The organization came back from winning only seven of their first twenty this week to finish with another winning week with a record of 24 wins and 20 losses. They were led by the DSL Twins (4-1) and their two rookie teams, the GCL Twins (4-1) and Elizabethton Twins (5-2). Of the full-season teams, only Ft. Myers had a winning record at 4-3.
There wasn't a lot of player movement this week. It appears that Kevin Slowey may be headed towards season ending surgery after being shut down in Rochester and returning to the Twins Cities to see more doctors next week. The Twins recalled Jesse Crain from Rochester with Kevin Mulvey returning to the Red Wings. The Twins signed veteran second baseman Mark Grudzielanek to a minor league contract. He is in Ft. Myers before joining New Britain next week. Yohan Pino was promoted to Rochester with catcher Jeff Christy moving back to New Britain. Alan de San Miguel returned to Ft. Myers with Miracle starter Michael McCardell moving up to New Britain to replace Pino. Closer Dakota Watts moved across the parking lot to give the Miracle additional depth in their bullpen.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-5, 47-49, 4th place, -7.5 games)
The Red Wings dropped a spot in the standings this week, yet gained a half game on Scranton/WB.
The Wings began their week by dropping a double header, 6-3 and 7-5, to Lehigh Valley last Saturday behind short starts by Philip Humber (3.2ip, 7h, 6r, 1K/2BB) and Jason Jones (4.0ip, 6h, 6r (5 earned) 3K/4BB). They dropped a third game to Lehigh Valley, 3-2, wasting a great start by Reid Santos (5.0ip, 6h, 2r (1 earned), and 2K/1BB). In his debut game in AAA, Yohan Pino was solid (5.0ip, 3h, 3r, 3K/0BB) in Monday's 12-5 win over Pawtuckett. The Red Wings picked up a double header sweep over Pawtuckett on Wednesday, 5-0 and 6-1. Jeff Manship (6.0ip, 1h, 0r, 3K/3BB) had his best start as a Wing in the opener with Armando Gabino (4.0ip, 3h, 1r, 4K/2BB) also making an excellent spot start. Philip Humber was better (6.0ip, 4h, 3r, 5K/4BB) in Thursday's 5-3 loss. Reid Santos (8.0ip, 6h, 0r, 6K/1BB) had his best start of the season in last night's ten inning, 2-1 loss at Charlotte.
Rob Delaney was the MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year last year and my top ranked pitcher. Delaney began his season at New Britain where he had an excellent 1-1 record in 26 games (36.0 innings) with a 2.00ERA and 40K/6BB. Rob hasn't been as dominant with the Wings where he has a 4.05ERA with a 4-2 record in 19 games (26.2 innings) with 20K/11BB. After allowing 4 earned runs in his second appearance, Rob has settled down with a 2.13ERA in his last 10 games (12.2 innings) and should be ready to join the Twins by September. Kevin Mulvey had a brief first stay with the Twins, however, has been solid for the Red Wings with a 3-6 record, 3.93ERA and 81K/38BB in 17 games (103.0 innings). Reid Santos was a 26 year old lefty free-agent who the Twins signed this winter. Santos began the season as a starter, moved to the bullpen and back to the starting rotation early this month. Santos has a 1-2 record with a 4.06ERA in 17 games (11 starts) with 43K/26BB in 64.1 innings. Jeff Manship was solid although somewhat inconsistant for New Britain where he had a 6-4 record, 4.28ERA and 45K/20BB in 75.2 innings. He has been better in AAA where he has a 3.38ERA with a 3-1 record in 5 games (29.1 innings) with 18K/13BB including 6 innings of shutout ball this week.
Many have noticed that Matt Macri wasn't hitting like he had in the past, suffering through a slump in May when he hit for only a .153 Average. Macri is hitting .276 Average in his last ten games with home runs in the last two to bring his numbers up to .230 Average with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 9 home runs and 32 RBI in 269 at bats. Danny Valencia was my 6th ranked player last season and if he keeps playing like he has, may be my top ranked player this year. Valencia began his season back at New Britain where he hit .284/.373/.482 with 7 home runs in 218 at bats. Valencia took off after his promotion to Rochester, hitting .339/.354/.569 with 5 home runs in 109 at bats. Valencia, who had an excellent 31 walks with 40 strikeouts at New Britain, has taken only 3 walks with 15 strikeouts for the Red Wings. Trevor Plouffe split time last year between New Britain and Rochester with a combined .262/.308/.415 as a 22 year old. This season Plouffe is hitting .244/.295/.372 as the Red Wing full-time shortstop.
New Britain Rock Cats (2-4, 50-48, 3rd place, -5.0 games)
Although New Britain won only two games this week and slipped out of second place, they picked up a full game in the standings.
Deolis Guerra (6.1ip, 4h, 3r, 3K/2BB) got the Cats off with a win at Reading last Saturday (11-3). Guerra then pitched his best game of the season (7.0ip, 4h, 0r and 12K/0BB) in a 1-0 win over Portland on Thursday. Matt Fox was the loser in Sunday's 9-1 loss (4.2ip, 5h, 4r (1 earned), 4K/3BB). Fox (6.1ip, 4h, 4r (3 earned) 9K/1BB) also lost last night versus Connecticut, 4-2. Michael McCardell wasn't good in his AA debut (4.0ip, 11h, 11r, 7K/3BB)....losing to Portland 19-1.
Deolis Guerra was one of key pieces to the Santana trade with the Mets. Much has been written about how the Twins were working to change his mechanics and he wasn't as effective as expected last year as he repeated the FSL as an 18 year old. He began this season back at Ft. Myers where he had a 6-8 record with a 4.69ERA in 16 games (86.1 innings) with 57K/25BB. He was pitching better last month when the Twins promoted him to New Britain. Whether it is the results of the changes he has been working on or the change of scenery, Guerra has been very good for the Rock Cats with a 3-0 record and 3.52ERA in 3 games (23.0 innings) with 23K/6BB. Although Delaney was last year's Reliever of the Year, Anthony Slama possibly was the best reliever in the organization. Slama, who leads the organization with 20 saves, has a 4-2 record in 43 games (54.1 innings) with 77K/25BB. Matt Fox has worked himself back from the arm problems he dealt with since leaving college. Fox has been solid in 18 starts (100.0 innings) for the Cats with a 6-6 record, 3.51ERA and 81K/43BB.
The Rock Cats are loaded with several of the organization's top players. After spending a short stay on the disabled list, Luke Hughes was assigned to New Britain where he replaces Danny Valencia at third base following Valencia's move up to Rochester. Hughes hit a solid .259/.344/.481 in 135 at bats for Rochester with 6 home runs and 28 RBI. Hughes hasn't hit as well in his brief stay at New Britain where he is hitting .230/.304/.443 in 61 at bats. Steve Singleton began his season back at Ft. Myers where he hit .269/.329/.424 in 297 at bats with 23 walks and 26 strikeouts, 15 doubles, 8 triples, 5 home runs and 39 RBI. Although it has been only 33 at bats, Singleton is hitting an unbelievable .515/.543/.727 since his move up to AA. Rene Tosoni will be moving up on most rankings this year after his appearance in the Futures All-Star game. After hitting only .180 Average in April, Tosoni has been excellent as his numbers are up to .277/.381/.467 in 300 at bats with 21 doubles, 3 triples, 10 home runs and an organization best 53 RBI. Wilson Ramos, who many consider one of the top five prospects in the organization, was off to an excellent start before missing about a month with a broken finger and possibley the balance of the season with a leg injury. Ramos, who is an excellent defensive catcher with a great arm, was hitting .308/.326/.444 in 133 at bats with 3 home runs and 18 RBI when he went on the disabled list.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (4-3, 14-14, 2nd place, -2.0 games)
The Miracle got back to their winning ways this week, moving up a spot while remaining 2 games behind Charlotte.
Tyler Robertson (7.0ip, 4h, 4r, 5K/4BB) was the loser to Dunedin, 4-2, last Saturday. Robertson returned to to pitch one of his best games of the year (8.0ip, 7h, 1r, 4K/1BB) in Thursday's 6-5, 10 inning loss at Tampa. Santos Arias was very good in both starts this week as he moved into the starting rotation to replace McCardell. The Miracle lost his first start, 6-2, on Sunday when he pitched 4.0 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 4K/2BB. Santos was the winner last night, 6-3, when he pitched 5.0 innings of shutout ball with 2 hits and 3K/1BB. David Bromberg was the starter (6.2ip, 3h, 1r, 5K/3BB) in Wednesday's 2-1 win at Tampa. Steven Hirschfield was also excellent (5.0ip, 4h, 0r, 4K/1BB) in Monday's 6-3 win over Dunedin.
Santos Arias was very good last season at Beloit when he had a 3.27ERA in 110.0 innings with 91K/29BB. This season, Arias has an excellent 4-1 record in 31 games (2 starts and 58.0 innings) with a 2.17ERA and 45K/14BB. Michael McCardell got the recent promotion to AA after going 9-6 with a 3.93ERA in 94.0 innings with 78K/16BB. David Bromberg has a 8-1 record with a 2.86ERA in 103.2 innings with 92K/44BB. Tyler Robertson, who may have been the Miracle's best starter last year before his injury, hasn't been as strong this year with a 5-6 record, 3.73ERA and 68K/39BB in 101.1 innings.
Joe Benson is back from the disabled list and is beginning to hit like the player the Twins believed he could become when drafted in the second round in 2006. Benson will be ranked in the top fifteen this year if he keeps hitting like he has, .294/.427/.441. Ben Revere was my second ranked player in 2008 and will again be ranked highly by hitting .312/.374/.385 in 343 at bats with 56 runs scored, 37 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 47 attempts. After reading CMath's article comparing the two, I took a look at both of their performances this year which resulted in Revere having a 6 point lead over Benson. Revere had an 8 point advantage as a result of Benson missing time on the DL, thus, Benson has been playing slightly better than Revere based on my calculations. Chris Parmalee continues swinging a big bat with 2 more home runs this week. Parmalee, who is now hitting .258/.346/.457 in 302 at bats, is the sole leader of the FSL with 14 home runs and tied for the league lead with 56 RBI. Estarlin De Los Santos is a solid shortstop who is back from the DL and hitting .297/.325/.441 in 118 at bats.
Beloit (A) (2-3, 11-15, Tie/5th place, -5.0 games)
Although a four way tie for fifth place sounds a lot better than a four way tie for last, the Snappers actually picked up a game on division leading Cedar Rapids this week.
After dropping three games at Dayton, Beloit returned home to take two from the division leaders. Liam Hendriks made the one quality start at Dayton in Monday's 6-3 loss, pitching 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 8K/1BB. Staff Ace Brad Tippett didn't get the win, 2-1, over Cedar Rapids on Wednesday when he came within an out of a complete game shutout...pitching 8.2 innings with 3 hits, 1 run and 3K/1BB. Billy Bullock picked up his first win (1.1ip, 0h, 0r, 1K/0BB). Danny Berlind made his best start (7.0ip, 5h, 2r, 4K/1BB) in Thursday's 8-7 win over Cedar Rapids. Bullock picked up his second win in as many days, pitching 0.2 innings with 2 hits, 1 unearned run and 0K/0BB.
Tippett, who was my 20th ranked pitcher in 2008, has been as productive as any starter in the organization this year with a 8-3 record, 2.31ERA and 76K/19BB in 101.1 innings. Bobby Lanigan, who was considered by many to be a future star, has been solid in his first full season with a 7-6 record, 4.91ERA and 74K/22BB in 95.1 innings.
James Beresford joined the Twins this spring following his appearance with Australia in the WBC. The 20 year old has been one of the Snappers' best hitters, hitting .294/.361/.311 in 299 at bats. Prior to this year, Danny Rams had been somewhat of a disappointment to the organization since drafting him in the second round in 2007. After hitting .308/.357/.462 in a brief stay earlier this year with the Miracle, Rams hit .355/.444/.790 with 6 home runs in 62 at bats for Elizabethton. Rams moved up to Beloit recently and continued to hit for power with 4 home runs in 35 at bats with .286/.359/.743. Last year most rankings considered Angel Morales one of the top four or five players in the organization. Morales struggled in his adjustment to A ball in April when he hit .172/.200/.328 and again in June when he battled injuries, hitting .140/.204/.220. Morales, who has been on fire in July (.359/.375/.590 in 39 at bats), is hitting .233/.294/.410 with 12 doubles, 4 triples and leads the Snappers with 8 home runs in 249 at bats.
Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (5-2, 23-8, 1st place, +7.0 games)
The Twins increased their lead by another 3 games this week and appear destined to a fifth consecutive appearance in the league's championship series.
The Twins began their week with a three game sweep at Burlington, 4-3, 9-2, and 6-4. They were led by three strong starts by Martire Garcia (5.0ip, 4h, 2r and 4K/1BB), Angelo Sanchez (5.0ip, 1h, 1r and 2K/3BB) and Tom Stuifbergen (5.0ip, 3h, 0r and 5K/1BB). The Twins dropped 2 of 3 to Princeton, including a 3-2 loss in which recent 7th round pick Brad Stillings made an excellent start (6.0ip, 4h, 2r (1 earned) and 3K/2BB). Martire Garcia (5.0ip, 5h, 4r and 6K/1BB) picked up their only win in the series, 8-5.
Tom Stuifbergen has made 6 starts (37.0 innings) with a 3-0 record, 3.16ERA and 35K/5BB. Martire Garcia has also made 6 starts (26.2 innings) with a 4-0 record, 4.39ERA and 22K/22BB. Last year's 8th round pick, Kyle Carr leads the bullpen with 5 saves in 12 games with a 1.25ERA and 34K/7BB. Matt Bashore and Ben Tootle both signed recently, making their debuts this week.
Josmil Pinto is a catcher/DH who is hitting .333/.367/.704 with a team high 6 home runs and 31 RBI in 81 at bats. Chris Herrmann is hitting .304/.393/.522 with 5 home runs in 115 at bats. Catcher Toby Streich is hitting .288/.359/.600 in 80 at bats and is tied with Pinto with 6 home runs. Reggie Williams was an infielder who was drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 draft, however, didn't play until appearing with the GCL Twins last year. Williams has been moved to left field and had a big week with key home runs in back-to-back games earlier this week. Williams is hitting .263/.291/.500 with 5 doubles, 2 triples and 3 home runs in 76 at bats.
GCL Twins (Rookie) (4-1, 14-11, 2nd place, -0.5 games)
Blayne Weller had his best start of the season (7.0ip, 3h, 0r and 5K/0BB) in Saturday's 6-1 win over the Rays. Shooter Hunt was the loser of their one loss this week with the Orioles when he faced seven batters without getting an out...0 hits, 4 runs, 0 strikeouts, 6 walks and 1 hit batter. Jhon Garcia is a young starter who moved up from the GCL that we will be hearing more about. Garcia (5.0ip, 5h, 2r and 6K/2BB) beat the Red Sox on Tuesday, 10-6. B.J. Hermsen is someone we all know about and he continues to impress with games like yesterday's 5-3 win over the Orioles when he pitched 5.0 shoutout innings with 4 hits and 2K/0BB. Yet, as good as Hermsen was, Adrian Salcedo was his equal in Thursday's 2-1, 10 inning win over the Rays. Salcedo pitched 7.0 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 8K/1BB. In what appears to be a move to the bullpen, Shooter Hunt had his best outing of the year when he came into a tied game in the eighth inning with 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 0 hit batters and 0 wild pitches. Maybe pitching an inning at a time out of the bullpen for the next five weeks will get Hunt the positive experience he needs for next season.
Much like last season when four starters led the GCL Twins to the playoffs, four starters are again the strength of the team with B. J. Hermsen (4-1, 1.27ERA, 0.64WHIP, 28.1ip and 17K/2BB), Adrian Salcedo (1-1, 1.04ERA, 0.96WHIP, 26.0ip and 29K/2BB), Jhon Garcia (2-1, 1.64ERA, 0.82WHIP and 22K/3BB) and Blayne Weller (2-1, 1.80ERA, 0.85WHIP, 20.0ip and 18K/3BB). Yes it is the rookie league, but that is four young starters...all with ERA's of 1+ and WHIP's under 1.00. Then you have a 19 year old closer from Moscow, Andrei Lobanov, who has 3 saves in 7 games (12.0 innings) with a 0.75ERA, 0.42WHIP with 19K/0BB. Last year's starting staff is doing very well at Elizabethton. It should be fun watching this group as they move through the system.
Unfortunately, the starting staff needs to pitch as they have to keep the Twins competitive as the team hasn't scored a lot of runs. Kennys Vargas has 2 home runs and 12 RBI, hitting .255/.328/.455. Oswaldo Arcia may be an exciting young (18 year old) outfielder from Venezuela who is hitting .246/.296/.431 with 2 home runs and a team high 14 RBI.
DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League) (4-1, 33-14, 1st place, +1.5 games)
The Twins had a great week, yet dropped a half game in the standings to the second place Yankees-2.
Pedro Guerra and Cesar Ciurcina both pitched shutout first and second innings in Sunday's all-star game. Ciurcina had another great start in Thursday's 12-1 win over the Rockies...pitching 7.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 8K/0BB. Orlando Villaroel was very good (6.0ip, 5h, 1r, 2K/2BB) in this week's 5-4 loss to the White Sox. Wilson Sanchez (6.0ip, 6h, 2r, 3K/1BB) was nearly as good in a 7-5 win over the Indians.
Ciurcina and Guerra are clearly two of the top pitchers in the league. We can expect to see both Ciurcina (6-1, 1.46ERA, 55.2 innings and 43K/5BB) and Guerra (6-0, 0.18ERA, 50.0 innings and 50K/6BB) in Ft. Myers next spring. Wilson Sanchez is also 18 (4-1, 1.79ERA, 45.1 innings and 48K/8BB).
Wander Guillen (16 years old) cooled a bit this week, but is still hitting .333/.476/.424 in 33 at bats. Romy Trinidad was the other player in this week's all-star game. Trinidad (18 years old) is hitting .313/.451/.374 with 1 home run and 9 RBI in 115 at bats. Third baseman Yorby Martinez is hitting .287/.367/.341 in 129 at bats with a team high 25 RBI.
Player of the Week
There were so many great pitching performances this week, yet, first baseman Michael Gonzalez of the Elizabethton Twins had a special week.
Gonzalez, last year's 9th round pick out of California's Diablo Valley College, was one of the GCL Twins top hitters last year with a .331/.387/.489 with 3 home runs and 23 RBI in 133 at bats. Gonzalez moved up to Elizabethton this year where he is again one of their top hitters at .330/.400/.545 with 5 home runs and 18 RBI in 88 at bats.
This week was his best week of the season, at 11-26 (.423 Average) with 4 home runs, 8 runs scored, 11 RBI, 6 walks and 5 strikeouts. At 6'6 and 245 pounds, Gonzalez appears to be another powerful left handed bat that Twins fans will need to watch the next few years.