Minor League Report...June 29, 2008

Behind five win weeks by Beloit and the DSL Twins, the organization eeked out a winning week, 24-23.

There again was a lot of movement within the system, beginning with Matt Macri's return to Rochester after Nick Punto was activated by the Twins.  Eric Santiago moved up to Beloit from Elizabethton to replace Paul Kelly, who was placed on the DL with a leg injury (hamstring, not his knee) after playing in only two games with 4 hits in 6 at bats.  Juan Rincon did not report to Rochester, signing a minor league deal with the Indians.  Luke Hughes was activated from New Britain's disabled list, with lefty Jay Sawatski moving down to Ft. Myers.  The Snappers reported that Jair Fernandez, Chris Parmalee and Joe Benson were all placed on the DL.  Benson reportedly has a lower back stress fracture that he had been playing with and will likely be out about a month.  The Snappers added outfielder Andrew Schmiesing and first baseman Rene Leveret, who both were promoted from Elizabethton.  Luke Hughes was selected to play on the International Team in this year's Futures All-Star game.  Denard Span will play for the US team in the Futures game which also means that he is one of 60 players selected to this year's Olympic Trial Team.

The Twins signed four more players from the recent draft.  Signing were their fifth round pick, Nicholas Romero; the supplemental first round pick, pitcher Steven Hunt; twelfth round pick, Minnesota left-handed pitcher Kyle Carr; and seventeenth round pick, LSU pitcher David Martin.  They now have signed fifteen of their first nineteen picks.  Their second first round pick, reliever Carlos Gutierrez, was pitching with the University of Miami in the CWS until last week.  The other three from the first seventeen rounds (rounds 6, 14 and 16) that aren't signed are all high school players and it has been reported that sixth round pick, Brett Hermsen, may be difficult to sign. 

I have a question for those of you who follow the Twins minor league system.  As we pass the midpoint of the season, who do you think has been the most pleasant surprise?  On the flip side, who has been the biggest disappointment?

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (4-3, 33-43)

The Red Wings remain in fifth place, 12.0 games behind Pawtuckett. 

Philip Humber started in Saturday's 5-3 loss...pitching 4.0 innings with 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 2K/0BB.  Humber was excellent in Thursday's 4-1 win...pitching 5.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 6K/2BB.  Danny Graves was solid in Sunday's 7-6, eleven inning, win...pitching 5.0 innings with 7hits, 3 runs and 3K/0BB.  Graves was effective in Friday's 4-2 loss...pitching 6.0 innings with 9 hits, 2 runs and 2K/0BB.  Kevin Mulvey started in Monday's 8-5 win...pitching 4.2 innings with 7 hits, 5 runs (4 earned) and 5K/2BB.  Brian Duensing was not his normal self in Tuesday's 8-0 win...pitching 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 7 runs and 1K/1BB.  Francisco Liriano was not effective and took a step backwards in his road to Minnesota on Wednesday...pitching 5.1 innings with 9 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 3K/1BB.  Bobby Korecky had three effective appearances, pitching 5.2 innings with 5 hits, 0 runs and 5K/1BB.  Mariano Gomez continues his string of excellent outings, appearing in 3 games (5.0 innings) with 3 hits, 0 runs and 0K/1BB.  Gomez now leads the bullpen with a 1.90ERA and 1.17WHIP.  Ricky Barrett also made three appearances (5.0 innings) with 5 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 6K/3BB.  Barrett now has a 2.53ERA, 1.23WHIP and 53K/26BB in 46.1 innings.  

Denard Span had another excellent week, going 9 for 31 and is now hitting .344/.441/.490.  Span would be the leading hitter in the league had he not missed some time on the DL and during his short callup with the Twins.  Span also has been effective on the bases, stealing 15 bases in 23 attempts.  Darnell McDonald does have enough at bats to qualify and is currently the third best hitter in the league with a .314/.376/.525.  McDonald also has 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts with 10 home runs and a Red Wing high 48 rbi.  Trevor Plouffe is hitting .241/.250/.389 in his first 14 games with the Wings.  Jason Pridie is hitting .283/.314/.469 in June following hitting only .142/.182/.212 in May. 

New Britain (AA) (1-6, 33-45)

The Rock Cats dropped another three games behind Trenton, remaining in fifth place 13.5 games out of first.  Nothing seems to be going right for the Cats who scored over 2 runs only once this week, losing that game 13-6.  With the recent callups from Ft. Myers struggling at AA, it has to be tough for Rock Cat fans who continue their support of this struggling team.

Anthony Swarzak got the loss last Saturday, 5-2...pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs and 4K/3BB.  He was not solid in Thursday's 13-6 loss...pitching 3.1 innings with 10 hits, 8 runs and 2K/2BB.  Swarzak now has a 5.63ERA with a 1.60WHIP in 15 starts (72.0 innings).  Zach Ward moved into the rotation recently, starting Sunday's game that the Cats won, 2-1...pitching 4.0 shutout innings with 2 hits and 4K/3BB.  Ward was again effective in Friday's 3-2 loss...pitching 6.0 innings with 4 hits with 2 runs (1 earned) and 5K/1BB.  Kyle Aselton was the loser on Monday, 4-2...pitching 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 4 runs and 7K/4BB.  Jeff Manship rebounded from his initial outing pitching more like the pitcher we have seen over the last couple years...pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 run and 5K/0BB in a 6-0 loss Tuesday after Jason Miller allowed 4 hits, 5 runs and 2K/1BB in 2.0 innings of relief.  Ryan Mullins pitched like the team Ace in Wednesday's 3-1 loss...going 7.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 5K/2BB.  Mullins leads the staff with 87.1 innings in 15 starts with a 6-6 record and 3.40ERA.  Robert Delaney has a 1.50ERA and 0.67WHIP in his first 4 appearances (6.0 innings) since his recent promotion.    

After scoring only 15 runs in seven games this week, there isn't a lot to talk about as far as the hitters are concerned.  Erik Lis is hitting .289/.329/.495 while leading the team, league and organization with 29 doubles.  David Winfree continues to hit only .222/.282/.401, yet leads the organization with 50 runs batted in which is sixth best in the Eastern League.  Despite missing time while on the DL twice, Luke Hughes is tied with teammate Steven Tolleson, who is also on the DL, with the League's third best average, .335.  Utility infielder Toby Gardenhire, who has been playing a lot at first base lately, was 6 for 18 (.333Ave) this week and is now hitting .295/.363/.320 which is much better than any previous season with the organization.  Danny Valencia and Brian Dinkelman have struggled in their first few games with the Cats, hitting .211Ave and .194Ave, respectively.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (2-5, 3-6)

After running away with the first half championship, the Twins moved four key players up to New Britain and the Miracle has struggled as they start the second half...yet, are only 2.5 games behind the league leaders, Tampa and Dunedin.

Matt Fox was solid in Saturday's 5-2 loss...pitching 6.1 innings with 9 hits, 4 runs and 5K/2BB.  He was very good in Thursday's 3-1 loss...pitching 5.2 innings with 4 hits, 2 runs and 4K/2BB as his ERA moved down to 3.95 in 54.2 innings with 53K/20BB.  Jay Rainville was also solid in Sunday's 4-2 loss...pitching 6.2 innings with 9 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 7K/0BB.  Alex Burnett had a short start in Tuesday's 6-3 win...pitching 4.1 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 0K/3BB.  Anthony Slama came on to get the win when he pitched 2.2 shutout innings with 1 hit and 5K/0BB.  Slama now has 72K/12BB in 42.0 innings with a 0.43ERA and 0.86WHIP.  Tyler Robertson was back from the DL, starting Wednesday's 10-6 loss...pitching 4.1 innings with 7 hits, 4 runs and 4K/3BB.  Cole DeVries got the win on Friday, 2-1...pitching 6.0 shutout innings with 2 hits and 5K/4BB.  DeVries now has a 2.77ERA which is best amongst all starters.  Slama got his fifteenth save, pitching 1.1 shutout inning with 2 hits and 4K/0BB.      

Catcher Wilson Ramos has his average up to .254 following a week in which he was 7 for 23.  Ramos leads the Miracle with 8 home runs (10th best in the FSL) and 45 runs batted in, which is eighth best in the league.  Garrett Olson and Danny Lehmann are struggling in their adjustment to FSL pitching, hitting .097 and .190, respectively.   

Beloit Snappers (A) (5-2, 7-2)

The Snappers remain in first place, a full game ahead of Cedar Rapids.  They will need all their recently injured players to get healthy quickly if they have any hope of remaining in first place.

Santos Arias continues to be one of their better starters since joining the team earlier this year from EST.  He was the pitcher of record in Saturday's 11-5 win...pitching 6.0 innings with 8 hits, 5 runs and 1K/1BB.  He was much better on Thursday when he pitched the best game of any starter in the organization this week...a 9.0 inning, complete game shutout with 3 hits and 4K/0BB in a 2-0 Snapper win.  Steven Hirschfield pitched 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 1 run and 1K/1BB in Sunday's 4-1, ten inning win.  Spencer Steedley got the win after pitching 2.1 shutout innings with 0 hits and 3K/0BB.  Steedley has an excellent 2.08ERA and 1.10WHIP with 52K/14BB in 39.0 innings with a team high 8 saves.  Hirschfield was the loser on Friday, 8-5...pitching 3.0 innings with 7 hits, 4 runs and 3K/2BB.  Michael Tarsi started Monday's 8-5 win...pitching 6.0 innings with 10 hits, 5 runs and 4K/1BB.  Mike McCardell was the winner in Tuesday's 8-5 win...pitching 8.0 innings with 9 hits, 5 runs and 6K/0BB.  McCardell now has 62 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.  David Bromberg was the loser on Wednesday, 8-5...pitching  4.0 innings with 11 hits, 8 runs and 4K/0BB.   

Ben Revere returned to the lineup as a DH on Monday (he played center last night for the first time since his injury), however, he left the game and didn't play again until Thursday.  Ben got a hit in all three games he played this week, 4 for 10, and continues to lead the MidWest League with a .411/.465/.563.  Ben now has 24 stolen bases in 35 attempts which is fifth best in the league even though he has sixty less at bats than the leader.  Chris Parmalee had 2 home runs this week and his 14 home runs was leading the organization (third best in the league) prior to going on the DL with a wrist injury.  Joe Benson was leading the Snappers with 16 doubles while hitting .248/.326/.382 prior to going on the DL.  After a miserable start to his season as he battled injuries, Ozzie Lewis has his average up to .224 after hitting .293/.365/.373 in June. 

Elizabethton Twins (Advanced Rookie) (4-3, 8-3)

The ETon Twins were tied with Johnson City Friday night (they beat Johnson City Saturday night) for first place.  The Twins are very good, but unlike last year when they ran away with the championship it appears they will have to work hard to repeat this season.

Curtis Leavitt was the loser on Saturday, 10-7...pitching 4.0 innings with 10 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 2K/2BB.  Leavitt was better in Thursday's 7-6 win...pitching 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 5K/0BB.  Danny Berlind was the pitcher of record in Sunday's 10-2 win...pitching 6.0 innings iwth 5 hits, 2 runs and 7K/1BB.  He was not good in Friday's 14-4 loss...lasting only 2.1 innings with 7 hits, 11 runs (10 earned) and 4K/5BB.  Brad Tippett won Monday's game, 9-5...pitching 5.0 innings with 8 hits, 3 runs and 6K/2BB.  Dan Osterbrock pitched well in Tuesday's 14-8 win...pitching 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 8K/0BB.  Lee Martin had a blown save as he lasted only 0.2 inning with 5 hits, 6 runs (1 earned) and 2K/1BB.  Danny Rondon got the win as he pitched 3.0 shutout innings with 1 hit and 1K/1BB.  Bobby Lanigan made his second start in Wednesday's 13-5 loss...pitching 5.1 innings with 7 hits, 5 runs and 6K/2BB.  Jarrad Eacott made two relief appearances, pitching 3.1 innings with 1 hit, 0 runs and 3K/2BB and now has a 1.35ERA and 0.90WHIP.    

Andrew Schmiesing was hitting .379/.486/.517 before his promotion to Beloit.  Rene Leveret was hitting .306/.405/.556 with 2 home runs before he also moved up to the Snappers.  Jonathan Waltenbury has been the Twins early season hitting sensation, hitting .375/.444/.700 with 2 home runs and 8 rbi in 9 games.  Michael Harrington (recent 13th round pick out of the College of Charleston) leads ETon with 3 home runs while hitting .342/.457/.605.  Last year's second round pick, Danny Rams, is hitting .308/.333/.615 with 2 home runs and a team high 12 rbi.

GCL Twins (Rookie) (3-3, 5-3)

The GCL Twins slipped a half game into a three way tie with the Red Sox and the Reds. 

Edgar Ibarra started last Saturday, however, the game was suspended after three innings.  He also started the conclusion of the game on Thursday, with a line of 7.0 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 8K/3BB.  Miguel Munoz got the loss on Sunday, 9-2...pitching 3.0 innings with 9 hits, 5 runs and 1K/0BB.  He was excellent in Friday's 5-0 win...pitching 6.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 3K/2BB.  Matire Garcia was not solid in Tuesday's 7-6 win...pitching 4.0 innings with 7 hits, 5 runs and 1K/4BB.  Alex Curry made his first start since being drafted in Wednesday's 6-5 win...pitching 4.0 innings with 2 hits, 1 run and 3K/0BB.  Angelo Sanchez was the loser on Thursday as the Twins lost 9-3...pitching 4.2 innings with 8 hits, 5 runs (3 earned) and 5K/2BB. 

Tim Atherton is a hitting star early in the season, .375/.524/.500.  Recent first round pick, Aaron Hicks, is hitting .300/.417/.300 in his first 20 at bats.  Reggie Williams is hitting .320/.370/.560 with 4 doubles and a triple.  Catcher/first baseman/DH Andres Diaz leads the Twins with 2 home runs and 5 rbi while hitting .310/.355/.586.

DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League) (5-1, 16-8)

The DSL Twins had an excellent week, moving into a first place tie with the Cubs-1.

Eliecer Cardenas is a 20 year old from Venezuela who now resides in the Dominican Republic.  Cardenas has a 1.55ERA with a 0.90WHIP in 6 games (3 starts with 29.0 innings).  Ramon Acosta has a perfect 4-0 record with a 0.00 ERA  in five starts (34.2 innings).  Acosta is a 21 year old right handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic.  Edison Alvarez leads the team with 7 saves in 9 appearances (11.2 innings).  Alvarez is a tall right hander from the Dominican Republic who had a 5-1 record, 0.78ERA with 7 saves for the DSL Twins in 2007.  Adrian Salcedo is a right handed Dominican Republic native who is only 17 years old.  Salcedo has lost both of his decisions, pitching 13.2 innings in 3 starts with an excellent 2.63ERA and 8K/2BB. 

Wilfy Gil is an exciting 18 year old from the Dominican Republic who continues to lead the Twins, .375/.524/.438 in 32 at bats, after going 5 for 12 (.416Ave) this week.  Gil also leads the team with 8 stolen bases in 9 attempts.  Shortstop Jairo Perez had another 4 rbi this week as he continues to lead the DSL Twins with 20 rbi (fifth best in the league) and 3 home runs (eighth best in the league).  Perez, a Venezuelan who recently turned 20, is hitting .319/.451/.565 in 69 at bats.  Oswaldo Arcia is a 17 year old Venezuelan who is playing his first season of professional ball.  Arcia is a switch hitter who is hitting .230/.299/.311 with 5 doubles and 4 stolen bases in 6 attempts.      

Player of the Week

The Twins selected Angel Morales in the third [edit previous typo] round of the 2007 draft.  Numerous reports have indicated that Morales may be the best prospect from Puerto Rico since Carlos Beltran...the star Mets centerfielder whom he has often been compared to.  Morales began his rookie season with the GCL slowly, however, continued to improve and was one of their best hitters the last month of the season.  Morales finished his first season of professional ball hitting .256/.357/.405 with 6 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs, 18 runs scored and 15 rbi in 121 at bats.  Morales, who has been referred to as a "five tool" prospect, also had 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts.    

This week Morales was a major part of the ETon Twins three wins as he had a hit in every game he played (he only pinch ran on Tuesday) with 5 multi-hit games.  Morales was 11 for 25 (.440 Average) with 4 runs scored, 1 double, a triple, 3 home runs, 7 runs batted in and a walk.

Morales is hitting .361/.395/.722 in 36 at bats early this season.  Perhaps the only negative is his 12 strikeouts while drawing only 1 walk.  Morales, who won't turn 19 until this coming November 24th, is the youngest of several outstanding center field prospects in the Twins system.  Although a long way from the Twins, Morales may have the tools needed to someday be the starting centerfielder in their yet to be named ballpark.

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