Monday, June 4, 2007
May Minor League Update
Good morning to everyone! In case you missed it, I had a few updates this weekend. I posted my thoughts on Kevin Slowey's debut on Friday night. Then I posted updates from Saturday's Games and Sunday's Games. So, check those out if you get the chance. Today it is time to look back at our minor league hitter and pitcher of the month for May and some others worthy of mention. If you're looking for a great source for Minor League updates, be sure to check out Roger's most recent update over at Twinkie Town. On Friday, I posted my Twins May Grades, so if you missed that, be sure to check them out now.
I hope you enjoy this and learning more about the goings on in the Twins minor league system. Some of these names may become much more well known over the course of the season. Some could be traded for veteran players. Others could continue to rise up the organizational ladder and may get some time with the Twins. So, although many only care about the major league Minnesota Twins, I feel it is very important (and fun) to know what is happening at the lower levels. Below, you will see my person rankings of the Top 5 Hitters and then Pitchers for the month of April. I did this last year as well. I usually struggle keeping the list of pitchers to just five because there are frequently a lot of great performances. With the minor league hitters, there just haven't been as many 'top prospects' and great offensive performances with the bat. Not the case this month. I added a few Honorable Mention names in both categories with some numbers to show that there were several other players, pitchers and hitters, that deserve to be noticed.
So please, feel free to leave some comments or send me an e-mail with any thoughts that you may have. Let's get started with the top hitters in the Twins farm system. The list of hitters was much more difficult than the pitchers. As you can see, the list of five is not exactly a list of prospects.
#5 - Tommy Watkins - Infielder - Rochester Red Wings
The Twins took Watkins in the 38th round of the 1998 draft out of high school in Ft. Myers. We all know his story. Spent a long time in the lower levels of the Twins system. He went back to New Britain to start the 2006 season, his third year there. Due to injuries, he moved up to Rochester last year and went from a future coach to a potential Twins utility player. For the first time in his career, he put up solid offensive numbers to go along with his solid defense and versatility. The offense has been decent again in 2007 as he is splitting time between SS and 2B, along with occasional games elsewhere. In May, Watkins hit .308/.375/.436 (24-78) with seven doubles, one homer and 11 RBI. He walked eight times and struck out 12 times.
#3 - Johnny Woodard - First Base - Beloit Snappers
Johnny Woodard was the Twins 3rd round pick in 2003 out of Junior College. A power hitting prospect, Woodard has been hurt each season to this point. Woodard played a career high 60 games in Beloit in 2005. Last year for Ft. Myers, he got into just 21 games for the Miracle. At each stop, he has shown power promise. This year he has taken a step backward and is back on Beloit. In May, he hit .258/.374/.461 (23-89) with three doubles, five homers and 15 RBI. He has also walked 15 times (and stuck out 25 times). If he can stay healthy, it will be interesting to see if he moves up the system quickly. Ft. Myers could certainly use bats!
#3 - Garrett Jones - 1B/RF - Rochester Red Wings
We all know a lot about Garrett Jones. For the month of May, Jones hit .278/.324/.495 (27-97) with seven doubles, one triple, four homers and 16 RBI. He walked five times and struck out 27 times as well as making his big league debut, a quick week in which he went 1-8. I like the extra base hits, but the strikeouts definitely come back as an issue! But again, you take the strikeouts if it gets you the power production.
#2 - Felix Molina - Second Base - New Britain Rockcats
Molina was the Twins 21st round pick in 2001 out of his Puerto Rico high school. He has moved up the system very slowly, spending a couple of years at each level. 2007 marks his third year with the Rockcats (although in 2005, he played in just 36 games for the team. In May, Molina hit .313/.374/.482 (35-112) with six doubles, two triples, three homers and 11 RBI. He walked eight times and struck out 14 times. The Twins upper levels are just full of potential solid utility infielders, so I don't know what the next step would be for Molina, and that has to be frustrating for him.
The SethSpeaks May Player of the Month is... (drum roll please)
# 1 - Matt Allegra - Outfielder - New Britain Rockcats
I like to think I know a little bit about most of the Twins minor leaguers, but Allegra is one that I really didn't know anything about heading into the season. He was the 16th round pick by the Oakland A's in 1999 out of his Lake Mary, Florida, high school. He signed in June of 2000, right before the draft. In 2002, he hit 35 doubles and 20 homers in Hi-A. He spent most of 2003-2006 with the A's AA affiliate where he didn't show a lot of power and he struck out a lot. He became a six year minor league free agent and the Twins signed him. He is back at AA, and he is playing pretty well. In May, Allegra hit .323/.357/.613 with nine doubles, six homers and 20 RBI. He has walked five times and struck out 25 times. Likely a bit of an organizational filler (at age 25), sometimes those guys end up making it.
HONORABLE MENTION: Danny Valencia, Beloit Snappers (.294/.369/.422, 32-109, 5-2B, 3-HR, 14-RBI, 5 BB, 25 K) - Matt Tolbert, Rochester Red Wings (.370/.444/.537, 20-54, 3-2B, 3-3B, 0-HR, 10 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K).
# 5 - Kevin Slowey - Starter - Rochester Red Wings
A tribute to just how many good pitchers there are in the Twins system is Slowey's ranking this month. If you were to go back to my 2006 minor league rankings, I don't think that Slowey finished lower than third (or maybe second) in any monthly ranking. It is now likely that this will be the final month in which Slowey will appear on the list as he made his Twins debut on Friday night (June 1). In May, Slowey made five starts and he completed three of those games. In 38.2 innings, he gave up three walks and struck out 29 hitters. He went 3-2 with a 1.86 ERA. Opponents hit just .231 against him.
#4 - Brian Duensing - Starter - New Britain Rockcats/Rochester Red Wings
The reason the Twins were able to get Duensing in the third round of the 2005 draft was, in part, because he had Tommy John surgery while at the University of Nebraska. He progressed from Beloit, to Ft. Myers to New Britain in 2006. He returned to New Britain to start this year and by the end of May, he made his first AAA start, for Rochester. At New Britain, he threw 30.1 innings in May. He walked just three and struck out 24. Opponents hit just .227/.244/.311 against him. He got a win in his first Rochester start. He went five innings and gave up seven hits and three walks, but still won. He replaced Slowey in the Rochester rotation.
#3 - Cole DeVries - Starter - Beloit Snappers
Not drafted out of the University of Minnesota, the Twins signed him as a free agent after the season. He made his pro debut this spring, surprisingly at Beloit. He has definitely shown that he belongs, and in May, he was excellent. In six starts, he went 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA. In 36.2 innings, he walked just eight and struck out 23. I would suspect that DeVries will remain with Beloit, but only because of all of the starting options at Ft. Myers.
#2 - Ryan Mullins - Starter - Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rockcats
Like Duensing, Mullins was a Twins 3rd round pick in 2005. He is a lefty who pitched at Vanderbilt. When Slowey moved up to the Twins, and Duensing moved up to Rochester, Mullins was promoted to New Britain. It was well earned. As you recall, in the month of May, Mullins was 3-1 with a sub-1.00 ERA. In 30.1 innings, Mullings walked just six and struck out 29 hitters. He had a 1.12 WHIP and opponents hit just .230/.271/.254 against him. He moved up to New Britain and made one start. He went six innings and gave up six hits and two walks in a no decision.
The SethSpeaks May Pitcher of the Month is... (drum roll please)
#5 - Robert Delaney - Reliever - Beloit Snappers
Pat Neshek was never the Pitcher of the month. If that is the case, you have to know how hard it was for me to put a reliever as the month's top pitcher, especially in a month in which there were a lot of great pitching performances. Like DeVries, Delaney was not draft last year out of college, but the Twins signed him after. He appeared in 14 games in May for the Snappers and recorded 13 saves. In 17 innings, he walked just two and struck out 19. Opponents hit just .123 off of him. He also gave up just seven hits, so his WHIP for the month was 0.53. It doesn't get much more dominant than that!
HONORABLE MENTION - Jeff Manship, Beloit Snappers (3-1, 2.22 ERA, 5 GS, 28.1 IP, 4 BB, 25 K, 0.85 WHIP) - Alex Burnett, Beloit Snappers (2-2, 2.70 ERA, 6 GS, 36.2 IP, 8 BB, 22 K, 1.15 WHIP) - Zach Ward, Ft. Myers Miracle (2-5, 1.82 ERA, 7 G, 5 GS, 34.2 IP, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.01 WHIP) - Matt Garza, Rochester Red Wings (2-4, 3.41 ERA, 6 G, 1 CG, 37 IP, 12 BB, 35 K, 1.19 WHIP) - Yohan Pino, Ft. Myers (1-1, 1.08 ERA, 5 G, 2 GS, 16.2 IP, 3 BB, 14 K, 0.60 WHIP).
So there you have it. The May SethSpeaks hitter and pitcher of the month along with some other very worthy candidates. Of course, I could have commented on several others too without feeling like I was hurting the list. The Twins system is solid, and very well represented in the ten names above.
Are there any other thoughts that I missed or should have pointed out. Feel free to send me any notes or tidbits on any of the players. Feel free to discuss below in the comments or send me an e-mail.
Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today and for the week!|
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