With the minor league season ending this weekend, I join many fans who look back on what has been a long year. As I expect is the case for the fans in Rochester, Beloit and Ft. Myers, the losing has gotten to me. Having done this every Saturday for something like six years, I need a break.
I will be taking next weekend off, then return regularly during the off-season. It just won't be every week. I will be back in two weeks with your voting for Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. In October, I will wrap up the seasons for each of the Clubs.
It is no surprise that last week's Player of the Week was Eddie Rosario.
As the season comes to an end, Rochester played .500 ball with all of the other teams having winning weeks. I will recap their weeks after the jump.
After last night's loss, the Rochester Red Wings (4-4) need to win all three remaining games to not have another ninety loss season. The truth is, ninety is only a number and the Red Wings of the past two years have been as bad as any team in their one hundred plus year history. With three games (52-89) left they are in last place, 27 games behind Pawtuckett.
The problem all season has been pitching. Anthony Swarzak was good, however, he was gone to the Twins early in the season. Kyle Gibson, who will have TJ surgery next week, was dealing with an arm problem which kept him from being the pitcher we expected. This week, the Red Wings found out what happens when you have a few good starts. Tom Stuifbergen made his first AAA start, allowing one earned run in five innings of Friday's 3-2 win at Syracuse. Andy Baldwin, who has pitched better of late, allowed two runs in six innings of Saturday's 4-3 loss. The Red Wings hosted Pawtuckett on Tuesday and Wednesday, beating the Red Sox 8-6 and 4-2. Cole De Vries allowed two runs in a 4.1 inning spot start on Tuesday.
A player who continues to impress Red Wings fans and Twins management is Liam Hendriks. Hendriks pitched six shutout innings at Syracuse in the first game of Friday's doubleheader, a game the Wings won, 2-0. He allowed five hits and no walks while striking out five. Hendriks returned to face division leading Pawtuckett on Wednesday, pitching eight innings with only three hits, one run (a solo home run by Kevin Youkalis, who was on a rehab assignment), six strikeouts and no walks. That's fourteen innings this week with only eight hits, one run, no walks and eleven strikeouts. Our friend Seth Stohs believes we will see Hendriks in Minneapolis sometime next week.
Hendriks had a rough stretch in his fourth and fifth starts, otherwise he has been excellent since moving up to AAA in mid July. He has a 4-4 record in nine games (49.1 innings) with a 4.56 ERA, thirty strikeouts and only three walks. If you eliminate those two starts, Hendriks allowed only twelve earned runs in seven games for a 2.56 ERA. He also has not allowed a walk in six of his nine starts. I agree with Seth, it would be fun to see how he would do in a couple starts later this month.
The Rock Cats (4-3) won the first game of a double header at Trenton last Saturday (Sunday's game was moved up in an effort to get it in before Irene hit New Jersey, however, the second game was cancelled). When Reading lost the second game of their double header, the Cats moved into a half game lead for the final Eastern League playoff spot. The teams matched each other the rest of the week with Reading winning when the Cats did while matching Cat losses on Monday and Wednesday. Last night however, the Cats lost to Trenton, 4-1, while Reading won to take a half game lead with four games remaining. It is going to be an exciting Labor Day weekend in New Britain and is probably going down to the final game against the Trenton Yankees on Labor Day.
Bobby Lanigan pitched a gem in Richmond on Tuesday after the Cats dropped Monday's opener, 10-5. Cats bats were hot with Lanigan pitching six innings, allowing only one run in a 12-3 win. Joe Benson, Marc Dolenc, and Danny Lehmann had two hits while Yangervis Solarte had three. Brian Dozier also had two hits, including a grand slam home run. Solarte continues to lead the team in hitting with a .322 average and .811 OPS. Brian Dozier is right on his heels with a .315 average and .879 OPS. Chris Parmelee is hitting .291 average while Joe Benson, who is hitting .284 average with a .882 OPS, had two key home runs.
Pat Dean moved up to New Britain for last night's start against Trenton. He was solid, pitching six innings with nine hits and three runs. That's a quality start, however, the Cats managed only one hit (a solo home run by Evan Bigley) as they lost, 4-1.
In a move that wasn't noticed by many, the Twins signed former U of Kentucky alum and Saskatchewan native, lefty Andrew Albers. He began his season in Ft. Myers where he had a 4-1 record with a 1.55 ERA in twenty-two games (52.1 innings). Albers moved up to New Britain in mid-July where he worked out of the Cats bullpen until moving into the starting rotation a month ago. A former San Diego Padre minor leaguer, Albers pitched two great games. He allowed only one run in six innings of a 4-2 win at Trenton on Friday. He returned Thursday to pitch eight shutout innings with five hits, no walks and six strikeouts in the Cats 8-0 win at Richmond. One earned run in fourteen innings makes Albers my selection as the Cats Player of the Week.
The Ft. Myers Miracle (5-3) season will end Sunday. Even though they were two games under .500, they finished their first half in second place. That didn't hold in the second half as they are in a battle to stay out of last place, 15.5 games behind Bradenton and a half game ahead of last place Jupiter.
The Miracle got their best start from Pat Dean on Friday, when he allowed two runs in seven innings of a 6-3 win. Although Dean has a 6.67 ERA, the Twins selected him as the pitcher to move up to New Britain for a critical start last night. Edgar Ibarra threw five innings of shutout ball in Saturday's 2-0 win. Alex Wimmers was very good for six innings on Sunday, unfortunately he was asked to pitch into the seventh when he allowed three of his four earned runs. Considering he hadn't pitched over four innings in any game since returning in July, Manager Jake Mauer may have been asking too much.
B. J. Hermsen had another quality start in Monday's 5-2 loss, pitching six innings with two runs, six strikeouts and one walk. The surprising starter for the Miracle late this summer, Matt Tomshaw threw five shutout innings on Tuesday at St. Lucie. Unfortunately, the Miracle scored only one run in a 2-1 loss when Matt Hauser had an off day and allowed two runs in the ninth inning.
Angel Morales had two multi hit games, including one game with four hits and another game with a home run. Oswaldo Arcia also had two multi hit games with his seventh home run. Both players have missed much of this year, however, have given us a glimpse of what they can become. At 8-28 (.285 average) with two walks, a double, home run, seven runs scored and three driven in, Morales is my selection as the Miracle Player of the Week.
The Beloit Snappers (4-3) also had a good week that began with Pedro Guerra tossing five innings with only one unearned run in a 6-3 win versus Burlington. Nate Roberts and Andy Leer both hit home runs. They would drop their next two at Clinton, 6-2 and 5-2 with Ryan O'Rourke and Manuel Soliman both allowing four runs, although two of Soliman's were unearned. Blayne Weller started his sixth game on Wednesday and it was his best, allowing only one run in seven innings of the Snappers' 8-3 win over Peoria. The Snappers beat Peoria again on Thursday, 6-5, in a game that Guerra allowed five runs.
Jairo Perez had his normal week (9-23) as he got his average up to .343 with a 1.006 OPS. Michael Gonzales, who recently returned from the disabled, list was 6-20 (.300 average) with three doubles, two home runs (15), four runs scored and two runs driven in. The Player of the Week however, was Lance Ray who was 7-21 (.333 average) with four runs scored, seven driven in, two doubles and his fifteenth and sixteenth home runs. Ray, who is hitting .257 average with a .780 OPS, also has a team best thirty-four doubles.
The Elizabethton Twins (5-0) closed out their season Tuesday by winning five games. They began their best of three playoff series with the Eastern Division champion Bluefield on Wednesday.
Miguel Sano had another big week as he made a late push to take the home run crown away from teammate, Eddie Rosario. Sano was 9-22 (.409 average) with two doubles, a triple, four home runs, five runs scored and fourteen runs driven in. Sano finished his season with a .292 average, .988 OPS (third best in the league), twenty home runs (second), eighteen doubles (tied for eighth), seven triples (second) and fifty-nine runs driven in (third). But Rosario wasn't to be outdone by anyone, including Sano. Rosario was 11-19 (.578 average) with ten runs scored, six driven in, two triples and two home runs. He also was walked four times on Friday when Bluefield chose to not pitch to him. Rosario's season ended with a .337 average (tied for third in the league), 1.068 OPS (second by .003), twenty-one home runs (first), a league best nine triples and sixty runs driven in which missed best in the league by one. Rosario and Sano were also one-two in the league with seventy-one and fifty-eight runs scored, respectively. Although Tim Atherton pitched a gem on Sunday, six shutout innings with only two hits, Rosario and Sano have to be considered for our final player of the week. I will include both and let you decide.
The Twins sent Appy League Pitcher of the Year, Tim Shibuya, out for game one of their three game series with Bluefield on Wednesday. Shibuya wasn't his normal self, allowing eight runs (four earned) in a 11-3 loss with Rosario and A. J. Pettersen having multi-hit games. David Hurlbut got the ball on Thursday, pitching six innings with only four hits and one run as the Twins evened the series with a 5-2 win. Rory Rhodes had two hits with a home run. Nick Lockwood had three hits with Mat Koch, Nikko Goodrum and Brandon Henderson also having two hits. Derek Christensen took the hill Friday for the right to move on to the Appy League championship series. He allowed five runs in 2.1 innings enroute to a 11-7 loss, ending Elizabethton's season. Rosario, Sano and Matt Koch all had two hits.
With the Elizabethton season ending in the first round of the playoffs, the organization's lone hope for a championship lies with the New Britain Rock Cats.