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Minor League Report...Ft. Myers Miracle

Reports that Wilson Ramos has been rescued is an answer to all of our prayers. Hopefully, he and his family will find a safe place to spend time together as he recovers from his ordeal.

With five games remaining in the AFL season, Mesa has a 16-16 record and is 3.5 games behind Salt River. Chris Herrmann, who has been used as a catcher, is hitting .372 average with a 1.030 OPS in 43 at bats. Brian Dozier has a .309 average with a .844 OPS in 97 at bats. Aaron Hicks, who is hitting .233 with a .841 OPS in 86 at bats, continues to struggle from the left side. Cole DeVries started seven games (23.0 innings) with a 2.74 ERA. All of the Twns relievers haven't performed well, although none has pitched over twelve innings. Brett Jacobson has a 6.94 ERA, Bruce Pugh (11.37) and Dakota Watts (6.57). Watts is a good example of what one bad outing can do in a short season as he has allowed only four earned runs in his last nine appearances (11.2 innings) after an ugly first game.

There were multiple reports yesterday that the Twins have signed thirty eight year old middle infielder Jamey Carroll to a two year contract for six to seven million dollars. There were also numerous reports that the Twins have resigned Brian Dinkelman to a minor league contract. LaVelle E Neal III reported that the Twins signed right handed pitcher Jared Burton. Burton split his time between AAA and the major leagues the last five years, although the thirty year old right hander pitched only 4.2 innings with Cincinnati last year. His best year was 2008, when he had a 5-1 record with a 3.22 ERA in 58.2 innings with the Reds. Initial indications are that Burton was signed to a minor league contract.

My Ft. Myers review is after the jump.

Although the Miracle finished their first half two games under .500 (34-36), they remained in a battle for a division championship until the last few games. They finished in second place, four games behind St. Lucie. The second half didn't go as well (29-40), finishing sixteen games out in fourth place.

A common problem throughout the organization was a lack of quality starting pitching. That was also the case in Ft. Myers. The Miracle staff finished their season with the eleventh best ERA (4.58) out of a twelve team league. Considering the league ERA was 3.94, the Twins allowed nearly two-thirds of a run more than the average team.

The Miracle's top starter was Dutch native Tom Stuifbergen, who led the team with 116.2 innings in 22 starts with a 5-9 record and 4.40 ERA. Kane Holbrooks was awesome the first month, however, couldn't win as Miracle hitters failed to score runs for him. Holbrooks finished April with a 0-4 record and 2.43 ERA before dealing with a sore arm that ended his season in July. Logan Darnell moved up from Beloit at mid-season to become the Miracle's most effective starter. Darnell had a 8-3 record with a 4.17 ERA in fifteen starts before moving on to New Britain in August. After spending much of 2010 in the Gulf Coast League, Matt Schuld was very effective in his eleven starts. Schuld had a 3.99 ERA with a 4-1 record before his promotion to New Britain. Other starters included Edgar Ibarra (5-10 record with a 5.16 ERA in sixteen starts), Jhon Garcia (0-5 record with a 3.95 ERA in nine starts), Pat Dean (3-6 record with a 6.67 ERA in eleven starts) and Brad Stillings, who had a 2-3 record with a 6.96 ERA in eight starts before being shut down for the season. B. J. Hermsen joined the Miracle in August, making five starts with a 4.39 ERA in 26.2 innings. Although Hermsen had bad first and last outings, he was strong in his middle three games when he pitched six innings in each game with a total of three earned runs.

In past years, the Miracle opened their seasons with at least two top starters who would dominate the FSL, often before moving on to New Britain. In 2008 they had Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett and Cole DeVries. In 2009 it was David Bromberg, Tyler Robertson and Steven Hirschfeld. Last year they had Kyle Gibson and Liam Hendriks. This year their staff didn't have those go to starters, why?

Matt Bashore was the Twins first round pick in 2009. He should have started this year in Ft. Myers. The Twins shut him down early in 2010 with Tommy John surgery following in late June. Thus, a potential Miracle Ace spent his year in Elizabethton recovering from surgery. The Twins first round pick in 2010, Alex Wimmers, should have been on a fast track. Previous Twins pitchers with his background would have been one of the top starters in the Florida State League. Wimmers dealt with a sore arm in spring training. After walking all six batters he faced without getting an out in his opening start, the Twins placed him on the disabled list. Rather than being one of the league's top pitchers, Wimmers spent most of the season on the disabled list as he worked to get healthy and to regain his control. He returned in late July, pitching well before throwing a seven inning no hitter in the Miracle's last game. We will never know what missing these two first round picks meant to the Miracle, however, it is safe to assume they would have won a first half championship.

The Miracle did have a former first round pick, Shooter Hunt. Although Hunt should have moved beyond Ft. Myers by this year, his lack of control caused the Twins to keep him with the Miracle for a second season. Hunt appeared in 28 games with a 7.38 ERA, sixteen wild pitches, five hit batters and 61 walks in 42.2 innings. Sometimes the organization's need to develop a player trumps the team goal of winning championships. That was the case with Hunt as the Twins were determined to get him innings. The Miracle were doomed in most games he appeared until August as he allowed 35 runs in 21 games (30.1 innings). A sliver of hope was that he didn't allow any runs in five of his last seven outings (6.2 innings).

Jhon Garcia was one of their top relievers, appearing in 24 games (36.2 innings) with a 3.58 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 15 walks. Although Bruce Pugh struggled in New Britain, he led the Miracle with thirteen saves in thirty appearances with a 4.53 ERA, 54 strikeouts and 16 walks in 45.2 innings. Perhaps the Miracle's top pitcher and one of the most successful pitchers in the organization was free agent Andrew Albers. Albers had a 4-1 record with a 1.55 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 46 strikeouts and 7 walks in 52.1 innings. Matt Hauser moved up from Beloit, appearing in 24 games (41.2 innings) with a 2.16 ERA, 44 strikeouts, 16 walks and 7 saves. Other relievers who saw considerable action included Matt Tone (5.37 ERA in 63.2 innings before being released), Ricky Bowen (3.83 ERA in 40.0 innings), Dakota Watts (4.60 ERA in 31.1 innings), Blake Martin (3.09 ERA in 23.1 innings), and Clint Dempster (7.89 ERA in 21.2 innings).

Take away two first round starters with injuries while giving innings to a third who gave up a lot of runs meant the Miracle would need one of the league's best offenses to compete. And that wasn't the case as they also had the worst hitting team in the league with a .248 average that scored the eleventh most runs (549). By comparision, the average league batting average was .262 with an average of 608 runs.

The Miracle's top hitters were Brian Dozier and Chris Herrmann, who both moved on to New Britain early in the season. Herrmann hit .310 average with a .829 OPS in 87 at bats. Dozier, the Twins Player of the Year, hit .322 average with a .895 OPS in 180 at bats. Although he was in Ft. Myers for roughly a third of the season, Dozier had the team's second most stolen bases (13 in 17 attempts).

The Miracle offense took a hit when top prospect Angel Morales was shut down in spring training with an elbow injury. Morales dodged major surgery, joining the team in late July. He went on to hit .264 average with a .715 OPS in 121 at bats. Their top two hitters who were with the team the entire season were Anderson Hidalgo and James Beresford. Hidalgo hit .274 average with a .726 OPS in 347 at bats. Beresford hit .270 with a .627 OPS in 485 at bats, however, had only thirteen extra base hits. After beginning his year with a .352 average with a 1.124 OPS in 71 at bats with the Snappers, Oswaldo Arcia was shut down for elbow surgery. After a two month rehab, Arcia joined the Miracle in July. Arcia hit .263 average with a .760 OPS in 213 at bats including a team high eight home runs. Danny Rams also had eight home runs, although he hit only .239 average in 309 at bats with 100 strikeouts.

Aaron Hicks led the Miracle with 79 runs scored, 78 walks, 31 doubles, 79 runs driven in and 17 stolen bases. Unfortunately, he hit for only a .242 average with a .722 OPS while striking out a team high 110 times in 443 at bats. Other players seeing a lot of action included Dan Rohlfing (.272 average in 173 at bats), Nate Hanson (.267 average in 206 at bats), Josmil Pinto (.262 average in 221 at bats), Reggie Williams (.234 average in 197 at bats), Jonathan Goncalves (.227 average in 300 at bats), Steve Liddle (.220 average in 328 at bats) and Nike Romero (.200 average in 400 at bats). That is a lot of at bats for players hitting between .200 and .242.

To say they weren't healthy was a major factor in the Miracle's lack of success. Two first round pick starting pitchers seeing little or no action was a major blow. They also lacked any stars in their daily lineup after Dozier and Herrmann moved on to AA. Unfortunately, young stars weren't available as Morales and Arcia dealt with injuries and Hicks has yet put up numbers that match his lofty prospect rankings. With spring training only three months away, Miracle fans can begin looking towards next year!