Twins Minor League Report (5/5): Balazovic Dazzles in Miracle Debut
Image courtesy of Alexis Farinacci, Ft. Myers Miracle (photo of Jordan Balazovic)Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the awards and transactions of the day.
Every Sunday, the Twins announce their Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week. Here are this week’s winners.
- Hitter of the Week: Chris Williams, C/1B, Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Twins eighth-round pick in 2018 out of Clemson, Williams his .333 (6-for-18) with three homers. He also walked six times.
- Pitcher of the Week: Jorge Alcala, RHP, Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Acquired last July from the Astros, Alcala made one start last week. He threw five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, no walks and struck out eight.
- Hitter of the Month - Trey Cabbage
- Starting Pitcher of the Month - Devin Smeltzer
- Relief Pitcher of the Month - Ryan Mason
- RHP Ryan Mason was activated from the injured list.
It was raining which caused this game to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 7th.
BLUE WAHOO BITES
Pensacola 9, Biloxi 2
Things started out really well for the Wahoos on Sunday. The team’s first two hitters, Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff, each singled. Then Miguel Sano followed with a long, three-run home run. The team added a fourth, first-inning run on Jaylin Davis’s fourth home run of the year.
Griffin Jax started the game. He gave up two unearned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings of work. Ryan Mason, fresh off the IL, worked the final 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run. He struck out three. Jax improved to 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA while Mason recorded his fifth save and kept his ERA at 0.00.
Jaylin Davis went 2-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home urn of the year. Caleb Hamilton gave some extra cushion in the eighth inning when he hit a bases-clearing double, his sixth double of the year.
Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 0
Jordan Balazovic was promoted to the Miracle over the weekend, and on Sunday, he made his Florida State League debut. It is hard to imagine that it could have possibly gone any better.
Balazovic, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school near Toronto, threw seven perfect innings. Not just scoreless. Not even just hitless. Perfect. He needed 97 pitches to complete seven innings. No hits. No walks. And he struck out ten batters.
His catcher, 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers, was impressed.
“He (Balazovic) did amazing. He was in complete control from the beginning and he didn’t even really have his offspeed for the first couple of innings.” Jeffers continued, “He definitely settled in after one or two innings. He had his curveball, his changeup. He had it all working. We were able to throw any pitch in any count, and he was executing all day. It was something special for me to watch as a catcher. I’m putting down the signs, and he’s the one executing all the pitches. All credit to him for putting on such a great performance today.”
Because of the pitch count, he was removed after seven innings and replaced by RHP Anthony Vizcaya. After getting the first out in the eighth frame, Vizcaya gave up a double off of the wall in left field to end the perfect game and no-hitter. He issued a walk after that, but he finished that inning with two strikeouts to end the threat. He worked a perfect ninth inning to complete the shutout. It was Vizcaya’s second save of the season.
Jeffers was instrumental in the near-perfecto, but he also led the offense on Sunday afternoon. Jeffers started the season by going 1-for-17 (.059), but after going 4-for-4 on Sunday, he is now hitting .295. He added his second homer of the season as well. His approach throughout the early slump is part of what helped him start to take off since those early struggles.
“Team-wide, we started out a little slow, but we are all starting to settle in, put good at-bats together and string them together. We’re putting up a lot of runs and hits consistently.”
Of course, hitting in the Florida State League is never an easy thing. Big ballparks and high humidity have a tendency to subdue offensive production.
Jeffers noted, “You just try to eliminate it from your mind. There’s nothing you can do about how big the parks are and how the ball doesn’t fly. You just continue to do what you do. You find consistent barrels and it will eventually drop. You’re going to find holes, and you’re going to find gaps.”
Jeffers’ homer gave the Miracle a 1-0 lead. In the seventh inning, the Miracle added on. Royce Lewis doubled in Jeffers and Malique Ziegler to give them a 3-0 lead. In the top of the ninth, they added another on an RBI double off the bat of Jose Miranda.
Lewis and Trevor Larnach each went 2-for-5 with a double. Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-4 with a double.
The Miracle are now 20-10 on the season, and Jeffers is excited to be a part of this talented young team. “We feel really good right now as a team. We trust everyone on this team, everybody and the plate and everybody that we roll out on the mound. We’re just playing well and we want to keep it rolling.”
Cedar Rapids 4, Dayton 0
Most days, the pitching line from Cole Sands’ Sunday start would easily make him the Pitcher of the Day. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a terrific line. The right-hander from Florida State used 99 pitches to complete seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six batters. Before today, Sands' previous career high for innings pitched in a game was five.
His catcher today, David Banuelos, noted that the only other time that the two had worked together this season was Sands' first start of the year, his first pro start. In that game, Sands threw five no-hit innings with eight strikeouts.
Banuelos could tell early that Sands had his good stuff. "From the bullpen, I could see everything was working well. From when the first inning started, it was going to be a good day. He was throwing strikes, getting guys out with every single pitch. He was just attacking guys, getting ahead early and stuck with it through the whole game. Both our guys did well, him and Schulfer pitched well today. Our staff has done pretty well this entire year."
Austin Schulfer worked the final two innings to complete the shutout.
The Kernels got things going right away in the first inning. Chris Williams knocked in the first run with his first of two doubles on that day. He then scored on a Gilberto Celestino single. The next inning, Gabriel Maciel singled in Banuelos to give the team an early 3-0 lead. Banuelos added some insurance in the seventh inning when he hit a solo home run. It was his second long ball of the year.
Banuelos said he's feeling good at the plate too. "I feel confident, trying to take it one day at a time and not press, and try to build off of it."
TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Ft. Myers Miracle
Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
#1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(3), 2 RBI, K
#2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, R
#3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
#4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(10), K
#5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return
#6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Rained Out
#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) - Did Not Play
#11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Rained Out
#12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible
#13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 4-4, HR(2), 2 R, RBI
#14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play
#15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List
#16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, RBI
#17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
#18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Rained Out
#19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
#20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, BB, 2B(6), RBI, K
MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester - No Game Scheduled.
Pensacola @ Mississippi (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.57 ERA)
Ft. Myers @ Charlotte (5:30 CST) - TBD
Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-0, 2.53 ERA)
Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
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