Monday, July 10, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
Good Monday morning! Well, it was over 90 degrees most of the weekend, including at night. Made sleeping rather difficult, but oh well. Anyway, it was a good weekend. Sure the Twins split with the Royals, but some good things happened. Anyway, today, we've just got some thoughts on the Twins and Royals' series. Plenty of minor league thoughts including how Francisco Liriano and Travis Bowyer did in the Futures Game, how the affiliates did this weekend, and our friend "Roger" wrote up a great Twins Minor League Week in Review" that you'll enjoy. So, let's just get right to it!
The Twins split their four game series against the Royals, which is not very good at all. They were helped out by the Oakland A's though. The A's swept a three game series with the Chicago White Sox so the teams head into the All-Star break just nine games behind the Sox. Not that that isn't a huge undertaking to try to get caught up, but it looks a lot better than a double-digit deficit.
Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the series:
This may have nothing to do with the Twins/Royals series, but TC Bear won the Mascot Home Run Derby at the All-Star festivities on Saturday afternoon. Those of you who have been to a Twins game early enough on Saturday nights probably would not be surprised by that at all!
I love the baseball, and specifically the Kansas City Royals, do so much to celebrate the Negro Leagues. The Negro League Museum is in Kansas City. Anyway, on Sunday, the Royals wore the uniforms of the Kansas City Monarchs. The Twins wore the uniforms of the St. Paul Colored Gophers. Not exactly a politically correct term at this point in history, but that is the way it was at that time. Those uniforms were sweet! However, I understand the season's big picture and wanting to get players some time off, but did anyone else find it unfortunate that on a day that celebrates the history of the Negro Leagues, the Twins outfield consisted of just one member of The Soul Patrol. Jacque Jones was in right field, but Lew Ford patrolled center while Michael Ryan was in left field.
Of course, Lew Ford had the day's #1 Web Gem on Baseball Tonight! His catch against the centerfield wall in the 12th innings saved the day for the Twins. I don't think it would have been a homer, likely a double, but to get an out in that situation is great. Also, Michael Ryan had a nice play in left field. Mike Sweeney ripped a shot off the left field wall. Ryan played it perfectly and made a strong throw to his cutoff man, Nick Punto, who turned and fired to Luis Rivas at 2B who tagged Sweeney sliding into the base.
The Twins catcher platoon is working well right now. Both Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond are crushing the ball and played well behind the dish. That is very important, and after a tougher June, Mauer has been the Twins best hitter again in July.
I was listening to most of the Twins radio pregame show. At the beginning of it, John Gordon was talking to Terry Ryan, as he does every Sunday. Someone called in and asked how frustrating it is to see Justin Morneau looking like he is trying to pull everything. His average was down and he has just struggled for two months. Well, maybe Morneau listened because in his first at bat, he hit a line drive to left field for a single. In his second at bat, he almost decapitated pitcher DJ Carrasco for another single. In his third at bat, he lined a single to right. He may have hit the ball most solidly in his fourth at bat, but it was right at 1B Matt Stairs who caught it and stepped on the bag for a double play. It was good to see Morneau have a strong final game before the break. Hopefully he comes back with some confidence and leads the offense in the second half.
Speaking of the portion of the pre-game show, some people just don't get it, I think. Someone called in and asked Mr. Ryan to discuss the positions he was most looking at AND for a list of the Top 6 or so names that he will be trying to acquire. Ryan did a good job of answering that question by simply saying that he is looking to make the team better and to name names of players he wants to acquire is just wrong.
OH, and I think that it is fair to say that Mike Sweeney did his best in this series to make the Twins brass wonder if he should be their every day DH!! Not sure how I feel about trading within the division, however, Sweeney can hit. Of course, that has never been the question with Sweeney, he has always hit. His problem is that he has missed a lot of time in the past two or three seasons because of injury. One of those injuries is a bad back, which is never easy to come back from fully. So injuries are an issues along with his big contract! He was 11 for his last 15 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBI. Yesterday, he hit two solo home runs including one on the 10th pitch from Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth.
Nick Punto started one game at 2B, one at 3B and one a SS. That was what his role was to be at the beginning of the season, however, he played himself into every day playing. He has deserved all of the playing time he has received. No, he's not great and his numbers will never impress many. But he usually puts together quality at bats.
Luis Rivas in a Royals killer. A friend of mine and I were joking on Friday about how Rivas would hit a home run over the weekend. We both laughed .But he commented that he did feel that Rivas would get his first extra-base hit of the season, and I said, "Only because they're playing the Royals." Well, Rivas hit a double down the right field line for his first double of the year in his first at bat on Saturday. He had another double as well as a triple in the game. Such play earned him another start on Sunday. Hopefully his play in these two games doesn't make Gardy forget that we're still talking about Luis Rivas.
My, how things can change from day to day for a relief pitcher. Jesse Crain had the worst outing of his major league career on Saturday night when he came in and walked one guy before giving up three straight hits. None of them were hit hard, but were hits nonetheless. It resulted in the first loss of his career, and his record fell to 11-1 overall (8-1 this season). It also jumped his season ERA from 1.02 to 2.50. Sunday, he came in for the 12th inning and the 1-2-3 inning gave him his first career Save. It was impressive to watch because he was hitting 95 and 96 mph and hitting corners!
Carlos Silva did his job on Sunday, pitching seven solid innings. Of course, the thought there would be that it would be a day off for the bullpen after many were used on Saturday. Good in theory. In reality, the game went 12 innings and more relievers needed to be used.
And finally, the Dick Bremer call of the weekend: Ruben Gotay hit a liner that "nearly disemboweled Terry Mulholland." As my good friend Van Wilder would say, "Graphic!"
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Royals or anything baseball. Feel free to e-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Travis Bowyer and Francisco Liriano were both picked to be a part of the Futures Game. It is a game of the top prospects in baseball held in the All-Star city. Not every team needs to be represented, so it is great that the Twins were able to put two in the game. Francisco Liriano started the game for the World Team and had a 1-2-3 first inning. That was his day. Bowyer had to work a little bit harder. He pitched the 7th inning for the USA team. He got the first out, but that was followed by a hit, a walk, and another hit, which loaded the bases. He then got a big strikeout, followed by a fly out, to strand all three runners. It is exciting to see the top prospects get this kind of recognition!
Also, our good friend "Roger" frequently sends me e-mails regarding the Twins and their minor league system. We go back and forth a few times a day on players or the teams and more. Over the weekend, he took the time to write up a very interesting and thorough look at the Twins minor league system this past week. I hope you will enjoy it. I know how much work these minor league updates are, so please check out his thoughts. They are followed by my look at the Twins' affiliate's games from this weekend.
Not sure if it is the same "Roger", but there is a very interesting posting at Twins Territory on the Twins top pitching prospects. Check it out here.
ROGER'S MINOR LEAGUE WEEK IN REVIEW
Several games were rained out for both Florida teams due to "Dennis,", but it was an excellent week for the system with an overall record of 21-17. Rochester was 5-2 and is now in second place. New Britain was 3-4, Ft. Myers...2-4, Beloit...2-5, Elizabethton...5-1, and the Gulf Coast Twins were 4-1.
Candidates for player of the week must include several Red Wings. Boof Bonser got two wins as he lowered his era to 3.45. Chris Heintz had a homer and 8 rbi's. Jason Bartlett raised his average to .312 with 10 rbi's and Terry Tiffee got his average up to .270 with 2 homers and 8 rbi's. After well publicized problems with the Twins and slow starts back at Rochester, it looks like Bartlett and Tiffee are both back in the groove.
Errol Simonitsch didn't get any wins, but pitched well in 7 innings lowering his era to 2.65. After a hot start, Denard Span has struggled of late with his average dropping to .250. Danny Matienzo had another homer (17) and 7 rbi's (64). Felix Molina continues to play well as he raised his average to .319 in his first 69 ab's. Although he is playing mostly third base, he seems to be another player in the mold of Rodriguez and Maza who at 22 years old could have a future with the Twins.
Tristan Crawford got a couple starts at Ft. Myers as they look for starters to replace Perkins and Simonitsch. He went 1-1 for the week while keeping his era at a respectable 3.75 with a remarkable K/BB ratio of 7.5/1 (60/8) in 50.1 innings this seson. Expect the Twins are taking notice of this 22 year old Aussie. Jay Sawatski had another tough week as his era rose to 4.10 in three innings including one terrible outing. Matt Moses continues his limited play (19 ab's this week) as he struggles with his injury. Although hitting only .237, catcher Kyle Geiger had two homers. Seth's favorite, Aussie Trent Oeltjen raised his average .021 to .262 with 10 stolen bases this season. Madison Area Tech's Scott Whitrock has a system leading 16 steals to go with his 10 homers but is hitting only .229. For a power hitter, Matt Moses has a surprising 13 steals.
Beloit's David Winfree has 9 homers and a system leading 66 rbi's (5 this week). Unfortunately, his 25 errors are more than double any other Twin minor leaguer except his teammate, Trevor Plouffe who has 21. Deacon Burns raised his average to .297 with 6 rbi's. The Twins have always been high on Aussie second baseman Luke Hughes. The 20 year old is hitting a respectable .256 with 6 homers and 32 rbi's. After an excellent first few games, Jose Mijares struggled this week with 2 losses as his era rose to 4.38 from 3.14. Closer JP Martinez continues to pitch very well as he lowered his era to 1.80 with 9 saves.
Elizabethton is again off to an excellent start at 14-4. Alexander Smit pitched 8 innings of relief as he lowered his era to 2.81. He now has 33 K's and 1 BB in 16 innings (33:1 K/BB ratio is obscene)...looks like the demotion should be doing wonders for his confidence and we must continue including him as a future prospect. Ex-Cornhusker, lefty Brian Duensing had an excellent first start going 5 innings giving up 0 runs, 3 hits, 6 K's and 0 BB's. Matt Garza faired better this week however has yet to dominate. Opening day starter Eduardo Morlan did not pitch this week...will have to find out why. Reliever Dan Powers got his first win in last night's comeback extra inning win. Perhaps the most interesting player at Elizabethton is Tim Lahey. The catcher from Princeton taken in the 20th round of the 2004 draft was converted to a closer in extended spring training. In 6 games (5.1 ip), he has 3 hits, 0 runs, 8 K's and 0 BB's. 2004 hitting star at the GCL, Juan Portes raised his average to .323 this week with a homer and 4 rbi's. They are playing him at second most of the time, however, he also saw some time this week in left field. Defense has been a concern, however, I expect the Twins believe he has the potential to be an excellent big league hitter and will find a place for him to play. 2004 4th round pick Mark Robinson did not adjust well last year as he hit only .215 in the GCL. He is off to a great start at Elizabethton, hitting .323 with a homer and 10 rbi's. Recent signee Steven Tolleson continues to be reported as Stephen Colleson on the minor league website.
Two Gulf Coast League Twins must be under consideration for player of the week. In a shortened week (5 games, 13 games this season), Danny Santiesteban continues his torrid hitting with 2 homers (6) and 7 rbi's (18). First baseman Josh Dean was even hotter, raising his average to .407 with a homer and 5 rbi's this week. Richard Sojo is also hitting .378 and sixth round pick JW Wilson who signed last week is hitting .357 in his first 14 ab's. Rochester's Aaron Craig continues to perform well as their closer with a 1.80 era in 5 innings with 4 saves and 5 K's/0 BB's. Aussie Matt Williams lowered his era to 1.54 in 5 innings this week (he has 12 K's in 11.2 innings). Starter Kyle Edlich pitched very well in his recent start as he lowered his era to 1.29. He has 14 K's in 14 innings this year. Like Tim Lahey, Omar Burgos converted from a third baseman to pitching after hitting .206 in 2004 and .223 in 2003 at the Quad Cities. It had often been said he had the best arm of any infielder in the Twins system. Unlike Lahey however, he has struggled in his first 4 appearances with 6 hits and 2 BB's in 3.2 innings (7.36 era).
Friday - REDWINGS 6, Buffalo 2 - Boof Bonser is officially having a very strong season. On this night, the righty went 6.1 innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. He did walk five and struck out two. Travis Bowyer came in and gave up just a hit and a walk over 2.2 innings. He struck out two and then left the team to go to Detroit to participate in the Futures Game. Jason Tyner went 2-2 with two walks and two doubles. Terry Tiffee was 2-4 with a walk and a double. Todd Dunwoody was 2-3 with a walk and a double.
Saturday - REDWINGS 9, Buffalo 3 - Ricky Barrett made another start and gave up just one hit over five innings. He allowed two runs, largely due to the five walks. Brent Schoening gave up a run in his two innings before Beau Kemp pitched two scoreless innings. Jason Bartlett led the offense with a 4-5 day. He had a double and four RBI. Brent Abernathy went 3-5. Luis Maza went 2-4 with a double.
Sunday - REDWINGS 9, Buffalo 6 - Henry Bonilla has been used in about every role for the Redwings this season. Yesterday, he started and gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings. He walked none and struck out three. Levale Speigner went the next 1.2 innings and gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. Willie Eyre finished the last 2.1 innings and gave up a run on two hits. Luis Maza led the offense by going 3-5 with a double. Brent Abernathy started in CF and moved to LF. He went 2-4 with a double. The team has been playing him around the field in an attempt to make him more valuable to the Twins. I suspect he will be recalled to the Twins shortly after the All-Star break. Jason Bartlett went 2-4 with a walk and a triple. Chris Heintz was 2-4 with four RBI. Rob Bowen hit his second homer of the season.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Friday - ROCKCATS 0, Bowie 4 - The Rockcats were able to do very little off of big leaguer Eric Dubose. In 8 innings, Dubose gave up no runs on four hits and a walk while striking out ten. Jason Grimsley then pitched the final inning. Doug Deeds did notch two of the 'cats five hits. Jim Abbott started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks. Justin Olson pitched one scoreless inning.
Saturday - ROCKCATS 2, Bowie 3 - Matt Yeatman has been struggling of late. On this night, he gave up three runs on three his and two walks over just 4.2 innings. Jason Miller then pitched two scoreless innings and Kevin Cameron pitched the final inning and a third. Doug Deeds went 2-4 with his ninth homer. Felix Molina and Tommy Watkins each had a double.
Sunday - ROCKCATS 13, Bowie 6 - Glen Perkins has been struggling with his control since his promotion. On this night, Perkins walked five and struck out just one in only 4.1 innings. He gave up three runs on four hits. Kevin Cameron went the next 2.2 innings and gave up an unearned run. Pat Neshek gave up two runs in an inning before Daylon Childress pitched a scoreless frame. Pretty much everyone hit for the Rockcats in this game, with the exception of (arguably) their best hitter, Doug Deeds. Bryan Kennedy was 3-5 with a double. Denard Span was 2-5 with a walk. Luis Jimenez went 2-5 with two doubles. Alex Romero was 2-2 with his 18th double and a walk. Tommy Watkins went 2-4 with a double. Ben Pattee was 2-5 with a double. Felix Molina (1), Danny Matienzo (18) and James Tomlin (4) each hit a home run.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Friday - MIRACLE 2, St. Lucie 5 - The Miracle managed just six hits in this game. Kyle Geiger hit his fourth home run, but that was about it for the offense. Tristan Crawford started and went five innings. He gave up four runs on eight hits. However, he walked none and struck out nine. Josh Gray gave up a run in his inning, and then Julio DePaula and Jay Sawatski each pitched a scoreless inning.
Saturday and Sunday - Rained out as a result of "Dennis."
Friday - SNAPPERS 1, Burlington 5 - Jose Mijares took the loss but did not pitch poorly. In six innings, he gave up three runs (2 earned) on eight hits. He walked three and struck out seven. Kyle Aselton gave up two runs over the final three innings. The Snappers were only able to get six hits, the biggest one being the sixth home run of Luke Hughes.
Saturday - SNAPPERS 2, Burlington 6 - David Shinskie fell to 1-7, but his ERA did improve to 7.66. In six innings, he gave up four runs on nine hits. He walked none and struck out four. Kevin Slowey finally gave up a couple of runs. In three innings, he gave up two runs. He gave up three hits, but he walked none and struck out seven. Landon Burt led the offense with a 3-4 day. Deacon Burns was 2-4 with his 9th triple. Chris Brown hit his seventh homer.
Sunday - SNAPPERS 0, Burlington - Kyle Waldrop pitched one of his best games of the season, and for it, he takes another loss. the righty went 7.2 innings and gave up just one run on five hits. He gave up an unusual walk and struck out four. Deacon Burns hit his 29th double.
Friday - E-Twins 11, Greeneville 4 - Oswaldo Sosa improves to 3-1 with five innings of work. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits and two walks. Erik Lis led the offense going 2-5 with a grand slam (his second homer) and 5 RBI. Mark Robinson and Juan Portes were both 2-4. Dustin Bensko and Josh Land were both 2-5.
Saturday - E-Twins 9, Greeneville 8 - Juan Portes had a big game. He was 4-6 with his sixth double and third homer. Portes home was followed by the second home run of the year by Edward Ovalle, who was 3-4 on the day. Sean Richardson also hit his second home run. Yohan Pino started and gave up four runs on eight hits in just three innings. The Alexander Smit came in. In his four innings, he gave up a run on two hits. He walked none and struck out another six batters. Danny Powers got the win despite giving up three runs (just 1 earned) over four innings. He too struck out six.
Sunday - E-Twins 9, Greeneville 0 - First-round pick Matt Garza pitched very well for his first professional win. He did not allow a run over six innings. He gave up just two hits and a walk, and he struck out nine. Then Adam Hawes, Brian Duensing and Tim Lahey each threw one scoreless inning. Edward Ovalle led the offense this game. He went 3-5 with his sixth double, third homer and four RBI. Mark Robinson was 2-5 and Yancarlos Ortiz went 2-4.
GULF COAST TWINS
Friday - GCL Twins 15, GCL Reds 0 - It was a big offensive day for the GCL Twins. Of course, that means it was a big day for Danny Santiesteban. The slugger from junior college went 3-4 with his third double and sixth home run of the short season. Michael Lysaught was 2-5 with his first homer. Marion Knowles was 2-4 with a walk. Drew Thompson hit his first professional homer. Kyle Edlich was the beneficiary of all of the run support. That said, he pitched well. In five innings, he gave up no runs on three hits and three walks. He also struck out eight. Former 3B prospect Omar Burgos pitched one scoreless inning of relief.
As with the Miracle, the GCL Twins games on Friday and Saturday were affected (postponed) by "Dennis."
I didn't spend too much time online this weekend, but found a few articles worth reading and thought I'd share some of them with you:
Ozzie Smith discusses the music career of his son, Nikko. You remember he was in the Final 12 singers on American Idol this spring and is currently on tour with the Idol finalists.
It took Scott Rolen pulling out of the contest, but Morgan Ensberg will be in Detroit, in uniform, as an All-Star! Shouldn't have ever been a question!
The Twins Geek heard Terry Ryan on KFAN and jotted down a number of very interesting notes on what was said.
And finally, in what I think is one of the most disturbing comments made by a baseball player, the Red Sox David Wells (surprise surprise) compared the Kenny Rogers situation to a sexual assault situation. I am sorry, but to even draw any comparison is just messed up, inappropriate, and frankly makes no sense in this context!
On that note, I am going to call it a day! I hope everyone has a great week! As always, please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins, the minor leagues, or anything you would like to discuss.
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