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  • Pitching Prospects on Display (with Video)

    On Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins played the Baltimore Orioles to a 2-2 tie at Hammond Stadium. The big news of the day was that the Twins had restructured closer Glen Perkinsí contract. Meanwhile, on the back field, the two Twins' Class A affiliates were playing spring training games against the Class A affiliates of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    It may not sound all that great to many, but when the Cedar Rapids team threw three of the Twins top young pitching prospects, it made for must-see-MiLB! Kohl Stewart, Fernando Romero and Lewis Thorpe all took the mound for the Kernels. On the other field, minor league baseballís top two RBI producers of 2013 started where they left off.

    Letís start with the Cedar Rapids game? Why? Because pitching is what wins, right? And the (distant) future of Twins pitching was on display.


    Making the start for the Kernels roster was 2013 first-round draft pick Kohl Stewart. He struggled a little bit with his control the first couple of batters. The leadoff batter hit a leadoff single up the middle. He stole second before the next batter singled to right field, the lead runner stopping at third. It was at that point Stewart took off a bit. He got a weak ground ball to first base (the run scored). He then struck out the next two batters on curve balls.

    In the second inning, he struck out the first two batters, both also on the curve ball. He walked the third batter on a close, 3-2 pitch. He had a two-strike count on the next batter when the base runner was caught stealing.
    In the third inning, Stewart got a broken-bat grounder to the short for the first out. He fielded his position well on a comebacker from the second batter. The third batter got hold of one and hit a triple off the wall in left field. However, Stewart recorded the third out on a soft liner to the third baseman.

    That was it for Stewart in the outing. He gave up one run on three hits. He walked one batter and struck out four. He was consistently throwing 93-94 mph with the fastball and touched 95 (and he makes it look easy). The curveball was a very impressive pitch and had other pitchers sitting behind home plate shaking their heads.

    Asked for his thoughts on his first outing, he said, ďI felt good. I was a little wild in the first inning, but the more I went on, the more comfortable I was. I kind of settled in the second and third inning. Thereís a lot more out there.Ē
    He threw three of his four (or more) pitch mix in the game. He didnít even throw what some believe could be his best pitch, the slider.

    Said Stewart, ďI only threw fastball, curve, change today, two-seam. I didnít throw the slider today.Ē



    Next in for the Kernels was hard-throwing 19-year-old Fernando Romero. He came in and was very impressive. The strong-legged, strong-armed right-hander made things look pretty easy in his first inning. He got a broken-bat groundout to first base on the first batter. He then struck out the next two batters he faced.

    In his second inning, he struck out the first batter. The second batter hit a bounding ground ball. Shortstop Jonatan Hinojosa made a terrific play but the throw to first was just a little late. The next batter reached out and hit a grounder through the right side for a single. Romero responded with a strikeout. However, the sharp breaking ball got by the catcher for a wild pitch and a run scored. Romero did get the final two outs without further damage.

    So, Fernando Romero gave up one run on two hits in two innings. He walked none and struck out four. As impressive, the radar gun showed his fastball between 92-95 mph, touching 96 a couple of times. He breaking ball clocked in at about 84-86 mph. He also had a changeup in the 83 mph range.



    For the 6th inning, the Kernels brought Lewis Thorpe into the game. Things werenít easy for him in his first inning. The first batter singled. The next batter hit a ball to shortstop that was an error. He recorded the first out with a fly out to center field. The next batter had a single to right to load the bases. At that point, Thorpe bore down. He got a strikeout on a sharp curve ball. Then, he pumped up his best fastball of the day to get a strikeout for the third out of the inning.

    In the 7th, Thorpe walked the first batter. The next batter bunted, and Thorpe fielded his position well and got the out. With a runner on second, he got a line out to third base which was turned into a double play when the runner was too far off second base.

    In his two scoreless innings, he gave up two hits, walked one and struck out two. He sat between 89-91 mph with his fastball. His breaking pitch and changeup are in the low 80s. You can see the competitive fire, even in a game like this. When he had the bases loaded and just one out, he got the two needed strikeouts on two different pitches. The curveball was sharp, and the fastball hit 93 mph. He found that second gear, so to speak.



    Though the three pitchers threw for the Cedar Rapids Kernels work group today, it is unlikely that any of them will start the season with the Kernels. They will most likely start the season at Extended Spring Training.

    Christian Powell and Chris Mazza each pitched an inning as well.

    Offensively, Zack Larson had two singles in four at bats. Alex Swim caught the final six innings. He went 1-1 with a double and a walk. Chad Christensen went 2-2 with a two-run single.

    On the other field, the Ft. Myers Miracle played as well. They used five pitchers. Lefty Mason Melotakis went the first three innings and looked like he was throwing pretty hard and showing a good breaking ball. Minnesota-native Brandon Peterson worked the next two innings. The reliever from Wichita State throws really hard (I was unable to see a radar gun) and showed a sharp slider. He looks like he could be really effective out of the bullpen. Todd Van Steensel continues to impress. He looks like a guy who can come in and get hitters out. He gave up a couple of hits, but he looked strong. Finally, Alex Muren worked the final two innings.

    Pedro Florimon played for the Miracle. He batted each of the first three innings and played three innings in the field. In the first inning, he batted second and flew out to left field on the first pitch. In the second inning, he batted third and struck out looking. In the third inning, he batted second, swung at the first pitch and bounced back to the pitcher. In the second inning, he fielded a ground ball cleanly, but the throw short-hopped Dalton Hicks for an error. Two batters later, he got another ground ball, fielded it smoothly and made a strong, chest-high throw. Donít be surprised if he gets a start for the Twins by Sunday.

    In 2013, Dalton Hicks led minor league baseball with 110 RBI. Coming in second was Adam Walker with 109. It appears that the duo is starting 2014 on the right track. In the second inning, Walker crushed a ball well beyond the fence in left field for a home run. In the sixth inning, he came up with the bases loaded and drove in two with a single up the middle. Logan Wade and Zach Granite scored. Hicks came to bat next and his double drove in two more.



    Walker was 2-4 with the three RBI. Max Kepler also hit the ball well. He had a line drive triple to the gap in left centerfield and displayed very good speed. He added a single later in the game. Hicks was 1-2 with a walk and the two-run double.

    Please feel free to comment and ask any questions that you would like.
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I am pretty damn excited for the next group of pitching prospects. Its likely we won't see most of them until 2016 at the earliest. But its going to be fun to see who avoids the injuries, and other issues that flare up among pitching prospects.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      So it appears Dalton Hicks and AB Walker will start at A+ with the Miracle?

      What makes you think none of the trio will start at Cedar Rapids?

      Cedar Rapids season starts...April 3rd, http://www.milb.com/schedule/index.jsp?sid=t492

      Would you guess they would then have to wait until mid June for the Appy/GC league teams?

      I guess I wouldn't think they'd wait that long, but all they have is Class A in the interim other than ext. ST...but can't see them going to A, then to drop back down to GCL/Appy lg...
    1. dukie034's Avatar
      dukie034 -
      Seth, great stuff. Do you know tomorrow's minor league schedule?
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Who played CF for Miracle today?
      Any word on how the AA & AAA team did today? Who did what?
      Walker was something like 9-12 last year with bases loaded (3 Grand Slams). That's Clutch

      I know some guys will stay in extended spring training, but ETown has 20 pitchers listed. Who is going where from that group come the start of ETown season?
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      I just don't see any reason why Kohl Stewart doesn't join the Kernels opening day. But I guess its not too big of a deal if he spends a month or so in EST.

      Anyway, nowadays I almost look forward to the minor leagues season to start as much as the major league season.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      I just don't see any reason why Kohl Stewart doesn't join the Kernels opening day. But I guess its not too big of a deal if he spends a month or so in EST.

      Anyway, nowadays I almost look forward to the minor leagues season to start as much as the major league season.
      There are a lot of interesting starting pitchers in the Twins low minors.

      Felix Jorge
      Yorman Landa
      Randy Rosario
      Hein Robb
      Josh Burris
      Kuo Hua Lo
      Ryan Eades
      Luke Bard
      Kohl Stewart
      Stephen Gonsalves
      Any relievers they want to stretch out to try starting (Slegers, Bixler?)

      At some point it just becomes a numbers game. There is also a question of how many innings they want him to pitch this season. Starting in EST might be the best option then send him to CR if there is room and he is ready or he could head to Elizabethton when they open their season.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by dukie034 View Post
      Seth, great stuff. Do you know tomorrow's minor league schedule?
      Low A and High A play in Ft. Myers. AA and AAA in Sarasota. Orioles affiliates today, I believe. Talked to Stephen Gonsalves for a couple of minutes. He said he and Ryan Eades were pitching. Not sure who else.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by lightfoot789 View Post
      Who played CF for Miracle today?
      Any word on how the AA & AAA team did today? Who did what?
      Walker was something like 9-12 last year with bases loaded (3 Grand Slams). That's Clutch

      I know some guys will stay in extended spring training, but ETown has 20 pitchers listed. Who is going where from that group come the start of ETown season?
      Zach Granite played in CF for the Miracle roster.

      The only thing I read from the AAA game was that Nate Hanson had 3 doubles.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      Anyway, nowadays I almost look forward to the minor leagues season to start as much as the major league season.
      At least you can know that you're not the only one!!
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Are they keeping all back on an innings limit or something else? None of these guys really have anything to prove spending more time in rookie ball.
    1. markos's Avatar
      markos -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Are they keeping all back on an innings limit or something else? None of these guys really have anything to prove spending more time in rookie ball.
      I'm guessing it is part innings limits and part to avoid cold weather. Last year Berrios didn't make his first start of the season until April 22, even though the season started the first week of April.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Are they keeping all back on an innings limit or something else? None of these guys really have anything to prove spending more time in rookie ball.
      First, I do think that innings counts are a big part of it.

      But I also don't know that I agree that they don't really have anything to prove... Thorpe dominated at the GCL. Doesn't hurt him to face the college hitters in the Appy League. Gonsalves only got a few starts at E-Town, and Stewart had just one. Romero was also only in the GCL.

      Finally, I wouldn't be surprised if 2-3 of them are up in Cedar Rapids before the Appy League schedule starts.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by markos View Post
      I'm guessing it is part innings limits and part to avoid cold weather. Last year Berrios didn't make his first start of the season until April 22, even though the season started the first week of April.

      He also needed to get stretched out after spending so much time pitching one inning at a time with the Puerto Rico WBC team.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Low A and High A play in Ft. Myers. AA and AAA in Sarasota. Orioles affiliates today, I believe. Talked to Stephen Gonsalves for a couple of minutes. He said he and Ryan Eades were pitching. Not sure who else.
      Seth, what have you seen/heard about Eades? He seems to be the guy that is getting left out of the discussion at this point. As you know he was a 2/3 upside kind of guy that struggled a bit in his limited time last season. Any new information about him, at all?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Seth, what have you seen/heard about Eades? He seems to be the guy that is getting left out of the discussion at this point. As you know he was a 2/3 upside kind of guy that struggled a bit in his limited time last season. Any new information about him, at all?
      Likely go to Cedar Rapids. I never saw him pitch, but he is supposed to pitch today though.

      He'll be fine. Not sure why he isn't talked about more.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Likely go to Cedar Rapids. I never saw him pitch, but he is supposed to pitch today though.

      He'll be fine. Not sure why he isn't talked about more.
      Looking forward to your thoughts on him.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      There are a lot of interesting starting pitchers in the Twins low minors.

      Felix Jorge
      Yorman Landa
      Randy Rosario
      Hein Robb
      Josh Burris
      Kuo Hua Lo
      Ryan Eades
      Luke Bard
      Kohl Stewart
      Stephen Gonsalves
      Any relievers they want to stretch out to try starting (Slegers, Bixler?)

      At some point it just becomes a numbers game. There is also a question of how many innings they want him to pitch this season. Starting in EST might be the best option then send him to CR if there is room and he is ready or he could head to Elizabethton when they open their season.
      Robb and Burris aren't anything special. I'd really love to see Slegers work into a starting role though.
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      Eades had a rough time today, got hit around a bit. But the home team hit better and was keeping a rather large Oriole crowd somewhat quiet up til I left.

      Berrios looked great, struck out the side in the 1st. Gave up a hit or two in the second, I can't remember, but got out of it. I think he only threw 2 innings. Really nice curve working today.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Halsey Hall View Post
      Eades had a rough time today, got hit around a bit. But the home team hit better and was keeping a rather large Oriole crowd somewhat quiet up til I left.

      Berrios looked great, struck out the side in the 1st. Gave up a hit or two in the second, I can't remember, but got out of it. I think he only threw 2 innings. Really nice curve working today.
      I am going to write about today soon, but, yeah, Eades got hit around (I think they got 3 triples out of him) and I think part of the reason is that his two-seamer has a lot of movement and the home plate umpire refused to call the low strike (for anyone). Berrios indeed was throwing BBs out there 93-96 easy going. Gonsalves, Duffey and Jorge also pitched today as well.

      The Twins Director of Minor Leagues was in attendance for a brief time today and was amazing to see the kids quieting up when he arrived

      Now, my question is to you, Mr Hall: where were you today? Wish I knew, I'd say hi.
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      I was mostly hanging under the tower, and then back and forth between the fields. I didn't realize you were down here. I'll be over there tommorrow and watching Meyer throw. I'm sure I saw you today but had no clue.
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