Minor League Report...August 28, 2010

Collecting 43% of the 178 votes, Danny Rams is this week's Twinkie Town Player of the Week. Congratulations Danny!

Friday night losses continued as only Elizabethton was a winner last night. The result was another dismal week for the organization as they won 17 games against 24 losses. Only the Florida teams had winning records as both the Miracle and GCL Twins were 4-2.

The Twins lost two pitchers in the same game last weekend, moving Kevin Slowey and Ron Mahay to the disabled list (Mahay was later moved to the 60-day disabled list). Nick Blackburn and Anthony Slama returned from Rochester with Blackburn making a start on Monday. The Twins signed thirty-five year old lefty, Randy Flores who had been released by the Rockies. Slama went back to Rochester to make room for Flores on the 25-man roster. Yesterday, the Twins traded a PTBNL to the Angels for former closer/all-star Brian Fuentes. To make room on their roster for Fuentes, Glen Perkins was sent back to Rochester and Loek Van Mil was designated for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster. LaVelle E. Neal III reported that the player to be named later will not be a top prospect, indicating it could be someone like Juan Portes. Fuentes has a vesting option for 2011 at $9 million if he appears in 55 games this season. He has appeared in 39 so it is unlikely he will earn that option. LaVelle also reported that Fuentes should be a Type A free agent.

Jacque Jones was activated by Rochester with pitchers Cole DeVries and Chris Province joining the Red Wings from New Britain. The Red Wings placed last year's first round pick, Kyle Gibson, on the disabled list with an ankle injury. Although he does have an injured ankle, Gibson had pitched 152.0 innings and was set to be shut down when reaching 150-160 innings. Santos Arias and Toby Streich moved up to New Britain from Ft. Myers. With Loek VanMil unavailable for 48 hours until he clears waivers, the Twins promoted Bruce Pugh to New Britain. The Rock Cats also placed starter Deolis Guerra on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Liam Hendriks returned to the Miracle staff from the disabled list. Finally, the 31st player signed from this year's draft was the Twins 46th round pick, pitcher Adam Achter.

Oswaldo Arcia was named the Appalachian League Player of the Month. Ben Revere, who was activated from the disabled list, was the lone Rock Cat named as an Eastern League All-Star.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (1-6, 48-86, last place, -33.5 games behind Trenton)

The Red Wings need to finish 7-3 if they are to avoid a 90 loss season. There have only been three International League teams since 1979 with 90 losses. The last Red Wings team to lose 90 was in 1945. Jim Mandelaro reported yesterday that the Wings are 0-72 when trailing after eight innings. Not a single comeback win in the ninth inning all season, that is almost unbelievable!

The Wings starting staff was excellent as they had four quality starts. They also had a great start from Kyle Gibson in his last start on Tuesday when he pitched 5.0 innings with two hits and two unearned runs in a 5-4 loss at Scranton. Gibson finished his AAA season with three starts and a 1.72 ERA in 15.2 innings with nine strikeouts. Matt Fox followed a night later with 5.2 innings with five hits, one run and his season high nine strikeouts in another game the Wings would lose, 3-2. Fox is tied for a team high 117.0 innings with a 4.08 ERA which is the Wings' best and eighteenth best in the league.

Anthony Swarzak hasn't been the pitcher the Wings expected this year, yet, he had two quality starts this week including Sunday when the Wings won their only game, 3-1 at Lehigh Valley. Swarzak pitched 6.2 innings with five hits and one run. He returned last night in their 6-5 loss to Pawtuckett. Swarzak again allowed only one run as he pitched 6.0 innings with eight hits. Swarzak has a 5-10 record with a 6.08 ERA in 100.2 innings.

How does a team lose 90 games? Pat Neshek hadn't allowed a run in nine games when he took the mound in the seventh inning Wednesday with the Wings leading 2-1. Pat allowed a hit while picking up two strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning. Unfortunately, he couldn't get out of the eighth when he allowed two singles and a double with only one out as the Wings lost 3-2, blowing an excellent start by Matt Fox. Pat has a 4-1 record with a 3.57ERA (1.42 ERA in his last ten appearances) with 25 strikeouts and 12 walks in 35.1 innings which should merit a return to the Twins next week.

The Red Wings had only two players, Matt Macri and Brendan Harris, with two multi-hit games this week. Jacque Jones returned from the DL, going 5-15. Jones is hitting .281/.322/.386 in 303 at bats.

The top performance this week was by David Bromberg, who had two quality starts. Bromberg threw 7.0 shutout innings with five hits, nine strikeouts and two walks last Saturday in a game the Wings would lose, 3-1. Bromberg had another quality start in Thursday's 3-1 loss to Pawtuckett. Bromberg pitched 6.1 innings with eight hits, three runs and five strikeouts. Since joining the Wings in mid-July, Bromberg has a 1-3 record and 3.45 ERA in eight starts (47.0 innings) with 43 strikeouts and 11 walks.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (2-5, 39-93, last place, -38.0 games behind Trenton)

I posted a couple links to the New Britain Herald dealing with reporter Ken Lipshez' interview with former Twins GM Terry Ryan. Ryan stated that the Twins haven't done a lot with minor league free agents, however, that could change in Rochester and New Britain. He stated that promoting players whose performance hasn't merited the promotion hasn't worked in Rochester and New Britain the past few seasons.

With a total attendance of 320,191 in their first 59 home games, the Rock Cats are within striking distance of last year's record attendance of 366,682 in 66 home dates. With a crowd over 7,000 last night, the Cats have a real shot at setting an all-time attendance record in what may be the worst season in franchise history.

Ben Revere was activated from the disabled list on Thursday, however, scratched when a special ear flap for his batting helmet hadn't arrived by game time. Revere was in last night's lineup, going 0-3 and being hit by a pitch in the third inning (it only grazed his uniform). Revere is anxious to get at bats the last few weeks of the season as he waits to hear if he will receive a coveted assignment to the Arizona Fall League.

The Cats had only one quality start this week, last night's 7.0 inning start by Tyler Robertson when he allowed six hits and three runs with five strikeouts. Robertson has a 3-12 record with a 5.47 ERA in 131.2 innings. The Cats would lose, 4-3, when Billy Bullock allowed an unearned run when a hitter reached first on an error by third baseman Juan Portes, eventually scoring on another error by shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos. Bullock has picked up 12 saves for the Rock Cats in 27 games (32.0 innings) with a 3.38 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 22 walks.

Steve Hirschfield, who recently returned from a season long injury, pitched 4.0 innings in a start on Thursday with four hits, runs, strikeouts and walks. After missing nearly all of this season, will the Twins send Hirschfield back to the AFL for a second season?

Evan Bigley gets the nod as this week's Rock Cat Player of the Week, going 8-24 (.333 Average) with two doubles, a home run, four runs scored and four RBI. Although he has only been with the Rock Cats for 67 at bats, Bigley is hitting an excellent .313/.347/.463 with two home runs.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (4-2, 30-30, 4th place, -3.0 games behind Bradenton)

Winning ten of their last fourteen, the Miracle are making a late season push for the playoffs. Can they overcome a three game deficit with only eight games remaining? They will need help as they don't have any games remaining with division leading Bradenton.

The Miracle had two quality starts this week. One from the now departed Bruce Pugh who pitched 6.0 innings with three hits and a run in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Palm Beach. Kane Holbrooks had another 6.0 inning quality start against Palm Beach in a 7-3 win (7 inning game) on Thursday when he allowed four hits and a run.

The big news this week was the arrival of this year's top pick, Alex Wimmers. Wimmers made his first appearance last Saturday when he started with 2.2 shutout innings with a hit, four strikeouts and a walk. He returned in Thursday's double header, pitching 3.0 shutout innings with a hit, four strikeouts and two walks. The other good news was the return of Liam Hendriks who pitched 2.2 innings of relief last Saturday with four hits and two runs. Hendriks was the starter last night, pitching 4.0 shutout innings with one hit, eight strikeouts and a walk. With a 6-3 record and a 2.07 ERA, Hendriks has been the Miracle's top starter this season. Should the Miracle make the playoffs, the addition of Wimmers and return of Hendriks could make them a strong contender for this year's championship.

Yangervis Solarte was the only player with more than one multi-hit game this week, with three. Solarte was 8-18 (.444 Average) with four runs scored, two doubles, one triple and two RBI.

Beloit Snappers (A) (3-5, 29-28, 5th place, -6.0 games behind Quad Cities)

Kane County came to Beloit for a pivotal three game series on Wednesday. The Snappers lost two of three and now trail Kane County by two games for the last playoff spot with ten games remaining.

Tom Stuifbergen was the starter of their only win over Kane County, pitching 5.2 innings with six hits and three runs in a 4-3 win. Stuifbergen picked up his sixth win in eight decisions on Saturday when he pitched 6.1 innings with ten hits and five runs (only one earned). Miguel Garcia had the Snappers lone quality start in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to Kane County. Garcia pitched 6.0 shutout innings with three hits and six strikeouts before the bullpen let the game slip away.

Aaron Hicks was 6-28 (.214 Average) with two doubles, a home run and six runs scored. Steve Liddle was 8-27 (.296 Average) with two home runs and seven RBI. The top performace this week was by middle infielder James Beresford who had three multi hit games. Beresford, who is the fourteenth best hitter in the league with a .300 Average, was 8-18 (.444 Average) with a double, four runs scored, two RBI, three walks and only one strikeout.

Elizabethton Twins (Appalachian Rookie League) (3-4, 39-23, 2nd place, -2.0 games behind Johnson City)

For much of the past decade, the Twins won their division and faced the Danville Braves in a best of three playoff for the Appy League Championship. The Twins won three of the last five playoffs with the Braves beating them in the other two. Thankfully, the format has changed this season with two rounds. The Twins have clinched a spot in the playoffs, however, trail Johnson City by two games with four games remaining (including a final game against Johnson City). The Braves also are in second place, trailing the first place Pulaski Mariners by 3.5 games. As it stands today, the Twins would open against Pulaski with the winner playing the Johnson City-Danville winner for the championship.

The Twins salvaged one of three against Pulaski last night as this year's sixth round pick, Logan Darnell pitched a gem...6.0 shutout innings with three hits, four strikeouts and no walks. Darnell also threw 7.0 innings of shutout ball in Sunday's 2-0 win over Bluefield, allowing only two hits with ten strikeouts and four walks. Darnell has an excellent 2.20 ERA in ten games (32.2 innings) with 30 strikeouts and six walks.

This year's third round pick, Pat Dean, also had two solid starts. He allowed five runs (only two earned) in 6.1 innings on Saturday with twelve strikeouts and no walks in a 5-2 loss. He pitched 5.0 innings on Thursday with four hits, three runs, eight strikeouts and one walk in a 3-2 loss to Pulaski. Daniel Ortiz had three multi-hit games with three home runs and nine RBI. Andy Leer was 10-28 (.357 Average) with four multi-hit games while Brian Burke was 8-29 (.275 Average) with three multi-hit games.

Oswaldo Arcia is back hitting like he had most of the season, 11-27 this week (.407 Average). With four games remaining, can Arcia go 9-16 and raise his his average to exactly .400? Arcia currently leads the Appalachian League in hitting (.391 Average), OBP (.440), Slugging (.704), at bats (243), hits (95, is 18 more than second best), triples (7, tied with four others), and RBI (49). Arcia has the second most home runs (14) and is tied for second most doubles (20). Arcia, who hasn't hit a home run in his last ten games as he battled an injury, certainly is the Appalachian League's player of the year. Can a player in a short season league be the Twins Player of the Year?

GCL Twins (Gulf Coast Rookie League) (4-2, 28-31, 3rd place, -5.0 games behind Rays)

With only one game left, the Twins won't win their division and advance to the playoffs for the third straight season. The Twins are one of the youngest teams in the league with an average age of position players (18.8 years) that is nearly a year younger than the league average. Their pitching staff was exactly league average at 20.5 years. Making the playoffs for a third consecutive season was a long shot as the Twins often fielded a team that started three seventeen year olds.

The Twins had three quality starts this week, including one by Cesar Ciurcina in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Rays. Ciurcina pitched a 7.0 inning complete game with seven hits, two runs and five strikeouts as he improved his record to 5-4 with a 2.91 ERA.

The top performance this week was by 33rd round pick, Justin Parker. Parker pitched 6.0 innings with eight hits and two runs in Saturday's 11-8 win over the Red Sox. He returned in Thursday's 4-3 win over the Orioles, pitching 6.0 innings with five hits and two runs. Parker finished his season with a team best 6-2 record, 2.23 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 16 walks in 60.2 innings.

Rory Rhodes, Nikko Goodrum and Wander Guillen all had two multi-hit games. Rhodes (.307 average) and Kennys Vargas (.331 average) are the two top hitters while Eddie Rosario led the Twins with five home runs while also hitting for a .300 average.

DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League) (29-42, 6th place, -21.5 games behind the Cubs-1)

The DSL season is over with the Twins finishing sixth in their eight team division. The Twins were young and when their top two players, Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco, left to join the GCL Twins in early July, they really couldn't stay in contention with the Cubs-1 who led the division beginning opening day.