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Minor League Report...August 13, 2011

The organization began this extended week dropping eight of ten last Thursday and Friday. They recovered to finish their eight day week (through Thursday) two games over .500 at 26-24. They were led by the DSL Twins who were perfect at 7-0, with Elizabethton (5-3) and Ft. Myers (4-3) also playing winning ball.

There was a lot of player movement, led by the Twins placing Scott Baker on the disabled list and optioning Trevor Plouffe back to Rochester. The Twins recalled Kevin Slowey, activated Alexi Casilla and recalled Justin Morneau from his rehab assignment with Rochester. To make room for Morneau, the Twins placed Jason Repko on the disabled list. Two moves I missed last Wednesday at Rochester were Kyle Gibson going on the disabled list with Carlos Gutierrez coming off. The Red Wings also placed Jeff Manship on the disabled list. Gibson and Anthony Slama both had their elbows examined in Minneapolis, will undergo a rehab program in Ft. Myers and are lost for the season. Gibson was replaced at Rochester by Cuban Deinys Suarez, who was promoted from New Britain.

The Twins released John Krogstad and promoted Logan Darnell to New Britain with Madison Boer and Pedro Guerra going to Beloit from Elizabethton. Tim Atherton and Marcus Limon moved up to Elizabethton where they were joined by recently signed Corey Williams and Matt Koch. Matt Tomshaw returned to Ft. Myers who placed Estarlin De Los Santos on the disabled list. Other moves related to the disabled list include Beloit (Ben Tootle and Michael Gonzales going on the DL with Kyle Knudson and Nate Roberts coming off), Elizabethton (A. J. Pettersen coming off the DL with Garrett Jewell going on), and Ft. Myers (Shooter Hunt returned with Brad Stillings and Jhon Garcia going on the DL). One of Elizabethton's top hittiers, Kennys Vargas, was suspended for fifty games following his testing positive to phentermine.

With the signing deadline on Monday, the Twins signed their eleventh round pick, Tyler Jones, and twelfth round pick, catcher Matt Koch. They have signed twenty-four of their June draft picks, including ten of the top fifteen. It has been reported that lefty Brett Lee will sign following a physical, however, they have not yet signed their three top picks.

Joe Benson was last week's Player of the Week with 44% of the votes. La Velle E. Neal III published his Top Ten on Wednesday and Thursday.

There aren't a lot of teams in contention for playoff spots or with winnings records so today, I will concentrate on a few bright spots on the four full-season teams.

The Red Wings (2-6) remain in last place at 46-72, twenty-one games behind Pawtuckett. The good news is that with twenty-six games remaining, it is unlikely they will have ninety losses for a second consecutive season. No Red Wing team has lost ninety in consecutive seasons since 1903-1904.

They dropped three of four at Norfolk last weekend before winning Sunday, 8-0. Kevin Slowey was the loser Saturday, 4-1, when he allowed two runs in five innings in his last start before returning to the Twins. Andy Baldwin pitched his best game of the year Sunday, seven shutout innings with only four hits. The Wings moved on to Durham where they also dropped three of four. Their only win was Wednesday, 11-3, when Cole DeVries picked up his fourth win with three innings of shutout relief. After three quality starts, Liam Hendriks struggled, allowing seven earned runs in two innings against Norfolk on Saturday and six runs in five innings at Durham on Thursday.

Justin Morneau returns to the Twins after playing seven games with the Wings. He was 11-30 (.367 average) with four doubles, a home run, eight runs scored and eight runs driven in. Luke Hughes had three multi-hit games with Chase Lambin getting two. The top player this week was Dustin Martin, who was 10-28 (.357 average) with two doubles, a triple, home run, seven runs scored and nine runs driven in. Martin is hitting .269/.349/.442 with 21 doubles and thirteen home runs.

There haven't been a lot of bright spots for the Wings, who have seen their best players spend much of the season up with the Twins. Chuck James has been very good out of their bullpen with a 2.02 ERA in 31 games (49.0 innings) with 56 strikeouts. Kyle Waldrop had a poor first half (4.86 ERA), however, has allowed only five earned runs in 18.0 innings (2.50 ERA) following the all-star break. Their best player has been Trevor Plouffe, who has a .313 average with fifteen home runs in only 51 games.

The AA Rock Cats (2-5) are in fourth place with a 57-60 record, 8.0 games behind New Hampshire. Although not mathematically eliminated, the Cats most likely goal is to finish with a winning record.

Their week began with a pair of losses to Erie, 12-2 and 6-0. They split a two game series with Akron, winning 4-3 on Saturday when Andew Albers pitched five innings with only two runs. Bobby Lanigan hasn't been the same pitcher he was earlier this year, allowing seven runs in five innings in Sunday's 10-2 loss. Altoona came to New Britain on Wednesday with the Cats dropping both ends of a double header, 5-0 and 14-1. David Bromberg made his second start since returning from his broken arm, allowing four runs in four innings of the opener. They beat Altoona on Thursday, 6-5, when Blake Martin allowed three runs in five innings for his second win. Steve Hirschfeld, who is one of several pitchers in the organization who has been moved to the bullpen as he approaches his innings limit for the year, made his first two relief appearances.

Joe Benson had a big game in Saturday's win, going 3-4 with his tenth home run. Mark Dolenc had two multi-hit games including a 3-3 game on Wednesday. The top hitter this week was a young man who is having as good of a year as anyone in the organization, Brian Dozier. Dozier, who has hit safely in his last ten games, was 10-27 (.407 average) with two doubles, two runs scored and a stolen base. In 210 at bats for the Rock Cats, Dozier is tied for the team lead at .324/.383/.467 with fifteen doubles, six triples, a home run and ten stolen bases.

Other bright spots at New Britain included the pitching of Liam Hendriks, before his promotion, and Steve Hirschfeld. Hendriks had a 8-2 record with a 2.70 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 90.0 innings. Before moving to the bullpen, Hirschfeld had a 3.54 ERA in twenty starts (114.1 innings) with a 8-6 record. Another interesting story is Deolis Guerra. Guerra had a 3-5 record and 9.00 ERA in ten starts (43.0 innings) with 30 strikeouts, before moving to the bullpen. He has been very good as a reliever with a 3.32 ERA in 38.0 innings with 51 strikeouts. Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee are both top prospects who are having very good seasons. Parmelee is hitting .286/.371/.443 in 433 at bats with eleven home runs and 25 doubles. Parmelee has struck out only 77 times while taking 59 walks. Benson has his average up from last year by nearly 40 points to .289, while hitting 25 doubles and ten home runs. Benson has cut down his strikeouts (84) substantially from last year while stealing thirteen bases in seventeen attempts. Benson continues to be one of the organization's best outfielders with only one error this season. Yangervis Solarte has played a lot of second base for the Cats while putting up the fourth best batting average in the league (.324).

The Ft. Myers Miracle (4-3) have slipped into fifth place with a 19-27 second half record, 9.0 games behind Bradenton.

The Miracle dropped two at Bradenton on Thursday and Friday, 9-3 and 12-10, with Tom Stuifbergen allowing six runs in 5.1 innings and Logan Darnell allowing nine earned runs in 4.0 innings the next day. Edgar Ibarra had his best start of the year on Sunday when the Miracle beat Palm Beach, 6-0. Ibarra pitched five shutout innings for the win with Alex Wimmers picking up a save by pitching four shutout innings with two hits, six strikeouts and one walk. They were no-hit by Bradenton on Monday, losing 10-0 after winning the opening game of a double header, 7-2. Matt Tomshaw made a spot start, pitching three shuotut innings with Matt Hauser picking up the win with two shutout innings. They won the series on Tuesday, 6-3, behind Stuifbergen's quality start. B. J. Hermsen made his debut on Thursday against Palm Beach, pitching 4.2 innings with four earned runs in a 6-5 win.

Angel Morales got off to a big start with a 3-3 game on Thursday and 2-4 on Friday with another multi-hit game on Tuesday. Oswaldo Arcia had two multi-hit games while hitting two home runs and driving in nine runs. The top hitter this week, however, was catcher Dan Rohlfing who hit safely in all six games he played in. Rohlfing was 10-23 (.434 average) with a home run, three runs scored and five runs driven in.

Several everyday players are having very good seasons, including third baseman Anderson Hidalgo. He is hitting .280/.331/.398 in 314 at bats as he continues to be one of his team's top hitters on every team he has played with. James Beresford has successfully taken another step, hitting a solid .278 average with only 49 strikeouts in 413 at bats. La Velle Neal's second ranked prospect, Aaron Hicks, is hitting .240/.350/.368 in 367 at bats. He has struck out 92 times, however, continues to take a lot of walks (63). He is hitting .290 average right handed while continuing to struggle from the left side at .210. Perhaps the two brightest stars shining on Ft. Myers are two young outfielders who missed a good part of their season with elbow surgeries. Oswaldo Arcia spent only a month in Beloit, where he hit .352/.420/.704 in 71 at bats with five home runs before going on the disable list. Rather than returning to Beloit, he moved up to Ft. Myers when he returned in late June. In 138 at bats, Arcia is hitting .268/.290/.464 with ten doubles and five home runs. The other injured star is Angel Morales, who joined the Miracle a few weeks ago. After going 6-26 in his first six games, Morales is hitting .321/.344/.571 in August with four doubles and a home run.

The Beloit Snappers (4-5) are in fourth place with a 21-25 record, 7.0 games behind Quad Cities. Like the Rock Cats, the Snappers are battling to finish their second half with a winning record.

The Snappers split the last two games of their series with Kane County, winning on Friday, 4-3 in twelve innings when B. J. Hermsen allowed three runs in 7.2 innings of his last start for the Snappers. The Snappers then split a four game series with Quad Cities, winning 8-2 on Sunday and 12-6 in the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader. Manuel Soliman pitched five innings with two runs for the win on Sunday. Adrian Salcedo, who is nearing his innings limit, pitched a shutout inning of relief with recently promoted Madison Boer pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Bart Carter picked up his first win with two shutout innings of relief on Tuesday. The Snappers moved on to Wisconsin where they split two, winning 6-4 on Thursday in a game they had only four hits with ten walks. Ryan O'Rourke had a quality start with Boer picking up his first save.

Tyler Grimes had three multi-hit games with Michael Gonzales having two before going on the disabled list. The Snapper's Player of the Week is Lance Ray, who also had three multi-hit games in a 9-33 (.272 average) week with eight runs scored, four runs driven in, a double and two home runs. Ray is hitting .268/.352/.456 in 388 at bats with a team best 32 doubles and thirteen home runs.

The Snappers may have the organization's top hitter this year, Jairo Perez. Perez returned from missing all of 2010 to put up the organization's top batting average, .338. In 201 at bats, he has fourteen doubles and twelve home runs with eight stolen bases. Michael Gonzales is another top hitter who was hitting .286 average with thirteen home runs. Adrian Salcedo had an excellent 3.19 ERA in twenty starts (121.1 innings) before moving to the bullpen last week. B. J. Hermsen had a 11-7 record with a 3.10 ERA in twenty starts (124.2 innings) before moving up to Ft. Myers. Ryan O'Rourke has been a pleasant surprise for the Snappers with a 4-2 record and 3.45 ERA in thirteen starts (62.2 innings) with 66 strikeouts after posting a 1.85 ERA in seventeen relief appearances.

The Elizabethton Twins (5-3) are in second place, two games ahead of third place Kingsport. They are 28-22, six games behind Johnson City as they fight for the second playoff spot.

After winning the opener, the Twins dropped two to Kingsport last Thursday and Friday, 6-1 and 7-4. JaDamion Williams was 5-7 in the two losses with Miguel Sano having a double and his ninth home run in three at bats on Thursday. The Twins moved on to Pulaski where they won the first two of three, 7-0 and 11-3. Derek Christensen pitched five shutout innings on Saturday with Todd Van Steensel allowing two runs in five innings on Sunday. Sano, Max Kepler and Roy Larson all had multi-hit games on Saturday with Sano, Tyler Koelling and Matt Parker hitting home runs on Sunday. The Twins moved on to Danville where they would sweep the Braves, 3-2 in ten innings, 3-0 and 4-0. David Hurlbut pitched six innings with two runs in the opener with Tim Shibuya pitching five shutout innings on Wednesday and Christensen pitching six shutout innings on Thursday.

A. J. Pettersen, who returned from the disabled list on Saturday, had a multi-hit game on Monday. This year's fourth round pick, Matt Summers, had a perfect week. He made three appearances with no hits, runs or walks and six strikeouts in 3.0 innings. Eddie Rosario was 10-32 (.312 average) with six runs scored, six runs driven in, three doubles and a triple. Max Kepler also had a big week with three multi-hit games. Although there were several hitters deserving recognition, the Player of the Week is starter Derek Christensen. He made two starts, winning both by pitching 11.0 innings of shutout ball with eight hits, four walks and nine strikeouts. Christensen has a 4-2 record with a 2.11 ERA in 42.2 innings with 44 strikeouts and 18 walks.

The GCL Twins (2-3) are in last place with a 20-25 record, 7.5 games behind the Orioles and a game behind the third place Rays.

They opened their week last Thursday with a 2-1 win at the Orioles. Hein Robb allowed an unearned run in four innings with Luis Nunez picking up his fourth win with 3.0 shutout innings with only one hit. They lost, 8-6, to the Red Sox on Friday and again on Saturday, 4-3, when Angel Mata pitched 3.1 shutout innings. They wasted a solid start by Nate Fawbush in Monday's 3-1 loss to the Rays. Fawbush pitched 5.0 innings, allowing two runs on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts. They beat the Orioles for a second time on Thursday, 4-3. Tyler Herr picked up his third win with 2.0 innings of shutout relief. Hung Yi Chen picked up his first save since moving to the bullpen, pitching 2.0 shutout innings with four strikeouts.

Kelvin Silvania and Stephen Wickens both had two multi-hit games. The Player of the Week is this year's eleventh round pick, catcher Phillip Chapman. Chapman was 5-17 (.294 average) with a double and four runs driven in. In 81 at bats, Chapman is hitting .284/.375/.432 with a team leading ten doubles and seventeen runs batted in.

The DSL Twins (7-0) had a perfect week as they moved into a first place tie with the Orioles, with a 38-22 record.

The Twins had rainouts on Thursday and Friday before beating the Rockies, 4-0 on Saturday. Randy Rosario pitched 4.0 no-hit innings before turning it over to Javier Vargas who picked up the win with 2.0 no hit innings. The Twins took two from the Reds Monday, 5-4 and 3-0. Sterling Bonilla allowed three earned runs in 5.0 innings of the opener with Junior Subero pitching 5.0 shutout innings in the nightcap. Jose Abreu picked up the win over the Padres on Tuesday when he pitched 3.0 shutout innings of relief as Twins hitters took thirteen walks in a 18-3 win. Yorman Landa pitched 4.0 shutout innings of Wednesday's first game win over the Diamondbacks, 9-1. They also won the nightcap, 2-1, when Francisco Nunez pitched 4.0 shutout innings of relief with six strikeouts. Javier Vargas allowed three runs on Thursday when the Twins came back to beat the White Sox, 7-5.

Shortstop Ronald Jimenez had four multi-hit games with a 8-14 (.571 average) week with nine runs scored, three runs driven in, four walks, two strikeouts and three stolen bases. Jimenez is hitting .260 in 154 at bats with a dozen stolen bases. Outfielder Adonis Pacheco had three multi-hit games, 10-21 (.476 average) with seven runs scored, six runs driven in, two triples, three walks, two strikeouts and two stolen bases. Pacheco is hitting .283 in 159 at bats with fifteen stolen bases. My nod goes to Jimenez as this week's DSL Twins Player of the Week.