Twins Minor League Report (4/9): Fort Myers Walks-Off, Pensacola PR
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Lewin Diaz)Keep reading to check it all out!
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 5, Syracuse 7
The Red Wings fell behind 1-0 after the first inning with right-hander Kohl Stewart on the mound, but quickly gave him a lead in the top of the second. The first four hitters in the lineup reached safely, with Adam Rosales’ single to center field scoring Luke Raley from third for Rochester’s first run. Later in the inning a Ronald Torreyes groundout brought in Zander Wiel for a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the third a Wynston Sawyer double brought in two more runs, and Rosales followed with a double of his own to push their lead to 5-1.
Unfortunately for Stewart and his defense, their hold on the game unraveled in the bottom half. A throwing error started the inning, then a hit batter, walk, three singles, a double, and a sac fly resulted in six runs for the Mets and they never looked back.
All told Stewart was charged with seven runs, though only one was earned, in his 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three. Fernando Romero took over in the third for his second appearance of the season and finished 3 1/3 hitless innings. He struck out four and walked none (did hit a batter) on 40 pitches, with 25 going for strikes (63%). Jake Reed got the final two innings, going one-two-three in each, along with picking up three strikeouts.
The Rochester lineup out-hit Syracuse 14-7 on the game, but after the third inning it was all about the pitchers for both teams. Eleven of the Red Wings hits came in those first three frames, as did all seven for the Mets.
Six Red Wings batters picked up multiple hits including John Andreoli (2-for-4, BB, K), Randy Cesar (2-for-5, R, K), Raley (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 K), Zander Wiel (2-for-5, R, 2B, 2 K), Sawyer (2-for-2, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB), and Rosales (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI). Wiel and Brent Rooker also collected their first doubles of the year.
BLUE WAHOOS BITES
Scheduled Day Off.
Pensacola finished their first weekend of the Southern League season by taking three of five against the Mobile Bay Bears on the road. They headed home to Blue Wahoo Stadium for the first time in 2019 on Tuesday for a five-game series with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp with fireballer Jorge Alcala on the mound, who struck out six in five scoreless innings in the team’s season opener.
When they get there it also will be the first time fellow Minnesotan and Blue Wahoos PR Director Daniel Venn will get to see them in action at home as a Twins affiliate. With the off day, I caught up with Daniel about what he’s looking forward to covering the team this year and the prospects he will get know.
Twins Daily (TD): Who has been the best prospect you’ve seen come through since you’ve been working in the minor leagues?
Daniel Venn (DV): Both in the FSL and in spring training this year, Alex Kirilloff blows you away. I watched him twice this spring, once facing Blake Snell on a minor league backfield. The other against James Paxton and the Yankees at Hammond Stadium. Both times it was lefty-on-lefty, a tough enough match-up as it is, against two of the best left-handers in baseball. Against Snell, he stepped in and hit a wicked liner to left. Against Paxton, he flew out to the warning track. Even though both were outs, to see a kid with no experience above High-A step in, have great at-bats, and hit the ball hard against two elite-level major league pitchers is really impressive. I can't wait to watch him this year.
TD: As a follow-up, who have been your favorite prospects? (If they’re different for any reason)
DV: A couple guys who aren't considered 'top' prospects have really impressed me. Jimmy Kerrigan and Taylor Grzelakowski are two guys who might make it to the major leagues on grit and will and hard work alone. Both were undrafted and came out of independent baseball and play their hearts out every night.
Twins fans should also know the names Devin Smeltzer and Griffin Jax. Both are great pitchers, great people, and great stories. Devin beat cancer as a young athlete and has dedicated his career to helping kids battling the disease. He took a perfect game into the fifth in his first outing of 2019 and K'd 9 in 5.2 IP. Jax is a second lieutenant in the US Air Force and missed most of the first two seasons of his career as an active duty member of the military serving his community. He's still active duty, but was able to resume his baseball career last year through a World Class Athlete Olympic exemption.
TD: Who are you most excited about to see on the roster at the beginning of the year?
DV: Obviously I'd be remiss if I didn't name Kirilloff first. I can't wait to watch him get back on the field and start hitting. He's such a mature hitter who just barrels everything up and never gets cheated on a swing.
I'm also excited to watch this team's starting pitching every night. To have Alcala and Brusdar at the top of the rotation each throwing 98-100 is a luxury not many minor league teams have. But, then to have Devin Smeltzer, Griffin Jax, and Sean Poppen follow them? That is a deep, deep rotation that should put this team in a position to win every night.
TD: What does it mean to you to have your “hometown” team be the parent club now?
DV: It sounds cliche to say I have my dream job, but I really do. Following the Twins avidly as a fan, I've been checking box scores for years to see how guys like Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez and Brusdar Graterol do. Now they're part of my day job. It couldn't be more fun.
TD: And finally, do you have a prediction for how the Blue Wahoos will do this year?
DV: The whole Southern League is full of talent, but I like this team's chances. It takes high-end prospect talent to win in the minor leagues, which we have in guys like Kirilloff and Arraez and Graterol and Alcala, but it also takes some older, experienced guys who will grind for you all season long, and we've that too in Drew Maggi, Brian Schales, Grzelakowski, and Kerrigan. It takes a team and we've got that.
Plus, if you take a look down a level at Fort Myers...they're absolutely loaded with talent, especially offensively. Knowing that at some point this season, there will be a wave of talent coming up from the Miracle also makes me really excited about Pensacola's chances this season.
Big thanks to Daniel for taking the time to answer some more questions!
Dunedin 0, Fort Myers 1
It was a pitcher’s duel at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday night, with right-hander Randy Dobnak getting the start for the Miracle and his Florida State League debut. He went five scoreless innings, scattering five hits, walking one, and striking out two. Of his 89 pitches on the game, 54 went for strikes (61%) including 10 swinging. Hector Lujan came on for the sixth and went the next 2 2/3. He allowed one hit and struck out four including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the eighth. But after consecutive walks, Tom Hackimer was brought in to snuff the threat and after loading the bases by hitting a batter, did so with a big strikeout. He finished the game by striking out the side in the ninth, but at that point the score was still tied at zero with the top of the lineup coming up for the bottom half.
Royce Lewis got a rally started with a one-out single, then reached second on a wild pitch to put the winning run in scoring position. After an intentional walk to Trevor Larnach and an infield single off the bat of Jose Miranda, the bases were loaded for Lewin Diaz. On a 1-0 count he hit a sharp grounder through the right side for the walk-off win:
Diaz was the only hitter to collect multiple hits on the day for the Miracle, while Travis Blankenhorn added a double.
Kane County 4, Cedar Rapids 1
Cedar Rapids got a strong first four innings from their starter Luis Rijo, but after an error started off the fifth, he got a little wild with two hit-by-pitches around a two-run double and an RBI single that put Kane County out front 3-0. In his five innings, Rijo allowed three hits and a walk while striking out six.
The Kernels got one back in the bottom half when a Gilberto Celestino double drove in Michael Davis who had walked a batter earlier. But that’s all the offense would be able to muster on the game despite outhitting the Cougars 9-5 as they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Celestino (2-for-5, 2B, RBI), Chris Williams (3-for-4, K), and Trey Cabbage (2-for-4) each had multiple hits.
After Rijo was done, it was right hander Tyler Palm who came out of the bullpen. He finished the final four innings, allowing one run in the ninth, but otherwise just two hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts overall.
TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Fernando Romero, Rochester Red Wings (3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K)
Twins Daily Hitter(s) of the Day – Lewin Diaz, Fort Myers Miracle (2-for-4, game-winning-RBI single)
Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
#1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-3, R, BB
#2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List
#3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
#4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, BB, K
#5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game
#6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 1-for-5, 2B, K
#7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch
#8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
#9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch
#10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, K
#11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List
#12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List
#13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3
#14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did not play
#15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-5, 2 K
#16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-5, 2B, RBI
#17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
#18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 1-for-5, K
#19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
#20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4
WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Syracuse (12:05PM CST) – RHP Sean Poppen (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Jacksonville @ Pensacola (6:35PM CST) - RHP Jorge Alcala (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Dunedin @ Fort Myers (12:00PM CST) – LHP Bryan Sammons (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Kane County @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Blayne Enlow (0-1, 27.00 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
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