Thursday Night, April 17, 2008
A couple of the Twins affiliates had afternoon games, and the Beloit Snappers had a much needed day off, so I thought I would do a minor league update earlier tonight with game notes and a few other bits of information. But, the Ft. Myers game that started at 6:05 central time didn't get finished much before the conclusion of the Twins game, so I am going to lump my thoughts on the Twins loss to the Rays in here too. I will be back later this evening with another thought or theory that I would like to propose to you to get some input. But please let any thoughts or comments on the Twins or any of their affiliates in the Comments below.
Stat Line of the Day - Fargo native, Concordia (Moorhead) alum, author and Philadelphia Phillies catcher Chris Coste started for the team this afternoon. He batted seventh and went 4-5 with a double, a homer and three RBI. The double was his third. The homer was his second. In his six games with the Phillies so far this year, he is now 8-20. He is hitting .400/.478/.850 with three doubles, two homers and four RBI. By the way, that 1.328 OPS is up there in the Parmelee stratosphere. With starting catcher Carlos Ruiz hitting .186/.239/.233, you have to wonder if the playing time might even out in the near future.
Twins Topics (Minnesota 3, Tampa Bay 7)
That was a difficult game to watch. But if you want difficult, check out the conversation at LaVelle's blog from the game... as you can see, I get a little frustrated.
Boof Bonser had a rough outing. The Twins offense tried to help him out and give him some support, but each time they did, Bonser would give up another run or more. Bonser went just four innings and gave up seven runs (6 earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out none. He didn't have control of his curveball, but even his fastball was wild in the strike zone, which can be much more dangerous than wild out of the strike zone.
Regarding Bonser though, I just want someone somewhere to admit that Bonser's weight loss is not what will allow him to pitch later into ball games. He will be able to pitch into the 7th and 8th innings if and when he consistently throws strikes, gets ahead of hitters, gets quicker outs early in the game and generally just pitches better.
Does Telly Hughes every speak with any kind of enthusiasm? I could fall asleep while he is giving his updates. And then, why did they feel the need to come back to the Twins game late after talking about the end of the Timberwolves season and airing a clip of the Kevin McHale press conference?
It definitely was a rough game for Denard Span. It started with the first batter of the game. Akinori Iwamura hit a line drive to RF where Denard Span was about to catch the ball when he lost it in the lights. Iwamura came in later in the inning. Span then had a second error later in the game when he rushed in to field a slow ground ball and didn't field it cleanly. He also went 0-3 in the game.
Carlos Gomez had two more hits and another stolen base. Matt Tolbert had a slow single that eventually got through the infield for an RBI and a hustle double in four at bats. Justin Morneau crushed the ball again. He went 2-3 with a ground rule double and a walk.
The injury to Brian Bass's lower back is certainly worth watching. There is value in his role, particularly in this type of game where you need a guy to eat up some innings. That allows the other late inning relievers to be able to pitch only in those late innings situations. Hopefully he is alright, but if not, they probably have to DL him right away and get someone up to be that long reliever in case there is another such game. Matt Guerrier came in and was excellent. He struck out three in 3.2 innings. Of course, Guerrier worked his way up to his high-leverage situation role by pitching well in that long relief role for a couple of years.
It was good to see Pat Neshek have a nice, easy 9th inning. It was particularly good to see him hitting 92 and 93 on the fastball and 83-85 on the slider. The interesting pitch was the 66 mph changeup to Iwarmura, who popped it up.
Francisco Liriano gets to start for the Twins against Cliff Lee and the Cleveland Indians in the first game of that series. The goal, or at least what I want to see, for Liriano in his second start, is for improvement, particularly in terms of control. Hopefully that will mean pitching into the sixth inning and quality results, but again, staying healthy, getting stronger and showing improvement is what is important.
Red Wings Report (Rochester 2, Richmond 1)
Kevin Mulvey is having an excellent start to his season. To this point, he has been the best starter in the Red Wings rotation. On this day, he improved to 2-1 with seven innings of two run ball. He did allow nine hits, but he walked none and struck out four. Mulvey now has three walks and 20 strikeouts in his 17.2 innings.
Mariano Gomez has certainly been a surprise to this point. Roger called this one! The minor league veteran lefty (the 25 year old has been in pro ball since 1999) went the final two innings for his first save.
The offense came primarily from two places. Brian Buscher had just one hit, but his fourth home run drove in both runs. Jason Pridie had two hits. He went 2-3 with his third double.
The Red Wings sure are not getting anything from their catchers. Jose Morales, who was a nice story in 2007, is 4-38 to start the season. That's a .105 batting average. His backup, Eli Whiteside, is 1-14, which is .071.
Anyone still clamoring for Randy Ruiz to be with the Twins? How about Jon Knott? Ruiz has 17 strikeouts in 48 at bats. Knott has struck out 12 times in 32 at bats.
Jay Rainville started for the Rockcats and went the first five innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Jay Sawatski struggled again. The lefty took the loss after giving up four runs on six hits in just two innings of relief. Ben Julanel then threw two shutout innings. The lefty is already 28 years old.
Brock Peterson hit his third homer, a three run shot in the first inning. Peterson got off to a slow start, but he is starting to heat up. In his last four games, he is 6-17 (.353) with two of his three homers and nine RBI.
Luke Hughes, Erik Lis and Felix Molina each had two hits. Jeff Christy was 1-2 with two walks.
Dustin Martin's batting average is now down to .395. I don't think any of us expected him to hit over .600 all season. He is currently on a 2-17 slide.
Miracle Matters (Ft. Myers3, Clearwater 2)
The fifth spot in the batting order had a pretty good night for the Miracle. Edward Ovalle started and went 1-1 with a walk. Rene Tosoni came in and was hit by a pitch. Then he walked in the 8th and scored the game-tying run when Brian Dinkelman had a bases loaded pinch hit walk. Then in the bottom of the ninth, he hit a double to score Danny Valencia with the winning run.
Johnny Woodard went 3-4 with a walk in the game. Juan Portes went 2-5.
Tyler Robertson made another very solid start for the Miracle. The lefty went the first five innings and gave up one unearned run on six hits. He walked two and struck out five.
Matt Fox, the 25 year old former supplemental 1st round pick, went the next three innings. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk. He did strike out four. Anthony Slama struck out two (and walked two) in a scoreless top of the 9th, so he gets the win.
Wilson Ramos is really struggling. The 0-4 tonight dropped his average to .194. He also committed two throwing errors in the game.
Danny Valencia, the team's best hitter, is also in a slump. In his last seven games, he has gone 4-26 to drop his batting average to .250.
Snappers Snapshot (Beloit - No Game Scheduled)
The Snappers had a much needed day off. The pitchers, hitters and fielders all could use a day off. It is always amazing to me that the Twins Elizabethton affiliate is always so good and so dominant, and yet when many of those players come up to a full season team, they struggle mightily. Ozzie Lewis was the Appalachian League's MVP last year, and he has started this season 4-36 (.111). Deibinson Romero has not hit like many of us thought he would. For the second straight year, Greg Yersich has started very slow for the Snappers. I actually have confidence that Lewis and Romero will snap out of it, maybe with better weather conditions, but it might be an interesting study. Is it because the Twins Appy League affiliate is more experienced than other teams in the league? Is it the weather, particularly for players from southern climates? (Remember Trevor Plouffe was from Southern California and articles were written about how he'd never experienced such levels of cold? How about the players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic who likely have never seen slow, much less had to play baseball in it?) I would definitely be interested in your thoughts on this. What about the pitchers? David Bromberg, Dan Berlind (who actually played for the GCL team last summer) and Michael Tarsi have all struggled mightily. Tarsi pitched at U Conn, so he has likely pitched in these conditions.
Maybe what this does is gives us an indication of just how good Rene Tosoni is since he basically skipped Beloit and is hitting .342 for Ft. Myers.
I also used to think that the Twins had a lot of really young players in the Midwest League. Last year, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Wilson Ramos, Tyler Robertson and Alex Burnett all played at age 19. Two of them are back in the league this year. But thanks to this article by Marc Hulet at The Baseball Analysts shows us that the 2008 Beloit Snappers are not, on average, young for the league. At 21.7 years old, the Beloit pitchers are 7th youngest in the 14 team league. The average age of the Snappers hitters is 21.8, which ranks 10th youngest in the 14 team league.
Chris Parmelee has been unbelievable since the 0-5, five strikeout season opener. In fact, he has struck out just five more times in his next 38 plate appearances. In that time, he has nine extra base hits. Anytime you have an OPS of over 1.200, that's pretty good!
But the most consistent member of the 2008 Snappers team has been Steve Singleton. He was with the team last year but was hurt much of the year and played through it. When healthy, he has always been a very good hitter. The team's #2 hitter is hitting .395/.447/.442. He is one guy that I can definitely see getting a All-Star break promotion.
Check back later for a new blog posting!