Minor League Report...June 7, 2008

This week's report will be a little different because I am on vacation.  The organization lost all four games on Wednesday and never recovered, finishing the week with a 12-15 record.  The Dominican Summer League has started play and I will begin including them with next week's report.  Due to political unrest and legitimate concern for their people who would need to go to Venezuela, the Twins will not participate in the Venezuela Summer League this year.

There were lots of moves this week and many more likely during the next few weeks as Beloit and Ft. Myers have their all-star breaks with several players anticipated to move up shortly thereafter.  The moves began with the Twins activating Nick Punto from the DL and designating Howie Clark for assignment.  This is the technical move they had to make to remove him from the 40-man roster.  When Clark cleared waivers and returned to Rochester, the Wings returned Felix Molina to New Britain.  It was reported by Dianna that Danny Vais was tired of the travel and wanted to spend more time with his pregnant wife, thus, he retired even though he had been doing very well working out of the Ft. Myers bullpen (1.57ERA/0.87WHIP with a 4-0 record in 28.2 innings with 22K/10BB).  The Twins activated Scott Baker for Thursday's game.  To make room for Baker, the Twins assigned Matt Macri to MSP International Airport.  When Nick Punto went back on the DL following Thursday's game, the Twins recalled Macri from what I assume was NWA flight #768.  Dianna is also reporting that the moves have started with Rochester releasing veteran minor league pitcher, Heath Totten.  Ft. Myers activated Henry Reyes and Mike Allen from EST and MiLB is reporting that Top Prospect Tyler Robertson has been placed on the 7-day DL. 

The Twins named Ben Revere their Player of the Month for May and Anthony Slama as their Pitcher of the Month.  Catcher Wilson Ramos was added to the FSL All-Star game, giving the Miracle seven all-stars which is the most they have ever had.  The Snappers also had seven players named to the MidWest League All-Star game.  Infielders Steve Singleton and Garrett Olson were both named as starters, while catcher Danny Lehmann, outfielder Ben Revere and pitchers David Bromberg, Spencer Steedley and Steven Hirschfield were named as reserves.   

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-4, 26-37)

The Wings remain in fifth place, 12.0 games behind Scranton/WB. 

Brian Duensing earned strong consideration for this week's Player of the Week when he pitched 8.0 shutout innings on Wednesday, allowing only 4 hits with 3K/0BB.  Unfortunately, the Wings 6 run lead wouldn't hold up as their bullpen (Korecky, 4 runs in 0.0 inning, and Tim Lahey, 2 runs in 1 inning) gave up a 6 run lead in the ninth and lost the game, 8-7, after the Wings scored in the top of the tenth with Mariano Gomez giving up two runs in the bottom of the inning.  Duensing leads the staff with 75.0 innings with a 3.96ERA and 1.24WHIP.  Francisco Liriano was very good in the Wings 5-2, 10 inning, loss last Saturday, pitching 6.1 innings with 3 hits, 1 run and 7K/1BB.  On Thursday, the Franchise came back with another solid start, pitching 6.0 innings with 4 hits, 3 runs and 7K/4BB in a 8-3 win.  Philip Humber was the winner last Sunday, 8-7, pitching 5.0 innings with 6 hits, 5 runs and 4K/2BB.  Philip was solid again in last night's extra inning win, pitching 5.0 innings with 3 hits, 3 runs and 6K/0BB.  Danny Graves had a short start on Monday, pitching 4.2 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs (2 earned) and 0K/4BB as the Wings lost 10-6.  Kevin Mulvey was the loser on Tuesday, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits 4 runs (only 1 earned) and 4K/3BB.  Mulvey has pitched 61.1 innings with a 3.82ERA and 1.50WHIP with 54K/25BB.  Bobby Korecky had several good outings other than on Wednesday, getting his sixth save on Sunday when he pitched 1.0 shutout inning with 1 hit and 1K/0BB.  He also was excellent last night when he pitched 2.1 shutout innings with 1 hit and 2K/2BB.  The top reliever this week was Ricky Barrett, who has always intrigued the Twins and their fans with his strikeout capabilities...when healthy.  Barrett pitched 5.0 shutout innings this week with 1 hit and 7K/0BB, dropping his ERA to 2.88 with a 1.19WHIP.   

Brian Buscher continues to be the Wings' top hitter (with Denard Span still on the DL).  Buscher was 5 for 12 this week with 2 doubles and is now hitting .327/.431/.471.  Darnell McDonald is hitting .316/.370/.579 following a 8 for 26 week with a double and 2 home runs.  Jose Morales hit only .233/.263/.301 in April as he worked his way back from his serious ankle injury suffered during his only game ever with the Twins.  He ended May hitting like the player we all learned about last year, hitting .382/.402/.483 and is now hitting a respectable .312/.339/.399 following another solid week when he was 6 for 14 with 2 doubles.  Randy Ruiz had another big week, 10 for 24 with 3 home runs.  Garrett Jones also struggled with injuries the first several weeks of the season, however, has been hitting much better of late.  This week Jones was 8 for 25 with 2 doubles and a home run.   

New Britain Rock Cats (1-5, 28-32)

After battling back to .500 last week, the Cats returned to their losing habits of the first few weeks of the season.  They dropped one spot to fourth place and lost another 4.0 games to Trenton who they now trail by 11.0 games.

Errol Simonitsch continued his battle with injuries early this season, returning to the Cats from EST a few weeks ago.  He struggled in his first few starts and last Saturday was no different when he got his third loss, pitching 2.2 innings with 8 hits, 6 runs and 2K/0BB as the Wings got slammed, 13-3.  Errol was much more like the pitcher we knew a few years ago on Thursday, when he pitched 6.0 innings with 3 hits, 1 run and 3K/3BB to lead the Cats to a 4-2 win.  Like Simonitsch, Oswaldo Sosa wasn't sharp in his first outing this week, getting the loss when he pitched 5.0 innings with 5 hits, 6 runs and 5K/7BB in a 9-3 loss on Sunday.  Sosa was very good in last night's 3-2 win, pitching 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 1 run and 4K/2BB.  Ryan Mullins leads the staff with 67.1 innings and an excellent 3.48ERA/1.38WHIP.  He was solid in Tuesday's 4-3 loss, pitching 6.0 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 2K/2BB.  Anthony Swarzak was also solid in Wednesday's 10-7 loss, pitching 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 2K/3BB.  Zach Ward had been one of the best relievers in the organization, however, Wednesday he got the loss when he allowed 4 hits and 5 runs in 0.2 innings in relief of Swarzak. 

It appears Luke Hughes isn't 100% as he returns from his injury, having only fourteen at bats this week.  Although he was only 4 for 14, he did have 2 home runs and is tied for the lead league (also leads the Twins organization) with 13.  His average dipped to .335/.407/.618 which is now fifth best in the Eastern League.  Dustin Martin missed some time this week as he also is battling injuries.  Dustin was 4 for 19 and is now hitting .306/.373/.425.  With starting center fielder Brandon Roberts on the DL and Martin hobbling, middle infielder Steven Tolleson made several starts in center.  Tolleson was 11 for 23 with 2 doubles and his fifth home run...and is now the seventh best hitter in the league at .332/.421/.505. 

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (4-3, 40-21)

As the first half nears its end, the Miracle are enroute to a championship as they stretched their lead another game and now lead second place Dunedin by 6.0 games.    

The Miracle starting staff has five excellent young pitchers, who all may pitch for the Twins several years from now.  Eden Prairie native and Gopher alum, Cole DeVries continues to stake his claim to another step in the organizational ladder.  Cole got the loss on Wednesday, 5-0, however, he allowed only 1 run in 6.0 innings with 7 hits and 1K/1BB.  DeVries now has a 4-5 record with a 3.50ERA/1.40WHIP in 64.1 innings with 42K/16BB.  Tyler Robertson beat Tampa last Sunday, 6-1, when he pitched a 9.0 inning complete game with 5 hits, 1 run and 5K/1BB.  Tyler was the scheduled starter last night, however, MiLB has reported that he has been placed on the 7-day DL.  Robertson has a 4-2 record with a 2.76ERA/1.30WHIP and 58K/22BB in 65.1 innings.  In Robertson's place, the Miracle started Henry Reyes who had just joined the Club from EST.  Reyes pitched 2.1 shutout innings with 1 hit and 4K/0BB as the Miracle pitched nearly their entire bullpen.  Michael Allen, who had also just joined the Club from EST, got the loss when he allowed a run in the 12th inning of a game that had been scoreless through the first 9.  Scott Baker made a re-hab start on Saturday, pitching 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 3 runs and 4K/0BB as the Miracle won 8-6.  Deolis Guerra was the loser on Wednesday, 7-2, pitching 1.2 innings with 5 hits, 7 runs (5 earned) and 0K/3BB.  Guerra has a 6-2 record with a 4.89ERA/1.51WHIP in 57.0 innings with 32K/29BB.  Alex Burnett was the winner Thursday, 6-4, pitching 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 4 runs and 2K/3BB.  Burnett also has an excellent 3.34ERA/1.35WHIP in 64.2 innings with 28K/20BB.  Matt Fox and recently promoted Blair Erickson pitched 5.1 shutout innings in relief of Guerra on Wednesday.  Anthony Slama allowed his second earned run of the season last Saturday as his ERA nearly doubled to 0.59 with a 0.91WHIP.  In 30.2 innings, Slama has 49K/11BB. 

Danny Valencia continues to lead the FSL in hitting at .343/.410/.529 following a week when he was 8 for 26 with a double.  Danny also has a league second best 44 rbi and certainly would look good playing third base for the Rock Cats after the all-star break.  Yancarlos Ortiz is one of those young Latin players most fans haven't heard a great deal about.  This young shortstop was 6 for 21 this week and is now hitting a solid .284/.337/.335 in 155 at bats.  Whitney Robbins was the talk of the 2006 draft when the Twins took him in the fourth round and he was the only Twins selection from that draft to be assigned directly to Class-A Beloit.  Unfortunately, Whit went on the DL after only 32 games (he hit an excellent .302Ave) and he battled injuries throughout 2007.  This year Robbins has shared the DH spot and is hitting a solid .263/.400/.385 following a 8 for 24 week...and now has 35 walks with only 26 strikeouts in 156 at bats.  Most fans had also not heard of Wilson Ramos when he moved from EST to Beloit early last season.  He ended the year as one of the best hitters on an excellent Snapper team and immediately moved to the upper eschelons of many "Prospect Rankings."  Ramos is a young (will turn 21 in August) prospect from Venezuela whom several Twins Execs have indicated has the potential to be an excellent defensive catcher.  It is his bat however, that has most fans excited about his future and there was some concern when he began his season at Ft. Myers hitting .203/.292/.316 in April.  The good news is that he got better in May, .257/.275/.505, and began June on fire this week when he went 9 for 29 with a double and his eighth home run.  Wilson is tied with the fourth most home runs (8) in the league and his 41 rbi are third best.  Along with New Britain's David Winfree, Ramos is one of the most productive hitters in the Twins organization.

Beloit Snappers (A) (4-3, 33-28)

The Snappers remained in third palce, however, gained 2.0 games on Clinton and are now 8.0 games back.

Michael McCardell pitched 5.0 innings with 5 hits, 4 runs and 2K/3BB in Saturday's 8-6 loss.  He got the win on Thursday, 8-6, when he pitched 5.2 innings with 6 hits, 4 runs and 5K/1BB.  Daniel Berlind got the win Sunday, 10-5, pitching 5.0 innings with 8 hits 4 runs and 1K/4BB.  The pleasant surprise from EST early this season, Santos Arias, got the loss on Monday, 4-2, pitching 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 3 runs and 6K/1BB.  Michael Tarsi also lost on Wednesday, 11-6, pitching 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 6 runs (3 earned) and 3K/0BB.  Brian Kirwin was the winner last night, 8-4, pitching 6.0 innings with 7 hits, 4 runs and 5K/3BB.  Matt Williams made several excellent relief appearances, pitching 3.1 shoutout innings on Sunday and 2.1 shutout innings on Thursday...striking out 4 with 1 walk and 5 hits.  Closer Spencer Steedley was excellent on Tuesday (1.1ip, 0 hits, 0 runs, 3K/0BB) and Thursday (0.1ip, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1K/0BB as he earned his sixth save), however, was the loser in relief of McCardell last Saturday when he allowed 3 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) in 1.2 innings.

The hitting star the last two nights was Chris Parmalee, who was 6 for 23 with a triple and 3 home runs...and is now hitting .230/.382/.489.  What can you say about Ben Revere?  He was 2 for 5 the last two nights, and each night his batting average went down!  Revere finished the week hitting 9 for 24 with a double and 3 stolen bases in 3 attempts (he has 18 stolen bases in 28 attempts)...and now has enough at bats to lead the league in hitting, .413/.463/.573, which is .062 points better than the second place hitter.  This young man is the most exciting player in the Twins minor league system, yet, he has a lot of work to do.  He began the season with 6 stolen bases in his first 12 attempts.  The fact that he has stolen 12 in his last 16 attempts shows how this young man is working to improve every aspect of his game.  Another part of his game that needs work is defense, as he already has 6 errors in his first 37 games.  Second baseman Steven Singleton is hitting .301/.341/.388 and shortstop Ramon Santana is hitting .286/.362/.461 following a week when he was 8 for 20 with a double and his fifth home run. 

Player of the Week

I suspect that many of you were questioning whether I had missed a pitcher when discussing the Miracle starting staff.  No I hadn't, because Jeff Manship pitched so well in his only start this week that he earned the right to be recognized as the Player of the Week. 

We all continue to wonder how Manship remained available when the Twins selected him in the fourteenth round of the 2006 draft.  Signing late that summer, Jeff only pitched a few innings for the GCL Twins and Miracle, but 22 strikeouts in 14.1 innings caused the Twins to take note that they may have found a gem.  The following season, Jeff was a MidWest League All-Star and the Twins Pitcher of the Month in April.  He had a 7-1 record with a 1.51ERA in 77.2 innings with 77K/9BB for Beloit.  He was promoted to Ft. Myers following the all-star game, compiling a 8-5 record in 71.1 innings with 59K/25BB in the second half of the season. 

Jeff was the winner on Tuesday, when the Miracle won 5-0 behind his 9.0 inning complete game shutout when he allowed 4 hits with 5K/0BB.  This season, Jeff is 7-2 with a 2.72ERA/1.13WHIP and 60K/20BB in 72.2 innings. 

Congratulations on a great game Jeff.  Was it one of your last starts for the Miracle?       

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