Minor League Report...July 18, 2009

After two weeks of playing roughly .500 ball the organization put up one of its best weeks of the year, finishing with 24 wins against only 14 losses.  Only the first half champion Ft. Myers Miracle were below .500, winning two of six games this week.

Last Sunday Jim Rantz announced that New Britain closer Anthony Slama was the organization's Player of the Week.  New Britain outfielder Rene Tosoni was named MVP of the All-Star Futures game.  Catcher Alex Soto moved up to Ft. Myers from Beloit.  This year's 22nd round pick, catcher Buddy Munroe, moved down to Elizabethton from Beloit.  The Twins flipped middle infielders, calling up Alexi Casilla from Rochester with Matt Tolbert moving back to the Red Wings.  The Twins purchased the contract of pitcher Kevin Mulvey from Rochester, adding him to their 40-man roster.  They sent catcher Jose Morales back to Rochester who now has three catchers (Drew Butera and Jeff Christy).  The Twins also announced that they have signed recent third round pick, Ben Tootle.  That means that they have signed all of their top ten picks (nine rounds) except first round pick Kyle Gibson.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (1-2, 44-45, 3rd place, -8.0)

The Wings had their all-star break this week with first baseman/DH Justin Huber representing the Wings in the International League vs. Pacific Coast League All-Star game.  With a rainout last night, the Wings played only three games as they moved up a spot to third place while dropping a full game to first place Scranton/WB. 

They split a pair of games with Lehigh Valley last weekend.  Justin Jones (5.0ip, 11h, 5r, 3K/0BB) got the loss, 7-5, last Saturday as his record slipped to 2-9.  Reid Santos, who has done a good job as a spot starter, was the winner (5.0ip, 6h, 2r (1 earned), 3K/1BB) on Sunday, 5-3.  The Wings travelled to Lehigh Valley Thursday, losing 5-4 with Jeff Manship getting the start (5.0ip, 6h, 5r (3 earned), 5K/2BB) as he recorded his first loss with two wins. 

Most of us have seen Kevin Mulvey's numbers at Rochester (3-6, 3.93ERA, 1.43WHIP, 103.0ip, 17gs, 2cg, 1shutout, 81K/38BB), with a team high 103.0ip.  The story of his season however, was that he was very inconsistent with some starts that were very good while others were not.  Looking at his last four starts gives us a good example of his season at Rochester:  6/21--7.0ip, 10h, 1r, 6K/0BB; 6/27--6.2ip, 8h, 5r, 5K/2BB; 7/4--5.1ip, 7h, 5r, 4K/5BB; 7/9--8.0ip, 7h, 1r, 4K/1BB. 

Jason Jones has had a tough season for the Red Wings.  Jones, whom the Twins selected from the Yankees in the Rule V draft, has made 17 starts this year, pitching 87.1 innings with a 2-9 record, 6.39ERA, 1.73WHIP and 42K/29BB.  The Twins managed to keep Jones in the organization by sending Charles Nolte to the Yankees.  Nolte is currently playing for Charleston in the SouthAtlantic League (A) with a 1-1 record, 1 save, 4.42ERA, 18.1ip and 13K/7BB.  Armando Gabino hasn't been mentioned by many as a potential answer to the Twins bullpen concerns.  Yet, Gabino has guietly been amongst the Wings best relievers with a 3-2 record, 3.07ERA, 1.06WHIP and 33K/16BB in 55.2 innings.  Meanwhile, Jesse Crain has allowed only 1 run in his last four games (7.1 innings) with 6K/1BB.

Last season Danny Valencia hit .336Average in 220 at bats in Ft. Myers before his promotion to AA.  He struggled a bit at first, then finished with a .289Average in 266 at bats in New Britain.  Valencia returned to New Britain this spring where he hit .284/.373/.482 in 218 at bats.  A young man whom many fans believe will be the Twins third baseman in 2010 was promoted to AAA Rochester last month.  Although it is a small sample with only 79 at bats, Valencia is playing like someone who wants Twins management to also believe he can be their third baseman by hitting .380/.390/.595 with 3 home runs, 14 RBI and 8 doubles.  Alexi Casilla was hitting .340/.379/.449 in 156 at bats before his recall this week.  Former 49th round pick Brock Peterson has his average up to .263/.350/.397 in 156 at bats following the month of June when he hit .352/.410/.479.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (3-2, 48-44, 2nd place, -6.0)

The Rock Cats also had their all-star break this week with Brian Dinkelman, Whit Robbins, Rene Tosoni, Matt Fox and Anthony Slama all appearing in the game that the North lost, 5-3.  The Cats remained in second place picking up a full game on first place Connecticut.  

The Cats lost two of three last weekend to last place Binghamton, with Yohan Pino getting the only win (5-0) last Saturday (6.0 shutout innings, 6h, 8K/0BB) as he improved his record to 5-0.  The Rock Cats split two games at Reading on Thursday and Friday.  Pino again pitched very well in Thursday's 5-2 loss (5.0ip, 4h, 2r, 2K/3BB) as he picked up his first loss of the season.  Pino has now appeared in 32 games this season (4 starts) with a 5-1 record, 3.19ERA, 62.0 innings pitched with 64K/16BB.  Since joining the organization in 2004 with the DSL Twins, Pino has won 51 games with only 19 losses.  Cole DeVries had his toughest start of the season (1.1ip, 7h, 10r (7 earned) and 1K/3BB) in Monday's 14-1 loss.  DeVries was much better in last night's 6-4 win (5.0ip, 6h, 3r, 5K/2BB) picking up his sixth win.

DeVries leads the Rock Cats with 96.2 innings with a 6-9 record, 3.63ERA, 1.44WHIP and 63K/31BB.  All-Star Anthony Slama leads the organization with 20 saves with a 4-2 record, 2.70ERA, 1.22WHIP and 75K/24BB in 53.1 innings.  Alex Burnett picked up his second save last night.  Burnett has certainly made people take notice in his first season working out of the bullpen as he has compiled a 1-2 record with a 1.99ERA, 0.95WHIP and 28K/11BB in his first 22 games (31.2 innings) in AA.

Steven Singleton was promoted to New Britain this week.  The immediate question by many of us was who would play where?  Well , Singleton has been at second base in the two games since his promotion with Brian Dinkelman playing left field in the first game.  Singleton has responded to his promotion with 6 hits in 9 at bats including 3 doubles and a triple.  Dinkelman has been one of the Cats top hitters all season, .298/.388/.427 with 35 walks and only 41 strikeouts in 302 at bats.  Erik Lis had a week worthy of recognition this week, 9-19 with 1 double, 4 home runs and 8 RBI.  My prediction is that there is a 50-50 chance that we will hear his name called when Jim Rantz announces the Twins Player of the Week tomorrow.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (2-4, 10-11, 3rd place, -2.0 games)

The first half champs are playing like a team that knows they have a spot in the playoffs.  The Miracle dropped two full games behind Charlotte this week, also dropping two spots in the standings.        

The Miracle started their week by losing three straight to Palm Beach who moved up to second place a game ahead of Ft. Myers.  Their bullpen wasted a solid start by David Bromberg (4.2ip, 5h, 4r (3 earned), 5K/3BB)  last Saturday, losing 10-9 in 10 innings.  Michael McCardell was efficient (7.0ip, 10h, 2r, 9K/0BB) in Monday's 2-0 loss as he lost his sixth game of the season with 9 wins.  The Miracle got back on track late this week as they took two of three from Sarasota, scoring 13 runs in each of the two wins.  Steve Hirschfield pitched a complete game shutout in the Miracle's best start of the season (9.0ip, 3h, 0r and 2K/1BB), winning 13-0.  Michael Tarsi was also good the next night (6.0ip, 7h, 4r, 7K/2BB) in a 13-4 win.  David Bromberg was again very good last night (6.0ip, 7h, 3r, 6K/1BB), however, the Miracle bats were silent as Bromberg lost his first game, 3-2.

Bromberg continues to lead the Miracle with a 7-1 record and 2.97ERA, 1.31WHIP and 87K/41BB in a team high 97.0 innings.  Steven Hirschfield has a 2.17ERA and 1.03WHIP in 23 games (66.1 innings) of which 8 have been starts.  Loek Van Mil has a 1.85ERA, 1.19WHIP and 17K/11BB in 24.1 innings.  Joe Testa has a 0.00ERA and 1.03WHIP in his first 6 games (10.2 innings) with the Miracle.

Joe Benson is 9-28 with 1 double and 1 home run in the 8 games since his return from the DL.  For the season, Benson is hitting .302/.429/.452 in 126 at bats.  Mark Dolenc has had three consecutive multi hit games while hitting .381Average in his last ten games, improving his numbers for the season to .297/.329/.411 in 263 at bats.  Shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos, who also recently returned from the DL, is hitting .289Average in his last ten games.  When he hit his twelfth round tripper Thursday, Chris Parmalee moved into a tie for the organization lead while also moving into a three-way tie for the most home runs in the Florida State League.  Parmalee is also second in the league with 50 RBI.

Beloit Snappers (A) (4-2, 9-12, Tie/5th place, -6.0 games)

After one of their best weeks of the season the Snappers moved up three spots in the standings to 5th place, however, dropping another full game behind division leading Cedar Rapids.  

The Snappers lost two of three last weekend at West Michigan.  Danny Berlind (4.1ip, 9h, 4r, 3K/1BB) was the starter of their 9-8 win, however, Michael Allen picked up his first win (1-8) by pitching 2.0 innings with 1 hit and 1 run.  Liam Hendriks (6.2ip, 9h, 1r, 4K/1BB) continues to pitch very well as he pitched the Snappers to the first of three straight wins Wednesday at Burlington, 9-3.  The Snappers Ace, Brad Tippett, was at his best (7.0ip, 4h, 0r, 3K/1BB) in Thursday's 9-1 win as his record improved to 8-3.  Danny Berlind (5.0ip, 4h, 3r, 3K/3BB) was the recipient of an offense that scored 9 runs for the third straight game in last night's win.  Daniel Osterbrock has been solid of late, however, had a tough outing Sunday when he allowed 10 runs on 9 hits and 0K/2BB in only 2.2 innings.     

Liam Hendriks has a 1-1 record in two starts with a 1.46ERA, 1.54WHIP and 9K/2BB in 12.1 innings.  Recent second round pick, Billy Bullock, has a 0.00ERA, 1.00WHIP and 7K/4BB in 3 games (3.0 innings).  Daniel Osterbrock has a 5.80ERA with a 4-7 record in 17 games (85.1 innings) with72K/19BB.  Steven Blevins has been solid out of the bullpen with a 2.65ERA in his last ten games (17.0 innings) with 9K/6BB.

The key to the improved Snappers has been their offense, scoring 9 runs in all four wins this week.  The recent promotions of Danny Rams (.278/.409/.722 in 18 at bats) and Tyler Ladendorf (.320/.370/.360 in 25 at bats) has seemed to ignite the entire lineup.  Ladendorf has been playing at shortstop with one of the Snappers Top hitters, Ramon Santana, moving to third base.  Much has been written about the early season struggles of top prospect Angel Morales who is hitting .423Average (11-26) in his last ten games with 3 doubles, 1 triple and only 2 strikeouts and 1 walk.  James Beresford is also hitting .419Average (18-43) in his last ten games. 

Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (4-2, 18-6, 1st place, +4.0 games)

Although the Snappers lost two of three to the Danville Braves (the team they could again play in this year's playoffs) late this week, they added a game to their lead over second place Johnson City by beating them in a three game sweep last weekend.

Their sweep of Johnson City was a combination of starting pitching and hitting.  Miguel Munoz (6.1ip, 6h, 1 unearned run, 9K/1BB) was the winner last Saturday, 10-1.  Martire Garcia (4.2ip, 4h, 3r, 5K/6BB) was the starter in Sunday's 9-4 win that recent 21st round pick Kane Holbrooks (2.1ip, 3h, 1r, 2K/2BB) earned his first win.  Angelo Sanchez (5.1ip, 4h, 1r, 8K/1BB) was very good but didn't get a decision in Monday's 8-6 win.  Matt Tone (1.0ip, 1h, 0r, 0K/3BB) picked up his second win in relief.  Tom Stuifbergen had a great outing in Wednesday's opening night 4-2 win against Danville, pitching 6.2 innings with 9 hits, 1 run and 4K/1BB.  

Stuifbergen leads the Twins with 32.0 innings with a 3-0 record, 3.66ERA, 1.22WHIP and 30K/4BB.  Kyle Carr has been excellent out of the bullpen in 9 games (17.0 innings) with a 1-0 record, 3 saves and 28K/5BB.  Miguel Munoz appears to be a typical Twins starter with 29K/4BB in 25.2 innings with a 3-1 record and 3.86ERA.

Ladendorf (.410/.500/.721 in 61 at bats) and Rams (.355/.444/.790 in 62 at bats) may have moved up to Beloit, but the Twins bats continue to be the strength of the team as they lead the Appalachian League with a .301 team Average (Kingsport is second at .284).  Brian Dozier (2009, 8th round pick) has moved into the starting shortstop spot and is hitting .375/.487/.469 in 32 at bats.  When the Twins drafted Chris Herrmann in the sixth round last month, they proclaimed that he was drafted as an outfielder rather than catcher where he played in college.  Herrmann, who was considered to be one of the better hitters in college ball, has been swinging a big bat for Elizabethton, hitting .359/.435/.587 in 92 at bats with 9 doubles, 4 home runs and 12 RBI.  Josmil PInto has moved up from the GCLwhere he hit .326Average in 85 at bats last season.  Pinto, who leads the league with 30 RBI, is also tied with recently departed Danny Rams for the Team and league lead with 6 home runs.  Pinto is hitting .323/.361/.738 in 65 at bats.

GCL Twins (4-2, 10-10, Tie/2nd place, -2.0)

The GCL Twins got back on the winning side of the ledger this week, moving back to .500 and up two spots in the standings into a tie with the Red Sox.  They also picked up a half game on the Orioles who they lost to on Tuesday.

They began the week by splitting a doubleheader with the Red Sox with a 5-0 win and 7-1 loss.  Jhon Garcia (5.2ip, 5h, 0r, 6K/0BB) was excellent in the win while Shooter Hunt (3.0ip, 2h, 1r, 1K/3BB and 1 wild pitch) was somewhat better in the loss.  Blayne Weller (5.0ip, 2h, 1 unearned run, 4K/1BB) was excellent in Monday's 5-2 win over the RaysAdrian Salcedo picked up his first loss of the season in Tuesday's 9-1 loss to the Orioles.  Salcedo pitched 5.0 innings with 7 hits, 7 runs (only 1 earned) and 4K/1BB.  B.J. Hermsen (6.0ip, 3h, 1r, 5K/0BB) was again very good in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Reds

Hermsen leads the Twins with 23.1 innings with a 3-1 record and an excellent 1.54ERA, 0.60WHIP and 15K/2BB.  Adrian Salcedo is even better with a 0.95ERA, 1.05WHIP and 21K/1BB for a 1-1 record in 19.0 innings.  Jhon Garcia is a name we haven't heard a lot about, yet he was very good last year where he had a 3-0 record with a 2.31ERA with 13K/1BB in 11.2 innnings of relief for the DSLTwins.  This year Garcia has a 1-1 record in 3 starts (17.0 innings) with a 1.06ERA, 0.65WHIP and 16K/1BB.  Recent 16th round pick Dakota Watts continues to be perfect out of the bullpen.  Watts has a 0.00ERA, 0.43WHIP and 10K/3BB in 6 games (9.1 innings), earning a team high 4 saves. 

The Twins haven't scored a lot of runs, winning four games this week by scores of 5-0, 5-2, 3-2 and 1-0.  With their leading hitter, Wang-Wei Lin, likely out for the season, Hyun-wook Choi is the current hitting leader at .264/.298/.434 in 53 at bats.  Jairo Perez, who was the DSLTwins top hitter last year at .338/.437/.525 in 160 at bats, is hitting .250/.348/.400 in 40 at bats with 3 doubles and a home run.  Rory Rhodes is a 17 year old third baseman from Brisbane, Australia who is 6'7".  Rhodes had a 3-4 night earlier this week and is now hitting .224/.298/.327 in 49 at bats.

DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League) (6-0, 29-13, 1st place, +2.0 games)

With six straight wins this week, the Twins have moved up a spot into first place and now hold a 2.0 game lead over the Yankees-2.             

Pedro Guerra (19) had two more great starts this week, beating the Indians 4-0 last Saturday (6.0ip, 5h, 0r, 7K/0BB) and the Cubs1, 9-1, yesterday (6.0ip, 2h, 1r, 5K/1BB) when he allowed his first earned run of the year.  Cesar Ciurcina (18) was again very good (7.0ip, 3h, 1r, 8K/1BB) in Thursday's 6-5 win over the DiamondbacksWilson Sanchez (5.1ip, 4h, 1unearned run, 7K/0BB) beat the Yankees, 8-2, and Manuel Soliman (6.0ip, 3h, 1r, 3K/2BB) beat the Tigers, 8-2, in two more big wins this week. 

Guerra leads the Twins with a 6-0 record, 0.18ERA, 0.68WHIP and 50K/6BB in 50.0 innings.  Wilson Sanchez (18)  has a 3-1 record with a 1.60ERA, 0.94WHIP and 45K/7BB in 39.1 innings.  Cirucina has a 5-1 record with a 1.66ERA, 0.72WHIP and 35K/5BB in 48.2 innings.

We have read in several places recently that the Twins have been more aggressive signing several highly touted Latin players and remain in the hunt for signing Miguel Sono whenever the league determines that he is in fact 16 years old.  There was a 16 year old third baseman who was recently added to the DSL Twins roster.  I don't know if this means he was one of the Twins recent signings, but Wander Guillen is 16 years old and didn't play his first game with the Twins until July 11th.  Since that time, Guillen has been the best hitter on the team, hitting .435/.552/.478 in 23 at bats. 

Player of the Week

As mentioned above, several players had weeks worthy of recognition this week including Eric Lis, Tyler Ladendorf, Yohan Pino, Steven Hirschfield and Brad Tippett.  But one starting pitcher for the GCLTwins had a game that was so special that he clearly stands out in a week with many outstanding performances.

Michael Tonkin was a player that Twins fans immediately became familiar with when they drafted him in the 30th round a year ago.  It wasn't so much for what this Palmdale, California native had done on the diamond in high school, rather, it was because he is Jason Kubel's brother-in-law.  Tonkin signed late last summer, appearing in only six games for the GCL Twins with a 0-1 record, 3.27ERA and 8K/3BB in 11.0 innings.

Tonkin returned to the GCLTwins this season where he had appeared in 3 games, including 2 starts a week ago when he pitched a total of 7.2 innings with 12 hits, 9 runs (7 earned) and 5K/2BB.  Tonkin made his third start of the season in Thursday's 1-0 win over the Twins cross town rival Red Sox.  Tonkin pitched 7.0 innings of shutout ball with only 2 hits and 15 strikeouts without a walk. 

Hopefully this will be a game that Tonkin can build upon as it certainly will be one of if not the best start of the season for the GCL Twins.    

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