With the minor league seasons completed, Today I will focus on my selections of the Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year for all seven teams in the Twins organization.
The New Britain Rock Cats season ended with a 2-0 loss to Connecticut on Sunday, losing their best of five series three games to one. Ryan Mullins got the start in game three Saturday, a game the Cats won 6-1. Mullins pitched 6.2 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 5K/2BB. Alex Burnett pitched 2.0 shutout innings of relief with 1 hit and 5K/0BB. Brian Dinkelman was the hitting star at 3-4 with 2 home runs, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI. Whit Robbins also had a home run and 3 RBI. Michael McCardell got the start in game four, however, the Cats were unable to score as the Defenders won, 2-0, and the Rock Cats season came to an end.
Eleven players from the Twins organization are participating in the 2009 World Cup. The second round (7 game round robin) is under way with two eight team pools currently led by the Netherlands (5-0) and USA (4-0). Cuba and Puerto Rico are both a game behind the Netherlands while Chinese Taipei is a half game behind the USA with Australia a full game back.
Rene Tosoni was Canada's leading hitter this week, at 11-27 with 5 doubles, his second home run and 8 RBI. Trevor Plouffe has been solid for the USA picking up at least one hit in every game this week. James Beresford had three multi hit games for Australia. Tom Stuifbergen is one of the reasons the Netherlands is in first place, pitching 4.1 innings with 4 hits and 2 runs in his only start this week.
Now for my selection of the top pitcher and position player for each team. A player or pitcher needs to have spent over half the season with a team to qualify.
Rochester Red Wings
Jim Mandelaro recently pointed out that the biggest problem this season for the Red Wings was that several veteran players who were expected to be very good, didn't have good seasons. One player who did perform as expected was a young man the Twins signed late last spring as a minor league free agent, Justin Huber, who is my selection as the Red Wings Most Valuable Player. Huber is a right handed power hitter who played first base, left field and frequently was the Red Wings designated hitter. Huber led the organization with 22 home runs while hitting .273/.356/.482 in 440 at bats with 22 doubles, 2 triples, 60 runs scored and 76 RBI. Other Red Wings players worthy of consideration were Brock Peterson (.304/.376/.468 in 316 at bats) and David Winfree (.273/.317/.460 in 422 at bats).
Armando Gabino began his season in the Red Wings bullpen where he had a 3.10ERA in 31 games (61 innings). When the Red Wings needed another starter, Gabino moved into the rotation and was excellent in seven late season starts (37.0 innings), picking up 3 wins in 4 decisions with a 2.68ERA. I have Gabino rated as the ninth best pitcher in the organization this season, earning his selection as the Red Wings Pitcher of the Year. His performance at Rochester also caused the Twins to notice following a season with a 6-4 record, 2.94ERA, 1.06WHIP, 38 games, 98.0 innings, and 64K/24BB. Another pitcher who had an excellent season was Anthony Swarzak (4-5, 3.28ERA, 79.2innings and 45K/21BB), however, Swarzak spent about half of the Red Wing Season with the Twins.
New Britain Rock Cats
With the Rock Cats down two games to none in their best of five playoffs with Connecticut, they needed someone to step forward. Brian Dinkelman took charge much as he did all season, hitting two home runs in their lone playoff win. Dinkelman finished his all-star season as the Eastern League's eighth best hitter at .296/.383/.440 in 459 at bats with an organization high 38 doubles, 2 triples, 9 home runs, 62 runs scored and 65 RBI. Dinkelman walked 55 times while striking out only 73 times in his MVP season. Other players with special seasons for the Rock Cats were Wilson Ramos (.317/.341/.454 in 205 at bats, missing over half the season with two injuries) and Rene Tosoni (.271/.360/.454 in 425 at bats with a team high and organization third best 71 RBI and 15 home runs) who will finish this season as my second highest ranked player.
The Rock Cats top pitcher this season was Anthony Slama who appeared in 51 games with an organization best 25 saves prior to his late season promotion to Rochester. Slama finished his Rock Cats season with a 4-2 record, 2.48ERA, 1.19WHIP and 93K/32BB in 65.2 innings. Slama moved on to Rochester where he had a 0-2 record with 4 saves and a 3.45ERA in 11 games (15.2 innings) with 19K/8BB. Slama was ranked as my fifth best pitcher in the organization this season, finishing his year with a 1.155 dominance ratio (K/(H+BB). Other pitchers who were worthy of consideration as the Rock Cats top pitcher were Matt Fox and Ryan Mullins. Fox had a 9-9 record with a team high 151.0 innings and fifth best ERA in the league (3.58). Ryan Mullins, who led the Eastern League with 133 strikeouts, had a team high 11 wins (11 losses) with the league's ninth best 4.03ERA. It is ironic that Alex Burnett was my highest ranked pitcher this year, yet, because he split his season almost equally between Ft. Myers and New Britain didn't qualify as the top pitcher for either team.
Ft. Myers Miracle
The Miracle's Most Valuable Player is also the player who is my top ranked player in the organization this season, Ben Revere. Revere was the Florida State League's second best hitter at .311/.372/.369 with the league's most hits (145) and third most stolen bases (45 in 62 attempts). If this speedy young outfielder can stay healthy, he should be a regular for the Twins beginning sometime in 2011. Several other players had special seasons in Ft. Myers this year including Chris Parmalee who had the third most home runs in the league (16) with the league's second most RBI (73).
The Florida State League's Pitcher of the Year was David Bromberg who is also my selection as the Miracle's Top Pitcher. Bromberg had a special season finishing with the league's second most wins (13-4), fourth best ERA (2.70), fifth most innings pitched (153.1), ninth best WHIP (1.23) and most strikeouts (148). Perhaps Bromberg's only negative was 63 walks. Another pitcher deserving strong consideration for selection as the Miracle's top pitcher was Steven Hirschfield. Hirschfield, who appeared in 32 games with 17 starts, had a 7-7 record with the league's second best ERA (2.23), league best WHIP (1.06) and 86K/31BB in 117.0 innings.
My selection as the top player this season for Beloit is Ramon Santana. Santana had an excellent season, hitting .296/.384/.453 with a team high 25 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs and 60 RBI. Santana finished his season with a brief promotion to New Britain where he hit .267 Average in 15 at bats. Two others who were seriously considered were Angel Morales and James Beresford, who shared the 2009 Brodie Trophy as the Snappers Most Valuable Player. Morales, who will be my highest ranked Beloit player, hit .266/.329/.455 with a team high 13 home runs and 62 RBI. Beresford hit .289/.342/.313 in a team high 450 at bats sandwiched between appearing for Team Australia in this spring's WBC and the World Cup.
In a disappointing season for Beloit fans, the one pitcher who gave the Snappers a good chance for a win every five days was the team ace Brad Tippett. Tippett clearly was their best pitcher, finishing his season with a 9-8 record, 3.21ERA, 1.07WHIP and 107K/25BB in 24 starts (146.0 innings).
With the Twins somewhat thin with top middle infield prospects, Brian Dozier is one of the brightest prospects in the lower levels of the organization and my selection as Elizabethton MVP. Although it remains to be seen how he will perform in a full season league, Dozier had a wonderful year for the ETon Twins, hitting a league second best .353/.417/.431 with 23 walks and 26 strikeouts in 218 at bats. Another player deserving strong consideration was Josmil Pinto who led the team with 13 home runs and 55 RBI while hitting .332/.387/.610.
In what may be a bit of a surprise to some, my selection as the Elizabethton Pitcher of the Year is Edgar Ibarra. Ibarra had the team's most wins, 6-2, with an excellent 2.84ERA, 1.11WHIP and 57K/19BB in 50.2 innings. Two other pitchers deserving strong consideration were Tom Stuifbergen (5-2, 3.28ERA, 1.07WHIP and 69K/6BB in 79.2 innings) and reliever Matt Tone who allowed only one earned run in his last ten games (23.0 innings). Tone was 4-1 with a 1.31ERA, 1.05WHIP and 45K/23BB in 34.1 innings.
Gulf Coast League Twins
The GCL Twins were a team this year with a very strong pitching staff and not a lot of hitting. Oswaldo Arcia is a young outfielder from Venezuela who did have a strong season earning my selection as their Most Valuable Player. Arcia, who appeared in 44 games with 167 at bats, hit a solid .275/.337/.455. However, looking closer at some of his stats gives us an indication that he may become a special player in the future. Arcia led the Twins with 11 doubles and his 5 home runs is one more than Aaron Hicks had last year in the GCL. Arcia also scored 21 runs with 24 RBI while stealing 8 stolen bases in 8 attempts.
My selection as the GCL Twins top pitcher will be shared by two young pitchers with brilliant futures, B.J. Hermsen and Adrian Salcedo. Hermsen finished his season with a 6-2 record, the league's best WHIP (0.68) and fifth best ERA (1.35). Hermsen started 10 games with one shutout while picking up 42 strikeouts with only 4 walks in 53.1 innings. Salcedo had the league's seventh best WHIP (1.01) and ERA (1.46), a 3-2 record and league's third most strikeouts (58) with only 3 walks in 61.2 innings. Two other pitchers who were also considered were closer Andrei Lobanov (2-1, 0.82ERA, 0.68WHIP, 22.0 innings and 35K/1BB) and Blayne Weller (5-1, 1.58ERA, 0.95WHIP, 57.0 innings and 49K/8BB).
Dominican Summer League Twins
The lone position player to be selected as an all-star from the Twins was outfielder Romy Trinidad. Trinidad got my nod as the team's Most Valuable Player by hitting .312/.443/.363 in 157 at bats with 15 stolen bases in 20 attempts. Another player who merited consideration was sixteen year old Wander Guillen who began play shortly after the July 2nd International signing date. Guillen led the Twins in hitting at .336/.443/.409 in 110 at bats.
Much like the GCL Twins, the DSL Twins got to the championship round of the playoffs behind a special pitching staff led by 18 year old Cesar Ciurcina who had the league's best WHIP (0.69), tied for the league's most wins (9-2), had the eighth best ERA (1.39) and 72K/8BB in 84.0 innings. Although Ciurcina is my selection as the DSL Twins Top Pitcher, Pedro Guerra was as good with a 7-0 record, league best 0.38ERA, 0.79WHIP and 75K/12BB in 71.0 innings.