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Minor League Report...July 23, 2011

Liam Hendriks impressed in his debut with the Rochester Red Wings, but who is your Twins minor league player of the week?
Liam Hendriks impressed in his debut with the Rochester Red Wings, but who is your Twins minor league player of the week?

Losing sixteen of twenty-one the last three days, the organization finished five games under .500 at 21-26. The Rock Cats and GCL Twins were the only teams with winning records at 4-3.

The Twins sent Denard Span and Jason Kubel to Rochester last weekend for rehab assignments. They also placed Scott Baker on the disabled list and optioned Matt Tolbert to Rochester. After last night's game, the Twins activated Scott Baker. They kept thirteen pitchers when they optioned Luke Hughes to Rochester. Scott Diamond was added to the 40-man roster and recalled by the Twins for a start in Monday's doubleheader. Chuck James was also recalled to have an extra arm for their four games in three days with Cleveland. Kubel completed his rehab assignment and was activated yesterday with Scott Diamond returning to Rochester. Kevin Slowey was activated from his rehab assignment and optioned to Rochester who released Tom Diamond who had a 8.25 ERA in five starts (24 innings).

With Rochester short of starters, Liam Hendriks moved up to the Red Wings. The Red Wings released Steve Singleton and announced that Ray Chang suffered a set-back while rehabbing his broken leg and his return will be pushed back. Yangervis Solarte missed a few games, returning home to Venezuela for the birth of his child. The Rock Cats placed Tony Davis on the disabled list with starter David Bromberg reporting to the GCL Twins for a rehab assignment. After one appearance with the GCL Twins, Alex Wimmers returned to the Miracle who placed Jonathan Goncalves on their disabled list. The Elizabethton Twins placed lefty Corey Kimes on the disabled list. In perhaps the biggest news about injured players this week, Angel Morales reported to the GCL Twins on a rehab assignment six weeks after his elbow surgery. With the signing deadline approaching, six of the Twins top twelve draft picks remain unsigned.

With 34% of the vote, last week's Player of the Week was Elizabethton's Nick Lockwood.

The Rochester Red Wings (2-5) are having another disastrous season, twenty-five games under .500 and in last place. Some of their problems can be attributed to the turmoil of their roster as the Red Wings had used 51 different players as of Monday. However, more of their problems are the result of ineffective starting pitching.

The Red Wings' week began by splitting two with Buffalo, winning 4-2 on Saturday before losing 13-4 on Sunday. Durham came to town for a four game series with the Red Wings dropping three of four, 4-1, 7-6 in ten innings and 18-3. Their only win was Tuesday, 3-2. The Wings went on the road last night, losing 5-4 at Indianapolis.

Andy Baldwin remained inconsistant, making one of his best starts of the year last Saturday when he pitched six innings while allowing only one run. He returned in Thursday's shellacking, allowing ten runs in two innings with five home runs that raised his league leading total to 26. Kyle Gibson was the starter in losses on Sunday and Friday. He allowed nine runs (seven earned) in four innings Sunday and four runs in five innings last night as he continued to be unable to pitch deep into games. The Red Wings only other quality start was by recently promoted Liam Hendriks who allowed two runs in 6.2 innings Tuesday with three strikeouts and no walks. Kevin Slowey pitched six shutout innings on Wednesday, unfortunately, he allowed five runs including a grand slam in the third inning. Reports indicate that most of the scouts from more than six teams left with a positive reaction to his outing. The only relief pitcher to be effective on Thursday was Toby Gardenhire who pitched a shutout ninth inning with only one hit. Jason Kubel was 6-18 (.333 average) with a double, home run and three walks in five games.

One of the many minor league free-agents signed by the Twins last winter was Chase Lambin. The 2010 International League All-Star hasn't had a great year for the Red Wings as his line of .254/.327/.373 would indicate. This week however, Lambin had his best week of the year at 9-24 (.375 average) with three doubles, a triple and three runs batted in.

The New Britain Rock Cats (4-3) are slowly sliding out of contention in the Eastern League. Although they remain only 4.5 games out, they have slid to fourth place and will need to catch three teams to win the division championship.

The Cats took two from Portland last weekend, 5-4 and 9-7. Richmond came to town on Monday when the Cats won, 11-6, before losing two games by the same score, 7-5. They then went on the road to Altoona, losing 8-4 on Thursday before winning last night, 6-1.

The Rock Cats' strength all year has been their starting rotation. With David Bromberg missing most of the season and Liam Hendriks now up with Rochester, their staff isn't as dominant as it was much of the first half. Deinys Suarez hadn't pitched in several years before signing with the Twins this spring. He allowed four runs in 6.2 innings Saturday and seven runs (four earned) in 5.2 innings Thursday. Bobby Lanigan allowed four runs in five innings Sunday when Andrew Albers picked up his second win with three shutout innings. Lanigan returned to form last night, allowing only one run in five innings. With Hendriks up with the Red Wings, Blake Martin got the start on Wednesday. Martin pitched five shutout innings, however, Brett Jacobson allowed five runs in the top of the ninth in his return to the closer's role as the Cats lost again, 7-5. Jacobson's outing wasted Joe Benson's big game (he was 2-2 with a home run and two walks). Chris Parmelee had three hits in two games including Monday when he had three doubles. Brian Dozier had three multi-hit games and is now hitting .305/.393/.466 with only seventeen strikeouts in 131 at bats.

After hitting .267/.327/.383 in 206 at bats in Ft. Myers, Channhassen native Nate Hanson was promoted to the Rock Cats where he is hitting .264/.314/.384 in 121 at bats. Hanson began this week with four multi-hit games, finishing at 10-27 (.370 average) with four runs scored, a double, triple, two runs batted in and five walks.

The Ft. Myers Miracle (3-4) are also within striking distance, in fifth place 4.0 games behind St. Lucie. They opened their week with a loss to Daytona, 7-4. They traveled to Dunedin Sunday where they took three of four, winning 4-3, 8-5 and 6-5 with their only loss on Monday, 9-2. Clearwater came to Ft. Myers on Thursday, taking two from the Miracle, 2-1 and 9-0.

Kane Holbrooks, who is pitching like he did in April, allowed only one run in six innings Sunday. Tom Stuifbergen allowed two earned runs in six innings on Tuesday. Alex Wimmers pitched a shutout inning Sunday and two shutout innings with four strikeouts on Wednesday. Jhon Garcia allowed five runs in 6.2 innings on Saturday before pitching a gem in Thursday's loss when he allowed only two runs in seven innings. Edgar Ibarra, who has a 6.81 ERA, allowed eight hits and six runs while getting only one out last night. Aaron Hicks had two multi-hit games as did Steve Liddle, Danny Rohlfing and Ramon Santana.

Catcher Josmil Pinto may have had the biggest game of his career on Sunday when he was four for four with a home run. Pinto is hitting .244/.290/.311 in 135 at bats after going 7-19 (.368 average) with two runs scored, a home run, five runs batted in and two walks.

The Beloit Snappers (2-4) are tied for third place, two games behind co-leaders Kane County and Quad Cities. The question in Beloit is will their hitting get enough runs for their excellent starting staff to lead them to a second half playoff spot?

With Seth Stohs watching the Snappers split two with West Michigan last weekend, losing 5-2 on Saturday before winning 3-2 Sunday. Seth didn't see their big 16-3 win on Monday. The Snappers traveled to Great Lakes on Wednesday where they would get swept, 18-5, 6-5 and 5-2. I trust many of you have gone to Seth's site to read his reports of an exciting trip to Wisconsin. If you haven't, it is worth the trip!

Manuel Soliman allowed five runs (only two earned) in six innings last Saturday, then allowed another five runs in six innings last night. A. J. Achter was very good Sunday, allowing two runs in seven innings, with B. J. Hermsen pitching a gem Monday when he allowed only one run in seven innings. Adrian Salcedo wasn't as good as normal (he has a 2.83 ERA in 111.1 innings) Wednesday when he allowed four earned runs in five innings. The bullpen wasted a great outing by Ryan O'Rourke Thursday when he pitched 5.1 shutout innings. O'Rourke has an excellent 2.11 ERA in 64.0 innings. Seven Snappers hitters had two or more hits Monday, including four home runs.

Wang-Wei Lin is a prospect we don't hear a lot about. The young Taiwanese centerfielder has been solid all year, hitting .273/.369/.368 with nine stolen bases. This week Lin was 10-24 (.416 average) with four runs scored, three doubles and four runs batted.

The Elizabethton Twins (3-4) remain in second place, two games behind Johnson City.

The Twins won two at Greeneville last weekend, 6-0 and 8-5. Bristol came to town Monday when the Twins stretched their winning streak to nine games with a 4-1 win. The wheels came off on Tuesday and Wednesday when they were beaten 18-4 and 14-3. Princeton came to Elizabethton Thursday as the lopsided losses continued, 12-3. The Twins closed out their week with a 5-4 loss last night.

The highlite of the week was last Saturday's combined no-hitter by Tim Shibuya, Garrett Jewell and Steve Gruver. Shibuya pitched seven innings with no hits, no runs, no walks and six strikeouts. Pedro Guerra was almost as good on Monday when he allowed two hits and a run with five strikeouts in seven innings. Matt Bashore made his second start Tuesday, pitching 2.2 innings with four runs (two earned). Tim Shibuya wasn't as sharp on Thursday when he allowed six runs (three earned) in four innings. Matt Summer may be the top player from June's draft. He made three appearances this week, allowing only one hit in three innings with five strikeouts and no walks. In eight games (9.1 innings), Summers has allowed only two hits and one walk with seventeen strikeouts...and he hasn't allowed any runs. Eddie Rosario had hits in six of seven games, including three home runs. Rosario is now hitting .298/.366/.620 with a league second best nine home runs. Kennys Vargas continues to lead the Twins with a .318 average.

Miguel Sano has many things he needs to work on, especially on defense. There is no question, however, that at the plate he is one of the most feared hitters in the league. Sano had another huge week at 10-26 (.384 average) with seven runs scored, four doubles, a triple, four runs batted in, three home runs and three walks. Considering he turned eighteen only two months ago, hitting .288/.333/.592 with six home runs in a league where the average pitcher is approaching his twenty-first birthday tells us he has a huge future.

The Gulf Coast League Twins (4-3) remain in second place with a 15-14 record, two games behind the Orioles.

The GCL Twins split a double header with the Red Sox last Saturday, losing 5-3 and winning 1-0. They then split a pair with the league leading Orioles, losing 4-1 on Monday before beating the birds, 4-2, on Tuesday. The Twins won two against the Rays, 13-8 on Wednesday and 7-5 on Thursday before being shutout by the Red Sox yesterday, 5-0.

Bobby O'Neill picked up the win last Saturday with three shutout innings of relief. Hung Yi Chen also pitched three shutout innings on Monday when Miguel Munoz was charged with the loss after allowing three runs in two innings. David Bromberg pitched a shutout inning with two strikeouts in his first rehab appearance. David Bromberg returned on Thursday, when he allowed three runs in two innings. Munoz picked up the win after allowing a run in three innings. Bobby O'Neill was the starter yesterday, picking up his second loss (1-2), allowing three runs in three innings. Romy Trinidad (still is listed on the roster as Jimenez, however, has recently been listed as Trinidad in box scores) had three multi-hit games as did Josh Henricks. Angel Morales made his first two rehab appearances six weeks after his elbow surgery. He was hitless yesterday, after getting a double in three at bats Thursday.

Although pitching only three or four innings in each start, Angel Mata has been the Twins top starter. Mata made two starts this week, pitching seven innings with one unearned run, two hits, five strikeouts and a walk. Mata has a staff best 0.90 ERA in 20.0 innings with a 0.95 WHIP, seventeen strikeouts and seven walks.

The Dominican Summer League Twins (3-3) maintained their hold on second place, two games behind the Orioles.

Their week opened with a 13-3 win over the White Sox, then lost a rain shortened game to the Orioles on Monday, 2-0. The Twins beat the Cubs-1, 11-2 on Tuesday before dropping a 10-5 game to the Rockies. Their see-saw week continued with a 7-6 win over the Reds Thursday, and a 7-6 loss to the Padres yesterday.

Reyson Zoquiel pitched four innings with one unearned run on Saturday when Junior Subero picked up the win with three shutout innings of relief. Melciades De La Cruz pitched four shutout innings on Monday. Junior Subero pitched four shutout innings yesterday before Yeison Florentino picked up his second loss of the week when he allowed two runs in an inning of relief. Wander Guillen and seventeen year old Ronald Jimenez had two multi hit games.

Eighteen year old Venezuelan Javier Vargas made the best start of his young professional career on Thursday. Vargas pitched five shutout innings with no hits, one walk and five strikeouts. In seven games (18.0 innings), Vargas has a 2-1 record and 2.50 ERA with eighteen strikeouts and ten walks.

When B. J. Hermsen walked off the mound after seven innings Monday, he completed a ten game stretch having won seven of eight decisions while allowing only sixteen earned runs in 59.2 innings (2.41 ERA). After having a rough May when he lost four of five decisions with a 5.08 ERA, Hermsen has become the pitcher the Twins thought they were getting when drafting him in the sixth round of the 2008 draft.

Hermsen played high school baseball in Iowa following the June draft. With the start of his college season approaching, the Twins signed him late in August so he could attend the Fall Instructional League. He began his professional career with the GCL Twins in 2009 where he was one of the top pitchers in the league with a 6-2 record and 1.35 ERA in 53.1 innings with 42 strikeouts and only four walks. Hermsen split 2010 with the Beloit Snappers and Elizabethton Twins. He was solid in the Appy League where he had a 2-2 record with a 3.32 ERA in 38.0 innings. He was inconsistant with the Snappers where he had a 5.00 ERA with a 4-6 record in 72.0 innings.

He returned to Beloit this spring where he was very good in April before his rough May. He got back on track in June with a 3-0 record and 2.42 ERA. He has been even better in July with a 4-0 record in four starts with a 1.67 ERA, nineteen strikeouts and seven walks. Perhaps more important, Hermsen has pitched seven innings in five of his last six starts and appears to have turned the corner as one of the brightest young starters in the organization.