Minor League Report...June 23, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24: Aaron Thompson #60 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his major league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers during the game on August 24, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

With back-to-back five win days, the organization fought their way back to .500 at 16-16. The only full season team at .500 was Fort Myers at 2-2. Rochester was 3-4, Beloit 1-2 and New Britain ended a seven game losing streak Thursday to finish at 1-5. The bright spot in the organization was the three short season teams. The DSL Twins were 4-1, the GCL Twins 3-1 and Elizabethton began their season at 2-1.

In player moves, Carlos Gutierrez and Lester Oliveros were both placed on Rochester's disabled list. Steve Hirschfeld, Bobby Lanigan and Caleb Thielbar all moved up to the Red Wings from New Britain. Fresh off his appearance in the FSL All-Star game and selection to this year's Futures All-Star game, Oswaldo Arcia moved up to New Britain. He took the spot of MSU-Mankato's Mark Dolenc, who was released. With their pitching staff down to nine, Dan Sattler and Edgar Ibarra both moved up to New Britain. The Miracle welcomed Michael Tonkin from Beloit following his appearance in the Midwest League All-Star game. They also activated Miguel Munoz from their disabled list. The one man left in Fort Myers following the start of the rookie seasons, Cole Johnson, was promoted to Beloit. La Velle E. Neal III announced that the Twins signed their second compensation round pick, Luke Bard. Bard will continue rehabbing a shoulder problem in Fort Myers until he is ready to join a team, most likely Beloit. Signing Bard means the Twins have announced the signing of twenty draft picks with another two who should be announced shortly.

With fifty-two percent of the votes, Liam Hendriks was our repeat selection as Player of the Week. This week's review follows the jump.

The Rochester Red Wings (33-40) continue their march towards .500, although they remain in last place eleven and a half games behind Pawtuckett. With a bit less than half the season remaining, they have time to turn this season around. Unfortunately, with several of their opening day starters no longer with the team they are struggling to get consistent good starts.

Their week began in Louisville where they took two of three, winning Friday, 4-1, and Sunday, 7-4. Cole De Vries pitched one of their best games of the season Friday, seven shutout innings with only five hits, no walks and four strikeouts as he picked up his second win. Sam Deduno, in his second start since coming off the disabled list, pitched 3.2 innings Sunday while allowing one run on two hits. Casey Fien was the winner with 2.1 no hit innings of relief. Matt Maloney wasn't sharp in Saturday's 11-5 loss, allowing eight hits and nine runs in 3.2 innings. Sean Burroughs drove in two runs in a two hit performance Friday. Matt Carson and Rene Rivera both had three hits Sunday with Carson driving in four runs while also hitting his fourth home run.

Durham came to Rochester on Monday, taking three of four by scores of 6-1, 8-2 and 14-8. The only Rochester win was on Wednesday, 7-6, behind Cole De Vries who allowed four runs in 6.1 innings. Tyler Robertson, who has his ERA down to 3.86, picked up the win by getting two outs. Steve Hirschfeld couldn't repeat his earlier start Monday when he allowed thirteen hits and six runs in four innings. Carlos Gutierrez was very good as he threw two no-hit innings of relief with three strikeouts before reporting for his second stint this year on the disabled list. Luke French wasn't as sharp as normal Tuesday, allowing six runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings. Matt Maloney made his second start of the week Thursday, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. Bobby Lanigan made his AAA debut later in that game, allowing six runs on seven hits in two innings. Sean Burroughs, Pedro Floriman, Brian Dinkelman and Clete Thomas all had two multi-hit games in the series.

Wilkin Ramirez had his second multi-hit game of the week on Wednesday while hitting his second and third home runs of the week on Tuesday and Wednesday. By getting hits in every game, 9-30 (.300 average), Ramirez is my selection as Rochester's Player of the Week. Ramirez scored four runs and drove in seven while also hitting his sixth double. In 142 at bats for the Red Wings, the former Atlanta Brave is hitting .246 average with a .661 OPS.

The New Britain Rock Cats (36-34) broke a seven game losing streak Thursday as they dropped into third place, four games behind Reading. They wasted a great start by Aaron Thompson Friday against Erie when he allowed one run on five hits in six innings. Blake Martin came on to allow four runs (two earned) in an inning of relief for his third loss, 5-2. They lost again Saturday, 4-1, when B. J. Hermsen allowed four runs in six innings. Erie closed out the sweep with a 4-3 win Sunday when Andrew Albers also allowed four runs in six innings for his second loss. Bobby Lanigan threw two no-hit innings in his last relief appearance for the Rock Cats. Both Rene Tosoni and Nate Hanson had two multi-hit games.

The Rock Cats traveled to Altoona Tuesday, dropping the first two games, 8-1 and 9-4, before breaking the losing streak with a 5-3 win on Thursday. Logan Darnell allowed six runs (four earned) in five innings Tuesday with Brett Jacobson lasting only three innings while giving up seven runs on Wednesday. Aaron Thompson made his second quality start of the week Thursday, pitching 6.1 innings with three runs for his first win. Bruce Pugh made his seventh appearance since joining the Rock Cats, pitching a shutout inning for his first save. In nine innings, Pugh hasn't allowed a run while allowing two hits and five walks with thirteen strikeouts. Evan Bigley was three for three on Tuesday and two for four Thursday when he hit his eighth home run. Oswaldo Arcia was hitless in four at bats in his first game with the Rock Cats Tuesday. He was one for four and one for three with a walk in the next two games. The Rock Cats lost on Wednesday to last year's top pick, Gerrit Cole, who allowed two runs in five innings of his AA debut.

The Player of the Week for the Rock Cats is Aaron Thompson. In his third and fourth starts of the year, Thompson pitched 12.1 innings with thirteen hits, four runs, five strikeouts and two walks.

The Fort Myers Miracle closed out their first half Wednesday with a record of 28-39. They opened the second half Thursday with a 9-5 win against first half champion St. Lucie. Pat Dean allowed five runs in 5.2 innings for his fifth win in nine decisions. Michael Tonkin allowed a hit and two walks with three strikeouts in 2.1 innings as he made his debut with the Miracle. Kyle Knudson was three for five with four other hitters getting two hits.

Following the All-Star break on the weekend, the Miracle dropped two games at Jupiter, 2-1 and 6-2, before closing out their first half with a 7-3 win on Wednesday. Cole Nelson was the loser Monday even though he allowed only two runs in 6.2 innings. Unfortunately, Miracle hitters managed only two hits. Tom Stuifbergen allowed three runs (one earned) in two innings Tuesday as he works his way back into the rotation. On Wednesday, Madison Boer made one of his best starts since joining the Miracle. He allowed two runs in five innings for his third win in nine decisions. In the last two games, Kyle Knudson colleced three hits in each game with Danny Rams going three for nine with his second home run. Daniel Ortiz, Andy Leer and Daniel Santana all had two hits in Wednesday's win.

The Player of the Week for this short week is former Gopher catcher, Kyle Knudson, who had three hits in all three games he played, 9-14 (.642 average), with four runs scored, two driven in and two doubles. After hitting .250 average at Beloit, Knudson is hitting .529 in four games with the Miracle.

The Beloit Snappers closed out their first half on Sunday with a record of 39-31. Finishing in second place, five and a half back of Wisconsin, the Snappers earned a spot in the Midwest League playoffs at the end of the season. After the first half ended, the Snappers took their all-star break with seven Snappers seeing action in the game the West lost, 18-2. The good news is that the three Snappers pitchers, Michael Tonkin, A. J. Achter and Jason Wheeler, pitched 1.2 innings without allowing a run.

The Snappers dropped two of three at home against Burlington last weekend. They won on Friday, 6-3, before losing Saturday and Sunday by scores of 11-3 and 6-2. Dave Hurlbut allowed three runs in four innings Friday as he works his way into the rotation. A. J. Achter pitched three shutout innings of relief for his third win. Corey Williams pitched two no-hit innings for his eighth save. Nate Roberts and Steve Liddle both had multi-hit games. Jason Wheeler allowed seven runs (four earned) in five innings Saturday with Matt Summers allowing four runs in 7.1 innings Sunday. Summers closed out his first half with a 6-4 record in a team high 81.1 innings with a 4.09 ERA. Before leaving for Fort Myers, Michael Tonkin appeared in twenty-two games (39.0 innings) with a 3-0 record, 1.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, nine walks and fifty-three strikeouts.

This week's Player of the Week is Nate Roberts, who was 3-8 (.375 average) in two games. Since joining the Snappers in mid-May, Roberts is hitting .295 average with a .837 OPS.

The Elizabethton Twins began their season Tuesday by visiting the Danville Braves. The Twins dropped the opener, 7-5, before taking two to win the series, 10-0 and 7-2. 2010 Supplemental Round pick Hudson Boyd was their opening night starter. Boyd allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings for the loss. Richard Arevalo pitched five shutout innings Wednesday. This year's second round pick, Mason Melotakis, pitched a no-hit inning of relief with two strikeouts. Hein Robb also pitched a shutout inning before Dallas Gallant came on to pitch two shutout innings with one hit and two strikeouts. It is exciting to see the hard throwing Gallant back in action as the 2010 draft pick missed all of last year with an injury. Corey Kimes pitched four innings on Thursday, allowing two runs. 2011 seventeenth round pick Josh Burris made his professional debut, pitching three no hit innings of relief with three strikeouts for the win.

Candido Pimentel had two multi-hit games with Nikko Goodrum, Steve Wickens, Jorge Polanco and Michael Quesada all getting two hits in one game. The initial Player of the Week is Rory Rhodes who had three hits in the first two games and two hits on Thursday when he hit his first home run. After hitting only .189 average in 90 at bats for Beloit, Rhodes returned to Elizabethton where he will see playing time at both first base and the outfield. With eight hits in fourteen at bats (.571 average) with a double, triple, home run and five runs driven in, Rhodes return to eastern Tennessee was a welcome sight to Twins fans.

The Gulf Coast League Twins (3-1) also lost their opening game to the Orioles on Monday, 5-3. They beat the Orioles Tuesday, 5-3, before taking two from the Rays, 6-2 and 8-4, to move into first place in their division. Kuo Hua Lo was their opening day starter. He pitched four innings while giving up three hits and a run with five strikeouts and no walks. Felix Jorge was charged with the loss when he allowed two runs in two innings. The starters of the next three games, Yorman Landa, Josue Montanez and Sam Gibbons, wouldn't allow a single run. Landa pitched four no hit innings. Montanez pitched three no hit innings with five strikeouts. Gibbons, who is another Australian, pitched three innings with three hits, no walks and five strikeouts. Gerardo Ramirez got the win on Tuesday when he pitched an inning while allowing two runs. Melcaides De La Cruz got the save with two shutout innings. Hung Yi Chen picked up the win Wednesday by pitching two shutout innings with Trent Higgenbotham also pitching two shutout innings. Ramirez returned on Thursday to again allow two runs in 2.1 innings, yet picked up his second win of the week.

Second baseman Jose Ramirez had two multi-hit games with recent draft pick Bryan Haar getting five hits in two games. The Player of the Week however, is 2011 sixth round pick Dereck Rodriguez, who was 4-8 (.500 average) with four walks and one strikeout. After hitting for only a .156 average in 90 at bats for the GCL Twins last year, it is great seeing the son of the future Hall of Fame catcher off to a great start in 2012.

The Dominican Summer League Twins (8-8) moved up to third place, two and a half games behind the Diamondbacks and Reds. On Friday they beat the Diamondbacks, 7-4, behind Junior Subero who allowed two runs (one earned) in four innings as he made his first appearance this year. Javier Vargas picked up the win by pitching three innings of relief with one run. Damian Defrank allowed only one run in four innings Saturday. He was charged with the loss before the bullpen fell apart in a 11-2 loss to the Padres.

The Twins returned to action Tuesday, beating the Orioles 4-3 with another 3-1 win the next day. Jose Jimenez allowed two runs in three innings Tuesday with Pedro Arias and Argenis Silva both pitching two innings of shutout ball. Silva earned his third win without a loss. Miguel Gonzalez pitched four innings without an earned run Wednesday with Jadison Jimenez getting his second win by pitching three shutout innings. Javier Vargas made his first start Thursday when the Twins beat the Cubs, 4-2. Vargas pitched five shutout innings with only one hit, one walk and seven strikeouts. The DSL Twins leading hitter, Engelb Vielma, was the only player with two multi-hit games and is now hitting .357 average with a .842 OPS.

The player of the week is nineteen year old Javier Vargas, who allowed only one run in eight innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Vargas, who leads the staff with 15.1 innings, has a 2-1 record, 0.59 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, nine strikeouts and one walk.

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