Minor League Report....August 1, 2009

As we enter the final month of the minor league seasons, the Twins organization is coming off its worst performance of the year.  The organization won all six games last night, yet finished the week with only 15 wins against 27 losses.  Only Elizabethton had a winning week (3-1) while several teams saw their chances of post season play a long shot at best.  With not a lot of outstanding performances this week, I thought it may be a good time to take a look at how the Twinkie Town Top 30 are doing this season.

Jim Rantz announced Deolis Guerra as his Player of the Week last Sunday.  Lefthanded reliever Sean Henn was placed on the disabled list at Rochester, causing a ripple effect throughout the organization.  Jose Lugo moved up to the Red Wings with Spencer Steedley moving up to New Britain as his replacement.  Matt Williams moved up to Ft. Myers with Kyle Carr moving from Elizabethton to Beloit.  Shortly before the trading deadline yesterday, the Twins announced that they had traded Beloit shortstop Tyler Ladendorf for Oakland shortstop Orlando Cabrera.  The Twins have not announced who would be sent down to Rochester to make room for Cabrera.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-4, 50-54, 4th place, -7.5 games)

Although the Red Wings had a losing week, they actually gained a half game on the division leading Scranton/WB Yankees

They began the week losing two of three at Charlotte with the only win an eleven inning 13-10 win on Sunday.  Kevin Mulvey wasn't sharp (5.1ip, 8 hits, 8 runs, 7K/3BB) in his first start back with the Wings.  Jason Jones (4.0ip, 4 hits, 0 runs, 5K/1BB) working out of the bullpen picked up his third win in thirteen decisions.  Jeff Manship was excellent (8.0ip, 7 hits, 2 runs (1earned), 3K/3BB) in Monday's 3-2 loss.  The Wings moved on to Gwinnett where they split four games with Philip Humber (7.0ip, 5 hits, 1 run, 4K/2BB) making one of his best starts of the season in Tuesday's 7-1 win.  Yohan Pino (6.1ip, 3 hits, 2 runs, 5K/4BB) didn't get any support in Thursday's 2-1 loss.  Last night, Kevin Mulvey was very good (6.0ip, 4 hits, 2 runs, 9K/4BB) in a 4-2 win.

Last winter Twinkie Town voted Danny Valencia as their Top prospect.  In what was viewed by some as a disappointment, Danny returned to New Britain to start the season where he hit .284/.373/.482 in 218 at bats with 14 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs, 29 RBI, 31 walks and 40 strikeouts.  Danny got his promotion to Rochester where he was the talk of the organization before his last ten games when he has hit for a .158 Average.  Even with his recent slump, Valencia is still hitting .303/.321/.500 in 132 AAA at bats.  Danny is certainly playing like a #1 prospect as he prepares to battle for the Twins 2010 third base job.

Kevin Mulvey (Twinkie Town #12) didn't impress in his brief stay with the Twins, yet, has been solid as he leads the Red Wings with 114.1 innings with a 4-6 record, 4.33ERA, 1.45WHIP and 97K/45BB.  Is this performance strong enough to remain #12 next winter?  Trevor Plouffe (#13) has been solid for a young man who turned 23 in June, yet, he hasn't put up numbers (.247/.296/.369, 15 doubles and 7 home runs in 344 at bats with 20 errors) that would indicate he is a future major league starter.  Jeff Manship (#14) also began his year back at New Britain where he was again somewhat inconsistant with a 6-4 record, 4.28ERA and 45K/20BB in 75.2 innings.  He seemed to take a step forward after his promotion to Rochester where he has a 3-1 record with a 2.89ERA, 1.47WHIP and 21K/16BB in 37.1 innings.  Philip Humber (#18) appeared in four games with the Twins (0-0, 12.46ERA with 4K/3BB in 4.1 innings) while not performing at Rochester like someone deserving of more opportunities with the big club (5-7, 5.78ERA, 1.55WHIP and 69K/38BB in 90.1 innings). 

Following his performance at New Britain and in the AFL last year, Steve Tolleson (#20) appeared destined to start his season at Rochester.  In what was certainly a disappointment, Tolleson was assigned to New Britain where he hit .258/.343/.391 in 151 at bats.  Tolleson has hit better following his promotion to the Red Wings, .298/.372/.422 in 218 at bats with 13 doubles.  Will Steve become the Twins future answer at second base or will his defense cause him to remain a utility player?  Rob Delaney (#25) also began his season back at New Britain following an excellent spring training with the Twins.  Delaney had a solid 1-1 record in 26 games (36.0 innings) with a 2.00ERA and 40K/6BB before his move up to Rochester.  Rob has an excellent 4-2 record in 22 games (30.1ip) with a 3.56ERA, 1.19WHIP and 23K/11BB in AAA.  It also needs to be noted that 4 of his 12 earned runs were in his second game following his callup.  Look for Delaney to be in a Twins uniform by this September, if not earlier.  Jason Pridie (#27) is best described as a AAAA outfielder who could be a fifth outfielder for the Twins.  Pridie is hitting .258/.290/.365 in 392 at bats, a team high 53 runs scored and 4 triples, 19 doubles, 5 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 27 attempts.  Dustin Martin (#28) was the talk of spring training and he followed through with an excellent start in AAA.  Martin has cooled of late, settling in at .244/.311/.307 in 316 at bats with 19 stolen bases in 24 attempts.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (1-5, 51-54, 3rd place, -9.0 games)

After flirting with a playoff spot much of the summer, the Rock Cats dreams took a major blow this week as they dropped 3.0 games further behind Connecticut.  Perhaps their biggest problem this season has been thirteen losses in seventeen games of head-to-head competition with Connecticut.

The Cats began their week dropping two to Connecticut, including a 1-0 heartbreaker last Saturday in which they wasted one of the best starts of the season by Michael McCardell (7.0ip, 4 hits, 0 runs, 6K/2BB).  They then moved on to a series with New Hampshire, winning one of three behind another great start by McCardell (5.0ip, 3 hits, 1 run, 3K/1BB) to pick up his first AA win, 2-1.  Deolis Guerra followed his great start last week with a short start (2.0ip, 6 hits, 5 runs, 2K/1BB) in Tuesday's 5-0 loss.  Carlos Gutierrez, who struggled as a starter after his promotion, appears to be dealing with a tired arm after not pitching alot in 2008 following surgery in college. Gutierrez also struggled in his first few games out of the bullpen, however, pitched 4.0 shutout innings in three appearances this week with 2 hits and 3K/2BB.  My hunch is that McCardell will be named as this week's Player of the Week by Jim Rantz. 

Many consider Wilson Ramos (#5) as a future major league star.  He began his season playing like a future star (.308/.326/.444 in 133 at bats with 9 doubles, 3 home runs and 18 RBI) before suffering a broken finger and then a hamstring injury that may keep him on the DL all season.  Although Ramos is missing out on the experience from playing this season, his early start confirms his lofty status in our rankings.  Deolis Guerra (#9) is a young man who is counted on to pay dividends to the Twins from the Santana trade.  Guerra worked hard in his third season in the FSL, improving on last season (6-8 record, 4.69ERA and 57K/25BB in 86.1 innings).  In what was a surprise to some, Guerra was promoted to New Britain where he has a 3-1 record with a 5.04ERA, 1.36WHIP and 25K/7BB in 25.0 innings.  Unfortunately, with such a small number of innings, his short start on Tuesday had a significant effect on his numbers.  Luke Hughes (#10) was hitting fine at Rochester (.259/.344/.481 with 6 home runs and 28 RBI in 135 at bats) before a stint on the DL.  With Danny Valencia moving up to Rochester, the Twins assigned Hughes to New Britain when he came off the DL, where he is hitting .253/.337/.422 with 2 home runs in 83 at bats.  Carlos Gutierrez (#16) was the Ace of the Ft. Myers staff the first half of this season (2-3, 1.32ERA, 33K/22BB in 54.2 innings).  He has struggled (1-3, 7.14ERA, 1.81WHIP and 20K/20BB in 40.1 innings) since moving up to New Britain, reportedly due to the innings pitched following surgery two years ago.

All of us wonder why Anthony Slama (#17) is still in New Britain.  It is debatable whether he belongs in Rochester or Minnesota, however, while in New Britain Slama leads the organization with 21 saves with a 4-2 record, 2.72ERA, 1.26WHIP and 84K/31BB in 59.2 innings.  Rene Tosoni (#21) should be ranked much higher next time we vote following a season in which he was voted the MVP in the Futures All-Star game.  With only a handful of games higher than rookie ball (a few in Beloit and 40 games in Ft. Myers) the Twins made what many thought to be a surprise when he was assigned to AA New Britain.  Tosoni struggled in April (.180/.261/.361 in 61 at bats) before making the needed adjustments to get his numbers up to .274/.371/.452 in 325 at bats with 22 doubles, 3 triples, 10 home runs and 55 RBI with 7 stolen bases in 13 attempts. 

Michael McCardell (#22) was picked as the Twins top minor league player last year by USA Today following an excellent season at Beloit (9-4, 2.86ERA and 139K/25BB in 135.1 innings).  Michael (9-6, 3.93ERA, 94.0ip, 78K/16BB) moved up to Ft. Myers this year where he was one of the major reasons the Miracle were first half champs.  He recently moved up to New Britain where he allowed 11 runs in 4.0 innings prior to his two excellent starts this week.  Like Tosoni, McCardell should compete for a spot in our Top Ten this winter.  Alex Burnett (#29) returned to Ft. Myers this spring as a short reliever.  Burnett, who was one of the Miracle's top starters last season, impressed with a 2-1 record, 1.99ERA and 26K/7BB in 22.2 innings with 4 saves.  Burnett also moved up to New Britain earlier this summer where he has dominated AA hitters working out of the Rock Cats bullpen (1-2, 1.88ERA, 38.1ip and 31K/17BB).  Burnett is another pitcher who should make a big movement upward next winter.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (3-4, 17-18, 2nd place, -1.0 game)

The Miracle picked up a full game and only trail Charlotte by a game as they enter the last month of their season.  

The Miracle split a four game series with Brevard County getting wins, 1-0 and 4-2, behind shutout pitching by starters David Bromberg (6.2ip, 8 hits, 0 runs, 8K/1BB) and Santos Arias (7.0ip, 5 hits, 0 runs, 3K/1BB).  They then split two games against Clearwater with Michael Tarsi allowing only one unearned run in last night's 6-1 win.

Ben Revere was Twinkie Town's second ranked player following his memorable year at Beloit.  Revere, who has again struggled with a knee problem the past few weeks, has performed very well in Hi-A ball where he is tied for the league's second best average, hitting .312/.374/.385 in 343 at bats with 56 runs scored, 37 RBI, 11 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 47 attempts.  Will Revere be worthy of a #2 ranking next winter?  Tyler Robertson (#8) has been solid, yet, hasn't pitched as well in his second season at Ft. Myers following his injury last summer (5-3, 2.72ERA, 82.2ip, 73K/31BB in 2008 vs. 5-7, 3.66ERA, 108.1ip, 74K/40BB in 2009).  Chris Parmalee (#15) leads the pitching rich FSL with 14 home runs and is tied for second with 58 RBI.  Parmalee, who is hitting a respectable .260/.348/.455 in 323 at bats with 45 walks and 84 strikeouts, appears to be on track to becomming the power hitter the Twins thought he was when picked in the first round three years ago.

D.J. Romero (#23) was somewhat of a surprise when he was added to the 40-man roster last fall following his injury plagued season at Beloit.  After a solid showing in spring training with the Twins, Romero appears to alternate good and poor months with the result, .229/.313/.330 in 336 at bats with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs and 49 RBI.  David Bromberg (#24) has clearly been the Miracle Ace since Carlos Gutierrez moved up to New Britain.  Bromberg has a near perfect 9-1 record with a 2.69ERA, 1.29WHIP and 100K/45BB in 110.1 innings.  Bromberg is another pitcher who should move into the upper echelons of our 2010 ranking.  Joe Benson slipped to #26 in our rankings following an injury shortened season at Beloit in which he struck out to often (73 times in 254 at bats with only 24 walks).  Benson's strikeout rate, 28.2% vs. 28.7% last year, hasn't changed a lot, however, he has walked 30 times which is a noticeable improvement.  Benson also is hitting much better this year, .288/.421/.417 in 163 at bats with 4 home runs in his season that was shortened by a broken hand.

Beloit Snappers (A) (1-6, 12-21, 8th place/last, -8.0 games)

The Snappers probably lost any realistic hope of a playoff spot this week as they will now battle for a respectable finish to their season.

Their week began with three losses to Lansing, 7-3, 3-1 and 10-1 with Bobby Lanigan having a solid start (6.0ip, 7 hits, 3 runs, 5K/2BB) on Sunday.  They moved on by dropping another three game series to Great Lakes, 8-5, 4-2 and 11-10 in twelve innings.  Normally reliable Brad Tippett had an off game in Tuesday's loss (4.2ip, 8 hits, 7 runs (3 earned), 4K/1BB), but still has an excellent 8-4 record, 2.46ERA, 1.04WHIP and 80K/20BB in 106.0 innings.  Bobby Lanigan returned last night (8.1ip, 6 hits, 2 runs, 10K/2BB) to pick up his eighth win in fifteen decisions in a 3-2 win over Ft. Wayne in which he had a shutout going into the ninth inning.  Recent second round pick Billy Bullock has a 2-0 record with a 2.70ERA, 1.60WHIP and 10K/3BB in 10.0 innings. 

Twinkie Town voters selected Aaron Hicks as their #3 prospect last winter.  In what was somewhat a surprise, Hicks began his year in EST before joining the Snappers in June.  Hicks is hitting .223/.342/.347 in 121 at bats with 23 walks and 25 strikeouts.  Hicks may have the highest ceiling of any player in the organization, yet, this summer has proven that even the best prospects need a lot of work before making it to the "Show."

Angel Morales (#4) hit .361/.375/.541 in 61 at bats in July with 4 stolen bases in 4 attempts.  More important, Morales struck out only 12 times however, still doesn't take any walks (2).  It is great seeing Morales develop after an ugly couple months as he gets his numbers up to .244/.301/.413 in 271 at bats with a team high 8 home runs, 43 runs scored, 36 RBI, 10 of 13 stolen bases and 76 strikeouts with 20 walks.  Tyler Ladendorf was our 30th ranked player and now is a member of the Oakland A's organization.  After a poor first season as a professional last year in the GCL (.204/.308/.293 in 147 at bats), Ladendorf hit .410/.500/.721 in 61 at bats with 4 home runs in Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit.  With the Snappers, Ladendorf hit .246/.303/.295 in 61 at bats with 3 doubles, no home runs and 13 strikeouts with 4 walks.

Elizabethton Twins (Rookie) (3-1, 26-9, 1st place, +7.0 games)

The Twins held their 7.0 game lead over Johnson City during a week in which they lost three games to rain.

Their week began with two wins, 6-5 and 6-3 in eleven innings, at Kingsport.  Tom Suifbergen (4.2ip, 4 hits, 3 runs, 3K/0BB) didn't last as long as normal on Saturday with Edgar Ibarra (1.2ip, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2K/1BB) getting his second win.  Ben Tootle picked up his second save (1.1ip, 1 hits, 0 runs, 0K/0BB).  Brad Stillings made a solid start on Sunday (5.2ip, 5 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 4K/2BB).  Winston Marquez picked up his first win (2.0ip, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2K/0BB).  The Twins lost the only game to Johnson City, 5-2, that wasn't rained out behind Miguel Munoz (4.0ip, 9 hits, 4 runs, 4K/1BB.  Ibarra came on to pitch 5.0 innings of relief with 4 hits, 1 run and 7K/1BB.  Tom Stuifgergen came back with one of the Twins best starts of the season (8.0ip, 3 hits, 1 unearned run, 7K/0BB) in last night's 2-1 win over Burlington.  Josmil Pinto is their leading hitter, .347/.385/.684 in 98 at bats with 7 home runs and 34 RBI.  With Ladendorf having moved on, Twins fans will need to follow the progress of recent eighth round pick, Brian Dozier, who is hitting .309/.391/.395 in 81 at bats.

Gulf Coast League Twins (2-3, 17-14, tie/1st place, +0.5 games)

Even though they had a losing week, the Twins moved into a tie for first with the Orioles.

Their week began by splitting a double header with the Reds last Saturday, 4-3 and 5-6.  Blayne Weller was excellent (5.0ip, 7 hits, 1 run, 5K/0BB) in the win with Andrei Lobanov picking up his fourth save (1.0ip, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 1K/0BB.  Tuesday's game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth when suspended behind another great start by Adrian Salcedo (6.0ip, 8 hits, 2 runs, 5K/0BB).  In the biggest game of their week, the Twins beat the Orioles on Wednesday, 4-0, behind B.J. Hermsen (6.0ip, 4 hits, 0 runs, 4K/1BB).  Blayne Weller came back with another excellent start (5.0 ip, 5 hits, 0 runs, 3K/1BB) in last night's 2-1 win over the Red Sox

Shooter Hunt (#11) struggled with his control at the start of his season in Beloit (0-1 record, 10.70ERA, 17.2ip, 18K/33BB) before moving down to the GCL Twins following a stint on the DL.  With the GCL Twins, Hunt was recently moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen where his control problems have continued.  Hunt has a 0-4 record with a 9.60ERA, 2.33WHIP and 8K/25BB in 15.0 innings.  Hunt did have one good relief appearance a week ago, however, his "stuff" can't overcome his psychological problem leading to his inability to put the ball in the strike zone.

DSL Twins (2-4, 34-19, 2nd place, -2.0 games)

The DSL Twins dropped into second place this week as they lost 2.5 games to the division leading Yankees-2.

Wilson Sanchez was solid (5.0ip, 3 hits, 3 unearned runs, 9K/1BB) in Monday's 9-1 loss to the NationalsCesar Ciurcina was very good (6.0ip, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 3K/0BB) in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the DiamondbacksManuel Soliman was excellent (6.0ip, 1 hits, 0 runs, 6K/2BB) in Thursday's 5-1 loss.  The Twins beat the Orioles yesterday, 1-2, behind Luis Nunez (5.0ip, 2 hits, 0 runs, 5K/1BB) who made his first start of the season.

Sixteen year old Wander Guillen has come back to earth and is hitting .314/.453/.373 in 51 at bats.  All-Star Romy Trinidad is hitting .308/.438/.369 in 130 at bats. 

Player of the Week

In the ninth round of the 2007 draft, the Twins drafted pitcher Steven Hirschfield out of San Diego State University.  Hirschfield was one of the Beloit Snappers best pitchers in 2008, when he compiled a 10-5 record in 31 games (16 starts) with a 3.30ERA and 80K/38BB in 109.0 innings.  This season, Hirschfield moved up to Ft. Myers where he began his season working out of the Miracle bullpen prior to joining the rotation following several promotions.

Hirschfield was the loser to Tampa last Saturday, 6-3, when he allowed 3 runs in 5.0 innings with 6 hits and 4K/2BB.  Hirschfield returned with a gem on Thursday, pitching 6.0 shutout innings with 3 hits and 7K/0BB.  For the week, Hirschfield pitched 11.0 innings with 9 hits, 3 runs and 11K/2BB. 

For the Miracle this season, Hirschfield has a 4-5 record, 2.08ERA, 1.02WHIP, 82.1 innings and 55K/21BB.         

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