Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher Of The Month - June 2017
- Clark Beeker - Cedar Rapids - 4 GS, 23.1 IP, 2-0, 3.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 24 H, 3 BB, 14 K
- Felix Jorge - Chattanooga - 5 GS, 34.0 IP, 3-0, 2.91 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 34 H, 5 BB, 31 K
- Lewis Thorpe - Ft. Myers - 4 G, 3 GS, 16.2 IP, 1-0, 1.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 13 H, 7 BB, 16 K.
#5 - Fernando Romero - Chattanooga Lookouts - 4 GS, 3-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 26.2 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 27 K
Romero was the choice for Twins Daily’s #1 prospect before the 2017 season, and he’s performed well in his jump to AA Chattanooga. While he started out a little slow, he has been quite good since mid-May. More important, he’s become more consistent. Along with the fantastic numbers listed above, about a strikeout each inning, opponents hit just .206/.283/.333 (.617) off Romero in June.
He returned to the mound in 2016 after missing two years of playing time due to Tommy John surgery in 2014 and knee surgery in 2015. After three starts with the Kernels, he moved up to Ft. Myers where he continued to dominate until being shut down in late August. In November, he was added to the 40-man roster.
#4 - Dereck Rodriguez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 5 GS, 3-0, 2.60 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 27.2 IP, 19 H, 9 BB, 31 K
Rodriguez was the Twins 2011 sixth-round pick. He spent the next three years as an outfielder. He then transitioned into a pitcher full time in 2014. He was moved along slowly, but about 12 months ago, he took off. He struggled for the first six weeks of the 2016 season in Cedar Rapids, but he pitched well, and earned a late-season promotion to Ft. Myers. He began 2017 as the Miracle Opening Day starter. He earned a spot on the Florida State League All-Star team and pitched an inning in the game.
He started June in Ft. Myers, but he was promoted to the Lookouts for a start. He was sent back to the Miracle in order to pitch in the All-Star Game, but then was brought back up to the Lookouts. He put up very good numbers at both levels. In fact, opponents hit just .198/.264/.281 (.541) against him. He should spend the remainder of the season with the Lookouts. He could become a free agent following the season, unless the Twins put him on their 40-man roster.
#3 - Tyler Wells - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 2-2, 1.96 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 23.0 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 27 K
Wells was the Twins 15th-round pick last year out of Cal State-San Bernadino. At 6-8, 265 pounds, Wells can look intimidating on the mound. He runs a fastball 91-94, but his best pitches may be his breaking balls, both a 12-6 curveball and a good slider. He returned from the disabled list at the end of May and started where he left off. In June, opponents hit just .202/.236/.226 (.462) off of him.
Unfortunately, he is back on the disabled list after experiencing the same issue that put him on the DL for three weeks earlier this season. He is experiencing some issues in his shoulder. An MRI was conducted because it was his second time with this issue, but the results were inconclusive. It didn’t show that anything structural was wrong. He’ll be in the Twin Cities in the coming days for another look.
#2- Cody Stashak - Ft. Myers Miracle - 3 GS, 2-0, 0.98 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 18.1 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 20 K
A quick look at his raw numbers and it is hard to justify him not being #1 on this list. However, he made just three starts for the Miracle because he was placed on the DL on May 22 and didn’t return to the Miracle mound until June 15th. In half of the month, he was nearly unhittable. Opponents hit just .156/.217/.172 (.389) off him during the month.
Stashak was the Twins 13th-round pick in 2015 out of St. Johns. He isn’t a flame-thrower, but he sits 90-93 and pounds the strike zone with a good three-pitch mix. He is a good athlete. If he keeps pitching well, he could be a candidate to move up to Chattanooga within the next month.
And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:
Chattanooga Lookouts - LHP Stephen Gonsalves - 5 GS, 4-1, 2.32 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 31.0 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 38 K
Maybe the lesson to be learned from these top starting pitcher performances in June is that if caught early and treated/rehabbed, pitchers can come back as strong, or even stronger. This month’s top starting pitcher is a great example of that.
Gonsalves was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2013 out of high school in San Diego. He has quickly and consistently moved up each season. He was the Twins Daily choice for Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2016 as well as the Twins choice for their top minor league pitcher. His success caused the Twins to invite him to big league spring training this year. It was an experience he relished.
“Big league camp, to me, was them telling me that I was close and need to keep driving and stay hungry. It was a great experience, meeting the guys and especially some of the veterans we had invited to camp. The other great thing about camp was that all my teammates were there with me, guys I've been playing with for the past couple years and it was awesome to go through the the experience with them.”
He made a good impression at camp. Unfortunately, his spring training ended early as he was experiencing some discomfort behind his left shoulder. It was the same injury that cost him about a month during the Arizona Fall League. Because of it, he did not return to AA Chattanooga until mid-May.
“Yes, it was very frustrating when I had to miss the first half of the season just because I'm always going to be the guy that wants to be out on the field competing.”
In eight starts since his return, he has been very good. He is 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA. In 48 innings, he’s given up just 31 hits. He’s walked just ten and struck out 56. The concern with his AA numbers (which were astounding) in the second half of last season was the walks. He’s dropped that number while continuing to strike out more than a batter per inning.
Gonsalves is choosing to take the time on the disabled list as a positive. “Although I think the injury was a little blessing in disguise. It was time for us to go over my mechanics for the last couple years and really get my entire body to work together as one. Once I came back, I started throwing a little harder, and I was more consistent with throwing strikes because my body was working together.”
His fastball velocity is back, even consistently a little higher. Whereas he was 88-93 in the past, he’s now consistently 90-94. He breaking ball is better and his changeup remains a plus-plus pitch.
While many wanted him to start his season in Rochester, and now he may just be ready for that jump, it was likely the best thing for him to start in AA Chattanooga. They were a winning team, competing for a playoff spot, he was with teammates he knew well, and a coach he has tremendous confidence in. As he notes, “I felt comfortable when I got back with my team in a place I had a lot of success at last year. So I was calm and relaxed. Back with working with Ivan (Arteaga, the Lookouts pitching coach) makes it feel like I never left, and I'm right where I should be.”
The key to his success so far this season? In Gonsalves’s words, “The key this season has just been consistency, my delivery has made all my pitches easier for me to locate. It is letting me repeat everything easier.”
And who knows, there may be another blessing in disguise to missing the first six weeks of the season. He will be under no innings limit, and as the Twins are struggling to find pitching, Gonsalves is a name that should receive a lot of consideration in another month, if not sooner. For now, it would seem the bump up to AAA Rochester should be considered following the International League All-Star Game.
Gonsalves has to be added to the Twins 40-man roster after this season. So he could be a consideration for 2017, though the organization would certainly want to be sure that they won’t use an option. But September should be a real possibility. For now, we appreciate a terrific June performance by the left-hander.
Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of June, Lookouts starter Stephen Gonsalves.
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 June, and several really stood out.
- dbminn and MN_ExPat like this