The Mesa Solar Sox ended their season as it began, losing five of their last six. Between their first and last weeks, Mesa was very good finishing in second place of their three team division with a 17-20 record, 4.5 games behind Salt River.
Cole DeVries was one of the Solar Sox top starters. He made eight starts, pitching 26.0 innings with a 3.12 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, nineteen strikeouts and only three walks. Dakota Watts appeared in eleven games (14.1 innings) with a 5.65 ERA, nine strikeouts and ten walks. Watts allowed a total of one run in nine of his starts, demonstrating what two rough outings can do to your ERA in a short season. Bruce Pugh pitched in twelve games (14.0 innings) with a 12.21 ERA, thirteen strikeouts and fifteen walks. Brett Jacobson made eleven appearances (11.2 innings) with a 6.94 ERA, twelve strikeouts and eight walks. With this performance following a great season, will the Twins lose Cole DeVries in next months Rule 5 draft?
Brian Dozier did everything he needed to demonstrate that he may be the Twins answer at shortstop as soon as late next season. Dozier hit .296 average with a .811 OPS in 108 at bats. He had four stolen bases in four attempts and made only two errors in 26 games. Aaron Hicks hit very well after a rough first week when he hit only .107 average. He finished with a .294 average and .959 OPS with three home runs in 102 at bats. Hicks stole five bases in nine attempts while tying for the team lead with five triples and eight doubles. Against the highest level of pitching he has ever faced, Hicks hit a respectable .258 average in 66 at bats from the left side of plate.
Chris Herrmann was one of the Solar Sox' stars, hitting .380 average with a 1.076 OPS in fifty at bats. Herrmann is one of the six players nominated for the AFL Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award given since 2004 to the player who best demonstrates 'unselfishness, hard work and leadership.' The winner will be announced later today at the AFL championship game. Five of the past seven winners played in the big leagues the year following their winning the award. Past winners include Mark Teahen, Andre Ethier, Jason Donald and last year's winner, Steve Lombardozzi. Of all the Twins players participating in the AFL in recent years, Herrmann may have done the most to enhance his future.
Jesse recently wrote about the minor league free agents the Twins signed this week. Jim Mandelaro also had an excellent article this week about those eight players. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20111117/SPORTS06/111117009/Minnesota-Twins-sign-eight-players-who-could-help-2012-Red-Wings?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Sports
With the addition of reliever Jason Bulger, these additions mean the Red Wings roster is nearly full. Look for them to add another catcher and at least one more starting pitcher.
In other news, the Twins added three players to their 40-man roster. Added were Carlos Gutierrez, Oswaldo Arcia and Tyler Robertson. In his first year as a reliever, Robertson was excellent as New Britain's closer. He isn't a hard thrower, but may be an excellent left handed set-up man who gets a lot of ground balls. To create a spot on their 40-man roster which now is at 38, the Twins outrighted David Bromberg to Rochester. That is a surprise to most of us, however, the two time Pitcher of the Year cleared waivers after missing most of last season with a broken arm. Many of us will now be holding our breath to see if Angel Morales and Tom Stuifbergen survive the Rule 5 draft. Considering Stuifbergen's injury history and Morales missing most of last year, the Twins are betting they will.
My review of Beloit's season is after the jump.
The Snappers were consistant last year at 69-69, finishing fourth in their eight team division during both halves. They finished the first half at 38-32, seven games out. They were 31-37 during the second half, ten games out.
The Snappers began their season with a dominating starting rotation of B. J. Hermsen, Adrian Salcedo, Manuel Soliman, Logan Darnell and Andrei Lobanov. Lobanov was replaced by Pat Dean after making only four starts before moving to the bullpen and eventually being released. When Darnell and Dean moved on to Ft. Myers, Ryan O'Rourke and A. J. Achter stepped in. Other pitchers making at least five starts included Blayne Weller and Pedro Guerra. The Snappers staff had the seventh best ERA (3.73) in their sixteen team league even though they were the fourth youngest.
Hermsen had a so-so April before pitching like the pitcher the Twins thought they drafted back in 2008. He moved on to Ft. Myers later in the summer after compiling a 11-7 record with a 3.10 ERA in twenty starts (124.2 innings) with 81 strikeouts and 31 walks. The Ace of the staff however, was Adrian Salcedo who at 21 years old is one of the few pitchers in the organization with big league Ace potential. Salcedo had a 6-6 record with a 2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 92 strikeouts and 27 walks in 135.0 innings. After making twenty starts, Salcedo moved to the bullpen where he had a 0.66 ERA in nine appearances. Manuel Soliman had only been pitching for two years prior to this season. The young starter many believe has big league potential, led the Snappers with 120 strikeouts in 136.0 innings. He finished with a 7-11 record in 136.0 innings with 50 walks.
Pat Dean and Logan Darnell were both excellent during their brief stays in Beloit. Dean had a 2-0 record with a 2.86 ERA in eight starts (44.0 innings). Darnell had a 2-2 record with a 3.78 ERA in six starts (33.1 innings). Their replacements, Ryan O'Rourke and A. J. Achter were solid. O'Rourke had a 5-5 record with a 3.56 ERA in seventeen starts (86.0 innings) after being one of the club's top relievers with a 1.85 ERA in seventeen games (24.1 innings). Achter had a 5-8 record with a 4.52 ERA in nineteen starts (99.2 innings).
After Matt Hauser moved on Ft. Myers, the Snappers closer was 21 year old lefty, Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez finished with a 5-3 record, thirteen saves, a 2.47 ERA, 63 strikeouts and 23 walks in 62.0 innings. Hauser had a 3-0 record with five saves and a 1.40 ERA in seventeen games (19.1 innings) with 27 strikeouts and 13 walks. Michael Tonkin and Blayne Weller were valuable relievers who also made a few starts. Tonkin appeared in 48 games (76.2 innings), compiling a 4-3 record with a 3.87 ERA. Weller appeared in 40 games (85.2 innings) with a 6-6 record and 3.99 ERA. Clint Dempster was a top reliever before moving on to the Miracle. Dempster had a 4-2 record and 2.14 ERA in 46.1 innings. Lefty Nelvin Fuentes made 29 appearances (38.1 innings), compiling a 3-3 record with a 3.29 ERA. Bart Carter is a late round pick from the 2010 draft who certainly has a future in the Twins organization. He joined the Snappers from Elizabethton after mid-season, appearing in 18 games (26.0 innings) with a 3.12 ERA, 30 strikeouts and only seven walks. Other relievers who saw considerable action included Ben Tootle (7.71 ERA in 30.1 innings) and Sam Spangler (3.38 ERA in 24.0 innings). This year's top pick, Madison Boer, had a 6.75 ERA in eight innings which was the result of having one off night when he allowed four earned runs in 1.1 inning.
The Snappers hitters were also in the top half of the league, finishing with the eighth best average (.251) compared with a .250 league average. They scored the fourth most runs per game (4.78 vs. 4.37 league average) while hitting for the fourth best slugging percentage (.385).
The season began with two Snappers' hitting as well as anyone in minor league baseball, Oswaldo Arcia and Danny Ortiz. Arcia was limited to designated hitter because of an injured elbow. It didn't appear to bother him at the plate as he hit .352 average with five home runs and a 1.124 OPS before going on the disabled list on May 1st. Ortiz was even better, hitting .377 average with a 1.197 OPS in April. Arcia would move on to Ft. Myers after his surgery and Ortiz would never be the same, with May being his second best month at the plate when he hit .236 average with a .631 OPS. Ortiz ended his season with a .239 average and .685 OPS in 468 at bats with 33 doubles.
Shortstop/third baseman Jairo Perez missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery which also caused him to begin this past season in extended spring training. Perez is an older player (23) for the Midwest League, however, he would have run away with the league batting title had he had enough at bats to qualify. Perez hit .337 average with a .992 OPS in 276 at bats with fifteen home runs and twenty doubles.
Michael Gonzales won Beloit's "Brodie Player of the Year" award. Gonzales, who also turned 23 during the season, is a big first baseman who has been one of the Snappers' better power hitters the past two years with fifteen home runs this year and thirteen in 2010. Gonzales hit .289 average with a .840 OPS in 412 at bats with 27 doubles and a team best 76 runs driven in.
Wang-Wei Lin is an older, lesser known player who has played well in the system for several years. Lin hit a respectable .276 with a .730 OPS in 413 at bats. The Snappers top power hitter was Lance Ray, the Twins eighth round pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. Ray hit for a .253 average with a .767 OPS including a team best sixteen home runs and second most runs driven in (74). Shortstop Daniel Santana is a slick fielding shortstop with excellent speed who may have been the organization's second best shortstop this year. Santana, who was twenty years old, hit .247 average in 365 at bats with seven home runs and a team high five triples. He also had 24 stolen bases which were twelve more than Lin who had the team's second most. One of the top prospects at Elizabethton in 2010 was Nate Roberts. Roberts dealt with several injuries which limited him to 68 games, however, when he did play he was very good with a .302 average and .889 OPS.
Two of this past June's top nine picks were shortstops Tyler Grimes (5th round) and Adam Bryant (9th). Numbers during their first professional summer aren't as important for draft picks. What is important is how they adapt to the daily grind of professional baseball. Bryant hit a respectable .245 average with seventeen doubles and four triples in 208 at bats. More important, he improved every month as he hit for averages of .222, .234 and .277 in June, July and August. He commited seven errors in 34 games at second base with no errors in 15 games at shortstop. Grimes, who signed a few weeks later than Bryant, hit .225 average with a .722 OPS in 138 at bats with four triples and four home runs. Grimes didn't make any errors in ten games at second base while being tagged with six errors in 30 games at shortstop.
Other Snappers getting significant at bats included a former Gopher, catcher Kyle Knudson. He hit .226 average with a .722 OPS although injuries limited him to 115 at bats. Catcher Tobias Streich hit .212 average in 217 at bats with catcher Jhonatan Arias hitting only .151 average in 86 at bats. Former Gopher and fourth round pick, Derek McCallum, hit only .187 average in 225 at bats causing the Twins to release him late in the season. Third baseman Andy Leer hit for a .215 average in 335 at bats.