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Twins Minor League Report (5/6): Dobnak Day, Whitefield and Wallner Shine


Despite unfortunate outcomes, the Twins saw a wealth of breakout performances across the organization on Thursday night. Let’s dig in.Transactions

  • Minnesota Twins recalled LHP Devin Smeltzer from St. Paul Saints.
  • Minnesota Twins optioned LHP Lewis Thorpe to St. Paul Saints.
Saints Sentinel

St. Paul 3, Omaha 4

Box Score

 

Caught in-between a starter and bullpen role in the bigs, Twins staple Randy Dobnak found his stride on the bump for the Saints on Thursday evening. The ‘Mustache Machine’ was stellar in his first start for St. Paul, shutting out Omaha in 4.0 IP.

 

Despite Dobnak’s outing, the Storm Chasers were able to nip the Saints in 11 innings thanks to a bases-loaded Kevin Merrell single.

 

Outcome aside, the Saints saw moments of brilliance both on the bump from Dobnak and at the plate from multiple players. Both Rob Refsnyder and Trevor Larnach tallied their second homers of the year. Refsnyder’s shot came in the first at-bat of the game and Larnach followed an inning later.

 

Download attachment: LarnachHR.gif

 

The Saints recorded 11 hits on the night thanks to eight of the nine players in their starting lineup. Unfortunately, the club left 15 runners on base and were two for thirteen with runners in scoring position.

 

Spring Training sensation Derek Law replaced Dobnak on the bump and had an excellent outing, striking out two in a scoreless fifth inning.

 

Wind Surge Wisdom

Wichita 6, Springfield 7

Box Score

 

Twins fans know Aaron Whitefield for his important work in filling the ‘Byron Buxton-less’ Twins outfield last year. His name isn’t going away. Whitefield crushed a 7th inning grand slam to left-center field to give the Wind Surge a 5-1 lead.

 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as Springfield responded with five runs in the 7th and one more in the 8th to sneak by with a 7-6 win.

 

Whitefield also added a double in the top of the 9th in a late-game effort to tie the game. Despite the loss, the Aussie is off to a stellar start, slashing .545/.615/1.182.

Wichita was plagued with ‘ducks left on the pond,’ leaving seven runners in scoring position and batting one for nine with runners in scoring position.

 

In addition to Whitefield’s grand slam, Wichita touted other exciting news off the field. The Wind Surge announced the debut of their official mascot, Windy the Pegasus. According to Senior Manager of Fan Experience Bob Moulette, Windy ‘came in with the Kansas winds’ and will sport the same red uniform that the team wears at home.

 

Windy was officially introduced this afternoon in front of students at Franklin Elementary School in Wichita. The sky blue horse with navy wings will join T.C. Bear, Mudonna (St. Paul), Mr. Shucks (Cedar Rapids), and Mussel Man (Ft. Meyers) as the newest member of the Twins organization mascot community.

 

Reliable sources can confirm that a life-sized costume of the soft drink ‘Surge’ was a close second choice. Better luck next year, Tom Froemming.

 

Kernels Nuggets

Cedar Rapids 2, Peoria 7

Box Score

 

Following a career-best night in professional baseball, Matt Wallner’s 4th inning triple was one of the only bright spots in a 7-2 loss to Peoria on Thursday night in Cedar Rapids. The Forest Lake, Minnesota native nailed a 1-2 pitch to left field for his fifth hit in the last two days. Wallner also punched a single up the middle in the first inning off Peoria starter Matt Chamberlain.

 

The Force from Forest Lake

Wallner, who is Twins Daily's #13 prospect in the organization isn't just getting hits. he's exercising ever possible way to get on base. In addition to his single and triple, Wallner reached on a walk (HBP) in the third. On Wednesday he drove a second inning inning 1-2 pitch over the right field fence and repeated the act on a 3-2 pitch in the seventh. Oh, and he punched a single in the ninth the advanced the eventual game-winning running runner.

 

"He's a big-bodied kid who barrels up a lot of balls, two more of them tonight," skipper Brian Dinkelman said following Thursday's game. "He's learning about professional baseball and carries himself in a good way. He's been impressive so far and if he keeps doing what he's doing he'll make his way through the system and up to Major League Baseball."

I had the chance to chat with Wallner about his journey to pro ball over the offseason. Pretty cool to see Wallner kick off the season like he is for the organization that he grew up cheering for!

 

Back on the Bump

Perhaps the greatest story of the evening revolved around reliever Zach Featherstone, who pitched for the first time since 2018 following Tommy John Surgery.

 

"It was pretty cool, it's been like three years (since I last pitched)," Featherstone said.

 

Despite his hiatus on the mound, the 2016 Twins draft pick viewed the past few years as a learning opportunity.

 

"Obviously COVID was tough for everyone, but I really tried to use the time as an opportunity to watch big leaguers and dive into pitch sequencing. I focused on how I can attack hitters based off of that data (from pitch sequencing). That isn't something that I would have done (prior to the injury)."

 

It's great to have you on the bump again Zach, we're rooting for you!

 

Spencer Steer, Jair Carmargo, and Yeltsin Encarnacion also recorded hits for the Kernels, who are now 2-1 on the year.

 

Kernels starter Blayne Enlow lasted four innings, giving up seven hits and two runs. Despite the hits, Enlow struck out six, and only one of his runs was allowed. Not a bad first rodeo for the 2019 draft pick!

 

Mussel Matters

Fort Myers 1, Bradenton 3

Box Score

 

Despite a rock-solid start from RHP Sean Mooney, the Mussels were unable to get the bats going in a 3-1 loss to Bradenton. Mooney was electric out of the gate, striking out four of the first six that he faced. That ended when former Golden Gopher Eli Wilson homered off Mooney to put Bradenton on the board in the third.

Mooney recovered by striking out the next hitter and drawing a popout but left the game with two outs in the third with an arm injury.

 

 

The lone run for the Mussels came in the top of the 7th when second basemen Eduord Julien punched a one-out triple and later scored on a sac-fly from right-fielder Max Smith. Auburn product Julien is off to a hot start in 2021, slashing .444/.643/.778 in the first three games of the year.

 

The only other Mussel hit came from the Twins Daily #7 prospect and 2019 Round 1 draft pick Keoni Cavaco. The Chula Vista, CA native knocked a liner to LF in the top of the fourth but was gunned down at second on the extra-base attempt. Cavaco is now slashing .417/.533/1.033 on the year.

Twins Minor League Players of the Day

Pitcher of the Day: Randy Dobnak (St. Paul) - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Hitter of the Day: Aaron Whitefield (Wichita) - 2-for-4, 2 H, R, 4 RBI, BB, SO

 

PROSPECT SUMMARY

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

#1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – Assigned to 10-day IL

#2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL)

#3 - Trevor Larnach (St. Paul) – 1-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, HR(2)

#4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – 1-for-5, RBI, BB

#5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Did not pitch

#6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back)

#7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-4, K

#8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 0-for-3, BB 2 K

#9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch

#10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 4.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

#11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – 0-for-4, BB, 3 SO

#12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 1-for-3, 3 BB, 2 SO

#13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-2, R, 1 BB

#14 - Misael Urbina (Complex) – N/A

#15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO

#16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow)

#17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – Did not play

#18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A

#19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 1-for-5

#20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – Did not pitch

 

FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

St. Paul @ Omaha (7:05PM CST) – RHP Griffin Jax

Wichita @ Springfield (7:05PM CST) – RHP Austin Schulfer

Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – LHP Tyler Watson

Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:05PM CST) – LHP Brent Headrick

 

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This is classic for Saint Paul. They are practicing for this year's Twins by stranding runners, wasting good performances, and even have a closer, Coulombe, with a last name far too close Colome (those extra letters don't fool me), who gets the same results.

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Watched the Saints game last night, well, at least the first nine innings.

 

Thought Dobnak was as good as he can be. One more start to get back to 5+ innings, then they have to get him back to Target Field as a 'starter.'

 

Thought Jeffers had a real tough night at the plate. Yes, he was 1-5, but the late hit was a grounder to second with the two infielders shifted to the right side looking at each other thinking the other guy was gonna field it. Before that he was 0-4 with three strikeouts with several key at bats with ducks on the pond in scoring position. Just didn't look comfortable with the bat in his hands.

 

Great seeing Whitefield's bat get going. With his defense and speed to burn, could he be a player that works for the Twins?

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Dobnak threw 30 pitches on April 28 and then 41 pitches on May 1. Yesterday he threw... 59? If they're stretching him out, it's gonna be a while.

 

37% increase in pitches from the 28th to the 1st.  43% increase in pitches from the 1st to the 6th.  So if he increases his pitches by 40% when he starts on the 11th, that's 82 pitches.  From there, he could pitch on May 16 and only need a 25% increase to get to 100 pitches.  20 days to stretch a guy from 30 to 100 pitches seems pretty expeditious to me.

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37% increase in pitches from the 28th to the 1st.  43% increase in pitches from the 1st to the 6th.  So if he increases his pitches by 40% when he starts on the 11th, that's 82 pitches.  From there, he could pitch on May 16 and only need a 25% increase to get to 100 pitches.  20 days to stretch a guy from 30 to 100 pitches seems pretty expeditious to me.

You're arguing from a different straw man than I was. :)

 

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Dobnak threw 30 pitches on April 28 and then 41 pitches on May 1. Yesterday he threw... 59? If they're stretching him out, it's gonna be a while.

Watched the game and wasn't counting, but thought it would have been more than that. On the other hand, he only went 4 innings and most were efficient quick innings. So yeah, 59 makes sense. With that said, surprised he didn't come out for the 5th inning. Imagine Rocco gave orders to have him pitch 4 first time out, then 5 in his next start. 

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Doesn't Omaha play on the same field where Larnach won the CWS with Oregon State? Good vibes for him!

The Omaha team moved from Rosenblatt Stadium several years ago into a new ballpark on the SW side of the city. A new, larger ballpark was built downtown (I think it is TD Ameritrade Field) and that's where the World Series moved to. Don't know why the AAA team doesn't play there, great ballpark and great location.

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Keep coming back in the afternoon to check on tonight's starters. Guess I will watch the Saints again to see how Jax does. Has been a favorite prospect ever since breaking free from the Air Force to pitch. Still waiting to see Canterino pitch.

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Five games and Five losses yesterday throughout the system, and the bullpens were responsible for at least 3 of them.

 

Not good.

 

 

But our FO is the self ordained, and ordained by TD writers, as the pitching development and identification guru's of baseball! How could this result you claim, be?

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But our FO is the self ordained, and ordained by TD writers, as the pitching development and identification guru's of baseball! How could this result you claim, be?

 

Have you paid any to the percentage of "high profile" free agent RPs that have been somewhere between very mediocre and absolutely terrible? If only they had kept Clippard and Romo like so many here suggested or signed Rosenthal and/or Yates. Even Hendricks has a WAR of zero right now. So, let's not pretend anyone FO is going to have consistent success with BPs. It's bitching for the sake of bitching.

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Hey, but Larnach hit a ball 458 feet at 115 mph. Must count for at least 2 runs? Nope. Maybe if we highlited someone, anyone, not focus on how far a solo homerun went. Not bashing Trevor, but why does Twins Daily glorify the long home runs? I guess a long home run is better than a 2 rbi double. Oh, rbi stats don't count. Should work great for our team then. Go bombas.

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Hey, but Larnach hit a ball 458 feet at 115 mph. Must count for at least 2 runs? Nope. Maybe if we highlited someone, anyone, not focus on how far a solo homerun went. Not bashing Trevor, but why does Twins Daily glorify the long home runs? I guess a long home run is better than a 2 rbi double. Oh, rbi stats don't count. Should work great for our team then. Go bombas.

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Late posting to last nights Wind Surge 7-6 loss to Springfield as I didn't have my log in information with me.  Attended Wednesday nights game also-- a better result.

 

Impressions from last nights game:

 

A quick game through 6 innings as SF held a 1-0 lead going into the 7th inning.  The Surge had numerous scoring opportunities, but like "another team" we know all too well about-----couldn't get a key hit.  

 

That changed promptly in the 7th inning as the Surge tied the game on a bases loaded walk to Morales.  Aaron Whitefield then blasted a grand-slam to left center on a 2-2 pitch to give the Surge a 5-1 lead.

That was short lived as the bullpen quickly gagged away the lead allowing Springfield to score 5 runs in their half of the inning.  The go ahead run scored on a 2-out single to LF.  

 

Surge tied it up in the top of the 8th on a "gift" double---pop fly to RF off bat of Damek Tomscha scoring Andrew Bechtold from 1B.  Cardinals quickly took the lead back on a lead off solo shot off Alex Phillips.

 

Surge had a golden opportunity to tie/retake the lead in top of 9th as Morales drew a  lead off walk and Whitefield ripped a double to LF to put runners on 2nd and 3rd.  

 

At that point the Surge must've channeled their "Twins mojo"-------as Celestino whiffed, Miranda popped up (on the 1st pitch) and Palacios hit a weak fly ball to LF.

 

On a positive note-------I was impressed with the performance of Cole Sands, who started the game.  Sands (#16 Twins prospect) is a nice size kid (6'3/ 215) that was drafted in 5th round in 2018 out of Florida St.  Sands pitched well in 2019 going 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA/ 1.03 WHIP over 18 starts, mainly between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers.

 

Sands, on a pitch count, threw 73 pitches in 4.1 IP before getting pulled.  That pitch count must improve moving forward, but Sands allowed only 2 hits and 2 walks.  He did strikeout 3 over those 4.1 IP.

 

One other positive came from the bat of Caleb Hamilton (C-1B). Hamilton went 3-4 with 2 doubles and a single.  Good to see that as Hamilton struggled in 2019 (.224 avg in 335 AB's between Fort Myers and AA Pensacola).

 

Looking forward to seeing Surge again as I have tickets for their June 15-16 games against Springfield at home.  Hope to see Balazovic pitch then as well as Chalmers or Josh Winder.

 

Does anyone know if Winder got promoted to Wichita?  I thought I saw some report of this today.  I know he had a strong 1st outing the other night for the CR Kernels.

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