After a dismal first nine days during which the organization lost two-thirds of their games (11-22), the Twins Farm Clubs played much better this week. The organization was a game over .500 at 14-13, with Beloit playing excellent ball winning five of seven.
There were several moves this week, including two moves by the Twins. Jose Mijares was placed on the disabled list with soreness in his elbow. Alex Burnett was recalled to the Twins bullpen after spending only a couple days in Rochester following his assignment last week. Steve Hirschfield was placed on the DL by New Britain with shoulder stiffness. Henry Arias was promoted to New Britain to replace Hirschfield. The Twins placed Nick Punto on the DL retroactive to April 15th. In a surprise move to some, Luke Hughes was called up by the Twins with Matt Macri activated to fill Hughes' spot on the Red Wing roster. Hughes will join the Twins in Kansas City for tonight's game. Brandon Roberts reported to Ft. Myers on a rehab assignment.
Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-4, 6-9, Tied/5th place, -4.0 games behind Syracuse)
The Red Wings began their week splitting four games with Pawtuckett. They got wins Saturday, 6-5, behind a solid start by Yoslan Herrera (5.0ip, 4h, 2r, 3K/2BB), and Tuesday, 4-3, when Ryan Mullins also had a good start (5.0ip, 5h, 3r, 3K/3BB). Rob Delaney got the win in both games, pitching 2.1 innings with 1 hit, 1 run and 2K/2BB. Glen Perkins was the loser Monday when he lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing 7 hits, 7 runs (5 earned) with 3K/0BB. The Red Wings ended their homestand splitting two against Buffalo, winning the opener behind Jeff Manship who pitched 6.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 3K/0BB to pick up his first win of the season.
Manship leads the staff in innings pitched, 14.2, while his 3.07 ERA is also best amongst the starting five. Rob Delaney has a 2-1 record, 5.87 ERA and 8K/4BB in 7 games (7.2 innings). Anthony Slama has 4 saves with an excellent 2.00 ERA in 7 games (9.0 innings) with 14K/5BB. Kyle Waldrop leads the staff with a 0.90 ERA in 8 appearances (10.0 innings) with 5K/1BB.
Jacque Jones hasn't played the last few games after straining his left quad. Jones was hitting .308/.400/.538 when he left Wednesday's game. Dustin Martin leads the Wings in hitting at .324/.405/.649 with a team high 3 home runs. Trevor Plouffe is off to an excellent start, hitting .291/.355/.509 in 55 at bats with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs. Brian Dinkelman led the Wings this week with three multi hit games, raising his stats to .296/.406/.370. Top prospects Wilson Ramos and Danny Valencia are off to slow starts, hitting for averages of .205 and .152, respectively. Luke Hughes was hitting .267/.327/.444 in 45 at bats with a league leading 8 doubles (Hughes was tied with Indianapolis' Steve Pearce) when he was called up for his major league debut. While in Rochester, Hughes had been the Rock Cats regular second baseman.
New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (3-4, 4-11, 6th place, -5.0 games behind New Hampshire and Trenton)
The Rock Cats began their week with a pair of wins at Harrisburg, 5-3 and 4-3. Deolis Guerra was the winner on Saturday when he pitched 6.0 innings with 6 hits, 2 runs and 4K/0BB. David Bromberg got his first AA win Sunday, pitching 6.0 innings with 2 hits, 1 run and 6K/1BB. Carlos Gutierrez and Tyler Robertson both had excellent starts in losses on Monday and Tuesday at Richmond. Gutierrez pitched 6.0 innings with 4 hits, 3 runs (1 earned) and 3K/1BB. Robertson pitched 5.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 4K/1BB. The Cats returned home for two more close games with Harrisburg. Guerra was excellent in Thursday's 2-1 win, pitching 7.0 innings with 5 hits, 1 run and 6K/0BB. Bromberg was even better in last night's 2-1 loss, pitching 7.0 innings with 4 hits, 1 run and 9K/1BB.
David Bromberg is tied with Stephen Strasburg with the second most strikeouts in the league (17), one behind league leader Zachary Britton (Strasburg has pitched only 12.1 innings compared with Bromberg's 18.0). Bromberg has a 1-0 record in three starts (18.0 innings) with a 1.00 ERA and 17K/4BB. Perhaps the biggest test in the development of a pitching prospect is their step up to AA. Early indications are that Bromberg, who was last season's Pitcher of the Year, has made this move successfully and is a young starter we should see in the Twin Cities in the future. Deolis Guerra has given up only 3 runs in his last two starts after allowing 5 in his first start. Guerra has a 3.50 ERA in 18.0 innings with 12 strikeouts and no walks. The Twins acquired Chris Province from Boston in last year's Boof Bonser trade. Province has been the Cats closer, picking up 2 saves in 7 appearances with a 5.59 ERA and 5K/6BB in 9.2 innings. Santos Arias, who has lost all three of his decisions including last night, has an excellent 2.08 ERA with 6K/3BB in 6 appearances (8.2 innings).
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise for the Rock Cats has been Danny Lehmann's bat. The catcher who had a career .230 average, is hitting .286/.333/.343 in his first 35 at bats. Juan Portes, who is off to a terrible start following a great spring training with the Twins, had two multi hit games this week to get his average up to .154. Ben Revere also had two multi hit games and is now hitting .289/.373/.311 in 45 at bats with 3 stolen bases in 4 attempts.
Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (3-3, 5-9, 6th place, -5.0 games behind Bradenton)
The Miracle lost their opening game at Palm Beach, 7-2, before returning home to take two of three from Charlotte. They closed out their week splitting two games with league leading Bradenton, winning 6-3 before losing last night, 3-1. Kyle Gibson had another excellent start in Monday's 2-1, ten inning win. Gibson pitched 7.0 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs and 5K/1BB. Bobby Lanigan was also excellent in Wednesday's 4-2 win, pitching 6.2 innings with 7 hits, 1 run and 5K/1BB to even his record at 1-1. Brad Tippett allowed only an unearned run in 4.0 innings with 2 hits in Thursday's 6-3 win.
Lanigan leads the staff with a 1.04 ERA (17.1 innings) with a 0.87 WHIP and 14K/3BB. Gibson has a 2.70 ERA and 18K/3BB in 16.2 innings. Perhaps the biggest story out of Ft. Myers this week has been Shooter Hunt. Although Hunt has a 6.48 ERA, he has allowed only 1 run in his last five appearances (8.1 innings) after allowing 6 runs in his first appearance when he failed to get a single out. Hunt made three appearances this week (6.0 innings), allowing only 1 hit and 1 run while striking out 11 with just 2 walks. On Tuesday Hunt pitched 3.0 innings with 6 strikeouts, then pitched 2.0 innings last night with 3 strikeouts without allowing a walk, wild pitch or hit batter in either game.
Paul Kelly was off to a great start before missing a few games with a mild ankle sprain. Kelly, who played in two games this week (Monday and Tuesday), is leading the Miracle at .400/.478/.450 in 20 at bats. His double play partner, Andrew Thompson, is also off to a good start at .279/.319/.419 in 43 at bats. Chris Herrmann had two multi hit games while playing in both center field and behind the plate. Herrmann is hitting .289/.341/.474 in 38 at bats with 4 doubles and a home run. Yangervis Solarte was very good this winter playing for the Aragua Tigres. Solarte is off to an excellent start for the Miracle, hitting .333/.409/.410 in 39 at bats.
Beloit Snappers (A) (5-2, 9-7, 3rd place, -3.0 games behind Quad Cities)
The Snappers began their week taking three games at home versus Clinton. The Snappers then lost two of three against division leading Quad Cities before picking up a win on the road last night against Wisconsin. Tom Stuifbergen and Liam Hendriks were very good in the opeing two wins, 4-3 in 11 innings and 3-0. Stuifbergen pitched 6.0 shutout innings with 5 hits and 7K/2BB. Hendriks also pitched 6.0 shutout innings with 4 hits and 8K/0BB....leading to his being selected as last week's Midwest League's Pitcher of the Week. Danny Osterbrock matched the staff's big two with another 6.1 shutout innings in Monday's win, with only 3 hits and 6K/2BB. Hendriks got the start last night at Appleton, pitching another 5.0 inning gem with only 1 hit and 1 run while striking out 6 with a walk.
Hendriks has a 1-0 record in 4 games (22.0 innings) with a league second best 0.41 ERA and league best 0.41 WHIP. He is also tied for the league's most strikeouts, 26, with only 2 walks. The young Aussie was ejected from Wednesday night's game for commenting on the umpire's ball and strike decisions from the Snappers bench. Stuifbergen has a 2-0 record with a 1.42 ERA in 4 games (19.0 innings) with 18K/4BB. Steven Blevins has appeared in 7 games (6.2 innings) with a 1.36 ERA and 6K/4BB while picking up 4 saves. Top prospect Ben Tootle is off to a rough start with 4K/5BB in 5 games (4.2 innings) with a 11.57 ERA.
Brian Dozier is the Snappers hottest hitter, with two multi hit games bringing his numbers up to .364/.426/.436 in 55 at bats. Steve Liddle is hitting .316/.371/.491 in 57 at bats with 4 doubles and 2 home runs. Angel Morales also has 2 home runs with 9 RBI and is off to a much better start than last year at .286/.345/.490. Aaron Hicks, who was off to a terrible start, had three multi-hit games for a 10-21 week with 8 runs scored, his first home run and 3 stolen bases in 4 attempts. I expect those who predicted that his career would be a bust after his first 25 at bats have been silent this week. Danny Rams has been getting a few games at first base and designated hitter while also catching. Rams is hitting .216/.216/.353 in his first 51 at bats.
Player of the Week
The New Britain Rock Cats haven't scored a lot of runs early this season, however, it isn't because of Rene Tosoni. Tosoni, who is limited to designated hitter duties because of a shoulder problem, began his week with games of 2-5, 3-4 and 4-4 leading to a 12-28 week (.428 Average) with 4 runs scored, 1 double, 1 home run, 2 RBI and 2 stolen bases.
This week's performance raised his average to a team best .365/.431/.519 with 3 doubles, a triple and home run. Comments in the past have raised concern that Tosoni did not hit well against lefties. Although it is a very small sample size, Tosoni is hitting for a .375 Average in 16 at bats against lefties while hitting .361 against right handed pitchers.
The Rock Cats have been off to a very slow start, however, it certainly isn't because of Rene Tosoni who is this week's Player of the Week.