Thursday, July 3, 2008
JUNE MINOR LEAGUE UPDATE
The Twins got another series win by beating the Detroit Tigers 7-0 on Wednesday afternoon. Nick Blackburn went seven innings to gain the win. Delmon Young had another strong game with the bat, notching three more hits. The other free swinger, Carlos Gomez, also had three hits in the game. The Twins were able to score five runs in the third inning to essentially put the game out of reach. Joe Mauer drove in two runs with a single. Nick Punto went 2-3 with a walk and had the Web Gem of the day. I think it was a very solid play, it just looked so weird that I can't get overly excited about it. Alexi Casilla really made a nice play to stay on the base.
Also, if you missed reading the Interactive Q&A with Jeff Manship, be sure to scroll down, or click here. I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the Q&A, and also I would like to hear which Twins minor leaguers you would like to see a Q&A with, and what you would ask, so I can have a better feel for who to try to get.
This is long today, so grab a cup of coffee, relax and take your time! As always, I would appreciate any input you would have. Please feel free to e-mail me or leave Comments or questions about the Twins system in the Comments below.
With June complete, it is time to name the SethSpeaks Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the month and recognize several Twins minor leaguers who deserve it. Last month, I struggled to cut the pitchers list down to five, so I named about nine guys by grouping them. This month was much different for both the bats and the arms. There weren't many players that stood out, and there were many who struggled. Also in June, it can be difficult to really judge who is playing well. The guys who did well at one level and were promoted to the next level after a league All-Star game can struggle to adjust to his new level. There are many scenarios in June, so it is difficult. Following the announcements of the SethSpeaks.net Hitter and Pitcher of the month, I will post several other topics relative to the Twins minor league system. Hopefully it will be an informative posting. Enjoy!
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...
#5 - Erik Lis - 1B/LF - New Britain Rockcats
Erik Lis is no stranger to the SethSpeaks minor league top five. He is frequently on this list, and was again in June. If only he had a few more walks, he probably could have ranked higher. For the month, he hit .279 with just a .296 on base percentage. However, a slugging percentage of .548 is rather impressive. He hit nine more doubles, two triples and slugged five home runs in his 104 at bats. The strikeout to walk ratio of 25 to 3 is certainly something to notice though. For the season, the 24 year old is hitting .278/.318/.488 with 29 doubles, three triples and nine home runs.
#4 - Jon Waltenbury - 1B - Elizabethton Twins
I really would prefer not to include someone from the short season teams in the June top five list because their season started midway through the month, but 1.) the four full season affiliates didn't present many options and 2.) Waltenbury has started his season incredibly quickly. During June, he hit .423/.492/.731 with six doubles, two triples and two home runs. The Canadian has drawn obvious comparisons to Justin Morneau since he was drafted out of his Ontario high school in the 7th round of the 2006 draft. At 6-4, 230 pounds, and with a smooth left-handed swing, the comparisons just make sense. It is great to see him starting out so well.
#3 - Chris Parmelee - 1B - Beloit Snappers
It is unfortunate that the Twins top pick in 2006 had his June end with a wrist injury because he put together a very solid month. In 20 games, Parmelee hit .282/.393/.577 with one double, one triple, six home runs and 20 RBI. He struck out 22 times in 71 at bats, which is still too many, but he also walked 14 times. Those numbers are simply an improvement on what he has done all year. He has hit .239/.385/.496 with 10 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He has struck out 83 times, but he has also walked 52 times. His Isolated Discipline for the year is a remarkable .146! He's still just twenty years old and will likely take some time to come back from injury, but I definitely think that he is showing enough for Twins fans not to give up on him at all.
#2 - Ben Revere - OF - Beloit Snappers
Despite the league's pitchers seeing him and having some reports on him. Despite going to the Midwest League All-Star game. Despite a hamstring injury. Despite all of those things, Ben Revere had another excellent month with the bat for the Snappers. In 18 games, he hit .400/.481/.486 with two doubles, two triples and seven RBI. He also improved his base stealing efficiency as he was successful in ten of eleven attempts. I love the fact that he puts the ball in play (just seven strikeouts) with authority. He's not just a speed guy.
The SethSpeaks May Player of the Month is... (drum roll please)
# 1 - Randy Ruiz - 1B/DH - Rochester Red Wings
Is it time for me to eat a little crow? I am surprised by how well Randy Ruiz has hit for the Red Wings. In 29 June games, Ruiz hit .360/.437/.658 with seven doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 22 strikeouts. On the year, Ruiz has hit .304/.356/.495 with 21 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 49 RBI. Do I now see him as a prospect with a future with the Twins? On that, I still haven't changed my mind. At 30 years old and without even a solid defensive position, his opportunities in the big leagues will be very limited. Also, he has 89 strikeouts to just 20 walks on the year. Those are not numbers to get too excited about. Yes, Jason Pridie has walked just 18 times and struck out 92 times this season, but he is just 24 years old and is solid defensively at three outfield positions. But for June, and to this point in the season, Ruiz has been one of very few bright spots on the Red Wings roster.
#5 - Blair Erickson - Relief Pitcher - Ft. Myers Miracle
Erickson was drafted by the Twins in 2007 out of UC-Irvine where he was their closer. He began this season with Beloit and earned a promotion late in May. So, in his first full month in the Florida State League, he made a very positive impression. He threw 13.2 innings in 11 games. He was 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He gave up just seven hits. He walked four and struck out 18. Opponents hit just .152 against him. A very impressive first month, and well, there is a chance that he could be closing games for the Miracle at some point this season.
#4 - Ricky Barrett - Relief Pitcher - Rochester Red Wings
William Domingos Barrett has experienced a lot of highs and lows throughout his long minor league career with the Twins. The 27 year old lefty has shown a great ability to get strikeouts. He has also walked a lot of hitters, but overall, he does not allow a lot of base runners. He was added to the Twins 40 man roster. His main problem in his time is his inability to stay healthy. Each year, he has missed time with arm injuries. Fortunately, he has managed to remain healthy this year, and he had a great month in June. He threw 17 innings in nine appearances. He had an ERA of just 1.06 and a WHIP of 1.00. Opponents hit just .158 against him. The big number though, 25 strikeouts in those 17 innings. On the season, he has 53 strikeouts in 46.1 innings, but he also has 26 walks. With Dennys Reyes getting the job done, and the emergence/acquisition of Craig Breslow, it is likely that Barrett would need an injury to one of those two to even be considered for a promotion. But he has pitched well and most important, he has stayed healthy.
#3 - Mike McCardell - Startin Pitcher - Beloit Snappers
McCardell missed a month from mid-April to mid-May. He came back and made three somewhat-rehab starts in in May. Since the calendar changed to June, McCardell has been dominant, and regained his spot as a strong pitching prospect for the Twins. He made five starts in June and went 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA. In 36.2 innings, he walked just three and struck out 32. That is the statistic that got him noticed during his pro debut in 2007. Hopefully he can keep it up and be able to continue to work on other pitches, and when opportunity knocks from Ft. Myers, McCardell will certainly be ready.
#2 - Cole DeVries - Starting Pitcher - Ft. Myers Miracle
As I have pointed out previously, when you're in a rotation with Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertson, Deolis Guerra and Alex Burnett, it is hard to get noticed. But the numbers that DeVries has put up in the past month, or even more, have been hard to overlook. DeVries made four starts and went 2-2 with a miniscule 0.69 ERA. In 26 innings, he gave up just 20 hits, walked seven and struck out 18. Clearly he is not a strikeout pitcher, but he is solid across the board, smart and just knows how to pitch. If he can keep it up, and some of the starters in New Britain don't start picking it up, he is certainly a candidate for a promotion. On the year, he is 6-6 with a very good 2.77 ERA.
The SethSpeaks May Pitcher of the Month is... (drum roll please)
# 1 - Anthony Slama - Relief Pitcher - Ft. Myers Miracle
Along with the questions of a promotion for Ben Revere, the other guy I get asked most about is Anthony Slama. His numbers have been incredible all year. He is 3-0 with 16 saves and a 0.41 ERA in 43.2 innings. Those numbers are just insane at this point in the season. He also has just 12 walks to go with 75 strikeouts. That's a strikeout rate of 15.5 per nine innings. In June, he was one of five Miracle players who participated in the Florida State League all star game. He was the only one of that group that remains in Ft. Myers. In June, he went 1-0 with seven saves in nine appearances. In 13.2 innings, he walked just three and struckout 26! That would be 17.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Is he ready for AA? Probably. Will it hurt him to be The Man at the back end of the Miracle bullpen for awhile now that Rob Delaney has moved up? Not at all.
Twins Minor League Updates
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Dominic De La Osa, Elizabethton Twins
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Henry Reyes, Beloit Snappers
Wednesday – Rochester 5, Buffalo 4 (12 Innings) – Matt Macri got a bases loaded infield single to score Darnell McDonald with what proved to be the winning run in this extra innings affair. It was Macri's second hit of the game. He had knocked his third homer earlier in the game. Ryan Jorgensen went 2-4 with his sixth double and fifth home run. Garrett Jones went 2-6. Danny Graves started and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in five innings. Ricky Barrett then struck out four in two perfect innings. Mariano Gomez got just one out and walked two, but Tim Lahey got the final two outs of that inning without a run scoring. Bobby Korecky gave up just one run in his two innings, but it was enough to get a blown save. Carmen Cali then threw two shutout innings and improves to 5-0. In case you were wondering, Jason Tyner went 0-5 and dropped his average to .228.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday – New Britain 2, Reading 9 – Zach Ward was back on the mound to start this game. He was solid through five innings, giving up three runs. However, for some reason, they sent him back out for the sixth inning and he gave up five runs in that inning Rob Delaney gave up one run over the final 2.2 innings. He struck out six. The offense managed just five hits. Luke Hughes went 2-4. Dustin Martin drove in both runs with a double.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday – Miracle 4, Tampa 0 – A night after Deolis Guerra threw his complete game shutout, the Miracle shut out the Yankees again! Tyler Robertson was the starter in this game. He went five no-hit innings. He walked two and struck out five. Jose Lugo then threw two innings before Blair Erickson and Anthony Slama completed the shutout. Steve Singleton has adapted nicely to the Florida State League. He hit third and had two doubles in four at bats in this game. Garrett Olson is leading off now. He went 2-4 with a double. Edward Ovalle was also 2-4.
Wednesday – Beloit 2, Clinton 1 – Jeanfred Brito was promoted to the Snappers yesterday. In the bottom of the ninth, he pinch hit for Deibinson Romero and proceeded to steal 2B. He went to 3B on a wild pitch, and Rene Leveret singled him in to win the game. Steve Hirschfeld started and threw three innings. He gave up a run on three hits and a walk. Henry Reyes came in and went the final six innings for the win. He gave up just two hits and two walks. The Snappers managed just three hits. Mark Dolenc went 1-2 with a walk. Andy Schmiesing had an RBI single. Jeff Lanning also hit his first home run.
Wednesday – E-Twins 11, Greeneville 7 – It was again all about the bats in this one. Nick Romero led the way going 4-6 with a triple and two RBI. Dominic de La Osa went 3-4 with two walks, his first homer and four RBI. Alexander Soto was 3-5. Nick Papasan was also 3-5 and is now hitting .433. Adan Severino went 1-2 with three walks. Dan Berlind lasted just two innings and gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits and two walks. Tom Wright gave up only an unearned run in 3.1 innings. Lee Martin got the win with 2.2 shutout innings of relief. Mark Hamburger came in and struck out the side in his inning.
GCL TWINS TALK
Wednesday – GCL Twins 6, GCL Red Sox 5 – Edgar Ibarra started this game and gave up five runs (4 earned) on five hits and three walks in three innings. He struck out three. Andrei Labanov came in and struck out three in two scoreless innings. Bruce Pugh got his first pro win with three shutout innings of work. Kelvin Mota recorded his third save with a perfect ninth inning. Hyeong-rok Choi went 2-4 with hit his third double and first home run of the year. Jonathan Goncalves went 2-5 with a double and a stolen base. Aaron Hicks hit a double.
Before closing this posting, I just wanted to post several quick notes, stories, stats and observations that I have had or heard of late:
Have you looked at the
GCL Twins roster? It is a Melting Pot of ball players from around
the globe. I know there have been a couple of players removed from the
listed roster due to some off field issues, but I am going to look at the
roster as it is presented. There are ten players from the United States (and
one from Puerto Rico). There are ten players from Venezuela. There are also
three from South Korea, two from the Dominican Republic, two from Russia,
two from Australia, and one each from Argentina, The Netherlands, the Czech
Republic and Taiwan... and how many translators are there on manager Jake
Mauer's team? None. Not one. The Pitching Coach is Ivan Arteaga
who is from Venezuela. He is able to help translate for the Spanish-speaking
players. Last year, Wang-Wei Lin (from Taiwan) had a translator, but
his English has greatly improved. The guys from Korea are pretty good with
English. And Nick Labonov does well with English.
Although some may not think this is a big deal, it really is. You hear that there is a "universal language of baseball", and there is. But we have to remember that these guys do more than just play baseball in the United States. They have to go to the grocery store or gas station. They need to do normal day-to-day things in a country and in a language that is not their own. That is difficult. And think about when a player from another country has to meet with the manager. It would be nice that each understand each other. More important, if the player is really bothered by something, he can talk to a coach about it, rather than keeping it bottled in. This is important. The Latin players take an English/Spanish class three days a week.
I have been told that there is a very good
chance that Jose Morales is done for the season. He re-aggravated the
same ankle that he hurt in his one big league game last season. It is too
bad because his bat had really come around in the previous four to six
With the Twins signing of Shooter Hunt,
he has been sent to Elizabethton. But how will he be used, and who else will
be affected? There are really a couple of options. They could use the same
plan they used with Kevin Slowey in 2005. After signing, Slowey went
to E-Town where he pitched four games out of the bullpen before moving up to
Beloit to start. That was a plan in which his innings were able to be
limited, yet he could get a taste of minor league life in a place where he
could be successful. The other option would be for him to be inserted into
the E-Twins rotation. Dan Osterbrook, Brad Tippett, Bobby
Lanigan will stay in the rotation, so it is likely that Hunt would take
the spot of either Curtis Leavitt or Dan Berlind. Leavitt just
had a great start and Berlind got roughed up last night. I know what my
choice would be.
I have been told the the stress fracture in
Joe Benson's lower back has only one means of healing... rest. He was
scheduled for a cat scan on Tuesday, and then he will rest for two weeks
before going in and getting an x-ray to see how it is healing. The normal,
typical time of recovery for this injury is six weeks.
Brandon Roberts has played a couple of
games in Ft. Myers with the GCL Twins. On Tuesday, he came to the plate
twice. He walked once and got a hit. He stole three bases and then came out
of the game. So he should be close.
Jose Mijares is in Ft. Myers and
throwing. It would be nice if he could get back with the Red Wings, or even
to New Britain by season's end.
I had heard varying reports, but I did verify
that Jose Leger was released shortly after the draft.
If you recall one of my previous Minor League
reports, I wrote about how you can't solely look at a pitcher's statistics
to determine if he is improving and making necessary adjustments to succeed
as he moves through the Twins system. The pitchers, especially in the lower
levels, are working on the things that hopefully will mean better statistics
over time and especially in the big leagues. Hopefully the 2008 struggles of
Deolis Guerra can be attributed to adjustments and working on things
that when he figures them out, his velocity, movement and hence, statistics,
will all improve.
I think that it is important to remember that is also the case, to some degree, with hitters. Alexi Casilla may be a great example of just that. You recall that he struggled in Rochester in 2007, and his numbers there in 2008 were not very good either. However, he has come up to the Twins and been a spark plug to the Twins offense. I can't help but think that the Twins asked Casilla to really work on taking pitches, being selective and learning the strike zone in AAA. That means a lot of two strike counts which means some walks and more strikeouts than you may want. Since he has come up to the Twins, he has been incredibly poised at the plate. Unlike Carlos Gomez, Casilla does a real good job of taking pitches, working counts and then swinging at good pitches. Just something to think about when evaluating only the statistics of young players.
I can't help but think that Joe Benson is another example of this. His numbers in his year and a half at Beloit have not been overwhelming. He has shown the ability to work counts and take walks, but he also has struck out a lot. Again, Benson is a top of the order guy with good speed. It is possible that the Twins really are encouraging him to try to work counts, to take pitches, to learn the strike zone. That puts him in a lot of two strike counts and really then at the pitcher's will. Over time, you can't help but think that it will pay off, that he will be more comfortable hitting with two strikes, that he will have a better idea of what pitches are coming, and most important, knowing which pitches to go after and which are pitcher's pitches just off the plate.
Along with Ben Revere and Anthony
Slama, I have had several people mention the idea of Angel Morales
moving up to Beloit. The still-17 year old is hitting .362/.412/.660 with
three doubles, a triple and three home runs in just 47 at bats. My first
comment is that we are talking about a still-18 year old, an 18 year old
with five-tool potential according to some. Secondly, we are talking about
47 at bats. So, absolutely no reason to rush to any judgments. An 18 year
old who has just two walks to go with 17 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances.
One strikeout less than every three plate appearances. Yeah, he has some
things he can work on. That doesn't even speak to his defense. Do we know if
he is polished in the outfield, or with his throwing? How is his base
running or specifically base stealing. Can he lay down a bunt? There is a
lot more to baseball than just hitting, and I think that it is wise to let a
guy experience some success at a level for awhile and keep working on those
other things as well. If he's that good, he'll get to the big leagues when
Brian Duensing - The Rochester lefty is
sitting at 4-8 despite an adequate 4.25 ERA. He has given up 59 runs (50
earned) in 106 innings. But did you know that 26 of those 59 runs have come
in the first inning. Once past that inning, he is showing that he could be a
big league pitcher. Like so many quality pitchers (another place to compare
a young Twins pitching prospect to Brad Radke), the first inning can
be an obstacle to overcome.
Mark Hamburger - he's another in a string of players signed after not being drafted by the Twins and experiencing success. Rob Delaney is the best example of this. Two years ago, Dan Leatherman was excellent as well. Hamburger is a Minnesota native and did a nice job with the GCL Twins after signing last year. He is working out of the Elizabethton bullpen this season. Reports have him throwing consistently between 93 and 94 mph. He has also hit 96 mph on several occasions. Now, he has given up ten hits and five runs in 10.2 innings this year, but I have to point out that he has 15 strikeouts and NO walks. That is something worth noting.
Others with noteworthy strikeout to walk rates in June:
Philip Humber - 4 BB, 18 K (this was surprising)
Ben Julianel - 4 BB, 22 K
Jeff Manship - 3 BB, 19 K (at NB), 1 BB, 8 K (in FM) - 4 BB, 27 K (overall)
Matt Fox - 5 BB, 23 K
Anthony Slama - 3 BB, 26 K
Blair Erickson - 4 BB, 18 K
Santos Arias - 2 BB, 21 K
Mike McCardell - 3 BB, 32 K
Bobby Lanigan - 3 BB, 15 K
Dan Osterbrook - 1 BB, 15 K
Anthony Swarzak - he came into the season as a Top 3 type of prospect in the Twins organization. There was some question about whether he could develop a decent third pitch to make it as a starter. I don't know what has happened to him this year. I certainly hope there is not an injury or something, but he has taken several steps backward. I was certain that he would be pitching in Rochester by this time. Instead, he is much more likely to be back in Ft. Myers if things don't turn around soon. On the year, he is 3-6 with a 5.96 ERA in 77 innings. In his last 11 starts, he is 1-6 with a 7.94 ERA and a 1.96 WHIP. Again, I understand it is all a process, but I can't help but wonder what is going on here.
Wow! That got longer than I was thinking it would... Hopefully you found a few things worth reading. Continue the discussion in the comments below! Feel free to ask me anything! Have a great fourth of July weekend! Be safe!