Twins AFL Report - Week 4: Lewis Named Fall Stars MVP
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Ben Rortvedt)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)
Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall)
Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday.
Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single.
While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded.
In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game.
In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won:
Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall)
The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman.
While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing.
Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall)
Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers.
Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall)
Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth.
Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play.
Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks.
Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall)
Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win.
In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss.
Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall)
The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun.
Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall)
Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone.
The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase.
Other AFL and Minor League Links:
-Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
-Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner.
-MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game.
-Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run.
Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!