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Twins Minor League Report (8/14): Mat Batts Continues to Impress

The Twins enjoyed an off day on Thursday, and begin a four-game series with the Royals on Friday evening. The Royals are red hot right now, having just taken over first place in the American League Central, and looking to do damage against a struggling Twins squad. While things might not go well at Target Field this weekend, there will be plenty of solid performances in the Minor Leagues. Let's take a look at what happened on Thursday.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs (of Max Kepler)
Red Wings Report
Durham 9, Rochester 0
Box

Consistency matters to the Twins front office, and Alex Meyer hasn't strung a bunch of solid starts together for a while now. Last night he had his second poor outing in a row, lasting just 3.2 innings, surrendering a home run, three walks, and five hits. With all of that damage he limited the Bull to just two runs, but threw 84 pitches, jut 45 for strikes. The lone positive from Meyer's outing is that he stuck out seven of the nineteen batters that he faced. A.J. Achter stranded both of Meyer's runners when he took over int he fourth, and then pitched two more innings without giving up a run. The floodgates opened up when Deolis Guerra gave up three runs in 1.2 innings, and then Aaron Thompson gave up four runs in 1.1.

The Red Wings hitters did not have a strong night either, picking up only four hits, one walk and striking out 11 times. One hit for Wilkin Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Aaron Hicks picked up two more hits, and is playing very well in the week since he was promoted to AAA, continuing to earn a September call up.

Rock Cats Review
Bowie 11, New Britain 6
Box

A day after the Byron Buxton/Mike Kvasnicka collision, the focus returned to the action on the field. Pat Dean started for the Rock Cats and went 5.2 innings. Dean gave up seven runs, five earned, in route to his ninth loss of the season. Dean's AA ERA is over five and he's given up five or more runs in four of his last five starts. Adrian Salcedo finished up the sixth and the newly acquired Jason Adam pitched the final three innings. Adam struck out one, walked one, and was tagged for four earned runs on six his.

The Rock Cats had an opportunity to break this game open in the first inning with the bases loaded and one out, but managed to score only one run, likely costing themselves a chance to win. Levi Michael followed up his strong AA debut with another big day at the plate. He was 2-4 with two runs scored, a walk, and his first RBI in a Rock Cats uniform. Eddie Rosario was 2-5 with two RBIS, and two strike outs. He's hitting just .245/.302/.386, while being used primarily as an outfielder. Tony Thomas had a nice evening as well, 2-4 with a double and a run scored. The Rock Cats had plenty of opportunities to win this game late, but combined for 13 strike outs and stranded eight runners.

Miracle Matters
St. Lucie 8, Fort Myers 9
Box

The Miracle won via the walk-off hit by pitch, as Travis Harrison took one for the team to push home the winning run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. Steven Gruver started for the Miracle and gave up ten hits through five innings. He struck out two, walked one, gave up a home run and was tagged for five runs, three earned. B.J. Hermsen came on and walked three batters in the sixth, giving up a run on no hits. Tyler Jones pitched a great seventh, striking out the side. Alex Muren struggled in the eighth, surrendering two runs on a long ball to Gavin Cecchini. D.J. Johnson pitched the ninth and vultured a victory. Johnson has now made seven appearances for the Miracle and has yet to give up an earned run. Opposing hitters are hitting just .192 against him, and he owns a 1.00 WHIP.

The Miracle hitters took advantage of seven free passes from the Mets' pitching staff, and along with fourteen hits, managed to squeak out a victory. Max Kepler (perhaps angry that all four Talk to Contact hosts left him unprotected in their pretend MLB expansion draft) had three hits, including a triple, a walk, an RBI and three runs scored. Kepler is hitting over .350 in his last ten games, and has raised his batting average fourteen points in that time. Kepler is currently on the 40-man roster and hopefully he's taking the step forward the Twins have been hoping for from their German Wunderkind. Aderlin Mejia was 2-4 with a double and two walks, and Adam Brett Walker had a double of his own as part of a 2-5 night with an RBI a strike out and a run scored. Travis Harrison, despite driving home the winning run on a hit-by-pitch, as I mentioned above, was 0-3 but picked up a pair of free passes and two RBIs.
Kernels Nuggets
Cedar Rapids 10, Beloit 3
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The Kernels were firing on all cylinders on Thursday night. Mat Batts picked up his first win as a member of the Kernels with six innings of five-hit baseball. He struck out seven and walked one. He's sporting a nifty 2.12 ERA for the Kernels over three starts and 17 innings. Batts was drafted in the 17th round of the most recent MLB draft, out of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and is now pitching at his third level of the season. He was successful in three appearances in the Gulf Coast League, not giving up any earned runs there, he was 2-0 in four starts in Elizabethton with a 2.05 ERA over 15 innings, and now has that nice 2.12 ERA in Low-A with Cedar Rapids. If you're curious about the uncommon spelling of Mat, his full name is Harison Mathis Batts. After Batts left, Brian Gilbert pitched the next two innings, giving up a run, and Brandon Bixler mopped up in the ninth, giving up a run as well but preserving the victory.

The Kernels picked up fourteen hits and struck out just five hits en route to a 10 run game. Ever starter except for Logan Wade (0-4 with a walk and two runs scored) and Michael Quesada (0-5) had a hit, and six players had multi-hit games. Mitch Garver led the way for the Kernels on a 3-5 night with a double and three RBI. Chad Christensen had a double of his own, he went 2-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. The win on Thursday gave the Kernels a three-game sweep against the Snappers and moved them to 62-60. The Kernels have a four game lead for a playoff spot with just eighteen games remaining.

E-Town E-Notes
Greeneville 3, Elizabethton 5
Box

Michael Caderoth earned his fourth victory of the year for the E-Town Twins with five innings of two run baseball. He struck out five, walked two and gave up only a single earned run. Flamethrower Brandon Poulson made his second appearance since being signed as a Minor League Free agent, and struggled. Poulson walked the first batter he faced, Edwin Medina, who then promptly stole second and third. The next batter singled home the run. A passed ball then moved the runner over to second. Poulson then induced a fly out and a strike out. Then the runner on second base stole third. Poulson then walked the next batter and was lifted for Cameron Booser. Not a great day for Poulson, but I'm sure his head is still spinning as he transitions into professional baseball. Booser pitched 2.1 scoreless, and Dereck Rodriguez picked his his fifth save of the year with a scoreless ninth (though he did give up a pair of hits).

Jeremias Pineda led the way for the Elizabethton Twins, leading off and going 4-5 with a run and a double. Trey Vavra also had a nice night, he was 2-3 with a pair of doubles, a pair of RBIs, and a pair of runs scored.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Rays 5, GCL Twins 3
Box

Josh Guyer pitched five innings, walked two, struck out two, and was charged with a single unearned run. Reyson Zoquiel (whose name is listed in the box score but I am sure is a made up person) pitched only a third of an inning, giving up a walk and a hit. Zack Jones pitched 1.2 scoreless, and then Trevor Hildenberger came on and coughed up the lead thanks to three unearned runs. In fact, of the five runs the GCL Twins gave up on Thursday night, only one was earned.

Tyree Davis was the only Twins player to record multiple hits, he was 2-2 with two doubles after entering the game for Frank Encarnacion. The GCL Twins had just seven hits, but three were for extra bases, all doubles.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mat Batts, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Max Kepler, New Britain Rock Cats

FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Syracuse @ Rochester (6:15 CST) – Kris Johnson
Harrisburg @ New Britain (6:05 CST) – Taylor Rogers
Palm Beach @ Ft. Myers (6:05 CST) – Aaron Slegers
Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) – Stephen Gonsalves
Greeneville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) – Sam Gibbons
GCL Twins @ GCL Red Sox (11:00am CST) – TBD

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Thursday games.


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19 Comments

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clutterheart
Aug 15 2014 07:40 AM

Kepler stunk it up the first few months and was injured.

But he had a better a July now he is is having  a great August 349/.404/.512

 

He is on the 40 man roster, so I wonder if they consider sending him to the AFL again this fall.

Are you allowed to repeat?

Kepler stunk it up the first few months and was injured.

But he had a better a July now he is is having  a great August 349/.404/.512

 

He is on the 40 man roster, so I wonder if they consider sending him to the AFL again this fall.

Are you allowed to repeat?

 

Yes, you are.  And I hope the Twins consider it strongly, Max might just be turning a corner.  Not only is he having a great August, his current batting tear dates from July 13.  His slash since then:  

 

.371/.443/.500/.943

 

with equal 10% K and BB rates. Not much power to speak of, but that should come in time, meanwhile his LD% is soaring way above his career norm, at 21.6% in July and August, perhaps he is finally mastering FSL pitching and is ready for the next step.  He still seems like the kind of prospect that's going to be at least a year each at the next 2 levels, though.

Yes, you are.  And I hope the Twins consider it strongly, Max might just be turning a corner.  Not only is he having a great August, his current batting tear dates from July 13.  His slash since then:  

 

.371/.443/.500/.943

 

with equal 10% K and BB rates. Not much power to speak of, but that should come in time, meanwhile his LD% is soaring way above his career norm, at 21.6% in July and August, perhaps he is finally mastering FSL pitching and is ready for the next step.  He still seems like the kind of prospect that's going to be at least a year each at the next 2 levels, though.

I would not be worried about his power at the league he in.  It is not a power league.  I am not worried about the kid at all.  He is still young and may finally be healthy and figuring it out.  Hopefully he goes to AFL and continues to grow and start at AA next year.

 

Overall, the farm system is looking strong, unlike the past few years.  We are starting to have more potential prospects then positions to play them at.  That is a good problem to have, because not all will pan out, and some can be traded if need be to fill other holes.  Surprised by Levi, I had written him off completely after having a third year at Hi A, but maybe he finally figured it out.  I still put him as a utility guy at best, but they are important to.

Zach Jones pitching on back-to-back nights... looks like he is ready to return! The question is where he will go? He seemed to have mastered high A last year, and they have Burdi, Boer, van Steensel and T. Jones in their pen.  It sure would be nice to see him in AA!

Zach Jones pitching on back-to-back nights... looks like he is ready to return! The question is where he will go? He seemed to have mastered high A last year, and they have Burdi, Boer, van Steensel and T. Jones in their pen.  It sure would be nice to see him in AA!

 

I think they'd send him to Hi-A Ft. Myers. He didn't really "master" High-A, still has plenty to work on, and keeping him in Ft. Myers makes a lot of sense in its own right.

The Kernels picked up fourteen hits and struck out just five hits en route to a 10 run game. Ever starter except for Logan Wade (0-4 with a walk and two runs scored) and Michael Quesada (0-5) had a hit, and six players had multi-hit games.

 

Quesada may have hit the ball as hard as anyone else with the Kernels last night. He hit line shots directly at the SS and the 3B, and added a warning track blast to deep LCF that the CF ran down. All 3 were right on the screws. Just one of those days.

Mat Batts looks like a pitcher for the future.

 

http://www.milb.com/...tching/2014/ALL

Photo
Eric R Pleiss
Aug 15 2014 02:22 PM

What did you folks think of the slight alteration to my usual format this week?  I tried to pick out a key player on each team and give a little more info.  Yay or nay?

    • Paul Pleiss likes this
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mike wants wins
Aug 15 2014 02:59 PM

yay for sure. 

Video of Batts' 6th and final inning vs Beloit, just FYI

 

Thanks for the video feed, good stuff. Looks like it's all early movement on the breaker.  Any gun readings in Beloit for Batts, SD?  What was his primary "out" pitch for those 7 Ks? 

 

Even for a 4th-year college pitcher, 3 levels in a month and a half is pretty impressive.  Counting his college innings, he now sits at nearly 147 innings pitched on the year.

yay for sure. 

 

Ditto on that, Eric, much appreciated.

SDBuhr... did you get any video or audio of the gunshots in Beloit last night?


Consistency matters to the Twins front office, and Alex Meyer hasn't strung a bunch of solid starts together for a while now.

 

 

Wait, didn't he just have a bunch of solid starts in a row prior to these last 2 duds? 

Wait, didn't he just have a bunch of solid starts in a row prior to these last 2 duds? 

 

That means he has to start again at the beginning and start a new string....lather, rinse repeat..

Wait, didn't he just have a bunch of solid starts in a row prior to these last 2 duds? 

 

When did I write this? I didn't see it anywhere in this forum. I remember saying/writing it a month or so ago.

SDBuhr... did you get any video or audio of the gunshots in Beloit last night?

 

No, thankfully I wasn't that close. Just heard about it from some folks I was talking to in the final innings of the game.

Thanks for the video feed, good stuff. Looks like it's all early movement on the breaker.  Any gun readings in Beloit for Batts, SD?  What was his primary "out" pitch for those 7 Ks? 

 

Even for a 4th-year college pitcher, 3 levels in a month and a half is pretty impressive.  Counting his college innings, he now sits at nearly 147 innings pitched on the year.

 

Sorry for not seeing the Q sooner. Frankly, the recurrence of the sound ads has resulted in me checking TD far less often during the day since I used to keep the window open pretty much all the time and now I close it out after each visit and do far less "browsing" of the comment sections.

 

There's no radar gun readings posted on the scoreboard in Beloit, so I don't know what any of the pitchers were getting for velo.

 

Almost all of Batts' Ks were of the swinging variety. In fact, he could have had a couple more called Ks, I think, if the umpires's strike zone hadn't been a bit tight on the outside corner (which was the case for both starting pitchers, I thought). While I wasn't taking notes on his pitch mix, my recollection is that most of those swinging 3rd strikes were off-speed pitches of one type or another.

When did I write this? I didn't see it anywhere in this forum. I remember saying/writing it a month or so ago.

 

Seth, perhaps there's some confusion, I know I am confused, but Mr Brooks responded to this comment of yours:

 

 

Consistency matters to the Twins front office, and Alex Meyer hasn't strung a bunch of solid starts together for a while now.

 

 

Which didn't make sense since Meyer had, in fact, strung together SEVEN straight starts going back to late June, before his recent two misfires.  In those 7 starts, from June 28 to  August 3, Meyer had:

 

10.00 K/9...1.77 ERA...1.06 WHIP... .159 BA.  

 

Going back before those 7 starts, it looks like there were 3 "dead arm" starts in mid-June, where his pitch counts/inning limitations were imposed, seems like those appearances can easily be thrown out as more like "rehab" starts.  Previous to that "rehab" period, Meyer was on a string of 9 starts, dating from April 23 to June 7, where even with 2 in a row at one point, being clunkers, the other 7 of which were anywhere from "really good" to "really great" starts.  In those 9 starts, clunkers and all, Meyer had:

 

11.50 K/9...2.77 ERA...1.23 WHIP.... .203 BA.

 

Demonstrably, I wish we had this kind of "consistency" with any of the guys currently on the major league roster.


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