Sunday, September 10, 2006
Twins Minor League Reports
Sunday Morning Update
Good morning to everyone! Again, with some big games for the Twins against the Tigers being played, and with Rochester on the brink of moving to the second round of the International League playoffs and with Beloit playing Game 1 of their second round series, I thought it might be better this weekend to do quick updates daily, rather than wait until Monday to update people on what is going on. So again today, those three teams will be the focus of the posting.
As you know, the big news probably for the organization last night was that Francisco Liriano was slated to start for Rochester against Scranton/Wilkes Barre. For the Red Wings, it meant an opportunity to advance to the second round. For Twins fans, it meant that the talented lefty could be back starting for the Twins as early as next Wednesday. I have heard from sources that Liriano is feeling better and stronger than he has at any point during the season which is a thought that has to be scary to the AL Central teams! Now, I am supposed to be getting a first-hand report on how Liriano looked last night. If and when I receive that, I will post it here. To see how Liriano performed, check out the Minor League game report below. He wasn't the only lefty who worked for the Red Wings last night.
Here is a game report from Ryne Case who wrote the blog Case in the Face. He was able to attend the Red Wings/Red Barons game last night.
Arriving at the ballpark in Scranton, Pennsylvania, I was greeted by an assortment of Red Baron fans and random Pennsylvania/Upstate New York Twins fans looking for a rare opportunity to see Francisco Liriano. I had just finished driving three hours from Geneva, New York where my college is located. I was a bit discourage coming down, as I had driven through several patches of storms and had failed to check a weather report before leaving. Anyways, it was clear when I got there at 5:30pm but then the rain began, and the game ended up being delayed for more than an hour and a half. At about 7:45pm however the rain started to clear and they announced that the new game time start would be 8:35pm. Along with the thousand some others who decided to stick around, this was happy news as the thought of driving three hours for nothing was not all that appealing. As the players got underway I made my way to the bullpen to watch Liriano warm up. After finishing some long-tosses with emergency catcher Jose Morales, he made his way into the pen, where fans young and old gathered to watch the man we now know as “Phenom”, “Franchise” and “F-bomb”. There were some giddy faces among the older gentlemen and “wows” among the younger kids as everyone listen to the hard crack of the catchers glove. I later learned that Liriano will actually throw up to 91 mph on his warm up tosses, so he was bringing it pretty well. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity to be so close to the 22 year old Dominican Republic native, I took the opportunity to take some close up shots of him with my Nikon N75 camera. Hopefully they’ll turn out as the lighting was less than ideal. Once he was finished he walked back to the dugout and for the most part he tried to ignore the kids trying desperately to get autograph of this future Cy Young quality pitcher. I cannot be sure, but I think I got his attention a bit when I called out: “Que te lanzas bien” (which translates basically to “pitch well”), and got a smile out of him but not a look into my direction.
As Francisco got to the mound he walked out there with his usual unique swagger and began his warm-up tosses. As expected, there was a bit of rust as Liriano looked to find the location for his fastball. He started with two low fastballs before coming back with a solid 93 mph fastball down the middle of the plate for strike one. After that it was typical Francisco Liriano as he got the first batter to ground-out to third and then struck out the next two hitters on three pitches each, once hitting 96 mph on the radar gun. In the second inning, he picked up much the way he finished the first. He retired the first batter on a five-pitch strikeout, using all three of his pitches. The second batter was retired on two pitches as Liriano used a 94 mph fastball to set up an 84 mph change up, which the hitter flailed at and hit a weak fly ball to right field. The third hitter then stepped in and probably didn’t realize that he was in for the rudest awakening than the previous five hitters in front of him. First pitch: strike one on a 94 mph fastball. Second pitch: ball one, low on a 96 mph fastball. Third pitch: strike two on a 95 mph fastball. Then the knock out punch: an 89 mph filthy slider that Brennan King lifelessly flailed to end the inning. To this point this was definitely the Liriano we had become accustomed to this year. No nonsense pitching, going right after the hitters. What was most telling was the control. When he did miss, he didn’t miss by much and it was typically missing low.
In the third inning things changed a bit. After two flawless innings, throwing 23 pitches, it definitely looked like Francisco would get a shot at throwing 4 innings with his 50 pitch count quota for the day. However, that would not be the case as Liriano started the inning with two low fastballs, one which clipped the hitter at his feet. Though his struggle may have started there, he started the next hitter in typical fashion as he started with a change up and then a cut fastball looking for that double play ball. On the third pitch the hitter got another cut fastball and Liriano got his groundball, unfortunately it clipped off his spikes and the shortstop Velasquez had to rapidly change direction to get to the ball. While Velasquez did come up with it cleanly, the second basemen Watkins was unable to recover from the throw and could not complete the relay to first. The next hitter Liriano proved again that he might be a bit off as he walked him on five pitches. What was noticeable here was that he still was unable to get the fastball over for strikes. The next hitter, Liriano actually started the hitter with two straight changeups for strikes. As someone who has watched Liriano a good deal, I cannot actually remember him using his change twice in a row. Anyways, Liriano probably got another double-play ball but the combo of Velasquez and Watkins, who haven’t had much experience together, were unable to convert it. So now there were runners on first and third with two out. Again, Liriano started the hitter with two changeups the second one the hitter appeared to be sitting on as he tagged the ball to deep left field; luckily Alex Romero caught it at the warning track to end the inning.
To this point Liriano had thrown 40 pitches. Twenty-five (62.5%) of those pitches were thrown for strikes. While that’s not ideal, it was respectable especially considering he wasn’t missing by much in the first two innings. In the same light, the umpire seemed to be a good deal inconsistent calling strikes for both teams throughout the game. In the game, Liriano threw 22 fastballs, 9 change-ups and 9 sliders. What was concerning though was that 9 of his 17 pitches in the final inning were fastballs, but only 3 were thrown for strikes. Similarly, Liriano only threw one fastball to the final two hitters. He actually threw his change-up more as the inning went on, and to me watching from the first-base side, there did seem to be a slowing of his arm with the change. When Liriano popped of the dugout to head towards the bullpen after the third inning, I have to say I wasn’t actually surprised. With ten pitches remaining, Liriano could have started the fourth inning but he didn’t. It may have been a combination of things. This was a possible deciding game for the Redwings in the playoffs. So they are going to go for the win and part of that decision making process was probably wanting to start a fresh pitcher in the fourth inning as opposed to having to trot one out as soon as Liriano reached 50 pitches. At the same time Liriano did not appear to have his best stuff finishing the third inning. Whether it was him tiring, I can not be completely sure. He did go down to the bullpen to throw some more pitches, probably to get himself up to 50 some to meet the quota.
When he was finished in the bullpen I did see him hunched over at one point grabbing his shoulder a bit. I will not read anything into it as I did see it from a distance and both reports from mlb.com and espn.com say all systems go for Liriano. What I will say is that the arm strength probably won’t be very good coming back. He is slated to start on Wednesday, but it will be surprising if he goes more than four innings. If Wednesday does not go well for Liriano, I would not be surprised to see him moved to the bullpen as we all know Terry Ryan’s severe tendency towards protecting youth. On another note, don’t read too much into Glen Perkins six innings of shutout ball, as he does appear to follow the same tendency of most of the Rochester staff this year in that the fastball is definitely favored too much. We did see those good curve balls, but he consistently was able to use his 93 mph fastball whenever he felt like it. None of the Red Barron hitters were able to rise to challenge that fastball but at the same time they showed very little interest in swinging at his off-speed stuff. So often times Perkins was able to feature only his fastball throughout the at-bats to get ground-balls, fly-balls and strikeouts.
Thank you Ryne for the great report!
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Saturday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Tommy Watkins, Rochester Red Wings
Saturday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Glen Perkins, Rochester Red Wings
The Strib's LaVelle E. Neal gave us his top ten Twins prospect list in today's paper. It is an interesting list, although no fewer than three of the ten listed will not have rookie status next year. I agree with some of it, although when my list comes out in coming weeks, there will be several differences. He did rank David Winfree ahead of Matt Moses, something I will definitely be doing as well. I will do my Top 50 Twins prospect list after the minor league seasons are complete.
By the way, be sure to check out how LaVelle and the rest of our NFL "Expert" Panelists do with the Week 1 NFL games down below.
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Saturday - Red Wings 2, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 0 – The game was delayed as it had been raining much of the day in Scranton, but they did get it started. OK, obviously the big story was the rehab start of Francisco Liriano. How did it go? Probably better than can be imagined! He was on a 50 pitch count which is just smart. The key was for him to get on a mound in a live situation and get ready. In three innings, he threw 40 pitches, 25 of them for strikes. The plan was to use all of his pitches, just fewer sliders. Liriano did not allow a hit. He walked on and hit one, and he struck out four. That was the big story of this game, and excellent news for the Twins. Glen Perkins made another story though with his performance. The former Gopher southpaw went the final six innings. He gave up just one hit and no runs. He walked two, hit one and struck out five for the win! Tommy Watkins went 2-4 with an RBI double. Terry Tiffee was also 2-4 with a double. Alex Romero had an RBI double as well. And, for the Rochester Red Wings team and their fans, the win was also the series win, so they will advance to the International League championship series.
Saturday – Snappers 3, Kane County 8 – Fresh off of beating Peoria the night before to advance, the Snappers bats and bullpen struggled in the first game of this series. Zach Ward started and actually pitched quite well. In six innings, he gave up two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out eight. But then came the problems. Armando Gabino came in to start the seventh and faced four batters. He walked two and allowed two hits. All four runners scored. Danny Hernandez, making his first Snappers appearance after a strong year in Elizabethton, came in and struck out the first batter. But after a stolen base and an intentional walk, Hernandez gave up a single and issued a run-scoring walk. In his inning, he gave up two of his own runs on two hits and two walks. But he did strike out two. Jose Cordero pitched two shutout innings. The Snappers managed only five hits for the game, and three of those came from the Twins top two draft picks this June. Chris Parmalee was 2-4, and Joe Benson added a single and a stolen base. Edward Ovalle added an RBI double.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
That is it for today! Have a terrific Sunday!|
Back to Archives Home