Minor League Report...August 30, 2008

Several leagues entered their playoffs this week, while others wrap up their regular seasons this weekend.  The organization had another excellent week with a 26-19 record, unfortunately, two lost in the first round of the playoffs with Elizabethton repeating as Appy League Champions last night.

With the September callups a few days away, I will look more closely at those players with a shot at getting a call on Monday.  Will also look closely at those players headed to the Arizona Fall League.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (4-2, 72-69)

With their season ending on Monday, the Red Wings are guaranteed of having a .500 season after struggling badly the first few months of the year. 

Brian Bass was optioned outright to Rochester and is no longer on the Twins 40-man roster.  Brian made two starts this week, pitching 4.0 innings with 3 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) in last Saturday's 4-3 win.  He had an excellent start in last night's 9-3 win, pitching 5.0 innings with 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 3K/2BB.  If the Twins recall Brian in September, he will need to be added to the 40-man roster (currently have 37 including Pat Neshek who is on the 60-day disabled list).  If he is recalled, it will be an indication that they include him in their plans for 2009.  If not, he may resign with another team over the winter.  Philip Humber made one of his best starts of the year in Wednesday's 4-2 win, pitching 7.0 innings with 8 hits, 2 runs and 4K/0BB.  Humber has a 10-8 record, 4.56ERA and 106K/49BB in 136.1 innings.  Since the all-star break however, Humber has a 6-1 record in 8 starts with 2 complete games, a 2.67ERA and 52K/12BB in 57.1 innings.  Kevin Mulvey likely won't get a call, yet, he was their most consistent starter throughout the year.  Kevin leads the staff with 142.1 innings with a 7-9 record, 3.73ERA and 116K/46BB.  Brian Duensing, who just returned from the Olympics, pitched 2.0 shutout innings in his first appearance last night.  Duensing will need to be added to the 40-man roster this fall which means he may be high on their list for a callup.  Bobby Korecky will likely get recalled.  Korecky has 26 saves in 52 appearances (73.0 innings) with a 6-4 record, 2.84ERA, 1.16WHIP and 71K/21BB.  Another reliever who is intriguing, however, likely won't get a call is Ricky Barrett who finally was healthy for the entire year.  Barrett made 49 appearances (69.0 innings) with a 3.26ERA and 79K/37BB.  He certainly walks a few to many, however, with over 1.1 strikeouts per inning...he is someone to watch.  Last November the Twins lost Tim Lahey to Tampa/Cubs in the Rule V draft.  Tim didn't make the Cubs roster and was returned to the Twins who have assigned him to one of their seven slots in the AFL.  We also need to remember that Tim was drafted in 2004 as a catcher out of Princeton University and has been pitching professionally for only a few years.  In 46 appearances for the Rock Cats (62.0 innings), Tim had a 5.52ERA and 52K/23BB.  Although his ERA was not what one would expect from a prospect, a closer look shows how a handful of outings with 2 or 3 runs allowed can cause a reliever's ERA to skyrocket...while most of his appearances have been solid.  

There aren't many position players likely to get called.  Jason Pridie is on the 40-man roster and likely will get a call if for no other reason as a pinch runner.  Pridie is hitting .270/.306/.431 with 25 stolen bases in 34 attempts.  Pridie, who recently was voted the top defensive outfielder in the IL, had a wonderful second half of the season hitting .329/.369/.514 since the all-star break.  Other potential callups are former Rule V pick Alejandro Machado and Matt Macri.  Machado spent much of the first half on the DL, however, hit .352/.388/.484 in 182 at bats with only 1 error and 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts.  Macri had an excellent stint with the Twins earlier (hit .367Ave in 30 at bats), however, slumped a bit after returning to Rochester.  Matt approaches the seasons end hitting .253/.320/.457.  Everyone is assuming the Twins will also call up a catcher, however, Jose Morales spent most of the season on the DL and is the only catcher on the 40-man roster.  They will probably add a catcher to the 40-man roster, yet the only two at Rochester are minor league veteran Ryan Jorgenson (.251/.319/.440 in 191 at bats) and Jeff Christy (.193/.301/.261 in 88 at bats).  Another player who has impressed us all year is Luke Hughes.  It appears however, that after hitting .319/.385/.551 in 285 at bats at New Britain and .296/.327/.469 in 98 at bats at Rochester, the Twins want Hughes to play winter ball and won't be adding him to their roster in September.  Hughes' 18 home runs are third best in the organization and double the number he had in any prior season.  

New Britain Rock Cats (5-3, 61-77)

With only the weekend remaining, the Rock Cats have scratched their way out of the cellar...however, trail Trenton by 23.5 games.

Jeff Manship is headed to the AFL after a tremendous first half with the Miracle where he had a 7-3 record with 2.86ERA in 78.2 innings with 63K/20BB.  Jeff had some good starts for the Cats and some that weren't good.  This week however, Jeff was excellent with a 5.0 inning performance with 4 hits, 2 runs and 4K/3BB in a 3-2 win last Saturday....followed by 6.0 shutout innings in Thursday's 2-0 win with 3 hits and 7K/2BB.  Jeff has a 3-6 record in AA with a 4.46ERA and 62K/24BB in 76.2 innings.  Also headed to Arizona is top reliever Rob Delaney.  Delaney also began his season as a FSL all-star where he had a 1.42ERA with 13 saves in 23 appearances (31.2 innings) with 34K/4BB.  He didn't lose anything with his move up to New Britain, where he had a 1.08ERA, 0.51WHIP and 38K/5BB in 22 games (33.1 innings).  For the season, Delaney gave up only 9 walks in 65.0 innings (1.246 walks/9 innings) with a 1.385 Dominance Ratio (strikeouts/hits+walks).   

The Twins have stated that Matt Tolbert, who is in New Britain on a rehab assignment, will travel to Rochester on Monday and join the bus ride from Rochester to Toronto for their series that begins September 2nd.  Matt is hitting .256/.256/.326 in 43 at bats for New Britain.  Another potential callup from New Britain is catcher Drew Butera, who hit .220/.306/.357 with excellent defense which may make him the most likely catcher to be added in September.  Danny Valencia was leading the FSL in hitting when promoted to AA, .336/.402/.518.  He began his stint at AA by hitting .186 in 43 at bats in June.  Since their all-star break however, he hit an excellent .295/.329/.545 and will continue his march towards a spot as the Twins third baseman this fall in Arizona.  Other Rock Cat players going to Arizona are Dustin Martin and Steve Tolleson.  Tolleson became one of the Twins best middle infield prospects (has also played some center field when needed) by hitting .335/.421/.517 before going on the DL in early June.  Martin has quietly been one of the Twins best outfielders this season, hitting .284/.348/.438 with 20 stolen bases in 31 attempts, 10 home runs and 69 rbi.  One player who won't be going to the AFL, however, is David Winfree who was often criticized by fans for his low batting average for much of the season.  David, who was moved to right field this year, was hitting .222/.289/.395 at the all-star break, however, is htting .336/.400/.605 since the break.  David is hitting .252/.319/.450, however, has an excellent .295/.362/.532 with runners in scoring position.  David is tied with Garrett Jones for the organization lead with 87 rbi (third best in the EL), while his 19 home runs are second best in the organization and fifth best in the league.  Although many have been disappointed in David's performance this year, I expect that his production will place him into the top 5 in my year end rating of all minor league players. 

Ft. Myers Miracle (4-4) (32-33)

The Miracle used this week to to tune up for next week's playoffs which begin with a best of three against Dunedin.  Unfortunately, the Miracle's best starter, Tyler Robertson, is unavailable (Tyler had a 2.72ERA and 73K/31BB in 82.2 innings) after being shut down for the year. 

Anthony Slama shared short relief with Rob Delaney before Delaney's promotion to New Britain.  Slama will rejoin Delaney this fall in the AFL after putting up numbers that were even more amazing than Delaney.  Going into this last weekend of the season, Slama has 25 saves in 50 games (70.0 innings) with a 4-1 record, 1.03ERA, 0.96WHIP, 110K/24BB and an unbelievable 1.642 Dominance Ratio.  Cole DeVries returned from missing a couple starts with an excellent start on Thursday when he pitched 5.0 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned) and 8K/3BB.  Cole will likely get the opening start against Dunedin with Matt Fox likely as a second game starter...Matt had two starts this week, pitching 11.1 innings with 9 hits, 2 runs and 11K/3BB. 

Rene Tosoni played in a couple games for the GCL Twins before rejoining the Miracle this week.  Tosoni, who was hitting .325/.430/.452 prior to going on the DL in May, will be a pleasant addition to the Miracle lineup for their playoff series.  Other players who will be important if the Miracle is to beat their nemisis are Edward Ovalle (.286/.349/.415 with 16 stolen bases), Steve Singleton (.292/.368/.451) and Juan Portes (.263/.314/.391).  Portes hit his 12th home run of the year last night, a walk-off grand slam with one out in the bottom of the ninth in game that was tied, 0-0.  One last player who can be big is the Twins top catching prospect, Wilson Ramos.  Wilson is an excellent defensive catcher while hitting .288/.348/.437 with 13 home runs (eighth best in the FSL) and 77 rbi (fourth best in the league).

Beloit Snappers (5-2, 34-33)

The Snappers drive for the playoffs faded these past few weeks as Ben Revere played infrequently, however, their fate was likely set in stone earlier this season when one star after another went on the DL with season ending injuries.  As their season ends, the following players are either on the DL or have been shut down for the year:  pitchers Chris Anderson and Loek VanMil (injured while with Dutch Olympic Team); catcher Jair Fernandez (.283/.333/.370); infielders Paul Kelly (played in only 7 games before being reinjured), Chris Parmalee (.239/.385/.496 with 14 home runs in only 69 games, D.J. Romero (.268/.309/.396 in only 149 at bats after being on the DL much of the spring, then breaking a leg after hitting .340Ave in July), Eric Santiago (.190Ave in only 21 at bats) and Andrew Thompson...who missed his second consecutive season; outfielders Ozzie Lewis (hit only .218/.295/.332 while battling injuries all year), Joe Benson (.248/.326/.382 with 17 stolen bases) and the league's top hitter Ben Revere (.379/.433/.497 with 44 stolen bases in 57 attempts), who was hitting over .400 until he began battling a knee injury that limited him to 14 games in August.  

Elizabethton Twins (1-2, 41-25)

The Twins ended their season with another division title, then swept Pulaski in their three game championship series.  The Twins beat the Mariners 7-4 on Thursday with Brad Tippett lasting only 0.2 inning with 3 hits.  Curtis Leavitt came on to pitch 3.1 innings with 4 hits, 4 runs and 4K/2BB with reliever Danny Rondon getting the win with Rondon, Jarrad Eacott and Steven Blevins pitching 5.0 innings of shutout relief.  The ETon bats got 7 runs with Evan Bigley again leading the way with a 2 for 5 night and a home run.  Last night Daniel Osterbrock stepped up with 7.0 shutout innings with 9 hits and 11K/0BB.  Thomas Wright and Steven Blevins pitched 2.0 shutout innings as the Twins won their second straight championship, 7-0.  Jon Waltenbury was the hitting star last night, going 3 for 3 with a walk and 2 run homer.

GCL Twins (3-3, 35-21)

The Twins season ended in second place, 2.0 games behind the Pirates.  Like last year, the Twins faced the Nationals in a one game playoff with the winner moving on.  Mijuel Munoz got the start, lasting only 0.2 innings with 4 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and 1K/3BB.  This performance was not expected from a starter who had an excellent 5-2 record and 3.04ERA in 53.1 innings during the season.  Top hitter Anderson Hidalgo (.364/.448/.466) led the offense with a 3 for 5 day, however, a six run hole at the end of the first inning was to deep for the Twins to dig out of as they went on to lose 10-5.

DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League) (46-24) 

The Twins surged into first place last week when they were 5-0.  This week they also faced the Mariners in a best of three first round playoff series.  After winning the first game, 1-0, behind Pedro Guerra's 8.0 inning performance with 6K/1BB, they lost two straight as their season ends.  On Wednesday they lost 6-3 behind seventeen year old starter, Adrian Salcedo, who allowed 3 runs (1 earned) in 4.0 innings.  Thursday they lost 1-0 as they wasted 5.0 shutout innings by Jhon Garcia.

Player of the Week

A couple years ago Kyle Aselton moved from Beloit's bullpen to the starting rotation...becoming one of the Snapper's top starters the last six weeks of the season.  This season Kyle spent much of the year in the Rock Cats bullpen before becomming a spot starter in June.  Kyle finishes his year with a 7-6 record and 4.44ERA in 37 games (13 starts) with 77K/59BB in 105.1 innings and appears to be more suited to a starting role. 

The Cats were winners, 2-0, on Wednesday with Kyle pitching 7.1 shutout innings with 3 hits and 8K/0BB.  Kyle is not a six year veteran and is unlikely to be lost in the Rule V draft, thus, he has one more season to earn a spot in AAA next spring and gain the Twins confidence in his abilities as a starter who may have a role beyond AAA.              

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