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Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - August 2017

Yesterday, Nick Anderson was named our Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month. Today, we’ll find out which starters had solid performances in August. There have been some months where it’s been difficult to decide the winner. There have been months with strong performances but an easy choice at the top. This month, there were several solid performers, but the choice wasn’t easy. You’ll see that there are several relievers who made starts due to injury, prepping for playoffs, promotions, shutdowns or other reasons.
Image courtesy of Alan Wolfe
Before we get to our Top 5 starting pitchers for the month of August, here is a list of a couple of others who deserve to be recognized for a solid final month of the season.


HONORABLE MENTION
  • Charlie Barnes - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 17.0 IP, 2-0, 3.71 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 12 H, 6 BB, 15 K
  • Nick Brown - Elizabethton Twins - 5 GS, 28.0 IP, 3-0, 2.89 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 28 H, 7 BB, 26 K.
  • Felix Jorge - Rochester Red Wings - 6 GS, 37.0 IP, 2-2, 3.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 37 H, 10 BB, 29 K.
  • Lewis Thorpe - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 6 GS, 30.0 IP, 2-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 25 H, 12 BB, 36 K.
THE TOP FIVE STARTING PITCHERS


#5 - DJ Baxendale - Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 4 GS, 0-0, 1.99 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20 H, 4 BB, 21 K


In late July, Baxendale was sent from Rochester to Chattanooga despite putting up decent numbers out of the bullpen. With the Lookouts, he has also made some spot starts and long relief outings. And he’s pitched well, as you would hope, against AA competition after success in AAA. But maybe a step back is exactly what Baxendale will need to take a step forward. In August, batters hit just .244/.273/.317 (.590) off of him. He had nearly a strikeout an inning and showed good control.


#4 - Randy Dobnak - Elizabethton Twins - 5 G, 3 GS, 2-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 22 K


Shortly after the rookie league seasons began, the Twins made a call to Randy Dobnak. The Pennsylvania native attended Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia. He went undrafted, so he signed with the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League. Six weeks later, he signed with the Twins and was sent to Elizabethton. He was very good. As you can see, he made starts after beginning in the bullpen. He threw strikes, he missed some bats, and opponents just .198/.252/.313 (.565) against him during the month of August. He made his first start for the Kernels in September and will work with them in the playoffs.


#3 - Anthony Marzi - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 2-0, 1.57 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 23.0 IP, 17 H, 9 BB, 13 K


Marzi was a graduate of the University of Connecticut in 2014. He went undrafted, but that winter he signed with the New York Yankees. In 2015, he pitched in six games for the GCL Yankees and then was released in March of 2016. He tried out for the independent New Britain Bees of the independent Atlantic League and did well in 2016 and 2017. In late June, he was signed by the Twins because they needed starters in Cedar Rapids. He made nine starts for the Kernels and pitched well enough that his final regular season start came for the Ft. Myers Miracle. While the left-hander does not throw hard or miss a lot of bats, he can be effective by hitting his spots. He has been able to do that since signing.


#2- Carlos Suniaga - GCL Twins - 5 G, 3 GS, 2-0, 1.07 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 25.1 IP, 21 H, 4 BB, 19 K


The Twins signed Suniaga out of the Dominican in September of 2014. He spent the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Still just 20, Suniaga began the season with one appearance in Elizabethton before joining the GCL Twins for the rest of the season. He pitched well, particularly in August. He worked a lot of innings. He threw strikes. He had a solid strikeout rate. Opponents hit just .223/.272/.330 (.602) off of him in the month.


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

Chattanooga Lookouts - RHP Zack Littell - 7 GS, 5-0, 2.81 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 41.2 IP, 33 H, 18 BB, 33 K

Zack Littell was the 11th-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2013 out of high school in North Carolina. He spent a year in the rookie Arizona League (similar to the GCL). Then he spent a season in the Appalachian League. Then he spent the 2015 season in the Midwest League. That’s where he began the 2016 season again, and things went much better. He took his step forward. He split the season between the Midwest League and the Florida State League.


Last offseason, he was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees organization in exchange for lefty reliever James Pazos. He began this season in the Florida State League. For Tampa, he went 9-1 with a 1.77 ERA. He was promoted to AA Trenton of the Eastern League. There, he went 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA. He was supposed to make a start in late July but was scratched. Hours later, news came out that he had been traded, along with lefty Dietrich Enns, in exchange for Jaime Garcia.


He was assigned to Chattanooga in the Southern League. For the Lookouts, he has gone 5-0 with a 2.81 ERA. So overall this season, he has gone 19-1 with a 2.12 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. In 157 innings, he has given up 135 hits, walked 41 and struck out 142 batters.


He was good in August too, posting a 5-0 record. Opponents hit just .223/.324/.331 (.655) off of him.

The Twins will most likely add him to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.



Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of August, Chattanooga starter Zack Littell.

Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like. It wasn’t as easy a decision as you might think. There were several solid starters in August.

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16 Comments

I guess a question would be where does Littell fall into the Twins pitching plans. Is he ready to compete with Romero & Gonsalves in 2018 for a spot in the Twins rotation? Looking at his overall numbers, including innings pitched, he may be ahead. I would think all 3 could at least start 2018 at Rochester with best pitcher as first callup.

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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 06 2017 05:34 AM

He will be on the 40 man next year, so I have to think he's competing for the 5th starter spot... will most likely be in Rochester.

 

I guess a question would be where does Littell fall into the Twins pitching plans. Is he ready to compete with Romero & Gonsalves in 2018 for a spot in the Twins rotation? Looking at his overall numbers, including innings pitched, he may be ahead. I would think all 3 could at least start 2018 at Rochester with best pitcher as first callup.

 

I would suspect that the Red Wings rotation in 2018 will start with Gonsalves, Romero, Littell, Jorge, Slegers and maybe Stewart (pending health). 

    • ashburyjohn, Cory Engelhardt, beckmt and 1 other like this

As always, love these lists.  I see these names in the box scores and TD reports and don't always put stuff together, especially when the player is very young or not a top prospect.  This sort of thing is helpful and informative.

 

Glad to see Thorpe with a decent month.  Sad to not see Romero or Gonsalves anywhere on the list.  So it goes, though.

This was a surprise.  I expect the pitchers who are highest on the prospect list to make this list, but what it does more than anything is show me why Gonsalves was not brought up to the Twins.  Thanks for this good work. 

What I am seeing from these pitchers is that all but a couple average about 5 innings per start, what is the main reason for that?

Congrats to them for a good month, but that is one depressing list of guys not likely to start for the Twins for more than a few days here and there...

    • rghrbek likes this

 

I would suspect that the Red Wings rotation in 2018 will start with Gonsalves, Romero, Littell, Jorge, Slegers and maybe Stewart (pending health). 

At least in 2018 for those who do not make the Twins, all will be starting at the highest level in the organization and the best will be ready for a promotion if the major league starters fail.  

Thorpe only one on that entire list with at least as many k's as IP.  Interesting.

Remind what kind of stuff Littell has plz. Like his profile

 

This was a surprise.  I expect the pitchers who are highest on the prospect list to make this list, but what it does more than anything is show me why Gonsalves was not brought up to the Twins.  Thanks for this good work. 

 

It's a good reminder that performance in the minor leagues and prospect status do not always line up.

 

Gonsalves had the one clunker that jarred his numbers a bit this morning... this is also a good reminder that these are small samples where one bad outing can effect it. 

 

Remind what kind of stuff Littell has plz. Like his profile

 

Lowish 90s fastball, and really good breaking ball... Solid changeup. He's a 4-pitch guy.

    • Cory Engelhardt likes this

 

What I am seeing from these pitchers is that all but a couple average about 5 innings per start, what is the main reason for that?

 

Suniaga is in the rookie leagues. Their pitch counts are more strict. Baxendale is a reliever who made several spot starts. Dobnak just signed at the end of July. He worked out of the bullpen a couple of times before starting. 

With those k and bb numbers I might not even have Littell in the top 15 to be honest.

Be honest Seth, if he had the same numbers except w/l was 0-5 instead of 5-0 would he have won?

Congratulations to whomever scouts Alderson Broaddus University.

 

Or, might this be an "analytics" find.

 

Nit-picking, but did one notice that none of the top 5 were draftees?

 

Congratulations to whomever scouts Alderson Broaddus University.

 

Or, might this be an "analytics" find.

 

Nit-picking, but did one notice that none of the top 5 were draftees?

None of the top 4. Baxendale was a 10th round pick by the Twins.


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