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Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher Of The Month - July 2017

The last two days, we’ve handed out our July Twins Minor League Hitter and Starting Pitcher of the Month Awards. Today, we’ll take a look at the top relievers in the Twins system in July. It was extremely difficult to come up with the top six because there were so many good candidates. However, we did it, and our honorable mention list is huge too, so let’s get started.

If you missed any of the previous July awards, click the following links:
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
Before we share our Twins Daily Minor League Top 6 Relievers for July, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. It may have been a shorter list to jot down which minor league relievers didn’t have a good month out of the bullpen.

HONORABLE MENTION
  • Luke Bard - Chattanooga Lookouts - 10 G, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 5 BB, 16 K, 1.26 ERA, 1.33 WHIP.
  • John Curtiss - Rochester Red Wings - 9 G, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 17 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.03 WHIP.
  • Colton Davis - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 9.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.1 WHIP.
  • Raul Fernandez - Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 15.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 20 K, 0.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP.
  • Logan Lombana - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 1.42 ERA, 0.79 WHIP.
  • Hector Lujan - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 14 K, 0.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP.
  • Jose Martinez - Elizabethton Twins - 5 G, 9.1 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 0.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP.
  • Mason Melotakis - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 9.2 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP.
  • Alex Muren - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 14.2 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 15 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP.
  • Alex Robinson - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 22 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP.
  • Randy Rosario - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 16.0 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 1.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP.
  • Drew Rucinski - Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 11.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.06 WHIP.
  • Michael Tonkin - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 10.0 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP.
  • Alex Wimmers - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 10.0 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP.
THE TOP SIX RELIEF PITCHERS


#6 - Todd Van Steensel - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 21 K


It seems like Todd Van Steensel has been around the Twins organization for a long time. He has, even if not all of the time has been continuous . Originally signed by the Phillies, he pitched for them in 2009. The Twins signed him in 2011 and he pitched (primarily as a starter) for Elizabethton. The Twins let him go at that time, and he pitched in Europe and in his native Australia. But before the 2014 season, the Twins signed him again, and he’s been really good ever since. He pitched in Cedar rapids that season. He pitched in 101 games out of the Miracle bullpen over three years. Last year, he made his AA debut late in the season. He was set to stay in Ft. Myers to start this season, but last minute, he had to drive himself to Chattanooga because of some plane scheduling issues. And as always, he’s been very good.


In July, opponents hit just .190/.246/.254 (.500) which is really impressive when you realize that he threw 18 innings, most among Twins relievers in the month by two innings.He’s always been able to miss bats, but he threw a lot of strikes in July, the one thing that he has struggled with to some degree in the past. Overall this season, he is 4-2 with a 1.52 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. In 47.1 innings, he has 19 walks and 51 strikeouts. Van Steensel continues to fly under the radar.



#5 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 20 K


Andrew Vasquez is another relatively unknown Twins minor league relief prospect. That’s easy to happen because relievers don’t get talked about as much as starters and position players. But that’s reason #194 why we want to highlight relievers each month here at Twins Daily. Vasquez is becoming more known because he’s been showing up on these reports consistently. Recently, he ended a streak of 30.1 scoreless innings. He did not give up a run from May 16th until August 3rd.


Which brings us to his July performance. He did not give up a run, obviously. He allowed very few base runners. He can get a lot of strikeouts, and he’s got good control. Opponents hit just .212/.281/.231 (.511). Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, Vasquez has a 1.15 ERA and a 1.00 ERA. In 47 innings, he’s walked 15 batters and struck out 72 (13.8 K/9!). At this rate, lots more Twins fans will know about the former 32nd-round pick from 2015 from Westmont College.



#4 - Sam Clay - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 5 H, 9 BB, 13 K


Sam Clay has had a real good year in his transition from starter to reliever (which he had been at Georgia Tech too). Overall this year for the Miracle, he is 8-0 with nine saves. He’s got a 1.29 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. Those numbers are even more impressive when you remember that his first appearance of the year did not go well. He gave up six earned runs in 0.2 innings. Since that game, he has given up two earned runs in 55.1 innings (0.33 ERA). His current streak is 29 straight scoreless innings. How he’s stayed in Ft. Myers all year is beyond my knowledge.


In July, batters hit just .119/.275/.119 (.394) off him. If there is one area that he’s struggled, it is with his control. He has 28 walks in 56 innings this year, with 56 strikeouts. I guess we can say that he is effectively wild.



#3 - Tom Hackimer - Ft. Myers Miracle - 10 G, 0.68 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 17 K


Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2016 as a senior out of St. John’s University. At 5-11 and stocky, Hackimer doesn’t look like a typical Twins pitcher. And he doesn’t throw like one either. Well, literally he throws like one Twins pitcher… Trevor Hildenberger. Hackimer throws from the side which can be real tough on opposing hitters.


He ended last year in Cedar Rapids, and that’s where he began this season. With the Kernels, he posted a 1.50 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP in 24 innings before a late-May promotion to the Miracle. In 25.1 innings with Ft. Myers, he’s got a 1.07 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. In July, opponents hit just .095/.220/.095 (.315).



#2 - Patrick McGuff - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.56 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 25 K


A year ago, Patrick McGuff was the Twins 36th-round pick out of Morehead State. He began in the GCL where he threw 5.2 scoreless innings before moving up to Elizabethton. He continued to pitch well there as he picked up nine saves and struck out 33 in 26 innings. He was called up to the Kernels and helped them in the postseason.


It was a surprise when he began this season in extended spring training. He was brought up to the Kernels at the end of May. He struggled for a couple of weeks, but the last six weeks, he’s been really good (as indicated by his July numbers). Opponents hit just .148/.220/.222 (.443) off him in the month.



And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:

Chattanooga Lookouts – RHP Nick Anderson - 10 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.39 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 14 K

It’s been a wild and interesting ride for Nick Anderson in his career since graduating from Brainerd High School. He went to St. Cloud State for three years before going to Mayville State. He was drafted by the Brewers, but they didn’t even offer him a contract. So, he had to go the independent ball route. Late in the 2015 season, he was signed by the Twins, and he’s been terrific since. He ended that season closing games for the Kernels. He split the 2016 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers.


He began this season with the Miracle as well. In 15 games, he posted a 0.89 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. He has pitched in 18 games with the Lookouts and posted a 1.19 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP. And July was a big part of that.

Anderson dominated hitters in July. They hit just .088/.139/.147 (.286) off him. He has a good, mid-90s fastball, and he throws a lot of strikes. But he also is able to miss bats. Already 26, he’s one of several Lookouts relievers who are ready for Triple-A, and they all become intriguing options for an organization whose big league club is in need of bullpen options.



There were a lot of very strong relief pitcher performances in July throughout the Twins minor league system. There aren’t a lot of months with this many Honorable Mentions. Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations to each of these individuals on an excellent month of relief work.

Congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2017, Nick Anderson.


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10 Comments

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clutterheart
Aug 05 2017 10:58 AM
Gabriel Moya's July was better than all of these guys:
10.2 IP 19 SO 1 BB and 0.75 whip & 0 earned runs

And I think he is younger than everyone in the top 6 on your list.

Looking for him to be one of the first call ups and see if his domination is real.
    • Thrylos and Dman like this
Are things really looking good for the Twins a year or two out, Seth? With all these great results, there has to be a couple of better than average relievers for late 2018 or 2019...doesn't there?

What is going to be really interesting is seeing how the new guys manage this year's Rule 5. I can't see them keeping more than 23 pitchers on the 40-man come November. And I count seven starters that are either on the 40-man or should be strong candidates to be added (6 from Chattanooga, Jorge, Romero, Littell, Gonsalves, Stewart and Rodriguez, plus Thorpe). Adding all of them would leave only 16 other spots...so I can't see that happening. It should be interesting seeing how they operate come November.

One note about Andrew Vasquez's scoreless streak.  Technically, it is a streak of unearned runs.  In the game I watched him pitch he gave up two runs, which were "unearned".  The kid has been really consistent in his minor league career with only marginal stuff, but has good control and keeps the ball down.  

Some impressive performances to be sure. Really perplexed how some of these guys have been promoted to the next level yet, or even to the Twins in a couple of cases.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

It makes one wonder why the Twins would trade for or sign a free agent relief pitcher. With as bad as the Twins relief pitching as been, a lot of these guys should be getting tryouts with the major league club. It really makes you wonder what the program is.

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drivlikejehu
Aug 05 2017 02:42 PM

Minor league relievers have a pretty bad track record in MLB, historically. Most actual MLB relievers were good enough to start in the minors (e.g., Duffey, Rogers, etc.).

    • Taildragger8791 likes this

Minor league relievers have a pretty bad track record in MLB, historically. Most actual MLB relievers were good enough to start in the minors (e.g., Duffey, Rogers, etc.).


Indeed. Would be a pleasant surprise if even 2 of the guys listed here make an impact in the majors.

What is going to be really interesting is seeing how the new guys manage this year's Rule 5. I can't see them keeping more than 23 pitchers on the 40-man come November. And I count seven starters that are either on the 40-man or should be strong candidates to be added (6 from Chattanooga, Jorge, Romero, Littell, Gonsalves, Stewart and Rodriguez, plus Thorpe). Adding all of them would leave only 16 other spots...so I can't see that happening. It should be interesting seeing how they operate come November.


They only have 17 returning pitchers on the 40-man, not counting Jorge and Romero who you already listed. And that is counting guys like O'Rourke, Boshers, Turley, Busenitz, Chargois, etc. - some real fringe pieces. Not to mention potential nontenders Pressly and Gibson.

For that matter, they only have 16 returning position players on the roster right now too, and a couple of those are pretty fringe (Palka and Vargas, chiefly). And virtually zero potential 40 man additions on the position player side.

I don't think the 40-man is going to be all that compelling this winter. Far more interesting will be what talent they can leverage in FA and trade.

When nearly a third of the roster is in one area (average about 8 relievers) maybe the program should include the complete identification and  development of relief pitchers instead of drawing from a failed category. That is pitchers who don't make it as starters.

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bluechipper
Aug 07 2017 10:22 AM

I would switch Alex Robinson and Sam Clay. 9 walks in 14 innings should probably eliminate you from the top 5, and Robinson, with 22 Ks in 11 innings, that's pretty impressive.

 

Interestingly, these two guys seem to have very similar profiles as effectively wild lefties. Which one is the better prospect at this time?


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