Minor League Report...April 28, 2012

March 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Jeff Manship (49) talks with catcher Drew Butera (41) on the mound in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The organization continues playing .500 ball, finishing with a record of 12-12. Beloit (4-3) and New Britain (3-2) had winning weeks while Rochester (2-3) and Fort Myers (3-4) were both a game under .500.

In player movement, Josh Willingham was placed on three day paternity leave with Ben Revere called up to fill in. If the Twins move back to twelve pitchers this weekend, will Revere stay up with the Twins? Oakland claimed Luke Hughes who had been designated for assignment. Danny Rams and Manuel Soliman (sore shoulder) were placed on Fort Myers' disabled list with Miguel Munoz rejoining the Miracle. Rochester placed Tsuyoshi Nishioka on their disabled list with a high ankle sprain. The Twins signed former major league infielder Joe Thurston, who was assigned to Rochester who has two middle infielders on the disabled list. New Britain placed former first round pick Alex Wimmers on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Wilken Ramirez was activated from the Red Wings disabled list and assigned to Fort Myers to rehab. Finally, former Red Wing Dustin Martin was signed by the Mets and assigned to AA.

With over half of the votes, Miguel Sano was our Player of the Week. This week's review follows the jump.

The Rochester Red Wings (9-11) had a day off and two rainouts, with one of the games made up by a doubleheader on Thursday. They are currently in fifth place, 5.5 games behind the Pawtuckett Red Sox.

League leading Lehigh Valley was in town last weekend with the Red Wings taking two. They won Friday, 5-2 against former Brewer Dave Bush, and Sunday, 3-2. P. J. Walters picked up his second win Friday, pitching 5.1 innings while allowing only two runs. Jeff Manship pitched two shutout innings of relief with Casey Fien picking up his third save. Michael Holliman went 3-4 with three players (Matt Rizzotti, Darin Mastroianni and Drew Butera) getting two hits. Scott Diamond pitched seven shutout innings on Sunday with Casey Fien picking up a two inning save. Ben Revere and Matt Carson each had two hits.

Syracuse and Bryce Harper came to town after an off day. Following Tuesday's rainout the Wings got swept, losing 10-5 on Wednesday and both ends of Thursday's double header, 5-4 and 3-2. Daryl Thompson was the starter on Wednesday, giving up four runs in five innings including a Mark Teahen grand slam. Anthony Slama followed with two shutout innings before Tyler Robertson had his first bad outing of the year, allowing four runs on a Jason Michaels grand slam without getting an out. Mastroianni led Red Wings hitters with three hits, a walk and two runs driven in. The Wings got solid starting pitching in both ends of Thursday's double header. Cole DeVries pitched six innings with two runs and eight strikeouts in the opener. Syracuse went ahead 5-2 in the top of the eighth (was scheduled as a seven inning game), before Joe Benson hit a two run home run in the bottom of the eighth as the Wings rally fell a run short. Casey Fien pitched the seventh and eighth innings, picking up his second loss. Jeff Manship made a spot start in the nightcap, allowing only one run in four innings.

Although he played in only three games, Drew Butera was 5-10 with two doubles. In his last ten games, Butera is hitting .345 average and now has a .316 average with a .815 OPS. Since moving up to the Red Wings, Darin Mastroianni is hitting .353 with a triple, six runs scored and four stolen bases. They are my selection as Rochester's co-Players of the Week.

The New Britain Rock Cats (13-7) are off to their best start in franchise history, although they currently trail Reading by a half game. When asked about their start, Manager Jeff Smith was quoted, "We've gotten a combination of three things, we've gotten great starting pitching, a good defense in the field and timely hitting." On defense, the Rock Cats have committed only ten errors in their first twenty games with third baseman Deibinson Romero committing four. Shortstop Pedro Floriman has only one error while second baseman James Beresford has none.

The Rock Cats took two, 7-3 and 4-2, from New Hampshire last weekend before being rained out on Sunday. Luke French pitched five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on Friday. Deolis Guerra continued his near perfect work out of the bullpen with two shutout innings. Daniel Turpen also pitched two shutout innings for his second win. Former Twin prospect Yohan Pino allowed three runs in six innings for New Hampshire. Three run home runs from both Floriman and Romero accounted for most of the Rock Cats offense. Andrew Albers earned his first win Saturday, allowing only one run on five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. Bobby Lanigan pitched two shutout innings for his second save. Five Rock Cats had two hits including Aaron Hicks, who is hitting .257 average with a .813 OPS.

Portland came to Connecticut on Monday, taking two of three with wins on Monday, 7-6, and Wednesday, 7-3, surrounding a Cats 7-6 win on Tuesday. Steve Hirschfeld allowed six runs in three innings Monday. Logan Darnell wasn't sharp on Tuesday, allowing six runs in three innings. Lester Oliveros, Brett Jacobson and Guerra would each pitch two shutout innings with Guerra picking up his second win after allowing only one hit with five strikeouts. Guerra has allowed only one run in seven appearances (12.2 innings) with an incredible 0.47 WHIP. The Cats came back to win after being down 6-1 in the third with a Nate Hanson double that drove in Chris Herrman in the bottom of the ninth. Luke French pitched 6.1 innings with only two runs in Wednesday's loss. Turpen picked up his first loss, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing four runs in the top of the ninth inning.

With at least one hit in all four games he played this week, James Beresford gets my nod as Player of the Week. Beresford was 6-12 (.500 average) with a run scored, two walks and two strikeouts. In 45 at bats, he is hitting .267 average with a .353 on base percentage.

The Fort Myers Miracle (9-11) are in third place, seven games behind the St. Lucie Mets who are 16-4.

The Miracle began their week splitting a pair at Bradenton, losing 4-3 on Friday and winning 8-6 Saturday in ten innings. Friday was a repeat match up between Adrian Salcedo and Gerrit Cole. Salcedo allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings while Cole also allowed three runs in five innings. Cole, who was last year's number one pick, had a 5.25 ERA following Friday's game. Jhon Garcia was charged with the loss by allowing a run in two innings of work. Minor League Rule 5 pickup Marty Popham allowed three runs in five innings on Saturday. Former St. Paul Saint Caleb Thielbar earned his first win with three no hit innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Daniel Santana and Josmil Pinto each had three hits with Levi Michael getting two, including his first home run.

The Miracle traveled to St. Lucie on Sunday, dropping two, 9-8 and 10-6, before winning on Tuesday, 7-1. Pat Dean allowed five runs in six innings Sunday. Bruce Pugh allowed three unearned runs in an inning of work. Pugh's unearned runs scored following his error when he threw the ball into left field after a bunt. Jose Gonzalez got the loss when he allowed a run in the ninth inning. Oswaldo Arcia is getting healthy and showed signs of breaking out of his early season slump with a 4-5 game including a triple and home run. Jhon Garcia allowed three runs (one earned) in five innings Monday. Edgar Ibarra, who had allowed only one run in five appearances, allowed four to score in two innings. Santana, Lance Ray and Michael Gonzales all homered for the Miracle. The Miracle bats continued to be hot on Tuesday, with both Santana and Michael getting three hits with Angel Morales and Gonzales both getting two. But the story of the game was starting pitcher B. J. Hermsen, who pitched five strong innings with only one run. Matt Hauser followed with three no hit innings of relief.

Palm Beach came to Fort Myers on Wednesday, winning the opener 6-2. The Miracle evened the series on Thursday, 2-0. Adrian Salcedo had his roughest start in my memory in the opener, allowing six runs off five hits and five walks in only 2.2 innings. Bruce Pugh kept the game respectable by pitching three no hit innings of relief. Marty Popham made the Miracle's best start of the week Thursday, pitching 5.2 shutout innings with only two hits for his second win. Ricky Bowen pitched 2.1 shutout innings of relief with Caleb Thielbar pitching a no hit inning for his first save. Thielbar hasn't allowed an earned run in seven games (12.1 innings) with only four hits, sixteen strikeouts and two walks. The Miracle managed only three hits, fortunately the Palm Beach pitcher threw a wild pitch following a Danny Rohlfing single and Jairo Perez walk in the second inning. Michael Gonazles followed with a key single scoring the only two runs of the game.

With hits in all six games he played this week, Daniel Santana is my Player of the Week. Santana was 10-28 (.357 average) with five runs scored, three driven in, two doubles, a triple and home run. He didn't take a single walk and struck out only three times. In 79 at bats, Santana is hitting .316 average with a .802 OPS.

The Beloit Snappers (11-10) are tied for second a game and a half behind Quad Cities. In what may be the biggest news out of Beloit early this season, Miguel Sano did not hit any home runs this week!

Their week began at South Bend, winning 13-3 Friday and losing 8-5 Saturday. Jason Wheeler pitched six innings Friday, allowing two runs (one earned) for his first win. A. J. Achter pitched two shutout innings of relief. Although he didn't homer, Sano was 4-5 with three doubles, a walk and two runs driven in. J. D. Williams also had three hits with Eddie Rosario and Danny Ortiz each getting two. Matt Summers pitched 4.1 innings Saturday, allowing eight runs for his second loss.

The Snappers made the short road trip Sunday to West Michigan where they dropped two, 6-3 and 6-1, before winning Tuesday, 8-0. Madison Boer had a quality start Sunday, allowing two runs in 6.2 innings. Ryan O'Rourke followed with his first bad outing of the year, allowing four runs in 1.1 innings. In a game Monday in which the Snappers would make five errors, Steven Gruver was saddled with the loss when he allowed four runs (one earned) in 5.0 innings of work. Last year's Appalachian League pitcher of the year, Tim Shibuya, made his best start of the season on Tuesday. Shibuya pitched 5.1 shutout innings with eight hits and five strikeouts. Danny Ortiz had three hits with Rosario, Wang-Wei Lin and A. J. Pettersen each getting two.

Wednesday the Snappers opened a series with Bowling Green where they have won the first two, 9-3 and 8-3. Jason Wheeler scattered ten hits over six innings in the opener, allowing three runs for his second win. Michael Tonkin pitched two no-hit innings of relief. Jairo Rodriguez had three hits while Pettersen and Lin each had two. Matt Summers returned from his rough outing earlier in the week to throw 5.2 innings with three runs on Thursday. As may be expected for a pitcher who is starting after being a reliever in the past, Summers seems to pitch very well before running out of gas. He allowed seven of his eight runs Saturday in the fifth inning and all three of his runs Thursday in the sixth inning. Three Snappers hitters (Lin, Rosario and Jonathan Goncalves) had three hits.

I have read comments here and elsewhere from people who are concerned about Miguel Sano's strikeouts (27 in 72 at bats). An example of why I am not concerned was Thursday, when he struck out once in two at bats. He also tripled along with receiving three walks and also was hit by a pitch. In that game he struck out in 50% of his at bats, yet, was safely on base in five of his six plate appearances. Sano is still eighteen years old and has power that the Twins organization hasn't seen in a long, long time. Yes, he has struck out in 27 of his 72 at bats, however, he also has an excellent .429 OBP with a 1.067 OPS!

What is going on in Beloit this spring is a clear reminder about what minor league baseball is about, player development. The Snappers have a slick fielding middle infielder, A. J. Pettersen, who is playing two-thirds of his games in left field or at designated hitter. Meanwhile, they have an excellent center fielder, Eddie Rosario, who is playing most of his games at second base. Rosario has made six errors during the process, however, his bat is the reason why he is my selection as the Snappers' Player of the Week. With four multi-hit games, Rosario was 11-27 (.407 average) with a run scored in every game (7), seven runs driven in, three doubles, five walks and only three strikeouts. In one of his two hitless games on Saturday, South Bend walked him in three of his four plate appearances. Yes, he is making mistakes while learning a new position. His bat however, continues to remind us that he has a very bright future.

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