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Article: Twins Minor League Report (5/5): Balazovic Dazzles in Miracle Debut

jordan balazovic griffin jax cole sands ryan jeffers david banuelos
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 04:14 PM

Most days, the pitching lines from Cedar Rapids RHP Cole Sands or Pensacola RHP Griffin would garner Pitcher of the Day consideration. And based on the previous sentence, it was given some thought. But what Jordan Balazovic did in his Miracle debut on Sunday afternoon was really impressive. Three Twins affiliates played and all three won on a great day for the Twins' minor league affiliates.Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the awards and transactions of the day.


AWARDS
Every Sunday, the Twins announce their Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week. Here are this week’s winners.
  • Hitter of the Week: Chris Williams, C/1B, Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Twins eighth-round pick in 2018 out of Clemson, Williams his .333 (6-for-18) with three homers. He also walked six times.
  • Pitcher of the Week: Jorge Alcala, RHP, Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Acquired last July from the Astros, Alcala made one start last week. He threw five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, no walks and struck out eight.
In case you missed any of them, Twins Daily named it’s Award winners for April.TRANSACTIONS
  • RHP Ryan Mason was activated from the injured list.
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester, Pawtucket
Box Score

It was raining which caused this game to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 7th.

BLUE WAHOO BITES
Pensacola 9, Biloxi 2
Box Score

Things started out really well for the Wahoos on Sunday. The team’s first two hitters, Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff, each singled. Then Miguel Sano followed with a long, three-run home run. The team added a fourth, first-inning run on Jaylin Davis’s fourth home run of the year.



Griffin Jax started the game. He gave up two unearned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings of work. Ryan Mason, fresh off the IL, worked the final 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run. He struck out three. Jax improved to 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA while Mason recorded his fifth save and kept his ERA at 0.00.

Jaylin Davis went 2-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home urn of the year. Caleb Hamilton gave some extra cushion in the eighth inning when he hit a bases-clearing double, his sixth double of the year.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 0
Box Score

Jordan Balazovic was promoted to the Miracle over the weekend, and on Sunday, he made his Florida State League debut. It is hard to imagine that it could have possibly gone any better.

Balazovic, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school near Toronto, threw seven perfect innings. Not just scoreless. Not even just hitless. Perfect. He needed 97 pitches to complete seven innings. No hits. No walks. And he struck out ten batters.

His catcher, 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers, was impressed.

“He (Balazovic) did amazing. He was in complete control from the beginning and he didn’t even really have his offspeed for the first couple of innings.” Jeffers continued, “He definitely settled in after one or two innings. He had his curveball, his changeup. He had it all working. We were able to throw any pitch in any count, and he was executing all day. It was something special for me to watch as a catcher. I’m putting down the signs, and he’s the one executing all the pitches. All credit to him for putting on such a great performance today.”

Because of the pitch count, he was removed after seven innings and replaced by RHP Anthony Vizcaya. After getting the first out in the eighth frame, Vizcaya gave up a double off of the wall in left field to end the perfect game and no-hitter. He issued a walk after that, but he finished that inning with two strikeouts to end the threat. He worked a perfect ninth inning to complete the shutout. It was Vizcaya’s second save of the season.

Jeffers was instrumental in the near-perfecto, but he also led the offense on Sunday afternoon. Jeffers started the season by going 1-for-17 (.059), but after going 4-for-4 on Sunday, he is now hitting .295. He added his second homer of the season as well. His approach throughout the early slump is part of what helped him start to take off since those early struggles.

“Team-wide, we started out a little slow, but we are all starting to settle in, put good at-bats together and string them together. We’re putting up a lot of runs and hits consistently.”

Of course, hitting in the Florida State League is never an easy thing. Big ballparks and high humidity have a tendency to subdue offensive production.

Jeffers noted, “You just try to eliminate it from your mind. There’s nothing you can do about how big the parks are and how the ball doesn’t fly. You just continue to do what you do. You find consistent barrels and it will eventually drop. You’re going to find holes, and you’re going to find gaps.”

Jeffers’ homer gave the Miracle a 1-0 lead. In the seventh inning, the Miracle added on. Royce Lewis doubled in Jeffers and Malique Ziegler to give them a 3-0 lead. In the top of the ninth, they added another on an RBI double off the bat of Jose Miranda.

Lewis and Trevor Larnach each went 2-for-5 with a double. Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-4 with a double.

The Miracle are now 20-10 on the season, and Jeffers is excited to be a part of this talented young team. “We feel really good right now as a team. We trust everyone on this team, everybody and the plate and everybody that we roll out on the mound. We’re just playing well and we want to keep it rolling.”

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 4, Dayton 0
Box Score

Most days, the pitching line from Cole Sands’ Sunday start would easily make him the Pitcher of the Day. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a terrific line. The right-hander from Florida State used 99 pitches to complete seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six batters. Before today, Sands' previous career high for innings pitched in a game was five.

His catcher today, David Banuelos, noted that the only other time that the two had worked together this season was Sands' first start of the year, his first pro start. In that game, Sands threw five no-hit innings with eight strikeouts.

Banuelos could tell early that Sands had his good stuff. "From the bullpen, I could see everything was working well. From when the first inning started, it was going to be a good day. He was throwing strikes, getting guys out with every single pitch. He was just attacking guys, getting ahead early and stuck with it through the whole game. Both our guys did well, him and Schulfer pitched well today. Our staff has done pretty well this entire year."
Austin Schulfer worked the final two innings to complete the shutout.
The Kernels got things going right away in the first inning. Chris Williams knocked in the first run with his first of two doubles on that day. He then scored on a Gilberto Celestino single. The next inning, Gabriel Maciel singled in Banuelos to give the team an early 3-0 lead. Banuelos added some insurance in the seventh inning when he hit a solo home run. It was his second long ball of the year.

Banuelos said he's feeling good at the plate too. "I feel confident, trying to take it one day at a time and not press, and try to build off of it."

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Ft. Myers Miracle

PROSPECT SUMMARY
Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:

#1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(3), 2 RBI, K
#2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, R
#3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
#4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(10), K
#5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return
#6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Rained Out
#7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch
#8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
#9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch
#10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play
#11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Rained Out
#12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible
#13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 4-4, HR(2), 2 R, RBI
#14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play
#15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List
#16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, RBI
#17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch
#18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Rained Out
#19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch
#20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, BB, 2B(6), RBI, K


MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Rochester - No Game Scheduled.
Pensacola @ Mississippi (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.57 ERA)
Ft. Myers @ Charlotte (5:30 CST) - TBD
Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-0, 2.53 ERA)

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.

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#2 dbminn

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 04:24 PM

Great photo of Balazovic. That's a serious stride towards home plate. The ball must get on the hitters quick.

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#3 jkcarew

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 06:14 PM

Yesterday, I noted that it seems like Rortvedt is a better hitter than Jeffers at this moment in time in their development. Today, I say to Jeffers...You’re welcome.

#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 06:45 PM

 

Yesterday, I noted that it seems like Rortvedt is a better hitter than Jeffers at this moment in time in their development. Today, I say to Jeffers...You’re welcome.

 

They are both Top 20 Twins Daily prospects... they are both pretty good... 

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#5 jrod23

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 07:08 PM

Wow.Balazovic was dominant.Jeffers is proving his worth.Who goes to Pensacola first?Jeffers or Rortvedt.I wouldn't complain about either.

Luis Arraez is my #6 overall prospect.He hits.That's half the game.He's sufficient in the other half.I'm excited to see him take a roll of "flat out on-base machine" when he gets the call.

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#6 blindeke

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 08:37 PM

Great writeup.


#7 Tcrem

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 09:01 PM

Keith Law is looking good on his ranking of Balazovik... pitching like a future 2-3. Really exciting K/BB ratio.
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#8 jokin

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 02:40 AM

 

 Jeffers is proving his worth. 

Who goes to Pensacola first? 

Jeffers or Rortvedt. 

 

I wouldn't complain about either.

 

 

 

They are both Top 20 Twins Daily prospects... they are both pretty good... 

 

Based on the interviews, jeffers gets the edge for his more cerebral quotes?

The guy was a physics major after all.

   

(Thanks for the catcher quotes, BTW. They really add a nice dimension to the plethora of quality pitching performances on the farm in 2019. I think an article might be in order, as I can't recall a more dominant system-wide performance from our MiLB hurling staffs.)

Edited by jokin, 06 May 2019 - 02:41 AM.

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Joyous, fact-based and tireless Twins fan for 40+ years, who unfortunately has been characterized as-

 

"forcing Twins fans to endure more bitter, baseless, and tiresome cheap shots about the Twins FO."


#9 rdehring

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 06:33 AM

Gotta believe that Balazovic had a lot of nerves making his first start in the FSL league.Expect once he gets a few games under his belt and settles into a new routine, he can be the pitcher Mr. Law and many of us expect.

 

And isn't it great seeing Kirilloff back in the daily boxscore and hitting much like the player we saw all last year?Now, can we get Mr. Javier back on the field, please?And kudos to Jeffers who had one heck of a game yesterday.Although I am a huge Rortvedt fan, nothing wrong with having two catchers being as good as they can be.

 

As we look for ways of Cedar Rapids getting into the hunt for a second half playoff spot, are there any other guys in EST besides Javier who could be a big help to that effort?

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#10 Dman

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 06:48 AM

I liked Jax as a draft pick but have struggled to embrace him as a potential MLB pitcher.I love how aggressively he pitches and his WHIP has always been pretty good.His K rate though has always been sub optimal and that is what gives me pause.There don't seem to be very many good pitchers in MLB that don't have swing and miss stuff.So maybe he could make it as a 5th starter type but it seems to me that until he finds a K pitch he will have trouble stepping up to the Big leagues.

 

I will say I am impressed with what he has done so far this season.I am still hopeful for just a little more growth to put him over the top, but I also have my doubts.

 

Congrats to all the starters last night as I don't remember three guys pitching that well all at the same time.Nice to see more solid pitching prospects in the system.

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#11 Mike Sixel

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 08:06 AM

Love the player quotes! Thanks to them and Seth.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#12 Monkeypaws

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 08:06 AM

Like those Hoosville jerseys almost as much as that Sano blast.

 

I think that one made the water.


#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 08:07 AM

 

I liked Jax as a draft pick but have struggled to embrace him as a potential MLB pitcher.I love how aggressively he pitches and his WHIP has always been pretty good.His K rate though has always been sub optimal and that is what gives me pause.There don't seem to be very many good pitchers in MLB that don't have swing and miss stuff.So maybe he could make it as a 5th starter type but it seems to me that until he finds a K pitch he will have trouble stepping up to the Big leagues.

 

I will say I am impressed with what he has done so far this season.I am still hopeful for just a little more growth to put him over the top, but I also have my doubts.

 

Congrats to all the starters last night as I don't remember three guys pitching that well all at the same time.Nice to see more solid pitching prospects in the system.

 

If a team turns a third-round pick into a 5th starter that's pretty good... 

 

I don't get terribly worked up about the strikeouts like most do but obviously it's a factor. The reality is that there are so few top of the rotation guys that emerge that I'm always happy if teams can find 4-5 starters. I'm sure they're working on stuff with him too, but his pitch mix leans to weak contact, sinkers and sliders more than swing-and-miss.

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#14 gunnarthor

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 08:14 AM

Royce Lewis is starting to heat up a bit as well - he's had five 2 hit games in his last 8 games. 

 

Balazovic is going to skyrocket up these lists. I think he's already our second best pitching prospect. That 2016 draft is going to be amazing for us.

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#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 08:28 AM

Announced this morning:

 

Tom Hackimer promoted to AA Pensacola.

Edwar Colina activated from the Miracle IL. (Presumably he will start tonight, though I haven't confirmed that)

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#16 Jaykay

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:02 AM

I said this before the season but Balazovic will be our big riser this year. 


#17 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:21 AM

I'd like to see either Rortvedt or Jeffers promoted to AA, so both of them can get 75-80% of the time behind the plate.

 

A plethora of cheap number 4 and 5 starters is what will allow the Twins to compete going forward.And if a guy doesn't develop into that, you can always try the Trevor May/Taylor Rogers route, and build out your bullpen.

 

SSS, but Lewis has an almost .800 OPS in May.He's done a nice job of holding his own in controlling the strike zone (16 bb to 26 k), but really struggled against righties (.511 OPS, compared to .978 against lefties).

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#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:30 AM

 

I'd like to see either Rortvedt or Jeffers promoted to AA, so both of them can get 75-80% of the time behind the plate.

 

A plethora of cheap number 4 and 5 starters is what will allow the Twins to compete going forward.And if a guy doesn't develop into that, you can always try the Trevor May/Taylor Rogers route, and build out your bullpen.

 

SSS, but Lewis has an almost .800 OPS in May.He's done a nice job of holding his own in controlling the strike zone (16 bb to 26 k), but really struggled against righties (.511 OPS, compared to .978 against lefties).

 

I don't think any minor league catcher is going to catch more than 55% of the time. I just don't. That said, sure, one of them could be promoted.

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


#19 Seth Stohs

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:47 AM

 

Like those Hoosville jerseys almost as much as that Sano blast.

 

I think that one made the water.

 

Sadly, it took me a while to understand the reference when I first saw pictures of them at their welcome to Pensacola stuff... now I think it's fantastic!


#20 Seth Stohs

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:48 AM

 

I'd like to see either Rortvedt or Jeffers promoted to AA, so both of them can get 75-80% of the time behind the plate.

 

Ha! I'm not getting into this trap again! :-) 

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