If you’re looking for a good reason for why the Cedar Rapids Kernels ended July by winning 16 of their final 20 games of the month, look no further than this article. The Kernels' bullpen has been absolutely dominant. Sure, you’ll learn tomorrow when we go through the starting pitchers that they were also a part of that, along with the Kernels' hitters. However, if the Kernels have a lead through five or six innings, they’re most likely going to win.Here are my choices for the Top 5 Twins Minor League Relief Pitchers in July. However, first I just need to point out several Honorable Mentions. It’s encouraging there are this many who warranty recognition this month!
- RHP Deolis Guerra – Rochester – 7 G, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 16 K, 0.73 ERA, 0.81 WHIP
- RHP Adrian Salcedo – New Britain – 6 G, 2 GS, 11.1 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 1.53 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
- LHP Jim Fuller – New Britain – 7 G, 12.2 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 15 K, 2.13 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
- LHP Mason Melotakis – Ft. Myers/New Britain – 10 G, 13.0 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 20 K, 1.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
- RHP Alex Wimmers – New Britain – 9 G, 16.1 IP, 18 H, 4 BB, 21 K, 2.20 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
- RHP Tyler Jones – Ft. Myers – 12 G, 13.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 15 K, 1.32 ERA, 0.95 WHIP
- LHP Brandon Bixler – Cedar Rapids – 9 G, 15.1 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 19 K, 1.76 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
- RHP Todd Van Steensel – Ft. Myers – 11 G, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 19 K, 1.88 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
- RHP Dereck Rodriguez – Elizabethton – 7 G, 10.0 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
- RHP Eduardo Del Rosario – GCL Twins – 8 G, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 12 K, 2.08 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
- RHP Trevor Hildenberger – GCL Twins – 11 G, 14.2 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 14 K, 3.07 ERA, 1.02 WHIP
Number 5 – Cedar Rapids – RHP Nick Burdi - 9 G, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 21 K
The Twins drafted Nick Burdi in the 24th round out of high school, but they were unable to sign him. He said he wasn’t ready at that time. After three years as a dominant closer at Louisville, the Twins were able to draft him in June with their 2nd round pick, 46th overall. He signed after the College World Series and a couple weeks later he debuted with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. I was at his professional debut. He threw fastballs between 96 and 99 mph and a couple sliders around 88-89. However, he walked all four batters he faced and later all four came around to score. That was in late June. Since the beginning of July he has been terrific. His fastball has reportedly hit 100 mph a few times, and his slider is at 89-91. He has thrown strikes and missed a lot of bats. My sense is still that the 21 year old will be up with the Twins very early in the 2015 season.
Number 4 – Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers – RHP Alex Muren - 8 G, 0.59 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 14 K
Muren was the Twins 12th round pick in 2012 out of Cal State – Northridge. He spent the final 2/3 of the 2013 season with the Kernels and went 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 60 innings. This year, he was 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 56 innings with the Kernels before being promoted to Ft. Myers where he has made three appearances. Though he doesn’t throw real hard, he gets a lot of sink and induces a lot of ground balls. With the Kernels, he has had more than 2.5 ground outs per fly out. He also did a good job of getting the baseball to run below the bats in July, striking out nearly a batter per inning.
Number 3 – Ft. Myers – RHP Brandon Peterson - 9 G, 1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 4 H, 8 BB, 21 K
Peterson has become a regular on these monthly lists. The Burnsville native was the Twins 13th round pick a year ago out of Wichita State. He began this season in Cedar Rapids, but he was promoted to the Miracle just nine appearances into the season. His transition to the Miracle has been very impressive. The 22 year old has a 1.82 ERA over 34.2 Florida State League innings. He has 50 strikeouts to go with just 13 walks in that time. He was very good in July, and a little better control would likely allow him to move up another level. In July, opponents hit just .089 off of him, but eight walks pushed their on-base percentage over 22%
Number 2 – Cedar Rapids – Dallas Gallant - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 20 K
I mean, 90% of months, the numbers that Dallas Gallant put up in July would have been easily the top bullpen performance of the month. However, this month, it’s good for only number two. Let’s just say that he, and the Twins, will take more months like this from anyone. He was taken in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft out of Sam Houston State. He has had Tommy John surgery and missed time for other reasons including the first 50 games this season. However, since he has been activated by the Kernels, he has been lights out. Overall, he has 27 strikeouts to just four walks in his 16.2 innings this year. In July, opponents hit just .140/.213/.163 (.376) against him. Frankly, there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in Ft. Myers right now. He throws mid-90s heat and has good secondary pitches as well.
And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
Elizabethton/Cedar Rapids – Jake Reed - 7 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.18 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 16 K
The Twins used their fifth round pick this June on Jake Reed, a closer from Oregon. The hard-throwing right-hander was sent to Elizabethton. However, after just four appearances and six innings, he was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he has continued to pitch great. As the Twins do with current-year draft pick pitchers, they don’t pitch real often, generally getting three days in between appearances. However, when Reed was on the mound in July, he was about as dominant as it gets. Opponents hit just .054/.079/.081 (.160) off him. Reed throws hard, having touched 97 at times. He has an OK breaking ball which will need to improve. He throws a little from the side, giving hitters a different look. He started his first two seasons at Oregon, so he could possibly go back to that role, though he could move much more quickly as a bullpen arm.
So what do you think? I’ve listed five relievers here (along with several other Honorable Mentions) that deserve to be recognized for their terrific performances. Who would your choice be? How would you rank these guys (and feel free to include others)?
Be sure to check back the next couple days for the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher and Hitter of the Month of July.
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