Last night, I posted the Twins Minor League Starting Pitchers of June. It was clearly not a strong part of the organization during the month. One area where the Twins minor league system was very strong was in the bullpen. There were plenty of very strong candidates. It was difficult to rank the relievers because there are some very good relievers who have really pitched well into this middle part of the season.
However, here are my choices for the Top 5 Twins Minor League Relief Pitchers in June:
Number 5 – Ft. Myers/New Britain – RHP Dakota Watts
- 9 G, 1.32 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 13 K
Watts missed nearly the first two months of the season with some shoulder tendonitis. He returned in late May to the Miracle where he pitched seven games. There was little question that the team wanted to push him up to AA when it was clear he was healthy. He ended the 2011 season with the Rock Cats before going to the Arizona Fall League. Watts has a big-time back-of-the-bullpen ceiling, if he throws enough strikes.
Number 4 – Ft. Myers – RHP Matt Hauser
- 8 G, 1.59 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 17 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 15 K
Earlier in June, Hauser got to start a “Bullpen” game and threw three good innings. Hauser throws very hard and mixes pitches well. He can be dominant in the bullpen. Late in the month, he got a second start and had a no-hitter through four innings. He is going to be in the starting rotation at least for the time being.
Number 3 – Beloit – RHP Tim Atherton
- 7 G, 0.61 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 5 H, 7 BB, 24 K
Atherton was a hitter in the Twins system a few years ago, but he resurfaced last year as a pitcher. He throws hard and he throws a very sharp slider. He has walked too many, but his stuff is terrific and he misses a lot of bats. The Australian is one who could move up quickly.
Number 2 – New Britain – Bruce Pugh
- 10 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 5 H, 7 BB, 18 K
Bruce Pugh had a frustrating 2011 season with the Miracle, the Rock Cats and then in the Arizona Fall League. He was promoted to the Rock Cats at the end of May. He still walked too many, but he gave up few hits and missed a lot of bats. Like the others on this list, Pugh throws gas and does have a second pitch as well. He and Watts are both candidates to be added to the 40 man roster after the season.
And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month
Beloit/Ft. Myers –
Michael Tonkin - 9 G, 0.63 ERA, 0.42 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 28 K
Tonkin had an incredible month of June. He began the month in Beloit where he dominated. In eight innings, he gave up ZERO hits, ZERO walks and struck out 18 batters. Fans (and bloggers) wondered aloud when he would be promoted to Ft. Myers. He pitched in the Midwest League All Star game and was promoted following the game. He has been very good with the Miracle as well. He throws hard and from a different arm slot. He gets a lot of movement and missed a lot of bats.
So what do you think? I’ve listed five relievers here that deserve be recognized for their terrific performances this past month. Who would your choice be? How would you rank these guys (and feel free to include others)?
Be sure to check back later for the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month of June.