles and 5 rbi for a team best (second in the organization) 41 rbi.  Luke Hughes was 6 for 23 (.261Ave) with a double and organization leading eleventh home run.  Hughes, who has been rusty since his return from the DL, has dropped out of the League lead and is now tied for fourth at .335/.406/.603.  Jim Rantz was recently quoted as saying that Hughes would have been promoted to Rochester had he not been returning from the disabled list.  Dustin Martin is the fourteenth best hitter in the league at .316/.384/.443.  Martin, who is a solid center field prospect in an organization that has one or more excellent center fielders at each stop, had a 9 for 25 week (.360Ave) with 2 doubles, a triple and 7 rbi.  Erik Lis was another hitter who had to be considered for recognition this week, getting 8 hits in 26 at bats (.308Ave) with 3 doubles, a home run, 3 runs scored and 6 rbi.    

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (5-1, 36-18)

The Miracle opened another three game series with the second place Tampa Yankees last night, beating the Yankees and stretching their lead to 5 full games.  The Beloit Snappers came within a game of being the MidWest League champions last year and the core of that team has moved up to Ft. Myers and appears to have taken their winning attitude with them. 

The Miracle is led by a starting staff that may have five Aces!  Alex Burnett was solid in last Saturday's 6-3 loss, pitching 7.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs and 2K/2BB.  He was better last night in their 7-1 win over the Yankees, pitching 6.1 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 0K/2BB.  Although he has only 26 strikeouts in 52.1 innings, Burnett has an excellent 3.27ERA.  Tyler Robertson has the lowest ERA of all starters (3.04) and was the winner Sunday (10-2) when he pitched 6.0 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs and 4K/2BB.  Cole DeVries has continually improved his game this spring with an excellent 2.40ERA in 30.0 innings in May.  In Tuesday's 5-0 win, Cole pitched 6.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 3K/1BB.  Jeff Manship, who may be the best known of the Miracle starters, was the winner Wednesday, 2-0, when he pitched 7.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 2K/3BB.  Manship has a 3.11ERA with 55K/19BB in a team high 63.2 innings with a 6-2 record.  Deolis Guerra turned 19 in mid-April and is the only starter on the staff with a ERA over 4.00 (4.23).  Guerra had an excellent start in Thursday's 5-1 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 3K/5BB.  Guerra needs to work on his control as he has allowed 26 walks in 55.1 innings while striking out 32.  Anthony Slama continued his dominance, making only one appearance when he pitched 2.0 shutout innings with 1 hit and 3K/0BB.  Slama now has a 0.32ERA, 0.74WHIP and 46K/9BB in 28.1 innings.     

Danny Valencia was 8 for 22 (.364Ave) and now leads the FSL at .348/.409/.567.  Danny also had 4 rbi this week for an organization best 43 (second best in FSL) and his 2 doubles (18) are best on the organization and second best in the FSL.  Brian Dinkelman was 7 for 23 (.304Ave) with 2 doubles, giving him 17 which are second best in the organization and fourth best in the league.  Edward Ovalle was 8 for 25 (.320Ave) and is now hitting .302/.341/.479.  Eli Tintor returned from his suspension with 4 hits in 12 at bats.  Yangervis Solarte joined the Miracle recently from EST and is hitting .314/.351/.486 in his first 35 at bats.  Many believe that Wilson Ramos is the best catching prospect in the organization.  After a slow adjustment to FSL pitching in April, Ramos is hitting .250/.269/.480 in May with 5 doubles, 6 home runs and 19 rbi.

Beloit Snappers (A) (4-3, 29-25)

After a slow start, the Snappers have consistantly moved up in the standings and are now tied for third, 10.0 games behind Clinton who they split a double header with last night.

Michael McCardell returned from the DL with a short start last Saturday in a 3-1 win, pitching 3.2 innings with 1 hit, 1 run and 5K/ McCardell 34K/9BB in 27.0 innings to go with an excellent 2.67ERA.  Michael Tarsi leads the team with 60.2 innings and after an April when he had a 8.17ERA, Michael has an improved 3.82ERA in May.  Last Saturday he pitched 6.0 shutout innings with 2 hits and 8K/0BB.  Last night in his second win of the week, he pitched 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 1 run and 7K/1BB.  David Bromberg was the loser in last night's opener, pitching 3.0 innings with 6 hits, 5 runs (4 earned) and 2K/0BB.  Santos Arias is one of the better pitchers in the league since joining the Snappers from EST, getting the start in Wednesday's 1-0, 10 inning loss when he pitched 7.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 6K/6BB.  Santos now has a 2.27ERA and 1.07WHIP with 33K/11BB in 35.2 innings.  Danny Berlind has a 3.77ERA after another excellent start in Sunday's 4-3 win when he pitched 7.0 innings with 5 hits, 2 runs and 6K/2BB.  Brian Kirwin was the loser on Monday, 12-8, when he pitched 4.0 innings with 8 hits, 7 runs (6 earned) and 0K/3BB.  Steve Hirschfeld made 2 appearances this week, pitching 3.1 innings with 5 hits and 1 run with 2K/2BB.  Charles Nolte also made 2 relief appearances, pitching shutout 3.0 innings with 1 hit and 7K/1BB.  Nolte now has a 2.11ERA with 32K/13BB in 21.1 innings.        

Ben Revere continues his torrid hitting, with a .421Average that would easily lead the league if he had another 20 or so at bats.  Renny Osuna of Clinton currently is the league leader at .365 in 167 at bats.  Last night Ben was 3 for 3 with a run, 2 doubles and triple in the opening loss; then cooled in the nightcap going 3 for 4 with a double and rbi.  For the week, Ben was 13 for 28 (.464Ave) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 4 runs scored, 5 rbi and 3 stolen bases in 5 attempts.  Some have been critical of Ozzie Lewis this spring following his being named the Appalachian League Player of the Year in 2007.  When reviewing his results this spring, everyone must remember that he broke his arm in the Fall Instructional League and was not 100% when the season began.  The result was a .091/.206/.200 in 55 April at bats.  He has been much better in 31 May at bats when he hit .290/.333/.484 including a 4 for 13 week (.308Ave) with a double, triple and 2 rbi.  Steve Singleton continues to be one of the better hitters in the League with a .319/.360/.412.  

Player of the Week

Although this recognition certainly could go to Jay Rainville this week, the Player who has been selected had four multi-hit games and at least one hit in each of the Miracle's six games during a week when they won five of six.  Juan Portes was drafted by the Twins in the 15th round of the 2004 draft as an 18 year old middle infielder who did not play high school baseball.  Portes' career with the Twins has been disrupted by several injuries and also a brief time when he left for personal reasons.  

Portes began playing second base for the GCL Twins and later some time at third.  Last year he spent some time in the outfield where he has played the majority of his games this year.  It has been his bat however, that has had many talking about his future since he was selected the 17th best prospect in the Appalachian League by Baseball America following the 2005 season when he hit .287Ave/.353OBP with a league fourth best 12 home runs.  The previous year he lead the GCL with a .530/SLG.  After hitting .269Ave for Ft. Myers in 2007, Juan returned to the Miracle for a second season.  

Portes was 11 for 24 (.458Ave) this week with 6 runs scored, 3 doubles, his third home run, 2 rbi and 1 walk.  For the season, Portes is hitting .294/.348/.406 in 180 at bats with 32 runs scored, 11 doubles, 3 home runs 20 rbi with 4 stolen bases in 7 attempts.

The 2006 Twins Draft

The Twins selected one of the nation's top high school power hitters in the first round, first baseman/outfielder Chris Parmalee.  After hitting .239/.313/.414 for Beloit in 2007, he returned to the Snappers where he is hitting .225/.390/.470 with 9 doubles, 2 triples, a team high 8 home runs and 29 rbi with an organization high 38 walks and 60 strikeouts in 151 at bats.

They selected a tremendous athlete in the second round, center fielder Joe Benson.  Benson had also been a star running back who was headed to Purdue prior to signing with the Twins.  Like Parmalee, Benson struggled in his first season at Beloit where he hit .255/.347/.368 with 18 doubles, 8 triples, 5 home runs and 38 rbi with 18 stolen bases in 34 attempts.  Benson also returned to Beloit for a second season as he continues to gain experience as a baseball professional.  He must work on his main problem, striking out to often (60 strikeouts in 189 at bats), and is hitting .249/.330/.402 with 14 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, 19 rbi, an organization third best 32 runs scored and 13 stolen based in 21 attempts. 

Tyler Robertson was a high school lefty with an unusual motion who was selected in the third round.  After rocketing up the prospect list in 2007 when he was 9-5 with a 2.29ERA and 123K/33BB in 102.1 innings at Beloit, Robertson moved up to Ft. Myers this year.  Tyler currently has the best ERA (3.04) of any starter for the Miracle where he has a 3-2 record with 53K/21BB in 56.1 innings. 

The Twins selected a small college infielder from New Hampshire with their first pick of the fourth round, Garrett Olson.  Olson hit .219/.281/310 in 416 at bats for Beloit in 2007.  Garrett returned to Beloit this year, where he is hitting a respectable, .253/.303/.335.  Their second fourth round selection was college star Whit Robbins.  Last year Whit began the season at Ft. Myers where he hit .210/.333/.249 in 205 at bats before going onto the DL for the second half of the season.  This year Whit is back at Ft. Myers where he is hitting .250/.401/.386 with an incredible 33 walks and only 23 strikeouts in 132 at bats.

They didn't sign their fifth round pick, however, selected catcher Jeff Christy out of the University of Nebraska in the sixth round.  Jeff hit .225/.288/.282 in 227 at bats for Ft. Myers in 2007 with a brief stint in New Britain where he hit .368/.500/.421 in 19 at bats.  Following an invitation to Twins spring training this year, Jeff is hitting .213/.319/.279 in 61 at bats for the Rock Cats.

Canadian Jonathan Waltenbury was selected in the seventh round.  This  big first baseman hit .244/.347/.366 in 123 at bats for the GCL Twins in his first exposure to professional baseball last year and is likely headed to Elizabethton this year.

One of the better selections in 2006 was eigth round pick Brian Dinkelman.  Brian led the organization with 104 runs scored last year, splitting time between Beloit (..283/.373/.488 in 240 at bats) and Ft. Myers (.255/.361/.389 in 247 at bats).  This year Brian was selected as a FSL All-Star after hitting .314/.414/.438 with 39 runs scored in 194 at bats.

Sean Land (9th round) and Kevin Harrington (12th round) have both been released and they were unable to sign their 10th round pick, Jared Mitchell, who went to LSU on a baseball/football scholarship.  Middle infielder Steven Singleton, who was their 11th round pick, battled injuries at Beloit in 2007 where he hit .271/.294/.346.  He is back at Beloit this season where he is one of the better hitters in the league, .319/.360/.412.   

Notre Dame pitching star Jeff Manship somehow fell to the Twins in th 14th round.  Manship was a star at Beloit last year (7-1, 1.51ERA, 77.2 innings, 77K/9BB) prior to moving up to Ft. Myers (8-5, 3.15ERA, 71.1 innings, 59K/25BB).  This year Jeff is back at Ft. Myers where he is an All-Star with a 6-2 record with a 3.11ERA and 55K/19BB in 63.2 innings. 

Mark Dolenc was selected out of Mankato State in the 15th round.  Mark hit .287/.381/.391 for Elizabethton last year and is hitting .214/.303/.282 in 117 at bats for Beloit this year.  Chirstopher Anderson is a left handed pitcher who the Twins selected in the 18th round.  He didn't sign following the draft, however, signed in August, 2007 and is currently in EST.  The find of the 2006 draft may have been their 19th round selection, University of Miami third baseman Danny Valencia.  Danny hit .302/.374/.500 in 242 at bats at Beloit last year before hitting .291/.332/.422 in 230 at bats for the Miracle.  As discussed above, Danny is the leading hitter in the FSL this season and very likely the Twins best third base prospect.

Catcher Gil Buenrostro was their 20th round selection and has been released.  Shortstop Eric Santiago was their 21st round pick, who went on to hit .240/.340/.296 in 125 at bats for Elizabethton last year.  Santiago is currenlty rehabbing in EST.  Thomas Wright is a pitcher taken in the 23rd round.  Wright had a 2-3 record with a 5.35ERA in 37.0 innings with the GCL Twins in 2007 and is also in EST.  Nick Papason (24th round selection) didn't sign until the following year, then had shoulder surgery and didn't play for the GCL Twins until late in 2007, hitting .286/.355/.321 in 28 at bats.  It was reported that he had an excellent spring and is currently in EST before beginning his season at Elizabethton. 

The Twins also selected Anthony Slama in the 39th round out of the University of San Diego.  After a brief stay in Elizabethton (2.45ERA with 10K/1BB in 7.1 innings), Slama moved up to Beloit where he had a 1.48ERA, 0.99WHIP and 39K/9BB in 24.1 innings.  Last week's Player of the Week is currently a FSL All-Star where he has an organization best 0.32ERA, 0.74WHIP and 46K/9BB in 28.1 innings.  They also signed Thomas Cowgill, their 40th round selection, who has since been released.


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