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Twins Minor League Report (6/17): Blankenhorn Steals Win For Kernels

What a wild night throughout the Twins minor league system. Rochester played a doubleheader. Yes, Zack Granite hit well again. There was also a near no-hitter in one of the games. What was Chattanooga able to do after clinching a playoff berth on Friday night with Felix Jorge on the mound. Three Miracle players got some time in the Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday. And Cedar Rapids did whatever they could to try to stay alive in a fight for the final first-half playoff spot. Great pitching and a bold call at the end.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Travis Blankenhorn with Tommy Watkins)
Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday night, starting with the transactions of the day.

TRANSACTIONS

Check out the transactions through the minor league system from late Friday night and Saturday:
  • On Friday, the Twins announced the RHP Chris Heston had been outrighted. The open spot was filled Saturday morning when Adam Wilk was officially added to the Twins 40-man roster and 25-man roster.
  • Following the Twins game on Friday night, we learned the Alex Wimmers and Alan Busenitz were coming to the Twins. On Saturday morning, we learned that Wimmers was going to be the 26th man for the day. We also learned that Ryan Pressly was optioned to Rochester prior to the first game.
  • It wasn’t until between games the Busenitz was officially added to the Twins 40- and 25-man rosters. UPDATE
  • The Red Wings announced on Saturday that Mason Melotakis has joined their roster from Chattanooga. Chattanooga announced that Paul Clemens has been activated from the disabled list.

RED WINGS REPORT
Game 1 - Rochester 1, Pawtucket 2 (8 innings)
Box Score

Yohan Pino was the story of this game. The veteran right-hander started with six no-hit innings in this game which was scheduled for seven innings as part of a doubleheader. However, Rusney Castillo led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single. He was erased with a double play ball. But then there was a bloop single which was followed by a run-scoring double to tie the game and send it to an extra frame.

The Red Wings went scoreless in the top of the 8th. Pino stayed out for the bottom of the eighth. He got the first two batters out, but Jantzen Witte ended the game with a home run.

The Red Wings managed just one run, on a single from JB Shuck that scored Engelb Vielma. Zack Granite had two more hits, and he also stole his 11th bag. Matt Hague and Byungho Park each had two hits as well.

Game 2 - Rochester 7, Pawtucket 5
Box Score

In the second game, the Red Wings scored two in the top of the first. However, before he got an out, Matt Tracy walked two and gave up two hits, including a grand slam to the cleanup hitter. In total, Tracy went five innings and gave up just one more run. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out two. DJ Baxendale and Kam Mickolio each struck out one in a scoreless inning. It was Mickolio’s first save with the Red Wings.

Fortunately, the Red Wings got to face Marcus Walden, who pitched for them last year. He gave up seven runs on eight his and two walks in just three innings.

JB Shuck went 1-2 with two walks and his third home run. Tommy Field was 2-4 with his fifth homer. Byungho Park went 2-4. And yes, of course Zack Granite had two more hits. He went 2-3 with a walk and is now hitting .348. He also stole two more bases, giving him 13 on the year.


CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 7, Tennessee 5
Box Score

It certainly wasn’t his best start of the season, but Felix Jorge improved to 8-1 on this night. The right-hander gave up five runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out four. Four of the runs allowed came in the second innings. Jake Reed struck out four over two scoreless innings. John Curtiss came on and recorded his 13th save. He struck out one. No earned runs.

Andy Wilkins gave the Lookouts a first-inning lead when he hit his first Lookouts homer, a three-run blast. The other four runs for the Lookouts came in a four-run sixth inning. The key hit was a two-run double from Levi Michael. Jonathan Rodriguez walked three times.



MIRACLE MATTERS
Box Score

The Florida State League All-Star Game was played on Saturday night in Lakeland. Three Twins prospects participated in the event. Chris Paul was supposed to, but he broke his hamate bone a few weeks ago.

I’m guessing you, like me, don’t really care who won that game (North won 5-2). We just care how the Twins/Miracle players did in the game.

Dereck Rodriguez pitched one inning and gave up two runs on two hits (one being a home run). Sam Clay got the final two outs for the South squad. Brian Navarreto caught the last couple of innings and went 0-1.


KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 2, Clinton 1
Box Score

The Kernels had lost five of their last six games and were no longer in control of their own first-half playoff berth destiny.

With the score tied at one in the bottom of the eighth inning, Travis Blankenhorn reached on an error. He advanced to second on a groundout and went to third on a fly out to right field. Jaylin Davis walked and when he stole second, Mitchell Kranson was intentionally walked to load the bases. With Brandon Lopez at the plate and two outs, Blankenhorn took off for home. Watch what happened:



And scored, on a straight steal of home. It gave the Kernels a 2-1 lead.

In case you were wondering:



Blankenhorn told Twins Daily later, “We saw that the pitcher looked at the ground the whole time before he pitched. And Lopez got to two strikes and Tommy told me to go for it.”

Hector Lujan came in and recorded his sixth save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Davis led the offense. He went 2-3 with a walk and drove in the first Kernels run with a single. He also stole his eighth and ninth bases. Mitchell Kranson and Brandon Lopez each went 1-3 with a walk in the game.

If not for a rare steal of home, Tyler Wells was the story of this game. The tall, right-hander struck out ten over eight innings. He gave up one run on four hits without issuing a walk.

Of his performance, Wells said he tried not to overthink the game’s importance. He said, “Well, it was mainly command of all my pitches. I was able to locate my pitches well and where I needed when it mattered. I knew the game was very important, but I tried to treat it like every other start. I was going to give everything I had in that game to give us a win! And I think I gave everything in my body to keep us in that game, and luckily, we came out with a win!”

The Kernels will await the final of the Quad Cities game in Beloit on Saturday. If Quad Cities loses, the Kernels are back in second place and can clinch a playoff berth with a win on Sunday. If Quad Cities comes back and wins on Saturday night, the Kernels would have to win and hope that Quad Cities loses on Sunday. (UPDATE - Quad Cities lost to Beloit 4-3 in 10 innings. If the Kernels win on Sunday, they will earn that playoff berth. If the Kernels lose, they need Quad Cities to lose again to make the playoffs.)


TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Wells, Cedar Rapids
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Zack Granite, Rochester


SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Rochester @ Pawtucket (DH @ 12:35 CST) - RHP Chris Heston and TBD
Chattanooga @ Tennessee (1:00 CST) - RHP Paul Clemens
Ft. Myers - All Star Break
Clinton @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 CST) - RHP Max Cordy

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games.


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8 Comments

Photo
108Stitches
Jun 17 2017 11:04 PM
Awesome!!! Utter GEM by Wells (why isn't he a freaking all star again?) and a ridiculously ballsy steal of home plate by Blankenhorn. I don't recall seeing that one before. And just saw Beloit helped us out by winning. Come on boys get those bats moving tomorrow and lock it up!
    • bluechipper and Tom Froemming like this
Photo
FormerMinnasotan
Jun 18 2017 05:47 AM
Wells is now 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA and has 80 k's in 57 innings. Sounds like he is ready for a promotion to Ft Myers. We don't want to keep prospects who are ready for the next level at the same level too long.

Wells has been terrific and gets a ton of strikeouts. He probably didn't make the All Star roster because he had just missed three weeks or so with the biceps tendinitis... HE's been just as good since coming back too. 

Best of luck to the Kernels! Now that we are at the milb break and draft signings are under way, I can easily count 7 or 8 guys that are ready for promotions to the next level. Let's hope the "transactions" section is filled up this week!
    • gunnarthor likes this

I would imagine we'll see a lot promotions in the next two weeks.

Zack Granite just continues playing beyond anyone's expectations. Expect we will see him up here in September, or sooner should they be able to move an outfielder for pitching in July.

What did you think of Busenitz last night, Seth? I saw the last few innings and thought he is someone they can work with.

And now that the $1mm savings is set, they can get those two HS pitchers signed.

On the Blankenhorn steal of home, the pitcher balked anyways.  He set his leg.  Lifted it.  Then set it down again.  

 

Zack Granite just continues playing beyond anyone's expectations. Expect we will see him up here in September, or sooner should they be able to move an outfielder for pitching in July.

What did you think of Busenitz last night, Seth? I saw the last few innings and thought he is someone they can work with.

And now that the $1mm savings is set, they can get those two HS pitchers signed.

 

I thought Busenitz looked good. Legit 96-97. Curveball looked good. Gave up the HR to Lindor after he fouled off some tough curveballs, but fastball had life. Looked good.


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