Live from Beloit: Game 2
And Another No-No
Seriously, it may just be me. Maybe I am bad luck for the Snappers? Is it possible? I have now been to four Snappers games in the past two years and the team has gone 0-4 when I am there after last night’s 5-2 loss at the hands of the West Michigan White Caps.
This game was really about one bad inning, and a play that is rarely seen. Manuel Soliman started for the Snappers and really pitched well through four innings. He gave up a game-starting single but had no problems in the first inning. He pitched a perfect second inning. He got a double-play to end the third inning with just three batters faced. In the fourth inning, he gave up only a two-out single. He looked great. He was throwing hard. He was throwing strikes. He got a couple of great plays behind him. And then came the fifth inning. It started with a double and was followed by a run-scoring single. Then Danny Santana mis-played a ball at shortstop to set up a situation with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. The Snappers set up the bunt defense. The batter bunted it back at Soliman, who fielded it, turned and fired a strike to 3B. Unfortunately, 3B Adam Bryant had charged in on the bunt and no one was covering 3B. The ball rolled all the way down the 3B line to the wall where Reggie Williams fielded it and got it in. However, the two base runners had scored and the batter got to 3B. Clearly flustered, Soliman stopped his delivery on the next pitch for a balk to score that runner. Catcher Jhonatan Arias did all he could to help calm Soliman. Afte a flyout, he gave up two weak singles before getting the final two outs on a weak grounder to 1B and a strikeout. Amazingly, Soliman went back out for the 6th inning. He gave up a home run on the first pitch of the sixth frame, but he followed with a strikeout and two easy outs.
Sam Spangler came in for his second appearance with the Snappers and he got all six batters that he faced out including striking out the side in the 8th inning. Michael Tonkin came in for the 9th and looks like a different pitcher than he did a year ago when he was starting. He struck out three in the inning with a single in between. The Snappers managed just four hits and a walk in the game. Danny Ortiz had two of them.
Most of the hitters that started on Friday night started on Saturday night as well. The changes were that Jhonatan Arias replaced Tobias Streich behind the plate and Reggie Williams started in left field in place of Derek McCallum. But there were several changes. On Friday night, Jairo Perez played 3B, Adam Bryant played SS and Danny Santana played 2B. On Saturday night, Perez played 2B, Bryant played 3B and Santana played shortstop. Also, on Friday night, Danny Ortiz played right field, Lance Ray played at 1B and Michael Gonzales was the DH. On Saturday night, Ray moved out to right field, Gonzales played 1B and Ortiz was the DH.
So, although I wrote notes on many of these players yesterday, here are my thoughts following the second game of those that played:
· Wang-Wei Lin – He was 1-4, and the hit was a two-out bloop single to give the Twins their first run. He does take solid at bats and has a good, line drive swing. However, I really think that he is a solid defensive centerfielder. He gets really good jumps on the ball and covers a lot of ground. In BP, he actually showed some power.
· Adam Bryant – Bryant has really impressed me. Without knowing the background, I do have to wonder why he was still around in the 9th round of this year’s draft. In this game, he grounded out to short and struck out looking twice. He also worked the only walk on the game, although that was a four-pitch walk. He did a nice job at 3B. He definitely fits that Twins mold. In the 7th or 8th inning, he dove for a soft liner in the 3B coach’s box that he had no chance to catch. He must have done something to a finger because he kept the glove off of his hand except literally when the pitch was being delivered. But, he stayed in the game. He has good speed and range at both of those infield spots. In batting practice, it is line drive after line drive from gap to gap.
· Jairo Perez – 0-4 with two groundouts to short and two strikeouts, but man, he is fun to watch. He takes a big swing at all times. He can catch up to fastballs, but clearly struggles on breaking pitches. That said, just visually it appears that he can adjust. He did alright at 2B, although I don’t think he’d be a gold-glover. One bouncer, he should have either sat bat for a big hop or charged it for a short hop. He got a middle hop and played it like a 3B, just knocked-it-down, picked it up and threw out the runner by a ½ step. But he made most of the plays. Definitely looks like a 3B though.
· Michael Gonzales – He was also 0-4. He had a deep fly to center field in his first at bat. In his second bat, he hit a high, towering shot that the right fielder caught at the fence. He grounded into a 3-6-3 double play, but although he isn’t fast by any means, he is no longer plodding along. Defensively, he did a nice job at 1B. He had to pick a couple of short-hops, and his 6-6 height allowed him to make a very nice jumping catch down the line. Could he move up to Ft. Myers? Probably. But I also think it’s good that he just stay in Beloit and (hopefully) continue to succeed rather than get pushed too much.
· Lance Ray – Ray was 1-3 with a double. The double was absolutely crushed off the base of the wall in right field. The guy just has a great swing. He’s not big but he has big power. He can impress in batting practice, but he doesn’t consider himself any type of hitter. Travis and I talked to him before the game, and he said he knows he has some power but doesn’t consider himself a power hitter. He does hit line drives from gap to gap and sometimes he’ll get one. (Note – again, he may be just humble too because he did crush that opposite field bomb the night before.) He played right field in this game and did a solid job out there. But again, not a lot of opportunities.
· Daniel Ortiz – Ortiz DHd in this game, so I nothing more to report on his defense. But he can hit. He went 2-3. In the fourth inning, he hit a double one pitch after Ray’s double. Like Ray, he crushed it and it hit the base of the wall in right field nearly exactly to the same spot as Ray’s. He added another solid single through the right side of the infield. He has had some base running issues. On Friday night, he was doubled up at 1B on a fly out to center field. On Saturday after reaching second base late in the game, he was picked off (easily). He’s not slow, but he also isn’t real fast.
· Reggie Williams – In Williams first game back with the Snappers, he was 0-3. He made the plays he could in left field, although he didn’t have any difficult ones. His first at bat ended with a fly-out to right, but it was after an eight-pitch at bat. He popped up to first base and struck out in his other at bat. He works hard. He’s taken extra swings each day. Everyone loves the guy, so you hope that he can adjust and turn that work into some line drives in the box score. He’s willing to play anywhere in the field.
· Jhonatan Arias – Arias was 0-3 with two strikeouts, but he can hit a very impressive long foul ball too! He has a nice swing. Defensively, he does a nice job catching. He has a good, but not great arm, and he clearly is still working on the throwing portion of the game.
· Danny Santana – Speed. Speed and more speed. It is easy to see that Santana has some serious upside. In the second inning, he went far to his left on a ground ball up the middle. He fielded it in short center field, spun and threw a rocket to 1B for an out. Two innings, later, he couldn’t decide whether to stay back or charge a ground ball (with a runner on 1B, he probably should have charged) and ended up booting it. So defensively, we’ve seen the great and the not at all great. But he does have a very strong arm and good range. In his first at bat, he hit a line drive past a diving 2B and turned it into an easy double. He struck out in his next two at bats. One wasn’t so bad, and the other one was ugly.
· Manuel Soliman – Take away the bad bunt play mentioned above, and I was very impressed with Soliman. He does throw hard. He didn’t walk anyone. He was mainly a fastball pitcher. He occasionally threw a changeup, and a couple were good, but that pitch will need to improve. He threw very few sliders, and a couple of them were really, really good. But again, it is a work-in-progress. Basically, it appears that he is succeeding at this level with one really good pitch, solid control and two pitches that have a long way to go. That’s the reality of now, but it’s exciting because if he can add those two pitches, he could be really, really good.
· Sam Spangler – Left-hander, threw hard, and had a good breaking ball. In his first inning of work, he got a soft liner to 1B, a line out to right field, and a weak ground ball. Then he struck out the side in the 8th inning. One of them came on a very impressive slider that Arias knocked down and threw to first base for the out. The others came on a very good strikeout.
· Michael Tonkin – Last year, he threw an OK fastball and a good curveball as a starter when I saw him. This year, he is in the bullpen, and it looks like he is throwing harder. He also gets more movement in it. He struck out the three batters he got out and made a couple look silly. The single that he gave up was on a fastball that was tailing away from a left handed hitter who just put it into play and hit it softly into left field.
Travis and I got to the ball park at about 3:15 for the 7:00 game. We went in and were able to watch the Snappers work, and wow, did they work! The bullpen pitchers were running and playing some catch. Adrian Salcedo and BJ Hermsen were playing a lot of long toss. Friday’s starter Ryan O’Rourke and today’starter AJ Achter just threw a little from close range. When that was done, they all went and did the stretchy bands and other agility drills. The catchers were working really hard on footwork and on quick releases. They then went on the infield and used that training on throws to 2B. The infielders and outfielders stretched, ran some, threw, used stretchy bands and agility work. Then, I watched one of the most extensive rounds of PFP with bunts, ground balls, pickoff plays and so much more. It was really quite an impressively run thing. At that point, the Snappers took their normal batting practice. Again, Paul Molitor, Joel Lepel, Bill Springman and Erik Rasmussen were all there and working hard with the various groups. Meanwhile Terry Ryan sat in the bleachers jotting notes and observing. There were quite a few scouts in attendance on this night and many of them took time to spend a minute with Ryan.
Following batting practice, we were able to get five minutes or so with some of the Twins players. First, we spent time with Ben Tootle, the hard-throwing reliever who had surgery on his rotator cuff last year. He was terrific and was happy to discuss his rehab and where he is and where he wants to get and more. Next, we talked to Lance Ray about his time at Kentucky, his slow start and how he turned it around and the goals for the rest of the season. Finally, BJ Hermsen answered our questions about his pitches, being back in the Midwest League after spending about six weeks there last year, and what he continues to look to improve. Hermsen’s work-ethic has been very evident these past two days, so I asked some questions about that as well. Following one of the innings, Manuel Soliman was walking toward the clubhouse, but he came over to me and shook my hand and said hi and thanks for coming. So, that was very neat.
Reggie Williams was sent back to Beloit from Ft. Myers. He went to a batting cage under the LF line bleachers and did some tee-work. I watched a bit and then we talked for awhile. Before getting too far into the discussion, he asked me if I was still doing my shows and the blog and all that. People rave about what a tremendous person that Williams is. He wasn’t getting at bats in Ft. Myers, so the move to Beloit makes sense. He’ll likely play all over the field, but maybe mostly splitting time in LF with Derek McCallum.
Before the game, we headed out to our section. We were located in the All-You-Can-Eat section. What an absolutely amazing deal for fans! For $30 ($25 if you order ahead), you can sit down the right field line in a picnic table area, and you can eat, as you would guess, all you want. There were hot dogs, brats and hamburgers. There were chips, peanuts and much, much more. You could drink pop, water or even more adult beverages. It is an incredible deal for anyone, but especially for groups of any number.
Following the game, the Snappers promotion was a second straight night with a fireworks display. The shows are really incredible compared to other fireworks shows I’ve been at. It’s a great promotion and I do believe that a lot of fans are there for that reason.
As we were leaving, there were still autograph hounds waiting for players from both teams to leave the clubhouse. I saw Ryan O’Rourke and introduced myself. Remember yesterday when I wrote about his incredible intensity when he is pitching? Well, in person on a day he didn’t pitch, he is just the opposite. Very cordial, very friendly and it was a nice five minute discussion about his outing and his pitches and such.
Travis and I will be at Pohlman Field for the Snappers/West Michigan game at 2:00. There are heat warnings so it should be interesting. Following the game, we will take off and head to the Twin Cities. It will be a late night, so I can’t promise a blog on Monday. However, on Sunday night at ten, there will be an episode of the SethSpeaks.net Sunday Night Twins podcast in some form. Then Travis and I will host another Twins Minor League Weekly on Monday night at 10 and likely discuss the trip and the Snappers much more. So be sure to listen to those shows.
Finally, a huge thank you again to Jeff Vohs, the GM of the Snappers and Justin Waters in media relations for being incredibly friendly and hospitable to us while we’ve been here. We will try but really can’t put into great words just how cool the fan experience is at Pohlman Field and also watching the Snappers. These guys work incredible hard and deserve a ton of credit. And again, I do encourage Twins fans to head to Beloit for a couple of games if you are able to. It’s well worth it.
Here is the Saturday Minor League Scoreboard, starting with the second combined no-hitter in the Twins system in the last few weeks:
Elizabethton beat Greeneville 6-0 last night, and the story completely is the pitching. Tim Shibuya started and went seven no-hit, no run, no walk innings. He struck out six. Garrett Jewell pitched a scoreless inning. Steven Gruver then pitched a hitless inning including two strikeouts to complete the no hitter. The three pitchers also did not walk a single batter. It was not a perfect game because the E-Twins had three errors (two catcher’s interference, and a Miguel Sano error), and also hit one batter. Sano went 2-4 with his fifth triple. Eddie Rosario hit his fourth triple. Niko Goodrum, Kennys Vargas and Matej Hejma each hit a double. Shibuya improves to 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA for the E-Twins.
The Rochester Red Wings beat Buffalo 4-2. Dustin Martin went 3-4 with his third triple and ninth home run. Andy Baldwin gave up one run on five hits in six innings. Dusty Hughes pitched a scoreless inning. Kyle Waldrop gave up a run on two hits in his inning. He struckout two. Jim Hoey picked up his fourth save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Carlos Gutierrez and Jeff Manship both have sore arms. Gutierrez was put on the Disabled List. Also, yes, I did here that Steve Singleton has been freed by the Twins. He was released by the team and I think it is completely unfortunate, of course. It actually tells me quite a bit, but hopefully Singleton will be able to find another team to give him a real chance. Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise in some way. Obviously you know I wish Steve nothing but the best!
New Britain beat Portland 5-4. Dennis Suarez gave up four runs on five hits in 6.2 innings. Spencer Steedley struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings. Then Matt Schuld came in to protect the one-run lead. He struckout three (and walked one) to earn his first save. Nate Hanson went 2-5 with his seventh double. Evan Bigley was 2-5 with his 23rd double and his fifth stolen base. Mark Dolenc was 2-4 with his 14th steal. The Rock Cats had six stolen bases in the game.
Ft. Myers lost 7-4 to Daytona. Jhon Garcia gave up five runs (4 earned) on ten hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. Clinton Dempster gave up two runs on five hits in 2.1 innings. Steve Liddle went 2-4 with a home run. Nick Romero went 2-4 with his 14th double and third stolen base.
The GCL Twins lost 5-3 to the GCL Red Sox. Bobby O’Neill gave up three runs (2 earned) on four hits in three innings. He struck out three times. Mark Trau got one out and walked one before Marcus Limon came in and gave up two runs over the next 2.2 innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four. Cole Johnson struckout three in two scoreless innings. The GCL Twins managed just four hits. Aderlin Mejia went 1-3 with a walk.