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Minor League Report (5/11): Gonzalez Dominates, Kernels Shuck the Opposition


David Youngs
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On a night of severe weather in the Twin Cities, there was electricity throughout the Twins' farm system on Wednesday. From stellar pitching outings courtesy of the Saints and Mussels to offensive thunderstorms from Cedar Rapids, there were flurries of action across the farm. 

 

TRANSACTIONS

  • Minnesota Twins selected the contract of RHP Yennier Cano from St. Paul Saints.
     

SAINTS SENTINAL
Box Score
Columbus 6, St. Paul 5 (F/12)

Despite a solid starting pitching outing and late-inning push, the Saints fell just short in extras to the Clippers on Wednesday night in Columbus. The Saints tallied three runs in the ninth inning to tout a 4-1 lead but ultimately fell short after giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off in the 12th. 

The Saints struck first in the first thanks to a double from the red-hot Elliot Soto (6) who was later scored by a Curtis Terry RBI single. Terry continued his strong evening at the plate with a leadoff double (9) in the ninth and later scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Jermaine Palacios. The Saints then rallied off of a pair of singles from Caleb Hamilton and David Banuelos to plate two more runs in the inning. 

The highlight story of the evening came from the arm of starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez. In his third start of the year, the Delray Beach native threw six no-hit innings on 88 pitches, striking out seven batters and walking four. Gonzales is 2-1 on the year and touts an impressive 2.45 ERA through two starts in May and a 1.16 WHIP on the year. 

WIND SURGE WISDOM
Box Score
Wichita 4, NW Arkansas 3

A dominant outing from Matt Canterino and a timely spread of extra-base hits propelled the Wind Surge to a 3-1 win against NW Arkansas on Wednesday night in Wichita. 

Perhaps the most highly touted pitching prospect in the organization, Canterino lived up to the hype on Wednesday, tossing four innings of scoreless ball with six strikeouts while only allowing two hits. After an injury-ridden 2021, Canterino has an incredible 1.31 ERA through seven starts in 2022. 

Wichita struck the scoreboard early thanks to a pair of doubles in the second inning. Forest Lake product Matt Wallner led off the inning with a two-bagger to center and was later scored thanks to a double by Michael Helman. The two-hit combo proved successful for Wichita again in the sixth. After a Dennis Ortega single, Leobaldo Cabrera launched a 3-1 pitch over the center-field wall to give the Surge a 3-0 lead and secure his first home run of the season. 

Wichita added to their lead in the ninth thanks to an Austin Martin triple that scored DaShawn Keirsey from first. The insurance run proved critical, with the Naturals mounting a three-run comeback in their last frame that would fall just short. Despite the comeback, Austin Schulfer cut off NW Arkansas' rally and earned his fifth save of the season. 

KERNELS NUGGETS
Box Score
Cedar Rapids 7, Peoria 1

A night after getting blown out, the Kernels returned the favor with a dominant win over Peoria on Wednesday afternoon. Cedar Rapids used a massive eighth inning with a trio of runs between the first and fifth innings to notch their league-leading 21st win of the young season. 

Cedar Rapids got the party started thanks to a two-out triple from Twins Daily Top 20 prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Three pitches later, Seth Gray laced a double to center field to put the Kernels on the board. 

Encarnacion-Strand had a stellar day at the office, going 3-for-4 with two runs and a walk. The 22-year-old is now slashing an impressive .370/.430/1.032 on the year and already has 74 hits. 

The talented prospect would score his first run of the game in the fifth. Thanks to a pair of walks and a single from Encarnacion-Strand, the Kernels plated two runs thanks to RBI walks from Charles Mack and Alerick Soularie

With a two-run lead going into the eighth, the Kernels put the nail in the coffin. With the bases loaded thanks to a walk, throwing error, and hit-by-pitch, Morales delivered arguably his biggest hit of the year. On the first pitch of his at-bat, the La Victoria, Venezuela native crushed a grand slam over the left-center field wall (2) to break open the flood gates for Cedar Rapids. 

Starting pitcher Sean Mooney (W, 1-0) was excellent through five innings, striking out four while only allowing one run on four hits. Mooney pounded the zone all night, throwing 54 of his 68 pitches for strikes while allowing zero Peoria walks. Cody Lawyerson (H,3) was even more effective in the bullpen, tossing three innings of scoreless, no-hit ball while striking out two. Melvi Acosta sealed the deal with a scoreless ninth inning on the bump. 
 

MUSSEL MATTERS 
Box Score
Fort Myers 3, Palm Beach 0

It's tough to follow up a no-hitter. Yet the Fort Myers pitching staff provided a pretty darn good silver lining on Wednesday night. A night after a combined no-no, a combo of five Mighty Mussels pitchers propelled the ballclub to a masterpiece shutout win, allowing only three hits on the night.

Starting pitcher Travis Adams (W, 2-0) was dominant through five, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out six. Adams has been stellar so far this year, posting a 1.80 ERA through five starts, all of which have been five innings. Malik Barrington, Regi Grace, and Matthew Swain (S,5) held the fort down for the Mussels' bullpen, tossing four innings of one-hit ball while striking out a combined eight Palm Beach batters.

Fort Myers mustered together three runs thanks to five singles, a double, and a walk. And while the scoreboard may not have shown it, the Mussels totaled a whopping ten hits on the night. Eight of nine batters in the Fort Myers lineup tallied hits and Jake Rucker and Kyler Fedko each tallied multi-hit games. 

TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Hitter of the Day: 
Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids)- 3-for-4, 3B, R, BB
Pitcher of the Day: Chi Chi Gonzales (St. Paul)- 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K

PROSPECT SUMMARY
#2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 3B, RBI, 
#9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K 
#10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, RBI, K
#16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-for-4, BB
#18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-4, 3B, 2 R, BB
#19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-3, 2 BB, K

THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
St. Paul @ Columbus (11:05 CST) - RHP Jake Faria (0-2, 8.31 ERA)
Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Louie Varland (3-1, 3.16 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Aaron Rozek (3-1, 5.82 ERA)
Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (1-1, 5.82 ERA)

 


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12 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

So glad Cano got a call up.  Anxious to start seeing Balazovic start again and happy Canterino is doing so well.  When do they start extending him?

On Canterino, I don't think they will all year. He went 3 innings in like 4 starts, and now he's gone four innings his last two starts. I would assume he'll do that for a while. Then I'm sure he'll get to five innings after that. Like Bailey Ober last year, the idea is to keep him making starts all the way through the season. 

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Canterino looked great last night and controlled the zone beautifully.  I think the hype around him is well deserved.  CES looks like he will be moved up soon as he continues to rake at CR.  I know Seth thinks highly of Isola so I have been careful to watch him in the Wichita games.  It looks like he is catching half the games, and from what I have seen has acquitted himself well behind the plate.  Offensively, he draws walks, has some power and makes good contact.  Not bad for the 869th overall pick in the 2019 draft!

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Funny the other day I was going to start talking about CES being in a slump and then he goes out and has a three hit game.  Prato has been scuffling at the plate too and I hope he starts hitting soon as well.

Lawyerson has been on a tear recently.  He started off a bit off and has really put together back to back elite outings.  So many good pitchers at high A there is no way they can keep them all from rule V.

I never really understood the Travis Adams pick at number 6.  He didn't have good K number in college and hasn't had a good K/9 so far in pro ball either.  Maybe someone can fill me in is he great ground ball guy? Or his stuff is good at missing barrels?  The WHIP and ERA are really good so he is getting good results just wondering what kind of pitcher he is or is supposed to be.

I have been watching Swain and he has been dominant so far this year as well.  Lots of under the radar guys are having pretty good seasons.  Lot's of fun watching guys in the system this year.

 

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I am interested to see CES get a call up to AA and see if his numbers are just a product of hitting against lessor pitching. We have seen guys like him in the past dominate lower levels of the minors but when move up have hard time.  His K-rate is scary high.  I have not personally watched him so not sure if he is just a free swinger that can get hits on pitches out of the zone or are his hits on pitches in the zone and when he falls behind he will chase bad pitches. 

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2 hours ago, Trov said:

I am interested to see CES get a call up to AA and see if his numbers are just a product of hitting against lessor pitching. We have seen guys like him in the past dominate lower levels of the minors but when move up have hard time.  His K-rate is scary high.  I have not personally watched him so not sure if he is just a free swinger that can get hits on pitches out of the zone or are his hits on pitches in the zone and when he falls behind he will chase bad pitches. 

I am concerned about CES as well but I have been saying his BABIP is too high and K rate too high for two years now and he still has the best OPS in the system.  We will find out if he will succumb to more and better breaking balls and off speed stuff as he moves up but to this point he just keeps on producing. 

I thought the knock on him was the plane of his swing or something like that.  I thought that is why he fell to the 4th round and he may have fallen further if the Twins didn't take him there.  I also think that scouting report said they thought he would have more trouble as he moved up and especially at the MLB level.  Obviously the Twins disagreed with that assessment and so far they appear to be right.  He is one of if not the best hitter in the minors for the Twins right now.

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