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Minor League Report...September 1, 2012

NEW YORK - AUGUST 22:  Luke French #25 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the New York Yankees on August 22 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 22: Luke French #25 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the New York Yankees on August 22 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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After dropping eight of nine last week end, the organization battled back to post a winning week at 17-16. The GCL Twins lost their last game to the Red Sox on Saturday, 4-1, putting the Sox into the playoffs with the Twins finishing a game out of first. The Twins were also winners as they got to go home before Tropical Storm Isaac hit southwest Florida.

In player movement, Denard Span was placed on the disabled list with Matt Carson being recalled from Rochester. Look for the Twins to add several more players from Rochester and New Britain when they expand their roster beginning today. One is likely to be Esmerling Vasquez. The Twins also outrighted pitcher Jeff Gray to Rochester, opening another spot on their 40-man roster. By creating three openings on their 40-man roster, the Twins are signaling that there may be several non-roster players called up when the minor league season ends on Monday.

Last week’s Player of the Week was Tom Stuifbergen, who edged Oswaldo Arcia by four votes.

Read about Elizabethton’s big win and more following the jump.

The Elizabethton Twins (43-22) finished their regular season with a 6-4 win over Princeton on Tuesday. Max Kepler had his second big game of the week, going 2-5 with his tenth home run. Byron Buxton, Nikko Goodrum, Jorge Polanco and Bo Altobelli all had two hits. Josh Burris picked up his seventh win (7-0) by pitching two scoreless innings with one hit, two strikeouts and no walks. Burris finished his regular season with a sterling 1.75 ERA in eighteen games (36.0 innings) with forty strikeouts.

Tuesday was Max Kepler’s second multi-hit game of the shortened week, a week in which he was 6-19 (.315 average) with two doubles, two home runs, two runs scored and five driven in. That performance put Kepler, who hit .297 average with a .925 OPS in 232 at bats, onto our final ballot for Player of the Week.

On Wednesday the Twins traveled to Danville, Virginia to take on the Eastern Division runner-up Braves in a best of three semi-final series. Manager Ray Smith sent the Twins supplemental round pick, Jose Berrios, to the mound for the opening night start. Berrios continued to dominate hitters as he pitched six shutout innings to lead the Twins to a 4-0 win. Berrios allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out seven Braves’ hitters. Although Nikko Goodrum and Jorge Polanco both had two hits, the big hit was a second inning two run home run by Adam Walker who came a triple short of the cycle.

Thursday, the Twins returned home to face the Braves in Game Two. Brett Lee, who had a 4-0 record with a 2.68 ERA in the regular season, lasted only 3.2 innings while giving up three hits, three walks and six runs. The Braves would go on to a 9-2 win, evening the series and setting up a big game three on Friday night. Although the Twins managed only five hits, Max Kepler was 1-3 with a home run and two walks.

On Friday, Smith sent 2011 supplemental round pick Hudson Boyd to the mound. He wasn’t as good as Berrios, but he was good enough to lead the Twins to a 4-2 win of the game and series. The Twins will now face the Eastern Division champion Burlington Royals in the best of three championship series beginning tonight at Burlington.

Boyd pitched 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and two runs. Kaleb Merck picked up the win by pitching 1.2 innings with one hit and three strikeouts. J. T. Chargois pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the save. Max Kepler had two hits in four at bats while D. J. Hicks hit a two run home run in the first inning. Hicks, who was two for three, also had a double and walk. This year’s top pick, Byron Buxton had a hit and walk, finishing the series with three hits in ten at bats.

The playoff hopes of the New Britain Rock Cats (71-67) are almost dead as they won only three of seven. With four games remaining, they are six behind first place Trenton and three behind Reading [they won Friday as Reading lost to cut the deficit to two games with three remaining] for the second place wild card spot in the playoffs. Luke French pitched his best game since returning to New Britain on Monday, beating the Trenton Yankees 8-1. French, who joins Kepler on our Player of the Week ballot, pitched a nine inning complete game with one run allowed on three hits and two walks. Oswaldo Arcia continued his assault of Eastern League pitching with a 2-4 game with a double, two runs driven in and a walk.

B. J. Hermsen made two starts this week, pitching six innings and allowing three earned runs in each game. He lost to New Hampshire, 4-2, on Saturday and beat Trenton, 5-3, on Thursday. Logan Darnell also beat Trenton on Wednesday, 3-1, when he pitched six shutout innings for his tenth win of the season (10-12).

Arcia didn’t qualify for the Eastern League’s batting crown, however, his .324 average is currently two points ahead of the league leader. Likely because he was with the Rock Cats for less than half the season, he also wasn’t selected as a post-season all-star. Three other Rock Cats were selected however, Aaron Hicks, Deibinson Romero and Chris Colabello. After a long wait for many of us, Hicks is playing up to a level commensurate with his prospect rankings? It also had to be a rewarding year for Colabello, who was last year’s Independent Player of the Year and Romero, who was once on the Twins 40-man roster.

The Rochester Red Wings (70-70) won’t make the playoffs, however, their last four games will decide if they are a .500 team after two seasons of more than 90 losses.

P.J. Walters made his last two rehab appearances before likely returning to the Twins. He pitched three innings with seven runs off ten hits in a 8-1 loss to Lehigh Valley last Friday. He returned Thursday when he allowed four runs off five hits in five innings. The Wings best two starts of the week were by Nick Blackburn and Shairon Martis. Blackburn gave up seven hits and a run in six innings Monday. Martis allowed two runs on six hits in six innings Tuesday. Could Martis join Vasquez on the Twins staff next month?

The hot Red Wing bats were those of Matt Carson and Wilken Ramirez. In five games, Carson was 7-17 (.411 average) with four runs scored, four driven in and five doubles. Ramirez was 9-26 (.346 average) with four runs scored, nine driven in, three doubles, a triple and two home runs. Tsuyoshi Nishioka also chipped in with two multi-hit games. Carson, who finished his season at Rochester with a .282 average and .804 OPS in 422 at bats, joins Kepler and French on this week’s Player of the Week ballot. Meanwhile, Brian Dozier is hitting only .119 average in 59 at bats since returning to Rochester.

As their season draws to an end, the Fort Myers Miracle (31-34) are playing their best baseball of the season. Winning four of six, they had an excellent week as they scored eight or more runs in four games.

Daniel Santana, who is hitting .287 average, had three multi-hit games while Levi Michael had two. The hitting star and our Player of the Week however, was Danny Ortiz. Ortiz, who has hit safely in his last ten games, was 14-25 (.560 average) with six runs scored, five driven in, four doubles and a home run. After a somewhat disappointing season at Beloit in 2011, Ortiz began this year back with the Snappers. After hitting .299 average in 22 games at Beloit, Ortiz moved up to play very well for the Miracle where he is hitting .273 average with a .750 OPS in 363 at bats. In other news, catcher Josmil Pinto was the only Miracle player named to the Florida State League post-season All-Star team. Pinto, who was recently promoted to New Britain, hit .295 average in 349 at bats with a dozen home runs and 51 runs driven in. Has Pinto played himself to the top of the list when discussing the organization’s top catchers?

The Beloit Snappers (35-31) are tied for second place, nine games back of Clinton. The Snappers are fine tuning their game as they prepare to face Clinton in a best of three quarterfinal series beginning on Wednesday.

With Miguel Sano out of the lineup the last three games [he returned to pinch hit last night], the Snappers’ leading hitters were Eddie Rosario and A. J. Pettersen. Rosario, who is hitting .299 average, was 11-31 (.354 average) with three runs scored, nine runs driven in, four doubles, a triple and two home runs. Pettersen, who has played nearly every position on the team including an inning on the mound, is hitting .250 average in 308 at bats. A. J. was 10-21 (.476 average) with six runs scored, two driven in and a double. He also had the game winning single in Wednesday’s 6-5 ten inning win at Wisconsin. With A.J. hitting nearly .500 and Rosario driving in nine runs, both will earn a spot on this year’s final ballot.