In case you missed it, here are the previously-announced April winners:
- C Mitch Garver (Rochester) - .278/.435/.500 (.935). 10-36 with five doubles, one home run and eight RBI.
- OF Daniel Palka (Rochester) - .259/.318/.469 (.787). 21-81 with two doubles, five home runs and 13 RBI.
- 1B/3B Matt Hague (Rochester) - .313/.398/.450 (.848). 25-80 with two doubles, three homers and 12 RBI.
- 2B/SS Engelb Vielma (Chattanooga) - .320/.373/.387 (.760). 24-75 with five doubles and ten RBI.
- OF Max Murphy (Ft. Myers) - .297/.402/.432 (.834). 22-74 with four doubles, two homers and eight RBI.
- OF Jaylin Davis (Cedar Rapids) - .268/.341/.465 (.806). 19-71 with one double, two triples, three home runs and 11 RBI.
Number 6 – Chattanooga – 2B/SS Nick Gordon - .322/.381/.437 (.818). 28-87 with three doubles, two triples, one home run and 12 RBI.
Gordon was the Twins top pick, fifth overall, in the 2014 draft out of high school in Orlando. He has gradually worked his way up the system, one step at a time, always well younger than the average player in his league. This year, he is one of the youngest players in the AA Southern League, and he’s off to a terrific start.
Gordon has been the team’s leadoff hitter most every game. He’s split his time between shortstop (13 games) and second base (8 games) with Engelb Vielma and done well at both spots. Talking to Nick Gordon in spring training, it was clear that he was ready to have a big season. He told me that his confidence was very high following his AFL performance last year as well as his time in big league camp. He’s still got work to do. For instance, I think that more power will come. But at least to this point, he has taken more walks and better plate appearances, something that will help him in the long run.
Number 5 – Ft. Myers – 1B Zander Wiel - .259/.337/.506 (.843). 21-81 with eight doubles, three triples, two home runs and 18 RBI.
Wiel was the Twins 12th-round pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt. He led the Midwest League in RBI in 2016. This year he has moved up to the Miracle where he is off to another solid start. To this point, he has been an extra base hit machine which is always impressive in the Florida State League. The first baseman also had 18 RBI in the month, tops in the Twins minor leagues.
Last week, Wiel was taken out of a game after being hit by a 95 mph fastball in the face. He had a few stitches put in, missed one game and was back in the lineup. He’s got work to do defensively, but it will be his bat that will have to carry him up the ladder.
Number 4 – Cedar Rapids – OF Aaron Whitefield - .289/.304/.566 (.877). 22-76 with five doubles, two triples, four home runs and 12 RBI.
Two years ago, Aaron Whitefield was playing softball internationally for Australia. A Twins scout saw him play and decided the tremendous athlete had good size and speed, and signed him. He played just a few games in the GCL in 2015 after signing. Last year, he was the lone GCL Twins player to be named to the postseason All-Star team. He made the jump from the GCL to the Midwest League, and after some early struggles, he has been very good.
He has hit mostly first or ninth in Tommy Watkins’ lineup. He has mostly played center field where he has tremendous range and a strong arm. While he will need to be more patient at the plate, He had just two walks to go with 19 strikeouts in the month, he has some natural yet raw abilities that are very encouraging. In time, he’ll hit for more power and can steal some bases. Expect some ups and downs, but the 20-year-old’s talent is immense.
Number 3 - Rochester – IF Tommy Field - .314/.380/.543 (.923) 22-70 with seven doubles, three homers and five RBI
Between 2011 and 2015, Field played in a combined 47 big league games for the Rockies, Angels and Rangers. The 30-year-old utility infielder came to the Twins as a free agent during the middle of the 2016 season. He showed an ability to play all three infield positions very well, as well as playing well in some outfield time. In 82 games for the Red Wings last year, Field hit .235 (.726) with 11 home runs.
Number 2 - Cedar Rapids – C/1B Mitchell Kranson - .324/.351/.535 (.887) 23-71 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 11 RBI
Field had a nice showing in big league camp this year before being sent to Rochester again. He had a strong first month. He hit over .300 with ten extra base hits while continuing to be reliable wherever manager Mike Quade puts him in the lineup or on the field.
After four years at Cal-Berkeley, Kranson was the Twins ninth-round draft pick last June. He went to Elizabethton and hit. In the offseason, he lost 25 pounds and gained strength. He came to spring training looking like a different person. It’s good to see when a guy works that hard sees immediate success. He’s hit anywhere from two to five in the Kernels lineup and been productive all month. He’s hit for extra-base power. He uses the whole field well. He’s a very professional hitter.
Defensively, he played first base, third base and catcher this month. He’d like to do more catching in time, though part of his value as he goes forward will be his ability to play multiple positions including behind the plate.And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:
Cedar Rapids – SS Jermaine Palacios - .393/.432/.573 (1.005). 35-89 with three doubles, five triples, one home run and 11 RBI.
A year ago, a 19-year-old Jermaine Palacios finished April in Cedar Rapids hitting .186/.256/.214 (.471). It didn’t get better as things warmed up, and his season came to an end after being hit by a pitch in mid-July.
2017 has been completely different. Now 20, Palacios got off to a fast start and it has continued. With a couple of hits last night, he now has a 14-game hitting streak. He’s hit the ball hard all over the field. He leads the organization in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases, triples, and several other offensive categories. And despite this being his second go-round in the league, 85% of his at bats have come against older pitchers.
Defensively, he’s played at shortstop every game. He’s been pretty good, posting a .955 fielding percentage. Many believe that he has the ability to stick at shortstop.
While it is easy to think that the Twins should move Palacios up to Ft. Myers, and that may happen. However, he’s still got things to work on and it doesn’t hurt for him to experience some extended success at this level. Also, he has just four walks to go with 18 strikeouts, so he’ll have to continue to work on his plate discipline. However, to this point, aggressiveness has paid off for him.
Congratulations to the April Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month for 2017, Cedar Rapids shortstop Jermaine Palacios.
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