- LHP Andrew Albers (Rochester) - 5 GS, 3-1, 3.16 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 33 H, 10 BB, 22 K
- RHP DJ Baxendale (Chattanooga) - 6 GS, 4-2, 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 38.0 IP, 38 H, 6 BB, 25 K
- LHP Stephen Gonsalves (Ft. Myers) - 5 GS, 3-1, 2.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 28.2 IP, 23 H, 12 BB, 26 K
- RHP Felix Jorge (Ft. Myers) - 4 GS, 2-1, 2.05 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 24 H, 5 BB, 21 K
Number 5 – Cedar Rapids – RHP Miles Nordgren - 5 G, 4 GS, 1-1, 2.39 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 25 H, 5 BB, 35 K
Nordgren was the Twins 23rd-round draft pick in 2014 out of Birmingham Southern. He has pitched in long relief and as a starter at various times since signing. He was with the Kernels briefly in 2015 and began the 2016 season in extended spring training. In 2016, he has made nine appearances. The four out of the bullpen were at least two innings.
For the month, Nordgren held opponents to a .240/.275/.269 (.544). His 12.0 K/9 is the highest on this list of starting pitchers. In his most recent start, he struck out twelve batters in seven innings thanks to an improved slider. When asked if he throws 90 mph, following the game, Nordgren said, “on a good day.”Number 4 - Rochester – LHP Tommy Milone - 4 GS, 2-0, 2.22 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 28.1 IP, 23 H, 0 BB, 24 K
In late April, the Twins moved Milone to their bullpen. He made one big league appearance in long relief at the beginning of May before being placed on waivers. When he went unclaimed, he was outrighted to Rochester. As he did a year ago when he was optioned to the Red Wings, he pitched great.
Milone was a strike-throwing machine. Opponents hit just .219/.219/.371 off of him in his four starts. He throws strikes and he misses bats. Then again, there’s no surprise in his AAA success. Milone is clearly a big league pitcher who now is just waiting for another opportunity whether it is with the Twins or elsewhere.Number 3 – Rochester – LHP Jason Wheeler - 6 GS, 4-1, 1.59 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 39.2 IP, 28 H, 7 BB, 36 K
A year ago, Jason Wheeler was on the 40-man roster and began the season in AAA. He really struggled with AAA. In 15 starts, he went 1-7 with a 6.58 ERA. He returned to AA and pitched well again. That’s where he started the 2016 season, with the Lookouts. In four starts, he posted a 1.88 ERA. He was brought back up to AAA and he has been fantastic.
For the month, Wheeler allowed opponents to hit .194/.237/.278 (.515) against him. More surprising yet, he has struck out 7.5 batters per nine innings after posting a career K/9 rate of just 6.0. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, Wheeler doesn’t throw real hard, but he knows how to pitch.Number 2 - Cedar Rapids – RHP Randy LeBlanc - 5 GS, 4-0, 0.24 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 37.0 IP, 24 H, 6 BB, 21 K
I would guess that with LeBlanc’s May, he would win the Starting Pitcher of the Month award in at least 95% of months. This month, he comes in a close second. LeBlanc gave up one run all month, in 37 innings. At one time, he had a run of 37 innings between runs allowed.
The 24-year-old was the Twins 10th-round pick in 2014 out of Tulane. In May, opponents hit just .185/.232/.208 (.440) off of him. Seemingly any time he had a base runner, he was able to use his sinker to coax a double play.
According to Kernels pitching coach JP Martinez, “He’s basically got a ground ball whenever he needs it with that sinker he’s got.”
While he doesn’t throw real hard, hitting 92 at times with a sinker, he’s able to work the fastball on both sides of the plate. He’s got a plus-changeup, and a harder, mid-80s slider. He’s got another slider in the lower-80s that drops more.
Per Martinez, he’s got good stuff but just needed to develop it over innings, “He’s got hard-sink in the low-90s, a good slider and a really good changeup. I think the only thing they wanted to work on coming back was putting guys away. I don’t think that they thought he didn’t have an out pitch but they wanted him to develop it more. He’s got a great idea how to attack hitters.”
Following eight shutout innings on the last day of the month, he was finally promoted from the Kernels to Ft. Myers.And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:
Ft. Myers – LHP Tyler Jay - 5 GS, 3-2, 0.84 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 20 H, 7 BB, 38 K
For the second straight month, the choice for starting pitcher of the month is a left-hander from the Ft. Myers Miracle. In a very close vote, Jay was the selection over LeBlanc in large part due to his dominance. Ironically, Jay’s roommate with the Miracle is April’s SP of the Month, Stephen Gonsalves.
The Twins top pick a year ago out of Illinois had a tremendous May, culminating with eight shutout innings on the final day of the month. While his overall numbers are very similar to LeBlanc’s, his strikeout tally is what puts him in that top spot. Opponents hit just .180/.229/.180 (.409) against him in the month. No extra-base hits.
Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, Jay also has a devastating slider, a slower curveball and a change up. A reliever in college, Jay is making the transition to being a starter. With the exception for one start, and a couple of games with first inning struggles, Jay has made that transition smoothly.There was again several choices for starting pitcher performances in May, and two of them were very deserving of winning the award. Let’s discuss. Who would get your vote, Tyler Jay or Randy LeBlanc? And frankly, in most months, Jason Wheeler would win the award with the numbers he put up in May.
Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations these individuals on a terrific month.
Congratulations to the May Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month for 2016, Tyler Jay.
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