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Minor League Report (8/12): Morales Dominates, Saints' Bullpen Bears Down


On a night in baseball that was centered around Dyersville, Iowa, there were some dreamy performances across the Twins' minor league system. Check out all the action here!

TRANSACTIONS

  • Cedar Rapids Kernels placed CF DaShawn Keirsey on the 7-day injured list retroactive to August 11, 2021. Right oblique strain

SAINTS SENTINEL 
St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 2
Box Score

The Saints were 31-13 when scoring first headed into Thursday’s contest against Indianapolis. 

Swap that 31 for a 32.

Thanks to a pair of early runs and a dominant outing by Chandler Shepherd the Saints punched a 3-2 win to put their record at 46-40, matching a season-best six games over .500.

A night after launching the go-ahead homer in the 11th inning, Jose Miranda got things started in the first inning with a double to right field. Mark Contreras followed that up with an RBI single to put the Saints on the board. 

The Saints loaded the bases in the third thanks to a Nick Gordon single and a pair of walks from Miranda and Contreras. Gordon would then score on a Jimmy Kerrigan RBI double play. 

With the one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning Chandler Shepherd doubled down, allowing only one run and striking out the final two batters in the inning.

Gordon punched an insurance run in the fifth inning, crushing a home run over the right center field wall to put the Saints up 3-1. 

In addition to his damage-controlling fourth, Chandler Shepherd was rock-solid on the night. The Ashland, KY native pitched five innings of one-run ball, striking out six and walking four. The outing brought Shepherd’s ERA from 5.88 to 5.61.

After Shepherd left the game the Saints’ bullpen was absolutely dominant. The staff didn’t rely on one man, but a total of four. Ian Gibaut, Andrew Vasquez, Ryan Mason, and newcomer Ralph Garza Jr. electrified the Indianapolis offense, surrendering only one run on two hits while striking out five. 

Indianapolis had a respectable team average of .261 headed into the game (compared to the Saints’ .260) so the outing by Shepherd and the entire bullpen is nothing short of excellent!

Gordon, Miranda, and Contreras all recorded multi-hit games for the Saints. Miranda leads the team with a .338 batting average. 

Playoff Watch

Thursday’s win puts the Saints just 2.5 games behind first-place Toledo, the closest they’ve been to top-dog since May 15. Triple-A postseason format can be viewed here.
 

WIND SURGE WISDOM
Tulsa 11, Wichita 6
Box Score
 

It’s no secret that baseball games involving the Wichita Wind Surge often result in scores that resemble football games. That was the case on Thursday night.. only it wasn’t Wichita with the touchdowns. 

After putting up three runs in the second inning the Wind Surge were outscored 11-1 in a 11-6 loss to the Tulsa Drillers. 

The Surge started the game with a bang. Trey Cabbage and Spencer Steer led off the second inning with back-to-back home runs to give Wichita an early 2-0 lead. Later in the inning Aaron Whitefield singled and advanced to second on a throwing error. The Aussie then stole third and scored thanks to an RBI single from Chris Williams. 

Wichita managed to tack on another run in the fifth inning thanks to a pair of singles from BJ Boyd and Roy Morales and an RBI double from Jermaine Palacios. 

And despite the seven run deficit, the Surge kept fighting. Leobaldo Cabrera added a homer and Roy Morales crunched a double and was later scored by a Spencer Steer sacrifice fly to cut the lead to five. 

Roy Morales, Steer, and Whitefield each recorded multi-hit games for the Surge. Morales’ three hits bumped his batting average up to .305, second best on the team behind Martin (.323).

Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Chris Vallimont didn’t have his best outing of the year. Vallimont lasted 3 2/3 innings, surrendering six runs on five hits while striking out five. He is now 4-5 on the year. 

Adam Lau and Zach Neff provided bright spots for the Wichita pitching staff. The two relievers combined for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, giving up three hits. 

Playoff Watch

Following the loss, Wichita sits at 51-36, still five games ahead of second-place Tulsa in the Double-A Central North Division. That record puts them just 1.5 games behind Frisco in the Double-A Central League. 

The top two teams in the Double-A Central League will compete in a five game series for the league title. 

 

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 10, Peoria 3
Box Score
After a mid-game deficit, the Kernels turned on the jets for a blowout win over Peoria on Thursday night. Cedar Rapids scored eight of their 10 runs in the final four innings to secure a crucial win as the season winds down. 

The Kernels loaded the bases in the third thanks to singles from Yunior Severino and Alex Isola and a walk from Seth Gray. After a mound visit the walk streak continued. Wander Javier drew a seven-pitch RBI walk, scoring Severino to put the Kernels on the board. Jefferson Morales tacked on another run with an RBI single that scored Isola to put Cedar Rapids up 2-0.

Peoria would manage to plate three runs between the third and fourth innings to take a brief 3-2 lead. 

That didn’t last long thanks to a five-run sixth inning from the Kernels offense.

Jeferson Morales channeled his inner Jefferson Airplane with a two-run blast to kick off the sixth. Michael Helman and Max Smith then drew walks to reload the bases with runners. Edouard Julien took advantage of the runners with a single to right, scoring Helman from third. Smith would eventually score courtesy of a wild pitch to plate the fourth run of the inning. Yunior Severino would score the final run of the inning on a groundout from Alex Isola. 

Morales continued his hot-streak in the seventh inning when he laced an RBI double to left field that scored Wander Javier from first. Morales was outstanding on the night with three hits and four RBI, raising his slash line to .254/.387/.822 on the season. 

Minnesota sensation Louie Varland was effective on the night, pitching five innings, surrendering three runs on three hits (two HR) while striking out seven. No, it wasn’t Varland’s best outing, but it wasn’t even close to bad. Two of Varland’s three hits were homers and he rebounded from those by pitching a scoreless fifth inning. Twins Daily recently had the chance to chat with Louie about his successful season. Check it out here!

The Cedar Rapids bullpen was brilliant on the night. Derek Molina took over after Varland and was almost flawless through 1 2/3 innings, striking out three while surrendering just one walk and one hit. Breckin Williams followed suit with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball with two strikeouts and one walk. Ryan Shreve sealed the deal with an inning of two-strikeout, scoreless baseball. 

Playoff Watch
Similar to Double-A, the top two teams in the High-A Central League will compete in a five game series for the league title. Cedar Rapids sits at 47-40, tied for the second place in the league with Dayton (Cincinnati). Both teams are 12 games beyond league leader Quad Cities. 
 

MUSSEL MATTERS
Postponed (weather)

Thursday evening’s game against Bradenton was postponed due to weather. The Mussels will make up the game against the Marauders as part of a Friday doubleheader. Game one will begin at 3:00pm CST.  

COMPLEX CHRONICLES
FCL Twins 4, FCL Pirates Gold 1
Box Score
A dominant outing from Giovahniey German and a three-run seventh inning propelled the FCL Twins to a win in the Sunshine State on Thursday. 

German pitched five innings of no-hit baseball on the day, striking out seven and walking three. He now has a 2.52 ERA on the season. 

The FCL Twins hit the scoreboard first thanks to a fourth-inning blast from Wander Valdez. The homer was the first of the year for Valdez. 

And while Valdez’s dinger was a great start, the real damage was done in the seventh. After consecutive hit-by-pitch plate appearances Emmanuel Rodriguez laced a two-run RBI triple to the gap to give the FCL Twins a 3-0 lead. Rodriguez’s triple was later rewarded with a sac-fly from Gabe Snyder, bringing the Twins’ lead to 4-0. 

The Pirates would gain a run back in the bottom of the seventh but it wasn’t enough thanks to a dominant outing from the Twins’ bullpen. Danny Moreno and John Wilson combined four four innings of one-run, one-hit ball to hold the lead for the FCL Twins. 

The FCL Twins now have an 8-21 record on the season. 
 

TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day- Giovahniey German (FCL Twins), 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R,  3 BB, 7 K
Hitter of the Day- Jeferson Morales (Cedar Rapids)- 4-for-5, HR, R  4 RBI, K

 

PROSPECT SUMMARY
Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:

#1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL)
#2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain)
#3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch
#4 – Matt Canterino (Fort Myers) – Did not pitch
#5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 2-for-3, 2B, R, BB
#6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – Game Postponed
#7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Did not play
#8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch
#9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – Game Postponed
#10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-6, 2 RBI, 4 K

#11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery)
#12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – No game
#13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) –Did not pitch
#14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – No game
#15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – Game Postponed
#16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 2-for-4, HR, R, RBI, K
#17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-3, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, K
#18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – 1-for-3, BB, 2 K
#19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow)
#20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – 3.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-2, 6.35 ERA)
Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) – RHP Austin Schulfer (3-7, 4.40 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35PM CST) – RHP Jon Olsen (1-4, 3.92 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:05PM CST) – RHP Miguel Rodriguez (2-2, 3.57 ERA)

 

                        

 


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Does Jefferson Morales have a chance to stick behind the plate with decent defense?

He played more in the outfield than behind the plate in Fort Myers, leading me to think they didn't think much about his defense at catcher. His two starts in the field in Cedar Rapids have been at catcher now though.

I've only seen about an inning of him behind the plate. It looked like he moved pretty athletically, but I didn't see anything to indicate how good his overall receiving and blocking were.

His overall stats suggest a guy that's very good at controlling the strike zone, with a bit of pop too. If he can be a decent catcher and maybe even add more power he seems like someone who should be getting a lot more attention.

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Thanks to Ashbury for the clarification of the non-Martin home run.  Had noticed in the box score he was 0-4 and wondering about that when reading David's piece above.

Seeing Severino at a .404 average, checked to see how few at bats he has at Hi-A.  Saw it is 52, so still a small sample, but growing.  Javier was 0-3, but walked and scored twice.  

Expect it is time to start following this German guy from the FCL Twins.  See he was signed as a free agent in January, 2018 when he was seventeen.  Yet, he was born in Massachusetts, so was wondering why he wasn't in the draft?  Is he the most interesting young starter for the FCL Twins?  At least until some of this year's draft picks begin thowing. 

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I am really curious about the potential for 2022 on the Saints team. Miranda and Duran and Canterino seem like they should make the next move.  Nick Gordon will continue to bounce back and forth.  The BP looks good, but the Twins went with a 35 year old instead of them.  Why?  Is Kerrigan ready?  It seems like I read about him a lot, but do not see him listed as a prospect.   Celestino seems to be getting things together and should have more CF time.   Rortvedt is an injury away and could be a good trade piece.  

Broxton is a waste of time even though a lot of readers wanted him to come up at times in the season.  Riddle is not the solution for SS and represents the weakness we have at that position.

Any other Saint reflections or corrections?

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2 hours ago, roger said:

Thanks to Ashbury for the clarification of the non-Martin home run.  Had noticed in the box score he was 0-4 and wondering about that when reading David's piece above.

Seeing Severino at a .404 average, checked to see how few at bats he has at Hi-A.  Saw it is 52, so still a small sample, but growing.  Javier was 0-3, but walked and scored twice.  

Expect it is time to start following this German guy from the FCL Twins.  See he was signed as a free agent in January, 2018 when he was seventeen.  Yet, he was born in Massachusetts, so was wondering why he wasn't in the draft?  Is he the most interesting young starter for the FCL Twins?  At least until some of this year's draft picks begin thowing. 

Yeah, not sure why it's mentioned that Martin homered, because it was Leobaldo Cabrera. 

German is certainly making himself intriguing with two outings of five no-hit innings. He was born in the US, but he grew up in the Dominican, which is why he signed from there rather than from the draft

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Thanks.  I do want to point out that the convention for a slash line is avg/obp/slg, not ops in that last slot.  I thought Morales was slugging .822.  Besides that, OPS is a meaningless number.  Adding two fractions that have different units means nothing.

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Speaking of OPS .822....

Palacios has now reached base via hit or walk 11 games in a row and owns an OPS of 1.068 over that span with a 10% BB rate and 12% K rate despite a BABIP of .212. He also has a season line of .261/.350/.472 OPS .822 wRC+119 while playing error free infield for 24 straight games, with 20 of those at shortstop.

I mean... what do you need to do to replace a negative fWAR shortstop?

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2 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

Yeah, not sure why it's mentioned that Martin homered, because it was Leobaldo Cabrera.

There was genuine initial confusion, so anyone doing a remote writeup under deadline was guaranteed to get snared.

Complete fluke that I was tuned in. I haven't used my milb.tv account as much as I expected, not that I don't enjoy it. There was discussion elsewhere about Martin getting HBP, so I got curious whether he crowds the plate or something. I tuned in, it was late in the game (middle of the eighth), and I saw that Martin was due up in the top of the ninth so I stuck around. I was pretty excited for the HR, and likewise failed to notice it was #17 at the plate. The scoreboard did not reflect the change, so the call was initially for Martin and I assume whoever was relaying the play-by-play went with that. To his credit, the video announcer did notice that it wasn't Martin who scored.

Why they pinch-hit for a prized prospect at the end of a blowout game is a mystery that maybe will be revealed later.

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