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Minor League Report...April 23, 2011

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The Twins farm clubs battled the weather and opposition as they had a lot of games postponed while working to have another winning week. They played three make-up doubleheaders while losing six games to weather, finishing the week two games under .500 at 10-12. Ft. Myers was a game over .500 at 4-3 with the Red Wings and Beloit both playing .500 ball. After a six game winning streak, New Britain lost their first four before winning last night.

Rochester has already seen five of its opening day players called up by the Twins and April isn't over. The Twins called up Jim Hoey and Eric Hacker for their bullpen, sending Jeff Manship and Alex Burnett back to the Red Wings. The only other move was Jamaal Hawkins being promoted to Ft. Myers from Beloit.

Both Seth Stohs and LaVelle E. Neal III reported on two position players with elbow injuries, Angel Morales and Estarlin De Los Santos. Both are on the disabled list, rehabbing their arms as they work to avoid Tommy John surgery. Ft. Myers' pitcher Miguel Munoz is also out with an elbow injury. There is someone new reporting online about the Red Wings this year, Rochester Channel 8 reporter Sloane Martin. She is feisty and doesn't hold back when talking about players who haven't gotten it done. Scroll down to her April 19th post to see her tell it as she sees it. http://rochesterbaseballobserver.com/

Fifty-seven percent of you voted for Joe Benson as our second player of the week with Rene Tosoni a distant second. This week's report follows the jump.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (3-3, 6-9, last place, -3.5 games behind Scranton/WB & Pawtuckett)

The Wings lost three games to weather this week, making up two of them with double headers. After a disastrous initial start by Andy Baldwin, he returned to pick up his first win in the only game played on a weekend road trip to league leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Wings won Sunday, 6-3, behind a 7.0 inning start by Baldwin in which he allowed four hits and three runs while striking out eight Yankee batters. Phil Dumatrait got his first save with a perfect ninth inning.

The Wings moved on to Buffalo where their four games ended up being played in a pair of double headers which by minor league rules are scheduled for seven innings. On Tuesday, they swept the Bisons behind starts by Anthony Swarzak, 3-1, and Yorman Bazardo, 2-0. Swarzak pitched a 7.0 inning complete game in the opener with four hits and a run. Swarzak looks much better than he did last year, with a 1-0 record and 2.30 ERA in three starts this spring. Bazardo, who was inserted into the rotation when Hacker was recalled by the Twins, pitched three shutout innings with two hits. Jeff Manship came in to pitch 2.0 innings of one hit relief to pick up the win. Phil Dumatrait picked up his second save and now has an excellent 1.23 ERA in six games (7.1 innings). Buffalo would get revenge on Thursday as Red Wings hitters could not support two excellent starts by Red Wing pitchers. Scott Diamond was the loser in the second game as he pitched 5.1 innings with three hits, three runs and eight strikeouts. Carlos Gutierrez has been very good since his initial outing of the season and now has a 1-1 record with a 3.72 ERA in 9.2 innings.

The Twins opened a weekend series at Pawtuckett yesterday, losing to the Red Sox 3-1. Andy Baldwin made his second solid start of the week, allowing four hits and three runs in 5.2 innings. Unfortunately, two of the hits were home runs. Chuck James pitched 2.1 innings of no-hit relief with two strikeouts in his best appearance this spring.

Rene Tosoni continues to hit like someone who believes he should be called up if the Twins need an outfielder. Tosoni cooled to 6-22 (.273 average) this week, however, had three doubles and a home run including three runs batted in against the Yankees on Sunday. Tosoni is hitting .294/.339/.569 with three home runs and a league second best fifteen runs batted in. Chase Lambin had a pair of multi-hit games including a 3-4 game on Thursday to raise his average to .267. Trevor Plouffe has the second most home runs in the league (5) and fifth most runs batted in (11). He also is leading the league with a .800 slugging percentage while being amongst the league leaders with a .343 batting average. He has been playing a lot of second base. Is that a sign the Twins are looking to bring him up in the near future?

Although it was scheduled for only seven innings and the temperature at game time was 35 degrees, Kyle Gibson came within three outs of pitching a no-hitter. Through six, Gibson had allowed no hits, no runs and no walks while striking out six with the Red Wings only blemish errors by both second baseman Trevor Plouffe and shortstop Toby Gardenhire. Unfortunately, his first pitch of the seventh inning was a home run tying the game at 1-1. With his pitch count at 83, Alex Burnett came on to allow another run that tied the game after the Twins had gone ahead 2-1. Kyle Waldrop hasn't been good early this year with a 9.53 ERA in 5.2 innings. He didn't get an out, giving up a walk and two run home run as the Red Wings lost a game they should have won, 4-2. Although Trevor Plouffe was ripping the cover off the ball all week, a near no-hitter makes Kyle Gibson my selection as Rochester's Player of the Week.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (1-4, 8-6, third place, -1.0 game behind Reading and New Hampshire)

After an amazing start that put the Cats in first place after the season's first ten days, they dropped four of five to slide into third place. Their biggest problem all week was ineffective starting pitching. They dropped Sunday's game, 11-6, against Portland with Liam Hendriks allowing five hits and five runs in 5.0 innings.

New Hampshire came to central Connecticut on Monday when David Bromberg would allow five runs on seven hits in 7.0 innings of a game the Cats lost, 7-3. After Tuesday's cancellation, they would return for the series finale with Deolis Guerra lasting only 3.0 innings after allowing nine hits and six runs. In three starts, Guerra has a 2-1 record with a 5.54 ERA. The bright spot of Wednesday's 6-2 loss was Cole DeVries, who pitched 2.0 innings of shutout relief. DeVries has yet to allow an earned run in four appearances, 9.1 innings.

The Cats began a road trip at Portland on Thursday, dropping a 5-1 decision behind Bobby Lanigan who allowed eight hits and five runs (four earned) in only 4.0 innings. The Cats won the second game of the weekend series last night, 9-7, as their bats overcame Steve Hirschfeld's first disappointing start of the season. Hirschfeld pitched 4.0 innings, allowing six hits and three runs as his ERA jumped to 2.40. The highlight of the evening was another outstanding relief appearance, this time by Santos Arias. Arias picked up his first win by allowing only one hit in 2.1 innings. Tyler Robertson would come on to strikeout the only batter he faced to pick up his third save.

Chris Parmelee finished his week at 5-20 (.250 average), however, two of his hits were home runs. Evan Bigley, Steve Singleton and Yangervis Solarte all had two multi-hit games. Ray Chang had two hits with three RBI in last night's win. Chang is hitting .286 average with a team best sixteen runs batted in.

Joe Benson, who was last week's Player of the Week, continues hitting on a level beyond anyone else in the Rock Cats lineup. Benson hit safely in all five games this week including three multi-hit games. He was 8-20 (.400 Average) with three doubles, a triple, five runs scored and two runs batted in. Benson currently has the league's third best batting average (.382), fifth best on base percentage (.433), fourth best slugging percentage (.600), second most doubles (7), fourth most RBI (11), and second most hits (21). With another week like this, Benson has to be New Britain's repeat Player of the Week.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (4-3, 9-7, second place, -5.0 games behind St. Lucie)

As one might expect, the Miracle were the only team in the organization to not have multiple cancellations. They began their week with a 9-6 win at Bradenton. Matt Schuld allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) in 3.0 innings as he made his first start since recently moving up from EST. Shooter Hunt would pitch 2.0 innings of relief, allowing one hit and one unearned run as he picked up his first win of the season. Although Hunt would allow three walks, he recorded five of his six outs with strikeouts. Bruce Pugh picked up his third save, pitching 2.0 shutout innings allowing only one hit and a walk.

The Snappers would move on to face league leading St. Lucie where they would drop two of three. Kane Holbrooks pitched well in Sunday's 4-1 loss, allowing seven hits and three runs (two earned) in 7.0 innings. Daniel Osterbrock was Monday's starter, pitching 5.0 innings with five hits and three runs (two earned). Andrew Albers pitched 1.1 inning of relief with one run in a game the Miracle would win, 6-4. They would drop the rubber match, 11-2, on Tuesday behind Ryan Mullins who allowed six hits and five runs (four earned) in 3.0 innings. Jason Bay, who was playing for St. Lucie on a rehab assignment, had a big game with four hits and two, two-run home runs. Shooter Hunt pitched another shutout inning with a hit, two strikeouts and no walks, wild pitches or hit batters.

The Miracle opened a series with Bradenton on Wednesday, winning 9-5. Brad Stillings had a solid start with three hits and four runs (only two earned) in 4.2 innings. Bruce Pugh pitched 2.0 innings of relief with five hits and a run to pick up his first win. Matt Schuld returned on Thursday, pitching 5.0 innings with six hits and four runs. Shooter Hunt picked up his second win with 3.0 innings of shutout relief. Hunt allowed a hit and walk while also throwing two wild pitches. In five appearances, 9.0 innings, Hunt has yet to allow a run. Dakota Watts, who shares the Miracle closer role with Pugh, picked up his third save with a shutout ninth inning as the Miracle won, 5-4. Kane Holbrooks had another excellent start last night, unfortunately the Miracle bats were silent as they lost 4-0. Holbrooks pitched 6.0 innings with five hits and two runs as he saw his ERA edge up to 2.66 while losing his third straight decision.

It is early, yet the Miracle lineup includes five players hitting over a .300 average, Chris Herrmann (.352), Nate Hanson (.345), Danny Rams (.333), Anderson Hidalgo (.323), and Brian Dozier (.315). Middle infielder James Beresford is close to joining that group at .296. Hidalgo was 5-14 (.357 Average) while Rams was 7-20 (.350 Average) with a double, triple, home run and six runs batted in including three in Wednesday's win. Herrmann hit safely in all seven games, going 10-29 (.448 average) with four doubles. Dozier and Aaron Hicks both had two multi-hit games.

The big hitter and Player of the Week was Nate Hanson who was 10-28 (.357 average) with two home runs, four runs scored and six runs batted in. Hanson's big swing came against Bradenton on Wednesday when he came to bat in the botton of the ninth with the bases loaded and one out in a game tied, 5-5. Granted a single would have won the game, but a walk-off grand slam home run is much more exciting. Hanson leads the Miracle with three home runs while tied with Rams for the team leading ten runs batted in.

Beloit Snappers (A) (2-2, 7-5, third place, -2.5 games behind Burlington)

Playing April ball in southern Wisconsin is often both cold and difficult. The Snappers lost three games this week to the weather, finishing with a .500 record at 2-2. The Snappers made up Saturday's cancellation versus Cedar Rapids with a Sunday double header. Adrian Salcedo started the opener, pitching 4.2 innings with five hits and four runs (three earned) as he picked up his first loss, 5-3. Andrei Lobanov started the second game, pitching 4.0 innings with six hits, one run and five strikeouts in a game the Snappers won, 9-1. Martire Garcia pitched 2.0 shutout innings with one hit and three strikeouts to pick up his second win.

They would play only one of their three game series at Wisconsin, winning 6-4 on Monday. Manuel Soliman pitched 5.0 innings with five hits, two runs and seven strikeouts. Soliman is amongst the league leaders with 15 strikeouts in only 10.0 innings with an excellent 1.80 ERA. Matt Hauser came on in relief to pitch 1.2 innings of shutout ball to pick up his second win. Jose Gonzalez picked up his second save by getting two outs without any walks or hits.

The Snappers would move on to Peoria where they lost 5-4 on Thursday before another postponement yesterday. B. J. Hermsen was the starter, pitching 4.2 innings with six hits and five runs (4 earned). In three starts, 16.0 innings, Hermsen has a 3.38 ERA with a 1-2 record. Michael Tonkin pitched 2.0 shutout innings with one hit and two strikeouts.

No hitter had more than one multi-hit game this week, however, Michael Gonzales had a big hit on Sunday, his second home run driving in three runs. They would come back from a 2-0 deficit on Monday to score four runs in the ninth for a 4-2 win. Catcher Josmil Pinto is hitting .357 average, however, has had only 14 at bats. Daniel Ortiz is hitting .350/.413/.625 with two home runs, three doubles and a triple in 40 at bats. Oswaldo Arcia is hitting .317 average with five doubles, a triple, home run and team best ten runs batted in.

In a week the Snappers played only four games, the best performance was Manuel Soliman's start in Monday's 4-2 win against the Timber Rattlers in the City where Bill Smith began his baseball career, Appleton, Wisconsin.