Previous Starting Pitchers of the Month for 2018:
April 2018: Zander Wiel, Chattanooga Lookouts
May 2018: Alex Kirilloff, Cedar Rapids Kernels
June 2018: See Below.Let’s take a look at the Top 5 hitters for the month of June, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention.
- Willians Astudillo - Rochester Red Wings - 19-65, .292/.317/.477 (.796) with six doubles and two home runs.
- LaMonte Wade - Rochester Red Wings - 26-90, .289/.430/.433 (.863) with seven doubles and two homers
- Mark Contreras - Ft. Myers Miracle - 22-82, .268/.358/.427 (.785) with three doubles, two triples and two home runs.
- Andrew Bechtold - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 23-76, .303/.426/.434 (.860) with seven doubles and one homer.
- Trey Cabbage - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 19-68, .279/.342/.559 (.901) with six doubles, two triples and three homers.
- Jose Miranda - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 27-96, .281/.340/.458 (.798) with eight doubles and three homers.
- Jacob Pearson - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 24-81, .296/.380/.432 (813) with six doubles, one triple and one homer.
- Robby Rinn - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 28-87, .322/.398/.460 (.858) with six doubles and two homers.
Number 5 – Cedar Rapids Kernels - Royce Lewis - .330/.380/.604 (.984), 30-91 with ten doubles, five home runs and 22 RBI.
It’s not always how you start a month, but how you end it. In the first four games Lewis played in June, he went just 1-for-18. In his final four game of June, Lewis went 9-for-13 with four doubles and a home run, as well as three walks. Lewis has continued to develop over the course of the season. His monthly OPS has gone from .747 in April to .828 in May and now .984 in June. While he hit for a slightly higher average earlier in the season, he has added much more extra-base power as the season has worn on. Lewis was named to the Midwest League All-Star Game where he led off and had a single in his first at-bat and stole a base. At this point, we’re all waiting for his imminent promotion to Ft. Myers that we thought would happen after the All-Star break, and then after the Jorge Polanco promotion to the Red Wings. It hasn’t yet, but maybe that’s been a hidden blessing in disguise as Lewis is playing as well as he has all year for the Kernels.
Number 4 – Ft. Myers Miracle - Caleb Hamilton - .304/.381/.714 (1.095). 17-56 with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs and 18 RBI.
It was a tough first half of the season for Caleb Hamilton. The catcher, third baseman, left fielder (and wherever else needed) was hitting just .147 (.490) at the end of the first half. Things changed when his Oregon State Beavers started their College World Series run on June 16. In the eight games since that date, Hamilton hit hit .404/.487/1.000 (1.487) with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 14 RBI. Something in that Oregon State blood, I guess. The 23-year-old was the Twins 38th-round pick in 2016. In college, he played all three infield positions. He moved behind the plate after beginning his professional career.
Number 3 - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle – OF Alex Kirilloff - .355/.407/.617 (1.024), 38-107 with six doubles, two triples, six homers and 23 RBI.
Just to get it out of the way, Alex Kirilloff did not play at all during the 2017 season after having Tommy John surgery in March. You would hardly know it as he needed maybe four games at the start of the season to start raking again. Drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Pennsylvania, he was touted as the top prep bat in the draft. He’s returned and proven a lot of people right. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month when he posted an OPS over 1.000, something he did again in June. His June might be more impressive because following his All-Star Game experience, representing the Twins and Cedar Rapids, he was immediately promoted to Ft. Myers where he has continued to rake. In his first ten Miracle games, he hit .341 and had five multi-hit games. He’ll certainly have to continue making adjustments, but his prospect status has certainly jumped up this season.
Number 2 - Chattanooga Lookouts – 1B/OF Brent Rooker - .312/.393/.645 (1.038), 29-93 with seven doubles, three triples, six homers and 18 RBI.
The Twins have been exceedingly aggressive in their promotion of Rooker since he joined the organization as a first-round pick a year ago. He really struggled at the start of the season. In April, he posted a .638 OPS. In May, it jumped up to .739. He had a huge June in which he posted an OPS of 1.038. He hit for average. He started taking more walks. He delivered a lot of power in the form of doubles, triples and home runs. He still struck out a ton, but that doesn’t matter as much when he’s providing the kind of thump he did in June. To have a month like this in Double-A a year after being drafted is impressive.Consider only Brian Navarreto and Lewis Thorpe are younger than the 23-year-old Rooker on the Lookouts roster. The future is bright.
And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:
Ft. Myers Miracle – IF Luis Arraez - .449/.487/.617 (1.104), 48-107 with nine doubles, three triples, one homer and 13 RBI.
Luis Arraez is back!
Alex Kirilloff isn’t the only Twins hitting prospect who missed the 2017 season with injury. After winning the Midwest League batting title by hitting .347 as a 19-year-old in Cedar Rapids, Arraez was set for big things in Ft. Myers in 2017. In the third game of the season, he tried to beat out an infield single, hit first base hard, and tore his ACL. It required season-ending surgery.
Arraez worked hard to get back. His 2018 season started about two weeks late as he finished up his rehab. In his first six games, he went just 1-for-24 (.042). He did improve upon that, but even when he played on June 5th, he was hitting .205/.277/.252 (.529). Over his final 22 games of June, he hit .474/.500/.649 (1.149) with eight doubles, three triples and a homer. He had more than one hit in 15 of those 22 games including five, three-hit games, two, four-hit games and a five-hit game. He ended the month hitting .321 on the season.
Arraez had spent most of the season as the youngest player on the Miracle roster. Over the last month, Ben Rortvedt, Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol have pushed him down that list. But, it is interesting to note that Arraez has had 248 plate appearances in 2018. Nine of them have come against pitchers that are younger than him.We would like to congratulate Luis Arraez, Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month for June 2018. Feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions.
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