I thought it would be fun to take a look back at that 2007 Beloit Snappers playoff team. There are a lot of recognizable names.. I had been following the Twins minor league system for a couple of years, and I remember that team. Several members of that team took a few minutes to tell me what they remember of that team and that season.
Matt Fox was a supplemental 1st round pick in 2004 out of Central Florida but had surgery in 2005. In 2006, he returned with Elizabethton, and in 2007, he spent the year in Beloit. He began the year in the bullpen before becoming a starter in the second half. As he remembers, “we had a big house on a river up there, lived six guys in one house, road to the field in back of someone pickup truck and just were having fun and playing hard.”
According to Fox, Jeff Smith (currently the manager in New Britain), “just tried to hammer it in to us to play hard and good things will happen. That's about it, well that and the long bus rides.”
Cole De Vries, who went 9-5 in 25 starts for the Snappers that season, marveled at the amount of talent that played in Beloit that season. “I think one of the things that is the most amazing about that team is how many guys that were on that team that have played in the big leagues. (Danny) Valencia and I were talking about it the other night and I think there are 10-12 guys from that team that are or have been in the big leagues. It’s amazing when you think that about half of a low level team have played in the big leagues. That's something you would expect from a AAA team not a low A team.”
Brian Dinkelman added, “What is amazing to me is how many players from that team are still with the organization.”
Members of the 2007 Beloit Snappers that played in the Major Leagues:
- Joe Benson, Alex Burnett, Cole De Vries, Rob Delaney, Brian Dinkelman, Matt Fox, Armando Gabino, Jeff Manship, Chris Parmelee, Wilson Ramos, Anthony Slama, Rene Tosoni, and Danny Valencia.
Also on the Beloit roster in 2007 but no major league service time but still in the Twins organization:
- Tyler Robertson and Deibinson Romero.
Like this 2012 team, the 2007 Snappers clinched a playoff spot by winning the first half. Of course, that meant that several of the players that helped clinch the playoff spot did not play in the playoffs because they were promoted to Ft. Myers. Dinkelman said, “Even though I was not there for the playoffs it was still exciting to help clinch a spot in the playoffs.”
Gabino was promoted in May. Dinkelman, Manship and Valencia were promoted right after the Midwest League All-Star game. Allan de San Miguel and Rob Delaney moved up in July.
The same will likely happen with the 2012 team. For instance, Michael Tonkin has been great all season for the Snappers but particularly dominant since the calendar changed to June. In five games, he has thrown eight innings and given up no runs on no hits and no walks while striking out 18 batters. Now that the Snappers have clinched, he should get the opportunity to pitch in the league all star game and then but pushed up to Ft. Myers. AJ Achter is another reliever that could move up.
As those players move up, others will get an opportunity. In all likelihood, the Twins should be able to push 2012 draft picks like Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard, JT Chargois and Tyler Duffey to Beloit when needed. In 2007, it was Anthony Slama that came to the Snappers in mid-July and helped out of the bullpen down the stretch and in the playoffs. Slama was drafted in the 36th round of the 2006 draft, but he did not sign. Instead, he went back to San Diego for his senior season of college. However, before the 2007 draft, he signed (in the final year of ‘draft-and-follow) with the Twins. After a few games in Elizabethton, he came up to the Twins.
In 2007, the Elizabethton Twins won the Appalachian League title. Rene Tosoni and Deibinson Romero were the top players on that team. Following the championship series, the two moved up to Beloit where they played in the final two games of the season with the Snappers. They were also able to play with the Snappers in their playoff run. Not only did they play, they often hit in the middle of the lineup.
The 2007 playoffs began with a series against Clinton. In the first game, De Vries threw a shutout through 8.1 innings. He gave up a solo home run to Chad Tracy in the 9th inning but got the final two outs for the win. In game two, it was Matt Fox who threw five shutout innings. The game was still tied at zero in the 8th inning. Rene Tosoni came off the bench to pinch hit and drilled an RBI double. Chris Parmelee then singled in Tosoni to give the Snappers a 2-0 lead, a lead that Anthony Slama was able to hold for the save. The Snappers won the best-of-three series 2-0.
That set up a best-of-five championship series against West Michigan. West Michigan won the first two games of the series.
Game 1 – Beloit 3, West Michigan 4 – Alex Burnett threw a complete game but took the loss. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and two walks in eight innings. Matt Betsill was 2-2 with two walks. Greg Yersich was 2-4.
Game 2 – Beloit 2, West Michigan 3 – The Snappers managed just two hits. Garrett Olson hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the team a lead, but the White Caps scored the final three runs of the game. Tyler Robertson started and gave up three runs in six innings, but just one was earned thanks to three Snappers errors. Duane Below started or the Tigers’ affiliate. He struck out ten and gave up just one hit and two walks in seven innings. Current Red Wings reliever Casey Fien got the save by striking out three in the final two innings.
Game 3 – Beloit 8, West Michigan 5 – Cole De Vries had a rough start, but the bullpen came through for the team. De Vries gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks in 4.1 innings. Then Danny Vais came in and threw 2.2 scoreless innings. Dan Leatherman pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Anthony Slama pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the playoffs. Steve Singleton went 2-4 with two RBI. Joe Benson was 2-4 with a double. Danny Santiesteban went 2-4. Garrett Olson hit another home run.
Game 4 – Beloit 5, West Michigan 0 – Deibinson Romero hit a three-run homer in the first inning to get things off on the right foot. Joe Benson added a solo homer in the fifth frame. That was more than enough offense for Matt Fox. The right-hander threw six scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out ten. Matt Williams threw a scoreless inning. Allen Craig threw two scoreless innings.
Game 5 – Beloit 5, West Michigan 11 – The Snappers scored five runs in the third to take a 5-3 lead. Unfortunately, West Michigan scored eight runs in the fifth inning and that was it for the offense. Catcher Greg Yersich hit a bases-clearing triple for the Snappers, and Santiesteban went 2-4 in the game. Joe Benson also hit a triple. Alex Burnett started and gave up three runs (2 earned) on five hits in three innings. Leatherman came in and pitched a scoreless fourth inning before he gave up three unearned runs in the fifth inning without getting an out. Jose Lugo got two outs in the fifth and gave up four runs (3 earned). Danny Vais got the final out of the fifth inning and then threw two more innings. Anthony Slama and Jesus Carnevales each threw a scoreless inning. Based on all the unearned runs, you know that the Snappers defense wasn’t great. They committed SIX errors.
What a run it was for the 2007 Beloit Snappers. It was a fun time following the Midwest League playoffs in 2007, and thanks to a nice first half by the Snappers, there will be another playoff run for the 2012 team.