Monday, May 23, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
Good Monday morning everybody! I hope you all had a great weekend. Maybe some of you were able to catch a couple of the Twins games against the Brewers down at the Dome. If you happened to catch Friday's game or Sunday's game, I am incredibly jealous! The teams had split the first two games of the series with each team getting a great pitching performance. Sunday's series deciding matchup was a very entertaining game to watch, particularly the last couple of innings. But I will get more into that in the Twins section. Following that, I will recap the weekend's of the Twins affiliates.
So, let's get right to it. If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, please feel free to e-mail me.
Oh, but first, before reading my stuff, you should really check out Jim Caple's recent Page 2 article at ESPN.com. It is in regard to the upcoming Bad News Bears remake (Billy Bob Thornton plays Buttermaker, the role made infamous by Walter Matthau!). It is a guide for Little League coaches. Anyone who coaches, or have coached, or are a parent of a little Leaguer should read this article. Hilarious!
TWINS WIN SERIES
Here are a few highlights followed by a couple of other thoughts:
Friday night - Twins 7, Brewers 1
Carlos Silva CG, 5 Hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. Shannon Stewart 3-5, 2 R, 2B. Nick Punto 4-4, BB, 2B. Justin Morneau 1-3, 2 BB. Jacque Jones 2-5. Michael Cuddyer 2-4, 2B. Juan Castro 2-4, HR.
Saturday night - Twins 0, Brewers 6
Lew Ford 2-4, 2-2B, Shannon Stewart 2-4, Michael Cuddyer 1-3, Luis Rodriguez Major League Debut. Brad Radke 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, Jesse Crain 0 IP, 3 ER, JC Romero, Matt Guerrier and Terry Mulholland Combined 3 scoreless IP. Doug Davis CG Shutout, Carlos Lee 3-5, 2-2B, HR, 4 RBI.
Sunday afternoon - Twins 6, Brewers 5 (11)
Lew Ford 3-4, 2-2B, 3B, RBI, GW Run in 11th. Shannon Stewart 2-4, 2-BB, HR(5), Michael Cuddyer single extends hit streak to 13 games, Luis Rodriguez first big league hit in 9th, Johan Santana 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, Juan Rincon 1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 K, Joe Nathan 1 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, JC Romero scoreless IP. Jesse Crain 3-0 with scoreless, 2 K inning.
Here are just some random thoughts from the series:
1.) All discussion must start with the pitching performance of Carlos Silva on Friday night. Silva threw just 74 pitches in his nine inning, complete game shutout. He allowed just one run on a home run to Damien Miller. Apparently pitch-count statistics have only been kept officially since 1988. Since then, the previous low number of pitches in a nine-inning complete game was 75, by Andy Ashby. The names of the two other low pitch-count performers would not surprise anyone. Greg Maddux and Bob Tewksbury has also had games with fewer than 80 pitches thrown. Considering that Silva really has just one pitch, this type of a performance is somewhat surprising, mainly because he tends to give up a lot of hits. But he was able to keep his sinker moving and the hitters from making square contact. It almost isn't surprising because of the reputation that Silva has developed. Fact is, he walks very few and throws a lot of strikes. Teams know that, so they will (and should) be more aggressive with the bat. Some days that strategy will work. Other days, the hitters will win. But what Silva did Friday night was very impressive.
2.) Silva's performance followed Joe Mays' complete game, 93 pitch performance the day before. I think those two games are a perfect illustration of why stats can be important to view, but certainly should not be viewed as an exact science. Neither Silva or Mays strike out anyone. Neither walks anyone. Both can give up a lot of hits because they want the hitter to put the ball in play. But as we have seen from both of these pitchers (And really from Brad Radke), a pitcher does not have to get a lot of strikeouts to be successful. Sure there is history that says that usually those types of 'control' pitchers don't remain successful for long, but there are plenty of examples of those types of pitchers who have been successful for a long period of time.
3.) The Twins also have a pitcher who is on the other side of that argument. Johan Santana used the strikeout to help him threw seven quality innings on Sunday. 11 strikeouts in seven innings is great. Santana leads major league baseball in strikeouts. Santana is so entertaining to watch. He can absolutely dominate opponents as he showed by throwing a no-hitter into the 6th inning. And I think his long-term outlook is exciting. I just think that from time to time, it is important to point out that there is more than one way to win a game as a pitcher, and a good team should have some of both.
4.) Michael Cuddyer remains on fire. He had at least one hit in all three games extending his hitting streak to 13 games. He is hitting .281. For the record, after a very hot start, Jacque Jones is now hitting .289. So, that tells you 1.) how hot Cuddyer has been and 2.) how cold Jones has been.
5.) However, don't overlook Jacque Jones' 14 pitch single in the 9th innings Sunday against Brewers closer Derek Turnbow. First, it made him throw a lot of pitches, maybe tiring him out some. Second, Turnbow has some nasty pitches with a fastball at 97-98 mph and a sharp breaking ball. Third, it allowed the next batters to see Turnbow's pitches.
6.) Justin Morneau is in a bit of a slump. His batting average is down to .327. Yesterday, he was 0-5 with two strikeouts. I was watching him during a particularly bat at bat against Turnbow in the 9th when he swung as a couple of sliders in the dirt. I also noticed it in a 10th inning strikeout against Matt Wise. What I noticed is that he is really pulling off the ball and is out on his front foot a little bit. It doesn't look like he is willing to hit the ball to the opposite field. I think a couple of slap singles the other way will get him going again.
7.) I'm not so convinced, as so many Twins fans seem to be, that Torii Hunter will ever be a very productive hitter. After yesterday, he is down to .231. I do think that his eye at the plate has improved. I just think that fans need to admit that Torii is what he is, a fantastic centerfielder, certainly the best today (despite his very unimpressive 3 errors already this season). He is a clubhouse leader and I do believe that is very important. He has been one of the team's leaders in RBI the last few seasons. Therein lies the problem. For some reason, Hunter has a lock on the #5 spot in the lineup. Of course, he'll have opportunities for RBI. We keep hearing Bert Blyleven tell us that Torii is a "streak-type hitter who can carry a team for an extended period of time." Well, I can't remember when that has happened in the last couple of years. He has power potential. He has the speed to maybe potentially hit for average. But how long do we keep living with the word "potential" associated to Hunter? I'm not saying that the Twins should drop him. Not at all. I think the Torii provides a lot of value to the team in ways that offensive statistics can not show. That said, I definitely believe that it is time for Hunter to slide down in the lineup. Maybe switch him and Michael Cuddyer or Lew Ford, at least while Cuddyer is hitting well. It would be nice for Morneau to get some protection in the lineup.
8.) I have been reading at a number of places that it might be time to replace Lew Ford as the Twins DH with Matthew LeCroy. (Note, this is in no way anything negative about LeCroy, who is a very good hitter) After a 1-4 game Friday night, Ford's average was at .254/.331/.354. But then he was 2-4 on Saturday night with two doubles. Yesterday, he was 3-4 with two more doubles and a triple. So yeah, he had four doubles and a triple in the last two games. After Sunday, he was up to .275/.350/.408. His OPS went up .073 in two games. So from this, we can understand two things and make one suggestion. First, it is still too early to be worrying too much about numbers because they can change so fast. Second, Ford is good because he is able to get hits, get on base in a number of ways, run well, drive the ball to the gaps and so much more. And, we have to wonder why Ford doesn't hit in the second-hole of the lineup. A guy with a .350 on-base percentage should probably be high in the lineup. Yet, Luis Rivas, and his .264 OBP, was in the second spot.
9.) I know that stat-heads don't like the word "clutch", and I have to agree with them for the most part. But, is there a more "clutch" hitter for the Twins than Shannon Stewart? Seriously, if there is situation where the Twins need a big hit, or a big fly ball for a sacrifice fly, is there anyone you'd want more at the plate than Stewart? No, he won't come through every time, but more often than not, he'll at least put together a good at bat. I think the only other player I would want batting almost as much would be Joe Mauer.
10.) Jesse Crain finally gave up some runs on Saturday. Actually, he gave up three runs without even recording an out as he gave up three hits and walked one. Of course, he got no help from JC Romero who walked in one of those runs. It was good to see Crain dominate the Brewers in the 11th like he did. Seeing him strike out Carlos Lee was very impressive.
11.) I love seeing major league debuts. Luis Rodriguez made his debut on Saturday night in the 7th inning, entering the game at SS for Juan Castro. He got his first at bat in the 8th inning and grounded out. I, of course, didn't see it because the game was inexplicably not on television. Anyway, on Sunday, he entered the game in the 8th inning as a defensive replacement at 2B after Matthew LeCroy pinch hit for Luis Rivas. After Stewart's game-tying home run in the 9th inning, Rodriguez came up and drilled a line drive into right field for his first major league hit. I can't even imagine how excited I would be about that. In the 11th, he came up with the bases loaded and the infield in with one out and hit a broken bat one-hopper that Junior Spivey couldn't field cleanly. On the play, Lew Ford scored the winning run.
12.) When the Twins took the field for the top of the 9th, after a couple of pinch hitters were used in the bottom of the 8th, I had just one thought; What are all of those Twins fans who like a good, solid infield defense thinking now?! Terry Tiffee was at 3B, Luis Rodriguez was playing SS. Michael Cuddyer had shifted to 2B and obviously Justin Morneau was at 1B. I have no problem with this alignment, but am very sure many would not be happy with it. Also, I don't think we'll see it a lot!
13.) Apparently the Twins have decided not to score on Saturday nights at home. Doug Davis shut them out on seven hits this week. Remember, Kenny Rogers shut out the Twins the previous Saturday.
So, there are thirteen thoughts that I had from the weekend series. Do you have any? If so, e-mail me.
The Twins will now begin a four game series against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field. The Twins are 25-17, and five games behind the Chicago White Sox (31-13). The Indians are 20-22, six games behind the Twins and a game behind the Detroit Tigers. That still is not to say that they aren't a potentially dangerous opponent. Here are the pitching matchups:
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Check out John Sickel's Minor League blog. Over the weekend, he had a short, but good, piece on Boof Bonser and Travis Bowyer. Basically, he is saying that Bonser is back to prospect level and Travis Bowyer is really making himself a commodity!
Friday - Game 1- REDWINGS 2, Columbus 1 - Scott Baker got back to form in his second start since returning to Rochester. He improved to 2-0 with six good innings. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk (and a HBP). He struck out six. Travis Bowyer came in and struck out two for the save. Chris Heintz was the hitting hero. The catcher was playing 3B and went 3-3 with a walk.
Friday - Game 2 - REDWINGS 1, Columbus 2 - David Gassner pitched the second game and really pitched well. He went all six innings and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks. However, the offense wasn't able to do much. Michael Ryan was 3-3 with a double, and Brent Abernathy was 2-4 with a double.
Saturday - REDWINGS 6, Toledo 4 - Boof Bonser improved to 4-1 with six innings of one-run ball. He gave up five hits and walked one, while striking out four. Beau Kemp and Ricky Barrett each got two outs including a strikeout. Willie Eyre really struggled. He got just one out and allowed three runs on four hits and a walk. Travis Bowyer got another save with 1.1 innings of relief. He struck out two. Jason Tyner went 3-4 with a double. Michael Ryan was 3-5 with his sixth double. Jason Bartlett was 2-5 in his first game with the Redwings. He also committed an error. Brent Abernathy was 2-4 with a walk and a double. Glenn Williams went 2-5. Corky Miller doubled his season hit total by going 2-4. One of the hits was his third homer. The other was his first non-homer (a single) of the season.
Sunday - REDWINGS 4, Toledo 8 - Jimmy Anderson got the start. He went six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks. Henry Bonilla pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Daylon Childress pitched the 8th and it didn't go well. He allowed five runs on four hits and two walks. He did strikeout two though!! Jason Tyner again had two hits. Rob Bowen was 2-4 with a double. Augie Ojeda went 2-4 with an RBI double (his batting average is now .196... almost .200!). Garrett Jones knocked his 10th homer.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Friday - ROCKCATS 3, Erie 10 - Levale Speigner falls to 0-6 with this performance. He went five innings and gave up five runs (4 earned). He gave up eight hits and walked two. John Thomas got four outs and gave up three runs. Jim Abbott got the final five outs and gave up two runs on two hits and four walks. Luis Jimenez went 2-4, and Alex Romero had the lone RBI.
Saturday - ROCKCATS 5, Erie 2 - Francisco Liriano put together another excellent start and got a no-decision. Have gave up two runs (1 earned) on six hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out 10 (again). Pat Neshek got the win by going two innings without allowing a run. The offense was again led by Luis Jimenez who went 3-4 with a walk. Luis Maza was 2-4 with his fifth homer and two RBI. Ricky Bell was 2-4 with a double. Danny Matienzo drilled his seventh home run.
Sunday - ROCKCATS 11, Erie 9 - Not a pretty win, but I am sure they will take it. Matt Yeatman started and went 5.2 innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk. John Thomas struggled again. He got two outs and gave up three runs on three hits. Jan Granado got just one out, gave up two hits, two walks and three earned runs. Colby Miller came out of the 'pen and didn't give up a run in 1.1 innings. He gets the win and improves to 3-3. Pat Neshek struck out three in the ninth to record the save.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - MIRACLE 5, Jupiter 7 - Nick Blackburn started for the Miracle and gave up six runs in 5.2 innings. He gave up nine hits and a walk, and struck out just three. Tristan Crawford pitched the next two innings and gave up a run. Jay Sawatski got four outs (two on strikeouts). Denard Span went 2-4 with a walk. Ben Pattee went 2-4 with a triple. Scott Whitrock was 2-4 with his fifth homer, three RBI and his 12th stolen base.
Saturday - MIRACLE 1, Jupiter 4 - Glen Perkins made his longest start of the year. He went seven innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on six hits and two walks. He struck out eight. Chris Schutt gave up another run in his two innings. Matt Moses went 3-4. Kyle Geiger was 2-4.
Sunday - MIRACLE 5, Jupiter 11 - Errol Simonitsch went the first five innings. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and a walk. He struck out nine! Julio DePaula struggled. He got two outs, but he gave up four hits and three walks (for five earned runs) in between. Josh Gray reclaimed order by pitching a scoreless inning and a third. Tim Henkenjohann pitched the final two innings and gave up three earned runs. Denard Span led the offense by going 2-3 with a double, a walk and two stolen bases. JR Taylor went 2-5 with a double and a triple. Matt Moses was 2-3 with a stolen base. Moses and Span both have 10 stolen bases on the season.
You will notice that I have started tracking the four 2004 top draft picks that play at Beloit (Plouffe, Waldrop, Swarzak and Rainville) stats on the left of this screen. They aren't pictured, but I will try to keep those updated daily as I think all four have exciting futures, especially the pitchers. I will likely add the other top pick, Matt Fox, to this list when he starts pitching in games. As you've noticed the other top 2004 pick, Glen Perkins, has already been highlighted and pictured.
MAUER RETIRES! Also, you probably read Sunday that Bill Mauer has decided to retire from professional baseball. The middle Mauer brother has struggled with shoulder tendonitis the past year. I received an e-mail from someone close to the Mauer family in the middle of last week that told me this news. Basically, he would have had to continue to rehab and "he told Jim Rantz that it's just not fair to the rest of the system to keep him in it and potentially keep a big league prospect out of it." I still think it was a great thing that the Twins signed him as a free agent out of Concordia College (St. Paul) because 1.) of the obvious family ties with his older brother Jake, now at New Britain, and younger brother, Joe, starting for the Twins, but 2.) he had a decent college career and a 90+ mph fastball. But it is equally as impressive that Billy knew his spot and his potential and chose to retire.
Friday - Game 1 - SNAPPERS 3, South Bend 2 - Anthony Swarzak continues to pitch well. On this night, he went six innings and gave up two unearned runs. He allowed three hits and walked two, while striking out four. Steven Duguay went the next two innings without allowing a run. Jonathon Martinez pitched a scoreless ninth. Korey Feiner went 2-3 with a walk and a triple.
Friday - Game 2 - SNAPPERS 5, South Bend 6 - Kyle Waldrop pitched game two and it didn't go quite as well for him. He went 5.2 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits and a surprising three walks. He struck out six. David Shinskie went 1.1 innings and gave up a fun on three hits. Deacon Burns went 3-4 with his 12th double. Javy Sanchez went 3-3. Chris Brown was 2-4 with a double. Jeremy Pickrel was 2-3 with a walk. David Winfree went 2-4.
Saturday - SNAPPERS 10, South Bend 1 - Jay Rainville had another very solid start. He gave up just one run on four hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out five to improve to 3-2. Evan Meek and John Williams each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Tarrence Patterson went 3-4 with 3 RBI. Deacon Burns was 2-5. David Winfree was 2-4 with four RBI. Paul Rutgers went 2-3 with a walk.
Sunday - SNAPPERS 0, South Bend 8 - Alexander Smit took another loss to fall to 1-6 on the year. He went five innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out four. Kevin Culpepper threw the next two innings and gave up three runs. Kyle Aselton gave up two over the final two innings. The Snappers had just six hits. Javy Sanchez was 2-3 with a walk and a double.
On that note, I am going to call it a day. I hope you have a great week! Thanks again for stopping by this site. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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