Minor League Report...June 16, 2012

April 20, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Liam Hendriks (62) throws a pitch in the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The organization finished their week three games under .500 at 14-17. Only Fort Myers had a winning week at 4-2. New Britain and Rochester were both 3-3. Beloit was 3-4 and the DSL Twins won only one of six (1-5).

In player movement, the Twins recalled Lester Oliveros when P. J. Walters was placed on the disabled list. Liam Hendriks was recalled for today's game with Oliveros going back to Rochester. The Beloit Snappers activated pitcher Bart Carter filling the spot of catcher Kyle Knutson, who moved up to Fort Myers. Eddie Rosario was hit in the face beneath his nose with a batted ball during batting practice and will be out an estimated six weeks. Steve Liddle was activated and assigned to Beloit as his replacement. New Britain placed catcher Danny Lehmann on the disabled list with Dan Rohlfing moving up from Fort Myers. Miguel Munoz was placed on the Miracle's disabled list with Tom Stuifbergen being activated. Although he was not included in the original press release announcing the Fort Myers Miracle all-stars, Oswaldo Arcia was selected to play in the Florida State League All-Star game.

With the 2012 draft completed, the reports I have seen indicate that the Twins have signed twenty-one of the forty-three players drafted. Byron Buxton signed for a Twins all-time high bonus of $6,000,000, which is $200,000 under the recommended slot per the new CBA agreement. The Twins have signed ten of their top thirteen picks, with only supplemental pick Luke Bard, ninth round pick L. J. Mazilli and tenth round pick D. J. Baxendale remaining unsigned from their first ten rounds. Look for the Twins to sign another five or six including Baxendale, who will be pitching in the College World Series. There is no question that the changes made to the draft and draft compensation are leading to players signing quickly. These changes will get all draft picks on the field playing this year rather than delaying their professional careers until the following spring which happened to some in the past.

Last week's Player of the Week was Liam Hendriks. In our closest vote of the year, Hendriks collected fifty percent of the votes, fourteen more than Eddie Rosario. Both Elizabethton (Tuesday) and the Gulf Coast League Twins (Wednesday) begin play next week. This week's review follows the jump:

The Rochester Red Wings (30-36) remain in last place, eleven and a half games behind Pawtuckett. They closed out their series at home against Norfolk with a win on Friday, 9-6. Esmerling Vasquez was solid in a spot start, pitching 4.2 innings with three hits, one run and six strikeouts. Brandon Wise pitched 2.1 innings of relief with one run for the win. Four players had two or more hits, including Sean Burroughs who had four hits with a pair of doubles.

The Wings moved on to Indianapolis where they won the opening game Saturday, 2-0, before dropping three, 8-1, 16-0 and 2-0. Liam Hendriks pitched 8.2 shutout innings with only three hits, ten strikeouts and two walks for his fifth win without a loss. In his last start for the Red Wings, Hendriks closed out a streak of 15.2 innings without allowing a run. Cole DeVries allowed six runs in two innings on Sunday. Matt Maloney allowed six runs (four earned) in Monday's shellacking. Sam Deduno returned from the disabled list with an excellent performance in Tuesday's pitchers duel, pitching four shutout innings. Esmerling Vasquez was charged with the loss by allowing two runs in 2.2 innings of relief. The series ended with Red Wings hitters in a collective slump as they did not score in the last twenty-four innings. Danny Valencia was the only hitter with two multi-hit games. Of note is that the Red Wings faced former Twin Evan Meek, who pitched two no-hit innings on Sunday.

The Red Wings scoreless streak reached twenty-seven innings Thursday before they erupted to beat host Louisville, 8-6. Luke French allowed four runs in 3.1 innings before Casey Fien came on to pitch two shutout innings for the win. Danny Valencia was three for three with two walks with Matt Carson also getting three hits. Valencia finished his week at 8-22 with four walks as he got his average up to .250 in 120 at bats.

Considering that Liam Hendriks came within one out of a complete game shutout, he has be be the Red Wings repeat Player of the Week. Hendriks will return to the Twins with a 5-0 record in seven starts (46.1 innings) with a 1.94 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, forty-two strikeouts and thirteen walks. He allowed more than two runs only once while completing six or more innings in five of his seven starts. In his only poor outing, he allowed six runs in five innings on May 30th.

The New Britain Rock Cats (35-29) are in third place, two games behind Trenton. They began their week at Erie where they dropped a 9-7 loss on Friday before back-to-back, 6-0, wins on the weekend. Aaron Thompson allowed seven runs (six earned) in Friday's loss. Andrew Albers pitched six shutout innings on Saturday with B. J. Hermsen one inning better Saturday when he pitched seven shutout innings. Caleb Thielbar, who has a 1.96 ERA, pitched two perfect innings of relief on Saturday with three strikeouts. Luis Perdomo, who has a 2.67 ERA, allowed only one walk in two innings of relief on Sunday when he picked up his second save. Evan Bigley had two three-hit games in the series while James Beresford and Chris Colabello both had two or more hits in each of the three games.

Tuesday's game with visiting Akron was rained out and made up as a pair of seven inning games on Wednesday. The Rock Cats split the double header, winning the opener 3-1 before losing the nightcap 4-1. Steve Hirschfeld had a quality start in the afternoon game, allowing only one run in six innings with eight strikeouts. Caleb Thielbar pitched a perfect inning for his fourth save. Logan Darnell was charged with the loss even though he allowed only one run in 4.2 innings in the second game. Nate Hanson and Deibinson Romero both had two hits in the afternoon game with the entire lineup managing only five hits in the second game. The Rock Cats lost a heart breaker in twelve innings Thursday, 3-2. Brett Jacobson was solid in his new role as a starter, pitching 5.1 innings with only two runs. Luis Perdomo was charged with the loss when he allowed a run in two innings of work. Bruce Pugh made his fourth appearance and has yet to allow a run in six innings of work.

Nate Hanson is my selection as the Rock Cats Player of the Week. The former Golden Gopher was 10-18 (.555 average) including a 5-6 game on Thursday. Hanson scored one run and drove in three while hitting two doubles and a triple in what may have been the best week of his professional career. In 135 at bats, Hanson is hitting .274 average with a .657 OPS.

The Fort Myers Miracle (27-37) had the best week in the organization. With their first half coming to a close, they are in fifth place, twenty and a half games behind the St. Lucie Mets who have a record of 48-17. After playing only one game of their series at Tampa, the Miracle traveled to Palm Beach on Saturday where they lost the opener, 3-2, before winning two games, 8-5 and 8-4. Pat Dean threw four shutout innings Saturday before giving way to Tom Stuifbergen, who allowed three runs in 1.1 inning in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list. Madison Boer allowed four earned runs in five innings Sunday for his second win. Matt Hauser threw two shutout innings of relief with Dan Sattler getting his first save with a scoreless inning. Marty Popham allowed seven hits in five innings Monday, however, held Palm Beach to one run. All-Star Ricky Bowen, picked up the win with two no-hit innings with one strikeout and three walks. Daniel Santana had two multi-hit games including a key single in the top of the ninth when the Miracle scored four to put the game away.

Bradenton came to Fort Myers on Tuesday with the Miracle winning two, 5-3 and 8-4, before losing the final game, 6-0. Cole Nelson was sharp on Tuesday, allowing three runs in five innings. Jose Gonzalez and Dakota Watts both pitched two shutout innings of relief with Watts picking up his first save. Matt Hauser made a spot start Wednesday, pitching three shutout innings before Nelvin Fuentes earned the win with a two inning performance in which he allowed two runs. Pat Dean wasn't sharp Thursday when he allowed six runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings. For the third time this year the Miracle faced last year's top pick, Gerrit Cole, who held them scoreless for five innings. Cole has a 2.55 ERA whereas Dean, who also is an all-star, leads the Miracle starting staff with a 3.43 ERA. Danny Rams had the big hit on Tuesday, a grand slam home run in the first inning. Angel Morales, who has seen his batting average slide to .212, hit his second home run with two aboard on Wednesday.

The Player of the Week for the Miracle is their all-star closer, Ricky Bowen. He made two appearances, pitching 4.2 shutout innings with two hits, four walks and a strikeout. In twenty-three games (forty innings), Bowen has a 3-2 record, five saves, 2.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, thirty-eight strikeouts and twelve walks.

The Beloit Snappers (38-29) were swept by Wisconsin, killing all chances of winning the first half Midwest League championship. The good news however, is their win Thursday night clinched second place and a spot in the playoffs at the end of the year. They beat Burlington on Friday, 7-0, behind Steven Gruver. Gruver had a quality start, pitching six shutout inning for his fifth win in nine decisions. Corey Williams threw three shutout innings of relief for his seventh save.

Down two games, the Snappers traveled to league leading Wisconsin for a pivotal three game series beginning on Saturday. Unfortunately, they would lose all three, 4-0, 5-2 in ten innings, and 8-7. Tyler Jones made a quality start in the opener, allowing three runs on four hits in six innings. The Snappers hitters couldn't score a single run even though Drew Leachman and Nate Roberts each had two hits. David Hurlbut allowed two runs in five innings Sunday. Michael Tonkin pitched 2.2 shutout innings before Clint Dempster gave up three runs in the tenth inning for the loss. Jonathan Goncalves had three hits with A. J. Pettersen getting two. The Snappers should have won on Monday, however, Corey Williams was charged with the loss when he fielded a bunt and threw the ball down the right field line. That play would eventually lead to the loss in a game the Snappers came from behind to take the lead when Miguel Sano hit a long home run when the Wisconsin pitcher hung a curve ball with the bases loaded. Jason Wheeler made the start for the Snappers, allowing four runs in 5.2 innings.

The Snappers returned home to face Peoria on Tuesday. They won games at both ends of the series, 5-4 and 5-3, with a 7-1 loss in between. Matt Summers allowed three earned runs Tuesday with Michael Tonkin pitching two perfect innings for his fifth save. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect as he struck out all six batters he faced. Steven Gruver wasn't sharp Wednesday, allowing six runs (four earned) in 3.2 innings. Tim Shibuya pitched 2.1 no-hit innings in his first relief appearance. Tyler Jones returned Thursday for his second quality start of the week, allowing three runs in six innings. Tim Atherton got the win with two shutout innings and Tonkin picked up his sixth save with you got it, another perfect inning with three strikeouts. Nate Roberts and Adam Bryant both hit home runs in Thursday's win.

A player who is not often recognized because he has been working out of the Snappers bullpen is Michael Tonkin. He appeared in three games this week, pitching 5.2 innings with no runs, no hits, no walks and twelve strikeouts. A week like that certainly deserves my nod as Beloit's Player of the Week. With a 3-0 record and six saves, Tonkin has a 1.38 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in twenty-two games (thirty-nine innings) with fifty-three strikeouts and nine walks. That is the type of performance that is crying for a promotion. With several recently drafted relievers likely penciled into Beloit, look for Tonkin to be heading south to Florida following Tuesday's All-Star game.

The DSL Twins (4-7) had a rough week as they fell into a tie for sixth place, four back of the Diamondbacks. They dropped a game to the White Sox last Friday, 7-3, behind their opening day starter, Fernando Romero, who allowed five runs (three earned) in two innings. Argenis Silva earned their only win with three shutout innings of relief in Saturday's 7-4 win over the Reds. Edgar Martinez picked up his first save with two shutout innings. Damian Defrank got the start at the Reds on Monday where he allowed two runs in three innings. Jose Abreu pitched four shutout innings before Reudis Reyes was charged with the loss when he allowed an unearned run in the 4-3 loss.

Jose Jimenez pitched three shutout innings against the Rockies Tuesday. The Twins lost 6-3 after Javier Vargas allowed four unearned runs. They would lose again to the Rockies Wednesday, when Miguel Gonzalez allowed one run in two innings. Elias Villasana came on to allow four runs (three earned) in three innings of relief for the loss. They dropped their fifth game of the week Thursday to the Diamondbacks, 4-3. Fernando Romero was very good, pitching four shutout innings. Reudis Reyes allowed two runs (one earned) in two innings for the loss. Adonis Pacheco, who had two, was the only Twins hitter with more than one multi-hit game this week.

The Player of the Week for the DSL Twins is seventeen year old shortstop, Engelb Vielma. Vielma, who leads the Twins with a .357 average, was 6-17 (.352 average) with three runs scored, one driven in and three stolen bases. In 28 at bats, Vielma has a .757 OPS including five stolen bases without being thrown out.

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