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Article: Twins Minor League Report (8/19): Palka Power Caps Eventful Day In Rochester


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It was a big day in Rochester on Friday. Twins interim-GM Rob Antony has been in town to see and evaluate players. However, on Friday, he completed a trade, signed a minor league veteran, and was on hand to help the Red Wings announce a two-year extension to their current Player Development Contract with the Twins, keeping the Twins AAA affiliate in upstate New York through the 2018 season.

 

Let’s start with the trade. Chris Cotillo was first to announce that the Twins had traded Red Wings left-handed reliever Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals in exchange for a player to be named later, or cash. It’ll likely be a few dollars. Burnett, a former big league All-Star, came to the Twins after opting out of his Braves minor league deal. While he had a mid-June opt-out with the Twins, he stuck with the organization with the understanding that if another team offered him a big league opportunity, the Twins would accommodate it. The Nationals are going to send Burnett to their AAA affiliate in Syracuse, but he is going to be called up to the big league club for September.

 

During the Red Wings game, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle beat writer Kevin Oklozija tweeted that veteran Edward Mujica was warming up in the Red Wings bullpen. He was throwing a side-session, having just arrived in Rochester that day. Mujica is a 32-year-old right-hander who was an All-Star in 2013 and has ten years of time in the big leagues.

 

From an affiliate standpoint, arguably the biggest news of the day was that the Red Wings and Twins agreed to continue their player development contract two more years, through the 2018 season. Representatives from the Red Wings and the Twins were very happy about the news.

 

Red Wings President, CEO and COO Naomi Silver said, ““The Twins have been an outstanding partner to the Red Wings. With a Major League affiliation, a Minor League club hopes for three important things: a competitive team, having future Major Leaguers and top draft picks being a part of that team, and a Big League team that values the importance of the Minor League system. The Twins have been great to us in each of these areas. They’ve regularly fielded winning teams here and we’ve seen a lot of great players come through Rochester. Every month someone from the Twins top management comes to town to see their players and to consult with field personnel and our front office. They rely on their Minor League system to develop young players, and we are the ones who benefit from that. We consider ourselves lucky that the Minnesota Twins respect and appreciate our organization and want to continue this affiliation.”

 

Rob Antony noted, ““It’s been a tremendous partnership that we’ve had with Rochester. The biggest things you look for in an affiliate are A. you want good ownership, Rochester has that, B. you want good facilities, Rochester has that, and C. you want a good fan base and the fans in Rochester have been very supportive of this club.”The Red Wings also hosted several members of the Miracle on Ice, the 1980 Gold Medal hockey team from the USA. Hockey legend Dave Christian “threw out the first pitch” before the game by using his hockey stick to ‘shoot’ the ball to the catcher. The Red Wings wore red, white and blue uniforms with USA across the chest.

 

 

And then the Red Wings actually played a game, and it ended in exciting fashion as well. It was a full day in the Twins farm system, so let’s get to Friday’s action.

 

 

RED WINGS REPORT

Rochester 4, Buffalo 2

Box Score

 

With USA hockey heroes in attendance, several Red Wings players stepped up to play hero. Down by a run in the bottom of the 9th, Mitch Garver stepped to the plate and singled in Byron Buxton, who had pinch run earlier in the inning, to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

 

With a runner on in the bottom of the tenth inning, Daniel Palka ended it in style with a long, two-run blast. The homer was his 11th as a Red Wings player and his 32nd overall this season.

 

 

David Hurlbut made his second start of the season with the Red Wings and he was terrific. He gave up a run in the first inning but that was it. He gave up one run on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out three and didn’t issue a walk. He was replaced by Jake Reed who pitched a scoreless eighth inning. In the ninth, Pat Light gave up a run which put the Red Wings down one. He worked two innings giving up the run on two hits a walk and a hit batter.

 

Adam Brett Walker went 2-3 with a walk and his 19th double. He stole his sixth base. Leonardo Reginnato also added his first AAA double.

 

 

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER

Chattanooga 2, Montgomery 1

Box Score

 

Just like the Red Wings, the Lookouts had a close game and were able to come up big in dramatic late-inning fashion.

 

Kohl Stewart was on the mound for the Lookouts and was very good. He gave up just one run on five hits over the game’s first eight innings. He walked two and struck out five. He gave up a run in the 2nd inning, but then settled in and finished with six straight scoreless frames.

 

However, Stewart walked off the mound after the top of the eighth inning with his team losing 1-0. The Lookouts loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, and Travis Harrison stepped to the plate. The outfield lined a single which plated two runners and gave the Lookouts a 2-1 lead.

 

Raul Fernandez completed the ninth inning without allowing any runs to record the save. Stewart improved to 7-6 and reduced his ERA to 3.05 on the year.

 

Zach Granite led the way. The leadoff man went 3-4 and is now hitting .299. Engelb Vielma went 1-2 with a walk. Ryan Walker added his fourth triple.

 

MIRACLE MATTERS

Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 4

Box Score

 

The Miracle jumped out to 3-0 lead after the first three innings but were unable to hold the lead and fell to the Hammerheads.

 

Dereck Rodriguez put together yet another quality start. The right-hander worked the first six innings. He gave up three runs (1 earned) on ten hits. He didn’t walk anyone though he did strike out one. Michael Theofanopoulos gave up one run on four hits and a walk over the next two innings. He struck out two. John Curtiss worked a quiet ninth inning.

 

The Miracle bats managed just five hits in the game. Tanner English went 2-3 and stole his ninth base. Sean Miller went 2-4 with his second double and his first stolen base. Joe Maloney drove in two of the three Miracle runs.

 

 

KERNELS NUGGETS

Cedar Rapids 3, Burlington 0

Box Score

 

It was University of Iowa Night on Friday in Cedar Rapids. The Kernels wore some ugly black and white football-looking jerseys with huge numbers. (see Steve Buhr’s photo below) As happens often at Kernels games, the special jerseys are auctioned off during the game and handed to the winners by the players after the game.

 

Speaking of the game, the Kernels played a very good, all-around game for the shutout. Most important, they got some terrific pitching in the shutout. Lachlan Wells went the first 5.2 innings. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out five. Williams Ramirez came on and walked two over 2.1 scoreless frames. He struck out one. Anthony McIver picked up his ninth save with a scoreless ninth inning.

 

Nelson Molina led the offense with his first career, four-hit game. He added his 13th double and drove in two runs. He is now hitting .315 on the season. Luis Arraez went 2-3 with a walk. He is now hitting .349. Travis Blankenhorn was 2-4 with his first MWL stolen base. Jaylin Davis added his tenth double.

 

 

E-TWINS E-NOTES

Elizabethton 5, Burlington 4

Box Score

 

This game went back and forth until the ninth inning. Tied at four, Ariel Montesino singled and was bunted over to second base. Shane Carrier came through with an RBI single to give them a lead they would hold on to.

 

Montesino went 3-5 with his fourth stolen base. Carrier went 3-5 with his 13th double. Mitchell Kranson went 3-5 with his third home run. Andre Jernigan went 2-3 with a walk and his fifth double. Hank Morrison hit his second triple. (I won’t mention the other side of the ledger, but if I did, it might show that Amaurys Minier went 0-5 with five strikeouts).

 

Jose Martinez started and went the first four innings. He gave up four runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out two. Alex Robinson struck out four over three scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and, most important, walked none. Austin Tribby has done a great job as a vulture for the E-Twins. He threw a scoreless eighth inning so when the E-Twins scored in the top of the ninth and held on for the win, Tribby improved to 5-0. Patrick McGuff picked up his seventh save for the E-Twins with a scoreless ninth.

 

 

GCL TWINS TAKES

GCL Twins 4, Red Sox 5

Box Score

 

While several of the Twins affiliates found a way to win a close game at the end, the opposite was true for the GCL Twins. They went into the bottom of the ninth holding a 4-3 lead and walked off the field with a 5-4 loss.

 

Huascar Ynoa started. He gave up three runs on five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out two. Garrett Kelly came on and threw two scoreless innings. Onas Farfan came on for the ninth. He’s been quite good this year, returning from Tommy John surgery. On this day he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk, and recorded just two outs to take the loss.

 

The Twins had 11 hits on the day. Jose Miranda went 2-3 with two walks and a triple. Lean Marrero went 2-4 with his third double. Jhon Alvarez went 2-4. Brian Olson added his third double.

 

 

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

 

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Kohl Stewart, Chattanooga Lookouts

Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Nelson Molina, Cedar Rapids Kernels

 

 

SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

 

Rochester @ Gwinnett (6:05 CST) - LHP Adalberto Mejia

Montgomery @ Chattanooga (6:15 CST) - RHP Omar Bencomo

Jupiter @ Ft. Myers (5:05 CST) - LHP Sam Clay

Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) – Tyler Beardsley

Elizabethton @ Burlington (6:00 CST) - RHP Miguel DeJesus

GCL Red Sox @ GCL Twins (9:00 am CST) - TBD

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Friday's games.

 

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My first reaction was why are we signing 32 year old Edward Mujica rather than promoting someone like Zack Jones and giving him a chance to show what he can do at AAA; then I looked more closely at the minor league rosters and noticed how short of pitchers we are right now.  Throughout the organization, we are down 9 pitchers from the active rosters in late July.  Here is who has gone on the DL during that time: Trevor May 8/10, Buddy Boshers 8/11, Tommy Milone 8/12, Logan Darnell 7/25, Marcus Walden 8/8, Trevor Hildenberger 7/30, Tyler Jay 8/1, Mason Melotakis 8/18, Yorman Landa 7/25, Luke Westfall 8/4, Cody Stashak 8/15, and Colton Davis 8/9.  In addition, we released Brian Gilbert on 8/3 and Kuo Ho Lo 8/4, and have traded away Ricky Nolasco and Sean Burnett.  (I didn't include Alex Meyer since he was already on the DL at the time that he was traded.)  That puts us down 16 active pitchers since 7/25.  Coming back from the DL during that time were Aaron Slegers on 7/26 and Luke Westfall on 8/15. Logan Lombana was also reinstated from his suspension on 8/5, and of course we received Adalberto Mejia, Pat Light, Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz in trades at the deadline.  That is seven pitchers added, which leaves us at nine down.  Edward Mujica has yet to be added to the Rochester roster so currently Rochester, Chattanooga, and Fort Myers each have less than 25 players on their active rosters.  I think that Chattanooga has played short handed almost the entire month of August.  Currently we have 11 active pitchers at AAA and AA, 12 at Fort Myers, 13 at Cedar Rapids and Elizabethton, and 15 at the GCL.  (Looking back, I see that it is not uncommon for Elizabethton to carry 15 active pitchers.)  I guess all of this is just a long way of coming to the conclusion that maybe we do need to sign 32 year old Edward Mujica to finish out the minor league season.

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I think the lack of strike outs for Stewart had a lot to do with the high amount of walks. It's hard to strike guys out if your control isn't there and you fall behind in counts.

 

Still, he's got about a 3 era while being very young for the league. For some reason, guys just don't hit the ball very hard off him. Bumps in the road are to be expected.

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Gotta give Stewart credit for his run prevention and pitching successfully as a 21-year-old in his first shot in Double A, but how long can he keep this up? Over his last 10 starts he has 32 Ks and 29 walks over 61 1/3 innings. Somehow he's still managed a 2.49 ERA over that stretch. How does that work?

 

Luck. Over that number of innings it's not particularly unusual. Stewart probably is better at preventing hard contact than the average AA pitcher, but that really isn't saying much. Hitters at the MLB level are so much better that even a skill in that area would be worthless without much better command and stuff.

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I think Parmelee is a lesser Palka.

You mean like when Parmalee had an 18% K rate in AAA at age 24, vs. a 36% rate for Palka, and Parmalee had a higher walk rate and higher slugging percentage? How do you get from those stats that Parmalee was lesser? Are you using other measures?

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Luck. Over that number of innings it's not particularly unusual. Stewart probably is better at preventing hard contact than the average AA pitcher, but that really isn't saying much. Hitters at the MLB level are so much better that even a skill in that area would be worthless without much better command and stuff.

In AAA, Tommy Milone was fantastic at weak contact, plus he had a higher K rate than Stewart in AA.

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Gotta give Stewart credit for his run prevention and pitching successfully as a 21-year-old in his first shot in Double A, but how long can he keep this up? Over his last 10 starts he has 32 Ks and 29 walks over 61 1/3 innings. Somehow he's still managed a 2.49 ERA over that stretch. How does that work?

 

He's got some great stuff, and no one hits him hard, so I don't know. I really don't get it. I don't know why he doesn't miss more bats... Very curious to see how his career proceeds.

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Palka should definitely get a September call-up. We all know guys that swing hard also strike out a lot. Can he play decent left field? Is he an okay base runner? Will he strike out a lot more at the mlb level? 

 

September would be a good time to find out. 

 

He doesn't play RF very well, so I don't think LF would go well. Then again, Kepler's best position might be LF.  

 

If he strikes out 36% in AAA, that's more than Buxton strikes out in AAA, so yeah, he would likely strike out 50% of the time in the big leagues... Maybe. 

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In the GCL, Huascar did not have his good stuff but still managed to pitch his ways out of jams.  His fastball was 89-95mph avg 93 while his breaking ball was 79-83 mph and had difficulty throwing for strikes.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNKQi9iqbHA

 

Aaron Whitefield showed off some great wheels in CF running down what would be gappers.  He also put down a sac bunt that his speed turned into a hit.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYDjlLik7ME

 

Emmmanuel Morel hasn't been too good at the plate but has put his defensive skills on displayed, this time with a sliding catch in the infield.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYKL9jl8Im8

 

Lastly, on Thursday the Twins signed UDFA Isaiah Aluko, a lefthanded outfield who was a Senior on the Valdosta State team before recently playing in the National Baseball Congress league for the Alaskan Panhandlers.  Aluko is a big boy standing at 6'4 240lb, here he is long tossing with Zach Featherstone.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPEJgjjJUUw

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So, because of few stats, are similar to Parmelee, he's going to have a career like Parmelee? D'ohK.

 

Not saying he's going to be more or less successful, but I'm sure you could find ways to also compare him to numerous very successful power hitters and use that to say "look how great he'll be."

 

It's not like Parmelee was bad at AAA, either. He was very good at that level, as is Palka. You're saying these guys have similar positive attributes at AAA, thus both are/will be major league failures. I'm just not sure there is any logic behind that whatsoever.

 

If you go back and look at Brian Dozier's minor league stats, for example....or Byron Buxton's on the other end of the spectrum....you'll see that sometimes they mean absolutely nothing. You just don't know until you see the player at that level. Some guys can elevate themselves or mature later than others.

 

You may think Parmelee having a higher slugging % means something (it does....more doubles), but it certainly doesn't mean that Parmelee has the same raw power that Palka does.

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You might have trouble finding "numerous successful power hitters" who had a 36% K rate in AAA...

Palka is different than Parmelee -- a better track record of power, but with some other tradeoffs like K rate.

 

Yeah, a 36% K-rate in AAA basically prevents him from having any major league success. That's a high K% than Sano's career rate in the majors. 

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So, because of few stats, are similar to Parmelee, he's going to have a career like Parmelee? D'ohK.

Not saying he's going to be more or less successful, but I'm sure you could find ways to also compare him to numerous very successful power hitters and use that to say "look how great he'll be."

It's not like Parmelee was bad at AAA, either. He was very good at that level, as is Palka. You're saying these guys have similar positive attributes at AAA, thus both are/will be major league failures. I'm just not sure there is any logic behind that whatsoever.

If you go back and look at Brian Dozier's minor league stats, for example....or Byron Buxton's on the other end of the spectrum....you'll see that sometimes they mean absolutely nothing. You just don't know until you see the player at that level. Some guys can elevate themselves or mature later than others.

You may think Parmelee having a higher slugging % means something (it does....more doubles), but it certainly doesn't mean that Parmelee has the same raw power that Palka does.

 

Parmalee at 24 in AAA: 6% HR rate. Palka at 24 in AAA: 6.5% HR rate. Not that different, especially in context of Parmalee's overall much higher slugging percentage.

 

If you can find successful comparable score Palka, that would be great. I haven't done exhaustive research. I just think people need to temper their expectations for Palka based on what we've seen before.

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