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Twins Minor League Report (4/15): Bats Bring the Boom, Pitchers the Brooms


Twins Daily Contributor

The Minnesota Twins' minor league starting pitchers dominated and a couple of young prospects crushed multiple home runs as the farm system combined to go 3-1 Friday night.

 

TRANSACTIONS

SAINTS SENTINEL 
St. Paul 6, Indianapolis 4
Box Score

The Saints bounced back nicely after getting no-hit Wednesday and snowed out Thursday to pick up their sixth win of the young season.

Devin Smeltzer started on the bump, going five scoreless innings, striking out three, and allowing only three Indianapolis batters to reach base. The lefty has yet to allow an earned run across his first nine innings, successfully piggybacking off of a strong Spring Training in which many thought he would be the final addition to the Twins bullpen.

Mario Sanchez struggled in his two innings of relief, surrendering three runs. However, Yennier Cano and Juan Minaya shut the door on Indianapolis to secure the win.

Mark Contreras and Royce Lewis powered the Saints offensively as the two combined to go 4-for-7 with two doubles, a home run, and four RBI. 

At 27 years old and over four years of minor league experience, you won’t find Contreras’s name on most Twins top prospect lists. However, he has a sweet swing and good pop from the left side of the plate. He can also play a capable right field. Should the Twins deal with multiple long-term injuries in the outfield this summer, it would not surprise to see Contreras get a call up.

Curtis Terry (1-for-4, 2 RBI) also belted a home run, while Chance Sisco (1-for-3, BB), Jermaine Palacios (1-for-4, R), and Elliot Soto (1-for-3, R) contributed hits.

WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 4, Northwest Arkansas 2
Box Score

The Wind Surge picked up their second win of the season Friday night thanks to a solid outing from Simeon Woods Richardson as well as a combination of aggressive base running and timely hitting.

Woods Richardson looked like a top 100 prospect during his first three innings of work as he effectively mixed his fastball with his loopy curve and running changeup. While he only picked up three strikeouts on the night, Natural batters from either side of the plate were largely unable to make solid contact against Wood Richardson. However, his last two frames were more laborious as he surrendered two hits, an unearned run, and lost some of his command.

Cody Funderburk came on in relief for Woods Richardson and pitched three solid innings. He struck out one and allowed one earned run. Austin Schulfer picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.

Alex Isola led the Wind Surge at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run and RBI. Spencer Steer added an RBI of his own on a double after Austin Martin (0-for-2, 3 BB, 4 SB) stole second. Michael Helman (1-for-3) also drove in Martin on a triple. Dennis Ortega (2-for-5), Andrew Bechtold (1-for-4, RBI) and DaShawn Keirsey (1-for-3, BB, R) also contributed hits.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Quad Cities 8, Cedar Rapids 3
Box Score

A strong start from Brent Headrick and another two home run game from Christian Encarnacion-Strand was not enough to propel the Kernels past the River Bandits on Friday.

Headrick tossed the first four innings of the game, surrendering only one hit and striking out eight. The lefty’s performance was largely derived from the success of his slider, which had Quad Cities batters off guard all evening.

Unfortunately, Cody Lawyerson and Andrew Cabezas were unable to build off of Headrick’s dominance and combined to surrender eight runs, all earned, over their 3 ⅓ innings. Matt Mullenbach pitched the final ⅔ innings, striking out and walking one.

Encarnacion-Strand was the lone Kernel to register a multi-hit game, slugging two home runs and driving in all three of Cedar Rapids’ runs. He now has five dingers and 20 RBI across his first 30 at-bats of the season.

Anthony Prato (1-for-4, BB, R), Aaron Sabato (1-for-4), and Charles Mack (1-for-4, 2B) logged the Kernels other hits. 

MUSSEL MATTERS
Fort Myers 12, Jupiter 0
Box Score

Fort Myers dominated the Hammerheads Friday behind the thrust of overwhelming play from starting pitcher John Stankiewicz and burgeoning power hitter Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Stankiewicz tossed six scoreless innings, striking out 10 Jupiter batters and limiting the Hammerheads to three singles. Through two starts, the former undrafted free agent owns a 1.64 ERA to go along with 19 strikeouts and only two walks. Hunter McMahon and Mike Paredes combined to strike out four batters across three scoreless innings of relief.

Rodriguez belted two home runs in four plate appearances, raising his batting average and OPS to .409 and 1.618, respectively. Kyler Fedko (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 3 R) and Kyle Schmidt (2-for-4, 4 RBI, R) also launched home runs. Dylan Neuse added the Mighty Mussels only other extra base hit, a double.

TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – RHP John Stankiewicz (Fort Myers): 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 65 pitches
Hitter of the Day – Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids): 2-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI

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

#1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-1, 3 BB, 4 SB, R
#2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, R
#3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-for-4, 2 K
#4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL
#5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
#6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch
#7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
#8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
#9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch
#10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, BB, K, R
#11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - Did Not Play 
#12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - Did Not Play
#13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - Did Not Pitch
#14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch
#15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, 2 HR, BB, 3 R
#16 - Ronny Hendriquez (Development List) - Did Not Pitch
#17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL 
#18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 K
#19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - IL
#20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch

SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
St. Paul vs. Indianapolis (2:07 PM CST) - LHP Lewis Thorpe 
Wichita @ Northwest Arkansas (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Chris Vallimont (0-1, 67.50 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. Jupiter (6:00 PM CST) - RHP David Festa (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
 


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Could we have this exact same update every single day?

Seriously, couldn’t ask for a better day on the farm.  CES hot as the sun, SMR another strong start, Martin four steals, Lewis two hits, Rodriguez coming on strong. Throw in a Stankiewicz, Contreras and Isola, and you cannot not feel good about yesterday’s showing.

CES deserves to get an asterisked honorable mention in the top prospects listings, at this point.  That kid is on fire.

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Prospect bats 5/19 and 2 HRs.  Rodriguez is really making a great early season impression.  What is happening with Miranda?  He is only hitting 194.  Bad luck, frustration for not making the team????

Prospect arms 13 inning 5 runs.

Three on IL.  When does Balazovic come back to pitch?  He needs some innings. 

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Good to see another offensive explosion from CES. He had a couple of games where it looked like his hot start would fade, but he started showing more patience and walking a bit, and now he had this game. His overall line is still amazing.

I'm really impressed at how little Rodriguez is striking out. He had a 36% strikeout rate in the complex league last year. To go from 36% to 10% is unheard of.  I have to expect that there will be some regression from such a small sample, but it's been enough games now to say something seems to be different in his approach. With his raw power, if he can keep the Ks around 20% that will bode very well for his prospect status moving up.

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I knew Stankiewicz was good but man 11 K's in 6 innings with a .50 WHIP is utter domination.  Nice to see another arm with a solid K rate.  I don't know a ton about the guy but he has me keeping a closer eye on him now.

Fedko is off to a hot start.  Nice to see another outfielder swinging a good bat.  I guess the former big east player of the year is trying to add to his resume.

Man Rodriguez is hot.  Even hotter than CES IMO.  Two home runs last night and another walk the kid is turning into a very well rounded hitter earlier than I imagined possible.  A couple of months away but he looks like he will move up this year.

Fort Meyers has a fun team to watch this year.  The farm is on fire this year except for Wichita where the lineup just hasn't done much until recently.

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2 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

Prospect bats 5/19 and 2 HRs.  Rodriguez is really making a great early season impression.  What is happening with Miranda?  He is only hitting 194.  Bad luck, frustration for not making the team????

Prospect arms 13 inning 5 runs.

Three on IL.  When does Balazovic come back to pitch?  He needs some innings. 

With Miranda, I think it's a couple things. 1. His short spring due to being on the 40-man during the lockout and 2. To my eye, his hips are opening up too quickly as he swings, which is causing him to reach too much with his hands. There are a number of pitches that's he's pummeled into the ground that he would hit in the air last summer. Not too concerned as it's still super early and his technical issues are very fixable.

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Woods Richardson just needs innings. Really happy to see him off to a strong start this year in AA. He's only 21, but he's already been traded twice and had a bumpy development path, with the pandemic and the Olympics. Getting him into a more normal year with a clear development path is going to be really good to let his ability shine. I'll be watching his command and ability to get deeper into games this season. I think he'll show exactly why he's a highly regarded prospect after he puts in 25+ starts this season, and will line himself up to debut in MLB in 2023.

Literally no complaints about Royce Lewis so far, which is wonderful as well. He's been terrific at the plate and good int he field...another guy who just needs innings to let his talent shine. Stay healthy, mah dude. Can't wait to get to Saint Paul for a game to see him play.

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17 minutes ago, jmlease1 said:

Woods Richardson just needs innings. Really happy to see him off to a strong start this year in AA. He's only 21, but he's already been traded twice and had a bumpy development path, with the pandemic and the Olympics. Getting him into a more normal year with a clear development path is going to be really good to let his ability shine. I'll be watching his command and ability to get deeper into games this season. I think he'll show exactly why he's a highly regarded prospect after he puts in 25+ starts this season, and will line himself up to debut in MLB in 2023.

Literally no complaints about Royce Lewis so far, which is wonderful as well. He's been terrific at the plate and good int he field...another guy who just needs innings to let his talent shine. Stay healthy, mah dude. Can't wait to get to Saint Paul for a game to see him play.

I very much agree with everything you said. One thing I'm going to watch with SWR is how his endurance holds up. His windup has a lot of moving parts, which could lead to fatigue. I think we saw that last night when he cruises through the first three innings, but the struggled with command in the last two. He looked pretty tired in the 5th inning. I think it'll improve as the season progresses and he build up stamina but something to monitor.

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There was a lot to like in this update.  What really interests me is the performances of guys that are below the radar like Headrick, Stankiewicz, Contreras and our old friend Smeltzer.  The depth of this farm system is outstanding.  I really think Contreras in a lot better prospect than people give him credit for.  I know there is a righty/lefty issue and a 40 man issue, but his defense alone is so good I would prefer him over retreads like Garlick and Cave, especially if Buxton sits for 10 days.

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1 hour ago, RJA said:

There was a lot to like in this update.  What really interests me is the performances of guys that are below the radar like Headrick, Stankiewicz, Contreras and our old friend Smeltzer.  The depth of this farm system is outstanding.  I really think Contreras in a lot better prospect than people give him credit for.  I know there is a righty/lefty issue and a 40 man issue, but his defense alone is so good I would prefer him over retreads like Garlick and Cave, especially if Buxton sits for 10 days.

Yeah, this is why I enjoy following everyone, not just the top prospects. These stories are often more fun to follow, and when they get to the big leagues, it's such a great feeling. 

And yeah, I was thinking the same thing about Contreras. It speaks to the depth... and honestly, I do think it speaks to the development that there are so many guys that we think could be big leaguers. A guy like Stankiewicz wasn't drafted in 2020, and the Tiwns signed him for $20K. Truly, if he were to get to AA, that's a win for player development and if he becomes more, that's amazing! 

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5 hours ago, Dman said:

I knew Stankiewicz was good but man 11 K's in 6 innings with a .50 WHIP is utter domination.  Nice to see another arm with a solid K rate.  I don't know a ton about the guy but he has me keeping a closer eye on him now.

Fedko is off to a hot start.  Nice to see another outfielder swinging a good bat.  I guess the former big east player of the year is trying to add to his resume.

Man Rodriguez is hot.  Even hotter than CES IMO.  Two home runs last night and another walk the kid is turning into a very well rounded hitter earlier than I imagined possible.  A couple of months away but he looks like he will move up this year.

Fort Meyers has a fun team to watch this year.  The farm is on fire this year except for Wichita where the lineup just hasn't done much until recently.

How do you strike out 10 (or 11) over 6 innings and only throw 65 pitches?????  That's freaking amazing......

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8 minutes ago, cheeseheadgophfan said:

How do you strike out 10 (or 11) over 6 innings and only throw 65 pitches?????  That's freaking amazing......

No walks.  And two DPs.  And actually, according to the box score, he threw 75 pitches, 57 for strikes, a 76% strike rate.

https://www.milb.com/gameday/hammerheads-vs-mighty-mussels/2022/04/15/670476#game_state=final,lock_state=final,game_tab=box,game=670476

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56 minutes ago, AlwaysinModeration said:

No walks.  And two DPs.  And actually, according to the box score, he threw 75 pitches, 57 for strikes, a 76% strike rate.

https://www.milb.com/gameday/hammerheads-vs-mighty-mussels/2022/04/15/670476#game_state=final,lock_state=final,game_tab=box,game=670476

Still impressive, but makes more sense  🙂

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Nice to see Lewis continue to hit.  It's very encouraging.

Also nice to see Martin create some havoc on the bases despite not doing well with the bat.  Drawing walks and stealing bases will work for me until his bat heats up.

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