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Twins Minor League Hitter Of The Month - June 2017

June is always an interesting month in a minor league system. There is the draft, and the organization brings in 25-30 players. The short-season leagues get started. There are All-Star games at each level but AAA, so the month is disjointed for many.

And yet, as I researched, looking for the top hitters for the month, there were a tremendous number of hitters who had great success. There are guys with OPS near .900 that are “just” honorable mentions. A guy with an OBP over .500 “only” received mention. It’s hard to image, but there were three hitters with OPS over 1.000 for the month and still the choice for Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month was pretty easy.
Image courtesy of Stephen Pellegrino (photo of Zack Granite)
Pitching wins, but only if the hitters score enough runs in that game. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 hitters of the month, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention.

HONORABLE MENTION
  • Mitch Garver - Rochester - 23 G, 29-94, .309/.371/.521 (.893) with eight doubles, four homers, 12 RBI.
  • Nick Gordon - Chattanooga - 22 G, 31-99, .313/.382/.465 (.846) with seven doubles, one triple, two homers, 16 RBI.
  • Brandon Lopez - Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers - 20 G, 25-67, .373/.427/.433 (.860) with two triples, and nine RBI.
  • Alex Perez - Ft. Myers/Chattanooga - 19 G, 21-55, .382/.507/.418 (.925) with two doubles and four RBI.
  • Ben Rortvedt - Cedar Rapids - 17 G, 21-62, .339/.423/.516 (.939) with five doubles, two homers and 12 RBI
THE TOP FIVE HITTERS

Number 5 – Chattanooga - TJ White - 24 G, .297/.385/.527 (.912). 27-91 with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs and 17 RBI.




White returned to the Lookouts lineup in mid-May after starting the season on the disabled list. He made a few mechanical alterations to his swing. He’s come back strong to this point. In June, he hit very well, hitting liners all over the part. He has shown even more power than he has in past years as well.


White went to high school in Las Vegas where he was a teammate of Joey Gallo of the Rangers. They played against Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper. White stayed home for college, attending UNLV. The Twins made him their 19th round pick in the 2014 draft. He’s gradually moved up the ladder, reaching Chattanooga early in the 2016 season as an injury replacement. Reports indicate that his third base defense has improved as well


Number 4 – Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers – SS Jermaine Palacios - .353/.391/.565 (.956). 30-85 with four doubles, one triple, four home runs and 13 RBI.

What a year it has been for Jermaine Palacios. Just under a year ago, a frustrating season in Cedar Rapids came to an end when he was hit in the wrist by a pitch. He returned to the Midwest League this season, still just 20 until recently, and has been on fire. He hit .400 in April, slowed down some in May, but he took off again in June.


While he showed in the rookie leagues in 2015 what he could do, this year’s success comes as some surprise. He has never shown the kind of power he displayed in the first half of the Kernels, hitting 11 homers. He was promoted to the Miracle following the Midwest League All-Star Game. He’s hit .348 over his first six games.



Number 3 - Ft. Myers – OF Max Murphy - .388/.464/.541 (1.005) 33-85 with five doubles, one triple, two homers and 12 RBI.

Murphy began this season hitting down in the Miracle lineup. But in mid-May, he started hitting well and getting on base. He was moved to the leadoff position and he’s been very good since. As you can see, in June, he hit for average, took a lot of walks (and was hit a bit) and showed some extra-base power.


Murphy was the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2014 out of Bradley University. He played his high school ball at Robbinsdale Cooper in New Hope, Minnesota.


Number 2 - Cedar Rapids – 3B Travis Blankenhorn - .309/.430/.619 (1.048), 30-97 with four doubles, seven triples, four homers and 19 RBI.

Blankenhorn is used to having big June’s. Last year, he started very quickly in Elizabethton and earned a promotion to Cedar Rapids. That’s where he is this year. He began the year really hot for two weeks, but struggled for about a month. In June, he turned things around.


He has always had a good eye and a willingness to take walks. That will benefit him going forward. However, he really showed some good power and speed in June. 15 extra base hits are impressive, but seven of them were triples. Of course, most will remember his eventual game-winning steal of home as the Kernels really needed a win to secure a playoff berth.




And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:

Rochester – OF Zack Granite - .470/.527/.667 (1.193), 55-117 with 11 doubles, three triple, two homers and 12 RBI.

What a month! Even the International League didn’t have to wait to name Zack Granite their player of the month. I’ve been writing about Twins minor leaguers for more than a dozen years, and I can’t remember seeing a guy have a month like Granite just did. He hit .470! Granite started the month with a 17-game hitting streak, had that streak snapped, and then ended the month with an 11-game hitting streak. Putting that all together, he hit in 28 out of his 29 games in June. He had 20 multi-hit games.


It’s been an interesting past year for Granite. Last year, he was likely heading to Ft. Myers to start the season, but an injury to the likely Lookouts centerfielder meant Granite started in Chattanooga. He stayed there all year and earned the Twins Minor League Player of the Year award.


In November, he was added to the 40-man roster which meant he was going to his first major league spring training with the Twins. Paul Molitor raved about him throughout spring training. When he was sent down to minor league camp, Molitor said, “I like Zack a lot. I like how he prepares. I like how he competes. It was good to watch him play. He got into actually a lot of games. Made an impression almost every day he played in some capacity.”


Granite enjoyed the experience and took a lot from it. He told Twins Daily on Saturday, “Big league camp was a lot of fun and a good learning experience for me. It was cool to see how guys go about their business and talking to guys about their approach and working with guys like Torii Hunter and (Michael) Cuddyer.”


Unfortunately, on the final day of spring training, he pulled a muscle in his side. It cost him a month. He played five games for Ft. Myers before joining the Rochester Red Wings on May 7th. He had two hits that game. He struggled a bit in May, relatively. He was coming back from injury and playing at a new level. And then came June.


Granite just takes it all in stride. “I'm just trying to keep things simple and get a good pitch to hit, if I start to think too much then I start worrying about things I shouldn't be thinking about.”


When asked if he’s given much thought to possibly being called up soon, and what it would me, he said, “That's something I can't control. I can't waste my time thinking about things I can't control. I just have to do my job and let the people in charge make the decision. My job is simple. Just play the game. If it happens it happens. But I'm going to go out and have fun playing the game.”


Fair to say that Granite had a lot of fun playing the game in June!



Congratulations to the June Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month for 2017, Rochester Red Wings outfielder Zack Granite.


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7 Comments

What are Max Murphy's limitations/weaknesses?What does he need to work on to progress from the fringe into mainstream prospect land?

 

Thanks

Looking at the Twins record - we are hovering around .500.  I know our pitching is the big problem, but I cannot imagine that we are so good that we could not use Granite on the MLB roster.  

    • curt1965 likes this
Photo
Original Whizzinator
Jul 02 2017 08:00 AM
Jorge looked pretty damn good to me! More velocity than advertised. Time for AAA

 

What are Max Murphy's limitations/weaknesses?What does he need to work on to progress from the fringe into mainstream prospect land?

 

Thanks

 

His best skill is knowing the strike zone pretty well. He isn't strong defensively in the outfield, probably best as a DH. He doesn't have a lot of power. He's not real fast.  And, he hasn't hit for a lot of average in the past. He's kind of just a real solid player who doesn't have the flashy tools to fit into the "prospect" rankings... which doesn't mean he can't get to the big leagues.

    • D.C Twins likes this

 

Looking at the Twins record - we are hovering around .500.  I know our pitching is the big problem, but I cannot imagine that we are so good that we could not use Granite on the MLB roster.  

Who's he gonna play for? Kepler, Rosario or Buxton? Buxton is the only one of the 3 struggling and he's the best defensive CF in AL

Bring him up to play CF, and send Buxton down to Rochester to tell him to figure it out!

18 y.o. Estamy Urina is hitting .387/.438/.581 in 73 PAs, 17 y.o. Wander Valdez .328/.437/.569 in 71 PAs, 19 y.o. Ruben Santana .391/.453/.500 in 53 PA and also 19 y.o Yeltsin Encarnancion .326/.453/.488 in 53 PA. The DSL Twins played 23 games last month and they do deserve some recognition as members of the Twins' organization


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