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Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - May 2018

The Twins bullpen generally pitched quite well in May. More exciting, the Twins have lots of depth as they had several relievers in Rochester that had fantastic months. Were any of them our choice for Twins Daily Minor League Reliever of the Month, as Nick Anderson was in April? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Today, we start our May Award series with the Twins minor league relief pitcher of the month. We’ll count down the Top 5 Twins minor league relievers, and there are enough good bullpen performances that we’ll include some honorable mentions.
Image courtesy of Kelly McGlohon (photo of Todd Van Steensel)
Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for April, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut.

HONORABLE MENTION
  • John Curtiss, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 2.61 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 14 K
  • Luke Bard, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 13 K.
  • Cody Stashak, Chattanooga Lookouts, 7 G (1 GS), 1.88 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 14.1 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 17 K
  • Ryan Mason, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 2.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 3 H, 14 K
  • Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 8 G (1 GS), 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 14 H, 7 BB, 26 K.
THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS



#5 - Gabriel Moya - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 9 H, 3 BB,18 K


Moya made the Twins Opening Day roster wen Phil Hughes began the season on the disabled list. He was sent down to Rochester in late April. The 23-year-old southpaw from Venezuela had a strong first month in Rochester (remember, he jumped up to the big leagues directly from Double-A last year). Along with the solid numbers and striking out 12.5 batters per nine innings, opponents hit just .196/.260/.326 (.586) off of him in May.


#4 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 18 K


Another left-hander, Vasquez had a one-game stint in Chattanooga already this year. The Twins 32nd round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College has been moved along slowly, in large part due to some inconsistent control. After ending 2017 with the Miracle, he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League last year. He has returned to the Miracle, but he’s in need of a promotion to AA. In May, he struck out 11 batters per nine inning. He’s blessed with what should be a dominant slider.


#3 - Nick Anderson - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 19 K


Anderson was the Twins Daily April reliever of the month, and he was nearly as good in May. The Brainerd (Minnesota) native signed with the Twins out of the independent ranks late in the 2015 season. He has been blowing hitters away ever since and now finds himself one promotion from his big league dreams. In May, opponents hit a miniscule .077/.182/.154 (.336) off of him. He’ll turn 28 in early July. It’d be great to see him debut his big fastball/slider combination by then.


#2 - Alan Busenitz - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 19 K


It is inexplicable to the writer of this article why Busenitz is not in the big leagues. He dominates AAA, and he pitched very well last year and he got just four innings early this year in the big leagues. He’s got the big fastball and what can be a very good slider. In May, opponents hit just .159/.213/.159 (.372) against him. His 13.2 K/9 shows the type of dominance that he can have.



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

Chattanooga Lookouts – RHP Todd Van Steensel - 8 G, 1.13 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K



Van Steensel is the kind of player that you just can’t help but cheer for. Signed originally by the Phillies, he was released after one year. The Twins signed him, but after one season in Elizabethton, they released him. He played in Europe and in his native Australia and a couple of years later, the Twins brought him back, this time as a reliever. Since returning, Van Steensel has been one of the best relievers in the organization. He made over 100 appearances in Ft. Myers and despite a fantastic 2017 in Chattanooga, he’s there again in 2018. He put up incredible numbers again in May. Opponents hit just .100/.148/.120 (.268) off of him. He continues to rack up big strikeout numbers and his walk rate has certainly come down this year. Van Steensel frequently shows up in these reports, but he is very worthy of this award for May.


There were several very strong relief pitcher performances in May throughout the Twins minor league system. As you can see from their representation, the Red Wings have had a strong bullpen this month. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but again, congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May 2018, Todd Van Steensel.

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21 Comments

This is an encouraging article. I wonder why Van Steensel is not being promoted. And why we don't see him on the prospect list on the Twins' website.  http://m.mlb.com/pro...s/2018?list=min

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Carole Keller
Jun 04 2018 06:27 AM

This is an encouraging article. I wonder why Van Steensel is not being promoted. And why we don't see him on the prospect list on the Twins' website. http://m.mlb.com/pro...s/2018?list=min


Because at 27yo I don’t think you can classify him as a prospect? He’s been signed and released by a couple of teams (the Twins being one), played elsewhere and is now back in the Twins org as a relief pitcher. Also, that link takes you to the org’s top 30 prospects and even if Van Steensel were considered a prospect, he wouldn’t be in the top 30.
    • glunn, ThejacKmp, Bob Sacamento and 1 other like this
Do the Twins really need Petit at this point in the season, when someone like Busenitz could come in and downtrend the overuse of Pressly and Reed? Either can be used in high leverage situations (although I do think Pressly is better starting a clean inning), but Busenitz could reduce the need to use Pressly in those one out situations.
    • glunn, Han Joelo, beckmt and 2 others like this

To be a legitimate World Series contender, a team needs a shut down back end of the bullpen.Bullpens like the Royals a couple years ago, Cleveland last year and maybe the Brewers right now.The Twins don't have that.All of these guys numbers are just plain awesome.In your opinion, Seth, do any of these guys have the potential to be that type of reliever?An Andrew Miller or that wicked Randy Johnson looking guy for the Brewers (Hader ?).

 

Is your memory the same as mine regarding Van Steensel's first stop with the Twins?Remember his dad being very upset and making some comments that he didn't do anything some others had done.But if memory serves, his on field performance was actually good.Or is my memory somewhere out in left field?   

    • glunn likes this

 

Do the Twins really need Petit at this point in the season, when someone like Busenitz could come in and downtrend the overuse of Pressly and Reed? Either can be used in high leverage situations (although I do think Pressly is better starting a clean inning), but Busenitz could reduce the need to use Pressly in those one out situations.

 

Right now the Twins bench is Adrianza, Petit and Wilson. They can't go to a two man bench of Adrianza and Wilson. That's insane. Petit will likely go when Mauer gets back (LaMarre when Buxton, Adrianza when Polanco) but for now he's needed.

 

Duffey should go down if the Twins want to get Buesnitz up

    • glunn, jimbo92107, Danchat and 3 others like this

 

To be a legitimate World Series contender, a team needs a shut down back end of the bullpen.Bullpens like the Royals a couple years ago, Cleveland last year and maybe the Brewers right now.The Twins don't have that.All of these guys numbers are just plain awesome.In your opinion, Seth, do any of these guys have the potential to be that type of reliever?An Andrew Miller or that wicked Randy Johnson looking guy for the Brewers (Hader ?).

 

Is your memory the same as mine regarding Van Steensel's first stop with the Twins?Remember his dad being very upset and making some comments that he didn't do anything some others had done.But if memory serves, his on field performance was actually good.Or is my memory somewhere out in left field?   

 

There's more than one way to skin a cat. The Astros pen wasn't remarkable last year. The Yankees have had insane pens and not made the World Series. The Cubs had Chapman and a lot of guys you didn't feel great about the year they won.

 

The Twins have a pen that can play in the postseason right now. It lacks the elite shut-down arm but it has depth and quality. Just gotta get there.

    • glunn likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 04 2018 08:21 AM
I'm trying to figure out how a guy with a .44 WHIP managed to give up 2 earned runs. 7 baserunners in 16 innings and 2 managed to cross the plate.

Is he susceptible to the long ball?
    • glunn likes this
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terrydactyls1947
Jun 04 2018 08:55 AM
I like the idea of a suspensful countdown for your minor league players of the month. But posting the winner's photo at the top of the article does take away some of the suspense (like 100% of it).
    • ashburyjohn, glunn, caninatl04 and 1 other like this
Great list, and congratulations to all of these guys for performing exceptionally well at their profession.

However, when it comes to being a prospect, remember that guy who pitched for Rochester a few years ago, always with elite numbers? And he eventually got his cup and didn't quite make it? Yeah, I can't remember his name now. Anthony something?

Great list, and congratulations to all of these guys for performing exceptionally well at their profession.

However, when it comes to being a prospect, remember that guy who pitched for Rochester a few years ago, always with elite numbers? And he eventually got his cup and didn't quite make it? Yeah, I can't remember his name now. Anthony something?


Anthony Slama.
Last pitched in 2014.

Anthony Slama.
Last pitched in 2014.


He knew. It was sarcasm that numbers don't mean much.... The difference, imo, is that most of these players have stuff to back up the numbers, where slama did not.
    • MN_ExPat likes this
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ashburyjohn
Jun 04 2018 10:11 AM

I'm trying to figure out how a guy with a .44 WHIP managed to give up 2 earned runs. 7 baserunners in 16 innings and 2 managed to cross the plate.

Is he susceptible to the long ball?

No homers in May.

 

b-r.com's game log gives links to the individual games.

  • On May 2 he gave up a leadoff double, followed by a sac bunt and a single.
  • On May 20, a leadoff walk, steal, wild pitch and sac fly.

 

Gotta get that first guy.

 

Mystery solved. :)

    • glunn and caninatl04 like this
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Tom Froemming
Jun 04 2018 10:31 AM

 

He knew. It was sarcasm that numbers don't mean much.... The difference, imo, is that most of these players have stuff to back up the numbers, where slama did not.

Slama also walked 4.7 guys per nine in Triple A. The only pitcher on this list with those kind of control issues is Jovani Moran.

    • glunn likes this

Slama also walked 4.7 guys per nine in Triple A. The only pitcher on this list with those kind of control issues is Jovani Moran.


Good point. There's always that Internet temptation to make a snarky comment without doing diligence, and I succumbed.

As a matter of fact, I HAD forgotten Slama's last name, but that is more due to my brain cell capacity rather than his star power. I obviously hadn't forgotten the guy. Plus--Billy Bullock!
    • glunn and MN_ExPat like this

 

I like the idea of a suspensful countdown for your minor league players of the month. But posting the winner's photo at the top of the article does take away some of the suspense (like 100% of it).

 

I struggled with this for years!! Now, I just embrace it!

    • glunn likes this

Gabriel Moya's line against is reported as .196/.260/.326 (.586).This is excellent as numbers against a pitcher, but pretty awful as numbers FOR an MLB clean-up hitter.

 

Morrison's updated numbers?.197 .312 .347

 

Just sayin'

    • h2oface, Danchat and David HK like this

 

Gabriel Moya's line against is reported as .196/.260/.326 (.586).This is excellent as numbers against a pitcher, but pretty awful as numbers FOR an MLB clean-up hitter.

 

Morrison's updated numbers?.197 .312 .347

 

Just sayin'

Hee hee...!

 

The snark is strong with this one!

Yoda

 

 

Right now the Twins bench is Adrianza, Petit and Wilson. They can't go to a two man bench of Adrianza and Wilson. That's insane. Petit will likely go when Mauer gets back (LaMarre when Buxton, Adrianza when Polanco) but for now he's needed.

 

Duffey should go down if the Twins want to get Buesnitz up

I hate to say it, but I have to agree that Busenitz is better now than Duffey. Bender seems to have fizzled after a couple good years, while Busenitz has a power arm and good command. 

 

In fact, it looks like the Twins are well stocked with good relief pitchers in AAA and AA. Bring 'em up, see what they've got. Then keep the best, and trade the rest. 

 

Because at 27yo I don’t think you can classify him as a prospect? He’s been signed and released by a couple of teams (the Twins being one), played elsewhere and is now back in the Twins org as a relief pitcher. Also, that link takes you to the org’s top 30 prospects and even if Van Steensel were considered a prospect, he wouldn’t be in the top 30.

 

Well, every minor league report prospect summary has Garver on it, and he hasn't been in the minors for all this year and the end of last. I seems that in Twins Territory and Twins Daily lore, anyone can be a prospect.

Looking at those stat summaries, I don't see why Busenitz isn't the winner of May. In my world, AAA gets the nod of AA, when they are that close, regardless of the back story.

 

Slama also walked 4.7 guys per nine in Triple A. The only pitcher on this list with those kind of control issues is Jovani Moran.

 

If pitchers that walk that many can be in the Twins rotation, what is the big deal in AAA? Myself, never a fan of a bunch of walks, but, I would rather a pitcher walks them than serve up the homer meat. Ordoizzi (3.71 BB/9 and 14 homers in 12 games) seems to be doing both, and that seems just fine with most. Lynn (6.11) and Duke (5.03) BB/9 has established a new ceiling for what is acceptable it seems.


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