Now that the GCL Twins and Appy League Elizabethton Twins began their seasons, all seven minor league teams are in action. The group is playing very well, with a record of 20-11 this week.
There was lots of activity as Jim Rantz continued to move players throughout the organization. With several rosters only a few days old, there are lots of discrepencies between MiLB and what Dianna is reporting. I would expect that in most of these cases, Dianna is right as she is at the ballpark every day. She did report that Jose Leger had been released and that Liam Hendricks is on the Elizabethon DL. Brad Tippett and Danny Berlind were sent down to Elizabethton...where Tippett will be used as a starter for the first time in his professional career. Rochester placed Howie Clark on the DL. Garrett Olson, Steve Singleton, Dan Lehmann and Matt Williams were promoted from the Snappers to Ft. Myers. Chris Cates, Loek VanMil and Jair Fernandez were chosen to play in the MidWest League all-star game as replacements for several Snappers who were promoted to Ft. Myers last week. The Snappers activated Paul Kelly and D. J. Romero from the disabled list. Jay Rainville and Oswaldo Sosa were returned from New Britain to Ft. Myers where both will be working out of the bullpen. Chris Anderson, who was a 2007 draft pick who failed his physical, was signed as a non-drafted free agent this winter and has been transferred from EST to Beloit. The Snappers also received Alan de San Miguel and Henry Reyes who were sent down from Ft. Myers. Tyler Robertson was activated from the DL by Ft. Myers. Finally, the fans in Rochester, led by Jim Mandelaro, are again restless about the sale of Chris Basak to Scranton. They weren't happy when the Twins didn't promote players from New Britain, now that Trevor Plouffe has been promoted they needed a spot for Denard Span when he came off the DL on Monday. It has been reported that Basak had a clause in his contract regarding playing time which led to the Twins selling him when it can be assumed they were unable to get anything in a trade. The Twins organization has made some mistakes with the Rochester roster this year, but this is clearly not one of them.
The Twins signed four more draft picks bringing the total signed to 15. Signed were Jeff Lanning (8th Rd, C, U of New Orleans); Michael Gonzales (9th Rd, 1B, U of Cincinnati); Dominic De la Osa (11th Rd, IF, Vanderbilt U); and Nathan Hansen (28th Rd, 3B, U of Minnesota). The Twins have signed all of their top 12 picks except their second first round (Carlos Gutierrez), supplementary first round (Steven Hunt), fifth round (Nicholas Romero) and sixth round (Brett Hermsen) picks.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-3, 33-43)
The Wings were 3-3 this week and remain in fifth place, 12.0 games behind Pawtuckett. The Wings haven't played well for awhile, however, have stayed at 12 games out for several weeks.
Francisco Liriano made two starts, including an excellent outing last Sunday when he led the Wings to a 5-2 win, pitching 7.1 innings with 5 hits, 2 runs and 5K/0BB. Last night he wasn't as sharp in a 8-7 loss, pitching 5.0 innings with 9 hits, 5 runs and 7K/1BB. Bobby Korecky got the save on Sunday, pitching 1.2 shutout innings with 2 hits and 1K/1BB, however, got the loss last night when he allowed 3 runs on 1 hit and 2K/2BB in 2.0 innings. Brian Duensing continues to be the Red Wing's top starter. Brian was the loser last Saturday, 4-1, when he pitched 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs and 8K/0BB. On Thursday, he was the pitcher of record as the Wings won 9-3, pitching 7.0 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 5K/3BB. Duensing leads the team with 95.0 innings, a 3.69ERA, 1.18WHIP and 58K/18BB. Julio DePaula made a spot start in a 9-1 win on Monday, pitching 3.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 1K/1BB. Mariano Gomez got the win in relief, pitching 2.1 shutout innings with 1 hit and 2K/0BB...and now has a 2.15ERA and 1.22WHIP. Tim Lahey was solid in relief, pitching 2.0 innings of shutout ball with 1 hit and 0K/0BB. Danny Graves was not solid on Tuesday, lasting only 2.0 innings with 8 hits, 9 runs (7 earned) and 0K/1BB. Graves' ERA is up to 5.40 in 36.2 innings in his comeback attempt. Rickey Barrett was excellent in relief this week, making 2 appearances (4.1 innings), with 2 hits, 0 runs and 9K/1BB...dropping his ERA to 2.61 with a 1.19WHIP.
Trevor Plouffe joined the Red Wings last weekend. He has played both third base and shortstop since his promotion and is hitting .240/.269/.280 in his first 25 at bats with the Wings. Many questioned why the Twins signed infielder Sergio Santos last month...who was hitting .183Ave for Syracuse. Perhaps Twins scouts saw something they liked in this former Arizona first round pick who is only 24 years old. The move has been good for Santos, who is hitting .272/.306/.404 with 15 doubles and 19 rbi in 136 at bats with the Wings. Darnell McDonald had a double, home run and 2 stolen bases this week as he is hitting .312/.374/.541...which is the eighth best average in the league. It is also good seeing former Rule V pick Alejandro Machado playing baseball for the Twins. In his first 5 games with the Wings, Machado is hitting .167/.231/.333. Brian Buscher had the fourth best average in the league (.319/.402/.514) when he was called up by the Twins.
New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (2-3, 32-39)
The Cats dropped further under .500 this week, however, remain in fifth place and actually gained a half game on Trenton, who they now trail by 10.5 games.
The Cats lost last Saturday, 7-3, behind Anthony Swarzak who allowed 6 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits and 0K/1BB in only 0.2 innings. Zack Ward had one of his better relief appearances, pitching 4.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 4K/1BB. Yohan Pino also is back from the disabled list, pitching 1.0 shutout inning with 2 hits and 0K/0BB. Oswaldo Sosa made his last and best start for the Cats on Sunday, winning 5-1, while pitching 5.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 5K/4BB. Kyle Aselton has had several starts recently. On Wednesday he pitched 2.2 innings with 4 hits, 5 runs and 1K/7BB in a 9-6 eleven inning win. Jeff Manship is considered one of the Twins top pitching prospects. In his first start for the Cats since his recent promotion, Jeff was not good. He pitched 4.0 innings with 8 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 6K/1BB. I expect Jeff was both nervous and excited in his first outing at AA, hopefully he will now settle down and adjust to the level of hitters he will face at this level. Ryan Mullins has been the Cats top starter, however, he was not as sharp as usual last night as the Cats lost 4-2 behind Ryan's 5.0 inning, 7 hits, 4 runs and 3K/5BB outing. Frank Mata was solid in two relief appearances (4.0 innings) this week, allowing 1 hit and 1 run with 3K/3BB. Robert Delaney made his first appearance since being promoted from Ft. Myers, pitching 2.0 shutout innings with 0 hits and 2K/0BB.
Daniel Valencia got 2 hits in his first game and is hitting .182/.438/.182 in his first 11 at bats. Brian Dinkelman is hitting .231/.313/.308 in his first 13 at bats. Luke Hughes was the league's fifth best hitter when he again went on the DL, .335/.407/.618. Steven Tolleson, who also is out of the lineup, was tied with Hughes and is hitting .335/.421/.522. Erik Lis is the top active hitter for the Cats, getting another 6 hits in 24 at bats this week (.250Ave) with a triple and 2 home runs. Erik leads the Cats and league with 27 doubles.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (2-3, 1-1)
The Miracle finished the first half with a franchise best 45-24 record. The Division champs began their second half on Thursday and are currently in a four team tie for second, a game behind Dunedin.
Matt Fox replaced Jeff Manship in the starting rotation, getting the win, 5-2, on Monday when he pitched 6.0 innings with 3 hits, 1 run and 7K/1BB. Cole DeVries pitched well in Tuesday's 3-1 loss, 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 7K/2BB. Deolis Guerra returned in Wednesday's 9-5 loss, pitching 5.2 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs and 6K/2BB. Alex Burnett had a quality start in Thursday's 5-3 win, pitching 7.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 4K/0BB. Tyler Robertson returned from a brief stint on the DL with an excellent start last night. The Miracle lost 3-4, however, Robertson pitched 4.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 5K/1BB. Matt Williams has struggled in his first 2 appearances since being promoted, pitching 3.0 innings with 6 hits, 5 runs and 2K/3BB. Anthony Slama continues to pitch like an all-star, making 2 appearances (2.0 innings) this week while earning two saves (14) with 1 hits, 0 runs and 4K/0BB...dropping his ERA to 0.47 with a 0.87WHIP. Jay Rainville pitched 2.0 innings with 1 hit and 1 unearned run while Oswaldo Sosa pitched 1.0 shutout inning with 1 hit and 2K/1BB as both pitchers adjust to their new role out of the Miracle bullpen.
Nick Punto, who is in Ft. Myers on a rehab assignment, was 1 for 4 on Thursday and 1 for 3 last night with a walk and rbi. Garrett Olson is hitting .071/.188/.071 in his first 14 at bats since being promoted from Beloit to replace Danny Valencia who moved up to New Britain. Valencia was the Florida State League's leading hitter, .336/.402/.518 before his promotion to AA. Yangervis Solarte is a utility player who is hitting .282/.338/.451 following a week in which he was 6 for 15 (.400Ave) with a triple, 3 runs scored and 3 rbi. Danny Berg is now playing regularly, getting 4 hits in 11 at bats this week (.364Ave) with a double and home run. Wilson Ramos has his average up to .249/.300/.411. Steve Singleton is hitting .231/.267/.462 in his first 13 at bats with a home run and 4 runs scored. Catcher Dan Lehmann is hitting .182/.182/.182 in his forst 11 at bats.
Beloit Snappers (A) (3-0, 2-0)
The Snappers finished their first half two games over .500 at 33-31. Following their break, they began the second half 2-0 and find themselves in a three way tie for first place.
Michael Tarsi made the last start before the break, getting a win, 8-6, while pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 4K/1BB. Tarsi leads the staff with 77.2 innings along with a 5.33ERA with 63K/20BB. Michael McCardell didn't get a decision in Thursday's 3-1 win, however, had a quality start with 6.0 innngs, 4 hits, 1 unearned run and 6K/1BB. McCardell has an excellent 2.79ERA, 1.14WHIP, 3-1 record and 56K/15BB in 51.2 innings. David Bromberg was the winner last night, 5-1, with a 5.2 inning start in which he allowed 8 hits and 1 run with 5K/1BB. It appears that Brian Kirwin has been moved to the pen as he pitched 1.1 innings of shutout relief last night with 1 hit and 0K/1BB. Loek Van Mil made two relief appearances this week (1.2 innings) with 0 hits, 0 runs and 0K/2BB. Loek now has a 2.51ERA with 1.24WHIP in 32.1 innings. Charles Nolte was the winner Thursday, when he pitched 3.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 1K/1BB. Nolte has an excellent 2.41ERA with a 3-1 record in 33.2 innings with 42K/19BB.
Ben Revere played in Tuesday's all-star game, however, hasn't played in either games since the break. Although nothing has been reported officially, several other reports have indicated that the League's top hitter (.413Ave) tweaked a hamstring and is day-to-day. The biggest news is that Paul Kelly returned to a Twins lineup for the first time since 2006...getting 4 hits in 6 at bats in his first two games. Kelly, who may have been the Twins top shortstop prospect prior to his knee injury, needs a solid couple months this season to determine whether or not he remains a top prospect. Estarlin De Los Santos is hitting .294/.333/.588 with 2 stolen bases in his first 17 at bats for the Snappers. D.J. Romero also returned from the DL and is hitting .203/.229/.328 in 64 at bats (only 8 since his return).
Elizabethton Twins (Advanced Rookie) (4-0, 4-0)
The defending Appalachian League champions began their 2008 season playing like they did in 2007. With a combined four game score of 28-10, early indications are that the Twins are loaded as they are again in first place with a 1.0 game lead over Greeneville and Johnson City.
In this first week's report, I will go through the lineup showing where each player was in 2007.
The starting pitcher opening night was Danny Berlind who had just been sent down from Beloit. Danny pitched 5.0 innings with 5 hits, 3 runs and 8K/3BB in a 12-6 win. Danny had a 4-4 record at Beloit with a 4.47ERA in 52.1 innings with 37K/27BB. Last season Danny was with the GCL Twins where he had a 6-2 record with a 1.93ERA in 56.0 innings with 52K/20BB. Brad Tippett also had recently been sent down from Beloit with the intent to convert him to a starter. Brad pitched 5.0 shutout innings in Wednesday's 5-2 win with 2 hits and 5K/1BB. Brad was 2-1 with Beloit in 13 games (17.0 innings) with a 4.24ERA and 15K/5BB. Last year Brad was one of the top pitchers in the system, compiling a 7-1 record out of the Elizabethton bullpen with a 0.93ERA and 51K/4BB in 38.2 innings. Recent 7th round pick Dan Osterbrock got his first professional start in Thursday's 7-1 win, pitching 3.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 run and 5K/0BB. This year's 3rd round pick, Bobby Lanigan, made his professional debut last night, pitching 4.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 7K/0BB.
The rest of the staff includes Omar Alcala, a 21 year old lefty from the Dominican Republic who was 1-1 in 23.0 innings with a 7.83ERA and 22K/16BB for Elizabethton in 2007. Michael Allen was 4-2 with a 3.47ERA and 70K/11BB in 62.1 innings for Elizabethton last year. He made one brief appearance this season for the Miracle prior to being placed on the 50-game suspended list and will miss most of the short season. David Coulon is a lefty who was this year's 15th round pick out of the U of Arizona. Jarrad Eacott is a lefty from Australia who will be working out of the bullpen following last season when he was one of the top relievers for the GCL Twins (3-0, 2.28ERA, 27.2 innings, 19K/10BB). Three years ago Kyle Edlich was one of the top pitchers in the organization when this Aussie had a 1.70ERA for the GCL Twins. The Twins remain committed to this talented lefty who again begins the season on the DL. Mark Hamburger was signed as a non-drafted free agent last year. He will be working out of the bullpen after appearing in 8 games (15.0 innings) with a 2-1 record, 1.20ERA and 12K/4BB for the GCL Twins last year. Liam Hendriks is another young Aussie reliever who begins the season on the DL following an outstanding 2007 for the GCL Twins when he was 4-2 with a 2.05ERA in 44.0 innings with 52K/11BB. Curt Leavitt returns to Elizabethton where he was 2-0 last year with a 5.40ERA in 25.0 innings with 41K/10BB. MiLB lists Winston Marquez with Elizabethton and on the DL. Dianna has him with the GCL Twins where he was 3-3 last year in 47.1 innings with a 3.04ERA and 35K/30BB. Lee Martin was an 18th round pick last year, compiling a 2-1 record with a 3.21ERA in 14.0 innings with 13K/6BB. Danny Rondon is slotted as their closer after earning 12 saves last year for the GCL Twins with a 2-0 record and 1.14ERA in 20 games (23.2 innings) with 16K/11BB. Thomas Wright was the Twins 23rd round pick in 2006. Last year he had a 2-3 record in 37.0 innings for the GCL Twins with a 5.35ERA adn 27K/27BB.
The catching position will be manned by last year's second round pick Daniel Rams who was 2 for 5 with his first home run on opening night. Last year Rams signed late and appeared in only 27 games (97ab) for the GCL Twins where he hit .258/.311/.361. Jeff Lanning is this year's 8th round pick. Alex Sota was signed last year as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He hit .273/.338/.439 in 66 at bats for the GCL Twins before hitting .250/.296/.292 for the Miracle.
James Beresford is a 19-year old Aussie who hit .288/.349/.302 for the GCL Twins in 2007. Jeanfried Brito is a 20-year old middle infielder from Venezuela who hit .290/.329/.376 with 8 stolen bases for the GCL Twins last year. Dominic De La Osa is a second baseman who was this year's 11th round pick. Nate Hanson is this year's 28th round pick from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Rene Leveret was one of the Appy League's top hitters last year. Different reports have him either overweight or battling minor injuries this spring, however, he returns to ETon where he hit .307/.399/.463 last year with 8 home runs and 65 rbi. Nick Papason was the Twins 24th round pick in 2006. After not playing in 2006, he spent most of last year on the DL before getting 28 at bats late in the GCL season where he hit .286/.355/.321. There were reports that he had an excellent spring and this will be our first chance to see how this promising young shortstop performs. Juan Richardson is a 21-year old third baseman from the Dominican Republic who was one of the GCL Twins top hitters last year, .317/.364/.401 with 33 rbi and 14 stolen bases in 202 at bats. Eric Santiago was a 21st round pick in 2006 from Puerto Rico. Eric returns to Elizabethton where he hit .240/.340/.296 in 2007. Jonathan Waltenbury is a big Canadian first baseman who was a 7th round pick in 2006. Jon played professional ball for the first time last year for the GCL Twins where he hit .244/.347/.366 with 3 home runs in 123 at bats. He begins this year as the ETon Twins top hitter, .500/.611/.857 in 14 at bats with a home run and 2 rbi.
Evan Bigley is a left fielder who was selected in the 10th round of this year's draft out of Dallas Baptist University (same school as Lew Ford). Michael Harrington is a right fielder who is this year's 13th round pick out of the College of Charleston. Angel Morales was last year's 3rd round pick from Puerto Rico where it was reported that he may have been Puerto Rico's best outfield prospect since Carlos Beltran to whom he is often compared. He began his GCL season slowly, however, was one of the GCL Twins top hitters the last half of the season...finishing .256/.357/.405 with 3 triples, 2 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 121 at bats. Many Minnesotans recognize St. Olaf's Andrew Schmiesing because of his success on the gridiron. He was selected by the Twins in the 11th round of the 2007 draft and was one of the GCL Twins top hitters, .321/.421/.358 in 109 at bats prior to leaving shortly before the end of their season to return to St. Olaf.
GCL Twins (Rookie) (2-0, 2-0)
The GCL Twins begin their 2008 season winning their first two games and are in first place, 0.5 games ahead of the Reds.
The pitching staff certainly has a Latin look. Dominican Republic lefty Martire Garcia got the opening day start, pitching 4.0 innings with 6 hits, 1 run and 4K/0BB. Last year this 18-year old was the ace of the DSL Twins staff with a 7-2 record in 77.2 innings with a 2.32ERA and 81K/25BB. Game two went to a 19-year old Venezuelan, Angelo Sanchez, who was 2-1 with a 1.76ERA in 46.0 innings with 40K/11BB for the VSL Twins/Cubs last year. Elliot Biddle is a 19-year old left handed Aussie who is in his first year of professional ball. Steven Blevins is this year's 21st round pick out of Marshall U. Alex Curry is this year's 25th round pick out of Cypress College. Edgar Ibarra is a 19-year old lefty from Venezuela who was 2-4 with a 3.19ERA in 73.1 innings for the VSL Twins/Cubs in 2007. Andrei Lobanov got the win yesterday when he pitched 2.1 innings with 4 hits, 2 runs and 1K/0BB in the Twins 7-3 win. Andrei is a 18-year old lefty from Moscow who is playing his first year of professional baseball. Nick Lobanov is another Moscovite lefty who is 19 and was with the GCL Twins briefly last year, pitching 3.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 2K/1BB. Jean Mijares is a 20-year old lefty from Venezuela who was 1-4 last year with a 5.71ERA in 41.0 innings with 32K/32BB for the VSL Twins/Cubs. Micahel Mopas was drafted in the 30th round of the 2006 draft, however, signed as a draft and follow in 2007. This 20-year old lefty was 0-0 with a 7.56ERA in 8.1 innings with 6K/4BB for the GCL Twins last year. Kelvin Mota is a 19-year old from the Dominican Republic who was 4-0 with a 1.40ERA in 25.2 innings with 13K/11BB for the DSL Twins in 2007. Miguel Munoz is another 19-year old Venezuelan who was with the VSL Twins/Cubs last year, with a 5-3 record, 2.04ERA and 43K/34BB in 70.2 innings. Mauro Schiavoni is a 21-year old from Argentina who was recently signed by the Twins and will be playing his first professional ball.
Jae-Hyung Jang is a catcher from Seoul, South Korea who was signed late in 2006 and will be making his first appearance for the Twins this season. Josmil Pinto is a 19-year old Venezuelan who hit .193/.327/.269 for the DSL Twins in 2007. Dan Rohfling was a 2007 7th round pick who hit .232/.313/.250 in 56 at bats for the GCL Twins last year. Andres Diaz was the 43rd round pick in 2007 who is listed as a catcher but will also play first base and DH. A Florida draftee who was born in Cuba didn't sign until late last summer and only got a handful of at bats with the GCL team before the season ended.
Hyeong-rok Choi is a first baseman from Youngcheon-shi, South Korea. Choi was signed last summer and this will be his first year of professional ball. Michael Gonzales is a first baseman who was this year's 9th round pick out of Diablo Valley College. Jakub Hajtmar is from the Czech Republic and will be playing his first year of professional ball after playing in the Australian Summer League last year. Anderson Hidalgo is another Venezuelan middle infielder who hit .305/.398/.437 for the DSL Twins in 2007. Tyler Ladendorf is this year's 2nd round pick out of Howard College. Juan Sanchez is a middle infielder from Venezuela who hit .263/.370/.326 for the DSL Twins last year. Reggie Williams was last year's 4th round pick, however, didn't sign in time to play for the GCL Twins. He is reportedly an excellent hitter who began his career with back to back multi hit games, going 5 for 8 in his first two games with a run scored, 2 doubles, a triple and 2 rbi for a .625/.667/1.125.
Herbert Lara is a Venezuelan who will turn 20 next week. Last year he hit .300/.411/.354 for the VSL Twins/Cubs. Tim Atherton is an 18-year old Australian who was signed last year and will be playing his first year of professional ball. Hyun-wook Choi is an 18-year old outfielder from Kunsan-shi, South Korea who will be playing his year of first professional baseball. Aaron Hicks is this year's top pick who hasn't played in the first two games. Wang-Wei Lin is a native of Taiwain who will turn 20 next week. Win returns to the GCL Twins where he had 62 at bats last year, .194/.265/.290, however, he will begin his 2008 season on the DL. Daniel Ortiz is an 18-year old high school player who was this year's 4th round pick from Puerto Rico. Jonathan Goncalves is another young Venezuelan who begins the season on the DL after hitting .238 for the DSL Twins in 2007.
DSL Twins (DSL Summer League) (4-2, 11-7)
The DSL Twins picked up 2.0 games this week and are now in second place, a half game behind the DSL Cubs1.
Ramon Acosta earned another win (3-0) and continued his perfect start to the season with a 0.00ERA in 27.2 innings with 11K/3BB. Eliecer Cardenas is 1-1 with a 2.05ERA with 22K/2BB in 22.0 innings. Pedro Guerra is also a perfect 2-0 with a 3.32ERA in 19.0 innings with 15K/5BB. Orlando Villarcel is 0-2, however, has an excellent 1.20ERA with 11K/8BB in 15.0 innings. Closer Edison Alvarez has 4 saves in 6 appearances (8.1 innings) with a 0.00ERA and 0.72WHIP. Jose Gonzalez has a 0.82ERA with a 0.73WHIP in 11.0 innings with 2 saves.
Jairo Perez continues to lead the team with 3 home runs and 16 rbi with a .306/.456/.571. Wilfy Gil is an 18-year old outfielder playing his first year of professional ball, who was 6 for 8 (.750Ave) this week and now leads the team with a .350/.536/.450 in 20 at bats.
Player of the Week
Often when a player is hot and goes on the DL, he isn't as hot when he returns. Often when a player is called up by the Twins and returns to his minor league Club a few weeks later, he doesn't hit as well as before he was called up. Neither is the case for this week's Player of the Week, Denard Span.
Span returned from his stint on the DL with a broken finger from when he was hit with a pitch while attempting to bunt. In his four games back in the lineup, Span was 9 for 16 (.563Ave) with 3 doubles, a triple, 4 runs scored and 5 rbi.
Span is hitting .358/.465/.525 which would easily lead the International League if he had another 50 at bats or so. Denard also earned the respect of the Twins field staff during his brief callup, taking quality at bats and hitting .258/.324/.258 with 3 stolen bases in 3 attempts. Last season, this former first round pick hit .267/.323/.355 in 487 at bats with 25 stolen bases in 39 attempts for the Red Wings.