Minor League Report...June 25, 2011

With all seven teams in action, the organization had an excellent week with twenty wins against fourteen losses. New Britain (4-0) and Beloit (3-0) had perfect weeks, with The DSL Twins (4-1) and GCL Twins (3-2) both better than .500.

The Twins activated Joe Nathan on Friday, optioning Jim Hoey back to Rochester. The Twins signed former Rangers first round pick, right handed starter Tom Diamond who was assigned to Rochester. Rochester returned Nick Romero to Ft. Myers and placed Steve Holm on the disabled list. Catcher Jair Fernandez was promoted to Rochester, leaving New Britain with ten players. The Red Wings also released reliever Yorman Bazardo. [Edit: The Twins announced this morning that they have activated Jim Thome and sent Rene Tosoni back to Rochester]

The Rock Cats activated Brian Dozier, who had been on the disabled list. Beloit released infielder Hyeong-rok Choi with recent fifth round pick, Tyler Grimes returning to the Snappers from EST. Red Wings starter Kyle Gibson and Rock Cats starter Liam Hendriks were both selected to play in July's Futures All-Star game. Brandon Roberts began a rehab assignment with the GCL Twins. In what may be this week's biggest news, Oswaldo Arcia also began his rehab assignment with the GCL Twins last night.

Brett Jacobson was last week's Player of the Week with 45% of the vote. I am travelling today, so will somewhat limit the discussion.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-5, 29-42, tied for fourth place, -12.5 games behind Lehigh Valley)

The Red Wings dropped two of three versus Indianapolis last weekend, winning the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, 12-7, while losing 7-5 and 8-3. Cole DeVries picked up the win Saturday, pitching 3.1 innings of relief with one run allowed and three strikeouts. Trevor Plouffe was two for four with a double and home run in the opener. He was better in the nightcap, going three for five with a double, triple and home run. Plouffe was three for four in Sunday's loss.

The Wings lost both ends of a double header to Charlotte on Monday, 7-2 and 5-1. Kyle Gibson allowed eight hits and three runs in the opening game when he pitched only five innings. The Wings got only five hits, however, had eight walks and four hit batters. They loaded the bases in the second, third and fourth innings without scoring a run. They lost again on Tuesday, 5-4, and Wednesday, 8-7. Scott Diamond allowed ten hits and four runs in 5.2 innings on Tuesday with Trevor Plouffe going four for five with a double and his ninth home run. They won Thursday, 7-2, with Eric Hacker pitching six strong innings while allowing only two runs.

The Wings opened a series last night at Syracuse. They were trailing 8-1 when the game was suspended in the third inning.

This week's Player of the Week is an easy choice, Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe was 14-34 (.411 average) with eight runs scored, four doubles, a triple, three home runs and nine runs batted in. Plouffe is now hitting .294/.348/.603 as he makes a statement that he wants to return to Minnesota. Is his start in right field last night an indication that the Twins believe he cannot play shortstop for them but want his bat in their lineup next year?

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (4-0, 39-30, tied for second place, -4.0 games behind New Hampshire)

The Cats won two from Reading, 2-1 and 5-3 last weekend. Deinys Suarez threw six shutout innings on Saturday to pick up his first professional win. Deolis Guerra pitched two shutout innings of relief with five strikeouts. Steve Hirschfeld also had a solid start on Sunday, allowing three runs in 5.2 innings. Chris Parmelee had his second consecutive multi-hit game with his fifth homerun.

After an off day Monday, the Cats took the first and only game against Bowie on Tuesday as the next two were rained out. Liam Hendriks celebrated his selection to the Futures Game by pitching seven innings with two runs and six strikeouts as the Cats won, 6-5. Brian Dozier had a pair of hits in his second game back with Yangervis Solarte having his third straight multi-hit game.

The Cats opened a home series last night with Trenton. The highlight of the night was Yankee Phil Hughes, who was making a rehab start for Trenton. Hughes allowed three hits and a run in 3.1 innings, but that wasn't good enough as Bobby Lanigan pitched another gem. Lanigan allowed one run on five hits and two walks in eight innings with nine strikeouts. With a standing room only crowd, Chris Parmelee drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth when he was walked with the bases loaded for the 3-2 win over Trenton and Hughes.

Even though Solarte had three multi-hit games, Lanigan's big game last night gets my nod as this week's Player of the Week.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (1-4, finished first half in second place at 34-36, -4.0 games behind St. Lucie)

Dakota Watts threw 0.2 innings in Saturday's all-star game without allowing a baserunner. Danny Rams also played in the League's biggest game of the year, going hitless in one at bat.

With three games remaining in the first half and trailing St. Lucie by two games, the Miracle needed a big series at Palm Beach. They won the opener, 6-3, before losing two, 5-0 and 6-5. Kane Holbrooks allowed four runs in five innings in Monday's win. Tom Stuifbergen was sharp in Wednesday's loss, allowing two unearned runs in five innings. Stuifbergen has allowed only four earned runs in his last six starts (36.2 innings).

The Miracle returned home to open the second half against Bradenton. They didn't get a good start, losing 6-5 on Thursday and 16-5 last night. Logan Darnell was very good Thursday, pitching six innings with two runs. Recently signed Ricky Bowen was the starter last night, allowing nine runs in 2.2 innings. Shooter Hunt pitched 0.2 inning of relief, allowing five runs on one hit and seven walks. The best pitching performance of the night was by outfielder Steve Liddle, who pitched the last 1.1 inning without allowing any runs.

Aaron Hicks had another huge week as he worked his batting average up to .274. Hicks was 7-18 (.388 average) with five doubles, a triple, four runs scored, three runs driven in, one stolen base and an amazing eight walks.

Beloit Snappers (A) (3-0, finished first half tied for third at 38-32, seven games behind Burlington)

The Snappers closed out the first half last weekend with two wins at division champion Burlington, 7-4 and 5-1. A. J. Achter pitched seven innings Saturday, allowing one run. The Snappers scored all seven runs in the second inning, led by Michael Gonzales who was four for five. Manuel Soliman also had a quality start on Sunday, pitching six innings with one run. The Snappers then took their all-star break where they were represented by Danny Ortiz, who was 0-5, and Adrian Salcedo, who threw 0.2 inning allowing two hits and two runs (one earned).

The Snappers returned to action last night versus Cedar Rapids. Ryan O'Rourke, who was making his fifth start of the year, threw five innings while allowing one run and striking out nine. Manuel Soliman pitched two innings of one hit relief before Jose Gonzalez had a blown save before picking up the win. The Snappers won, 3-2, in the bottom of the ninth when Daniel Santana drove in Lance Ray with a walk-off sacrifice bunt. Considering this is only Soliman's third year as a pitcher, the Twins may have moved him to the bullpen to limit his innings.

The top Player for the Snappers this week was Michael Gonzales, who was 6-14 (.428 average).

Elizabethton Twins (Appalachian League) (2-2, third place, -2.0 games behind Johnson City)

The ETon Twins began their season in unfamiliar territory, dropping two straight (6-5 and 4-3) to Bluefield before getting their first win Thursday, 6-5. Todd VanSteensel was the opening night starter, pitching five innings with two hits, three runs, a pair of walks and eight strikeouts. Todd maintains an excellent blog about life in the minor leagues at http://toddvs35.blogspot.com/ The game would be suspended when tied in the ninth when the rains arrived. It was finished the next day with Bluefield winning in thirteen innings even though Derek Christensen pitched four innings with only one run. Perhaps the biggest news of the day for the Twins was former first round pick Matt Bashore pitching an inning with no-hits, no-runs, no-walks and a strikeout. Justin Parker allowed four runs in five innings on Wednesday for the loss. Pedro Guerra pitched three shutout innings of relief. The Twins had a comeback win on Thursday following a rough start by Cesar Ciurcina, who allowed five runs in 3.2 innings. Recent second round pick and Eden Prairie native, Madison Boer, pitched a shutout ninth inning with two strikeouts to get the win.

The Twins won another extra inning game last night, 8-7 against Burlington. David Hurlbut was the starter, pitching four innings with three hits and runs. Matt Bashore returned, allowing two hits and runs in an inning of relief. Recent draft pick Stephen Evans pitched two shutout innings for the win.

Names we are certainly going to follow closely on this team include Miguel Sano (5-20), Max Kepler-Rozycki (hitless in 9 at bats), former Gopher A. J. Pettersen (hitless in 5 at bats), Eddie Rosario (5-19), Rory Rhodes (3-9), Nick Lockwood (5-13), and Nikko Goodrum (2-5).

The big hitter this first week was first baseman Kennys Vargas, who was never able to get enough votes to get into our Top 50 last winter. Vargas was 8-17 (.470 average) with six runs scored, six runs batted in and two home runs.

GCL Twins (Gulf Coast League) (3-2, tied for first with the Rays)

The GCL Twins began their season with a pair of wins over the Orioles, 2-1 and 4-0. Ricardo Arevalo was the opening day starter, pitching five innings with one unearned run. Luis Nunez pitched up the win by pitching two no-hit innings. Angel Mata was dominant in the second win over the Orioles, pitching four shutout innings with only two hits. I expect that Mata may be the pitcher moving up from the DSL Twins that we all will get excited about this summer. Candido Pimentel, Jorge Polanco and Aderlin Meija all had two hits.

The Twins managed only four hits against the Rays on Wednesday, losing 5-1. Hein Robb allowed four runs in only 1.1 inning. Tim Atherton returns to the Twins this year after being released a few years ago. Atherton pitched 2.2 innings of no-hit ball with three strikeouts. German Markus Solbach pitched two innings of shutout ball with one hit. The Twins would get hammered by the Rays on Thursday, 9-2. Recent draft pick Bobby O'Neill allowed three runs (two earned) in 3.2 innings. Brandon Roberts was two for two in his first rehab game.

The Twins exploded yesterday, beating the Red Sox 10-1. Oswaldo Arcia doesn't appear to have lost his swing in his first rehab game, going 3-4 with a triple, run scored and run batted in. Hung Yi Chen, who was signed last year out of Taiwan, pitched four shutout innings with only two hits and six strikeouts. Wander Guillen and Aderlin Meija both had two hits.

The GCL Twins first Player of the Week this year is shortstop Aderlin Meija who was 7-12 (.583 average), with two runs scored and two runs driven in. Meija hit .224 average in 125 at bats for the DSL Twins last summer as an eighteen year old.

DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League) (4-1, 16-8, first place with a 0.5 game lead over the Orioles)

The Twins opened their week with a 3-1 win over the Reds. Jose Jimenez pitched three innings with three hits and one run. Javier Vargas pitched two shutout innings with four strikeouts for his first win. After getting only four hits against the Orioles, Twins bats exploded in a 9-0 win over the Padres on Monday. Victor Arias and Carlos Martinez had multi-hit games in support of an excellent start by Sterling Bonilla, who pitched four shutout innings. Randy Rosario picked up the win with three no-hit innings of relief. The Twins beat the Diamondbacks Tuesday, 5-4, behind four shutout innings by ninteen year old Junior Subero. Subero has a 0-3 record, yet has allowed only two earned runs in four starts (14.1 innings) for a 1.26 ERA with fourteen strikeouts. Javier Pimentel hit his and the GCL Twins second home run.

Jose Abreu allowed five runs in four innings in a 7-4 loss to the Orioles on Thursday. The Twins got back to their winning way on Friday beating the Cubs-1, 8-3. Ezequiel Zarzuela got the win in relief of Jimenez, pitching two shutout innings with four strikeouts. Jimenez allowed three runs in four innings.

Eighteen year old shortstop Dubal Baez hit .250 average in forty at bats for the DSL Twins in 2010. In three games this week, Baez was 4-8 (.500 average) with three walks, only one strikeout, five runs scored, a stolen base and two runs batted in. In thirty-three at bats, Baez is hitting .273/.429/.303.

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