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Article: Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher Of The Month - May 2016

tyler jay randy leblanc tommy milone jason wheeler miles nordgren
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 12:31 AM

Yesterday, we announced Byron Buxton as our Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month for May. Today, we recognize the top starting pitchers in the Twins minor leagues. Determining this month’s top starter was the most difficult decision I’ve had to make for a monthly award. So, I went to some others to help vote. Even then, the vote was close. But you’ll have to keep reading to find out who we’re talking about. At the end, you can comment on who would get your vote.So before to our Top 5 starting pitchers for the month, here are a few others who deserve to be recognized for a strong month.
  • 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
THE TOP FIVE STARTING PITCHERS

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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#2 jimbo92107

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 01:39 AM

Grammar Nazi here. "Ironically, Jay’s roommate with the Miracle is April’s SP of the Month, Stephen Gonsalves."

 

Actually, that's not ironic, 'tis merely coincidental. Irony requires some hint of the opposite of what you might expect. Sports irony, on the other hand, does not appear to follow that model, which is mentally painful, but again not ironic. 

 

Thus, a firehouse burning down is ironic, but three guys grounding out to the shortstop is not. That's just nice grouping.

 

Congratulations to Tyler Jay, for grouping his pitches nicely in his catcher's mitt!

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#3 Yossarian

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 06:07 AM

I'd give the nod to Jay over LeBlanc because the former succeeded against tougher competition.  I'd promote both.

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#4 roger

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 06:25 AM

Do you see a concern with Jay's innings as the summer winds down?Maybe a move back to the bullpen come August?


#5 tobi0040

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 06:44 AM

It sure looks like Jay has been able to make the transition to the rotation and he certainly has the stuff. Looks like a solid pick.

On a side note, how does a guy give up 3 ER over 32 IP and lose two games?
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#6 clutterheart

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 07:42 AM

 

Grammar Nazi here. "Ironically, Jay’s roommate with the Miracle is April’s SP of the Month, Stephen Gonsalves."

 

Actually, that's not ironic, 'tis merely coincidental. Irony requires some hint of the opposite of what you might expect.

 

Comments like this are the worst....its the internet...its free...its full of interesting analysis on interesting prospects and lots of work went into it.  Comment/disagree on that instead of trying to show how fluent you are in English.

 

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#7 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:03 AM

 

It sure looks like Jay has been able to make the transition to the rotation and he certainly has the stuff. Looks like a solid pick.

On a side note, how does a guy give up 3 ER over 32 IP and lose two games?

 

He got one run of support from his offense in those two losses. A 3-1 defeat vs. Palm Beach (he allowed 2 ER's), and 4-0 loss at Dunedin (1 ER).

 

His last start of the month was absolutely dominant. 8IP, 2 H's, 1 BB, 11 K's. Was also the highest Game Score from a prospect I remember seeing so far on the year, at 88.

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#8 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:10 AM

Please go to the Twins Daily Twitter Feed and Vote for your choice for Starting Pitcher of the Month? 

 

 

 


#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:11 AM

 

Grammar Nazi here. "Ironically, Jay’s roommate with the Miracle is April’s SP of the Month, Stephen Gonsalves."

 

Actually, that's not ironic, 'tis merely coincidental. Irony requires some hint of the opposite of what you might expect. Sports irony, on the other hand, does not appear to follow that model, which is mentally painful, but again not ironic. 

 

Thus, a firehouse burning down is ironic, but three guys grounding out to the shortstop is not. That's just nice grouping.

 

Congratulations to Tyler Jay, for grouping his pitches nicely in his catcher's mitt!

 

Oh, OK... 


#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:11 AM

 

Do you see a concern with Jay's innings as the summer winds down?Maybe a move back to the bullpen come August?

 

I'm sure they have a certain number they'll try to get to and then be careful. Some will depend on how he looks out on the mound, but I've said all along that I expect him to go back to the bullpen in mid-July or even August... probably in Chattanooga.

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#11 Twinsoholic

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:19 AM

Clutterheart, 

 

I respectfully disagree with your response to Jimbo's comment about the misuse of the word "ironically" in Seth's report. Seth presents good information in his report, but he likely appreciates the editing feedback. I certainly would. I don't see Jimbo as "trying to show how fluent [he is] in English." Instead, I see him as pointing out a mistake--in baseball mistakes are ruled as errors. We all learn from our mistakes. 

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#12 Mike Sixel

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:37 AM

I'd like to see Jay promoted this year, but I agree with Seth, it's more likely as a RP given pitch limits. Some great performances. Hoping we see promotions in a couple weeks.

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#13 clutterheart

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 08:53 AM

Prediction:  Romero is the pitcher of the month for June

 

Hopefully he can finish in Fort Meyers after they promote Gonsalves and Jay in July.  


#14 spycake

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 09:02 AM

 

On a side note, how does a guy give up 3 ER over 32 IP and lose two games?

Pitch in the FSL?

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#15 spycake

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 09:16 AM

 

Do you see a concern with Jay's innings as the summer winds down?Maybe a move back to the bullpen come August?

Jay is on pace for 133 innings right now (after his best/longest start of the year so far).  He threw 85 innings last year, between college and the pros.

 

Tyler Duffey went from 70 innings to 121 a couple years ago -- he did pitch the last month or so out of the pen, but he was doing pretty poorly as a starter at the time (4.67 ERA, 6.2 K/9 in his first 9 starts at Ft Myers).

 

If Jay is pitching well as a starter, there should be absolutely no need to move him to the pen to conserve his innings.  Don't mess with what is working.  If they really want to keep him under a firm 120 or 130 or whatever, they could simply skip his last start or two.  Although promoting him to start in a more difficult, less pitcher friendly league in AA would probably naturally reduce his innings a bit too.

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#16 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 09:18 AM

 

I'd like to see Jay promoted this year, but I agree with Seth, it's more likely as a RP given pitch limits. Some great performances. Hoping we see promotions in a couple weeks.

 

There were just a bunch of promotions 2 days ago... and yes, there will certainly be more... but there really were just a few ... Stewart, LeBlanc, etc. 


#17 TRex

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 09:35 AM

 

 

If Jay is pitching well as a starter, there should be absolutely no need to move him to the pen to conserve his innings. 

... there is if you want to see him in September ;)!


#18 spycake

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 09:43 AM

Man, the FSL is tough for hitters -- the league HR/9 rate would rank 17th among qualifiers in MLB this year!  Less than half of the MLB overall rate.


#19 David HK

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 10:15 AM

 

It sure looks like Jay has been able to make the transition to the rotation and he certainly has the stuff. Looks like a solid pick.

On a side note, how does a guy give up 3 ER over 32 IP and lose two games?

Yeh, I noticed that too.  Not a lotta hittin' going on down there in the Fort, eh?


#20 birdwatcher

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 10:39 AM

 

Pitch in the FSL?

 

 

And with that rather tepid roster of every day players....




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