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Minor League Report (7/2): Jake Cave Continues His On-Base Streak While a DSL Pitcher Impresses

Twins Daily Contributor

It was an uneven day in the Twins' system; every team played a close game and one pitcher stood out amongst the ruckus. Read all about that and more in this edition of the Minor League Report.

RHP Trevor Megill assigned to the Saints on Major League rehab
C Frank Nigro transferred from High-A Cedar Rapids to St. Paul

RHP Matt Mullenbach transferred from Low-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids
RHP Regi Grace Jr. was placed on the 7-day injured list (nasal fracture)

Saints Sentinel
St. Paul 4, Omaha 6
Box Score
Ariel Jurado: 1 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
HR: Mark Contreras (8), Jake Cave (10)
Multi-hit games: Jake Cave (2-for-3, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB), Elliot Soto (2-for-3, RBI)

The Saints fell early and failed to pick themselves back up on Saturday.

Ariel Jurado received the nod, perhaps looking to advance his name in discussions for a promotion to a big-league ballclub a week away from posting “Reliever Wanted” ads in the papers. He did not help his case, absorbing five of Omaha’s six runs—all due to the Michael Massey RBIs—while walking away after just five outs.

A combo poo-poo plater of arms linked together after Jurado; Austin Schulfer, Trevor Megill, Mario Sanchez, and Yennier Cano worked the final 22 outs, allowing one run on two hits while striking out 11 batters.

St. Paul’s bats nearly brought them back into the game; Mark Contreras boomed a two-run homer in the 5th inning to slice the lead to four, while Jake Cave’s 7th inning solo shot inched the Saints to the halfway mark. Michael Helman singled home a run later in the frame to narrow the deficit. 

St. Paul had an opportunity to tie the game in the 8th inning, but Spencer Steer and Cave both came up empty while trying to plate a run with men on the corners.

Cave is secretly on a rare path; his early walk ensured safe passage to the base paths, and he has now reached base in 46 straight games. That’s an incredible streak.

Wind Surge Wisdom
Wichita 4, Springfield 5
Box Score
Blayne Enlow: 4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
HR: None
Multi-hit games: Leobaldo Cabrera (2-for-4, 2B, R), Daniel Ozoria (2-for-3, R, 3 RBI)

Blayne Enlow continued his quest toward Tommy John recovery, allowing a pair of runs over four innings; he has not passed that mark yet in eight AA starts. The numbers are not yet dominant for the highly-touted arm, but this is hopefully a trial period for future success.

Daniel Ozoria played two roles on Saturday: the hero and the goat. Ozoria knocked in three runs; two came from a 4th inning single, while an 8th inning sacrifice fly topped him off for good. His defense, however, was an odyssey; an error to open the 2nd inning allowed a run to score, while little league defense in the 8th inning—a passed ball followed by an error that directly scored another run—almost equaled his RBI output.

Ozoria’s bottom-of-the-order brother, Leobaldo Cabrera, was the other batter to acquire multiple hits on Saturday. With the aid of walks, Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. reached base more than once.

Cody Laweryson, Alex Scherff, and Osiris German worked together to stop earned runs from scoring after Enlow left the game, but sloppy defense tacked three un-earned scores to the total.

Kernels Nuggets
Cedar Rapids 6, Wisconsin 7
Box Score
John Stankiewicz: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
HR: None
Multi-hit games: Kyler Fedko (2-for-6, 2B, R, RBI), Wander Javier (2-for-4, R, RBI, BB), Pat Winkel (2-for-4, R, RBI, BB)

The Kernels lost on a walk-off Saturday.

John Stankiewicz—back to earth after reaching great heights to start the season—worked a gritty start on the mound. He allowed just a pair of runs but scattered eight baserunners across 12 outs; the righty exited the game with his team behind.

While Wisconsin enjoyed a 4-1 advantage at one point, the Kernels struck in the 7th inning, cheekily plating two runs off an infield single by Jake Rucker and an RBI groundout from Dylan Neuse

The bats came back for seconds; Wander Javier singled home the go-ahead run in the 8th inning while Pat Winkel tacked on two more for good measure; he hit a single that reached the outfield.

The Timber Rattlers were displeased with losing their lead. Their bats rallied against the usually reliable Bobby Milacki; plating two clutch runs in the bottom of the 8th inning; Tyler Black’s RBI double shaved a run off the lead before he scored later in the frame off of a sacrifice fly. 

After exchanging failed attempts at scoring the Manfred Zombie Runner, the Timber Rattlers plated a run off a fielder’s choice in the 11th inning, walking away victorious.

Mussel Matters
Fort Myers 3, Dunedin 1
Box Score
Mike Paredes: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
HR: Dillon Tatum (5)
Multi-hit games: Rubel Cespedes (2-for-4, 2B, RBI)

Fort Myers bested Dunedin in a close match on Saturday.

Mike Paredes gave his batters the peace of mind needed to score against Dunedin effectively; his six innings pitched with just a single earned run provided consistency. While Paredes dabbled in fascism—he struck out three batters—he opted for a democratic approach to acquiring outs, choosing to let his fielders have some fun. It was precisely the sort of start the team needed.

When Parades strutted off the mound in the 6th, the Mighty Mussels claimed a 2-1 advantage. Zach Huffins and LaRon Smith teamed up in the 2nd inning to prove that bottom-of-the-order hitters can contribute as well, with Huffins doubling home Smith off a sharply hit double to center field.

Dillon Tatum claimed a victory for the middle-of-the-order, smacking a solo homer in the 4th inning and increasing Fort Myers’ lead to 2-0. Rubel Cespedes drove in the final run, scoring Noah Cardenas, but not Kala’i Rosario, on a bittersweet RBI ground-rule-double.

While Paredes worked the Blue Jays for six effective innings, Samuel Perez tagged himself into the game in the 7th inning, and he proved meaner, shutting down Dunedin’s offense for the final three frames. The outing gave Perez his first save of the season.

Walks were the game’s theme; Dunedin failed to take one, while Fort Myers trotted freely to first base five times; Cardenas alone worked three invitations to the base paths.

Complex Chronicles
FCL Twins 4, FCL Red Sox 6 
Box Score
Cleiber Maldonado: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
HR: Jeferson Morales (1), Alexander Pena (3)
Multi-hit games: None

The FCL Twins fell to the FCL Red Sox in an even affair on Saturday.

Cleiber Maldonado’s start lacked the sheen of his previous one; the lefty allowed six baserunners against three strikeouts but permitted just a single run. Groundballs were his accomplice; seven of his outs struck the earth before a fielder could reach the ball.

The Twins’ offense was sparse but powerful when working correctly; rehabbing catcher Jeferson Morales smoked an Earl Weaver special in the 7th inning to spark a suddenly doable 3-5 disadvantage. Alexander Pena inched closer with a solo homer later in the frame. Two of the team’s five hits were of the over-the-wall variety.

 Lefty reliever Wilker Reyes truck out four batters over two innings; left fielder Andres Centeno walked three times.

Dominican Dailies
DSL Twins 5, DSL Cardinals 4
Box Score
Cesar Lares: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
HR: None
Multi-hit games: Yasser Mercedes (3-for-5), Rafael Cruz (2-for-4, R, BB), Daniel Pena (2-for-3, 2 R, RBI, BB)

In keeping with the “close game” theme of the night, the DSL Twins won by a run on Saturday. The bats knocked around 10 base hits while walking nine times; five runs seems low compared to how much pressure they placed on the Cardinals. The arms commanded the story, though; Cesar Lares led with 10 strikeouts, and the staff punched out 20 hitters in total. 

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cesar Lares, FCL Twins
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jake Cave, St. Paul Saints

Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
#6 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 0-5, K
#8 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-2, BB, K
#12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-4, BB, 2 K
#13 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
#15 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-3, 2 BB, 2 K

Omaha @ St. Paul (5:02 PM) - RHP Mario Sanchez
Wichita @ Springfield (4:25 PM) - LHP Kody Funderburk
Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (12:10 PM) - TBD
Dunedin @ Fort Myers (5:00 PM) - LHP Jordan Carr 

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I was at the Kernels game on Friday when Nigro pitched. We were in the bleachers and the PA and electronic scoreboard were way too busy with promotions and youtube clips to announce new pitchers. I saw a new pitcher throw this blooper of an off-speed pitch, almost an eephus, and thought "who's the position player pitching now?". Before I could look up the number he blazed in a fastball. I was immediately confused as to whether it was a position player or a reliever. Pretty impressive stuff, with one of the widest ranges in velocity that I've ever seen.

The Kernels came back in the top of the ninth- the game ended with the tying run at the plate. I was thinking- wow, if they go ahead here and win, a catcher is going to get his first professional victory as a pitcher. How many times has that ever happened??

That's just idle pondering, not a serious question BTW.

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Gotta give some props to Jake Cave.  He has the highest OPS for the Saints right now even passing up Spencer Steer who hasn't been there all year.  I guess a healthy Cave is still a good hitter.  There is no room on the 26 man so can't see him being added but he still looks like a good 4th outfielder.  He has a solid bat and can play solid Defense when healthy.

 I don't know how Parades does it but I would like to see if it carries over to High A.  A good ERA and WHIP he is worthy but I wonder if this will be another Stankewitcz kind of deal 

Cespedes and LaRon Smith both seem to doing well moving into A ball.  Would be nice to have some better bats there and maybe they can be it.

Mercedes is also off to good professional debut.  If his bat is for real he could be a fast mover because I believe his other tools are really good.

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I supposed Cave getting a mulligan on 2020, but when he was helpless at the plate last year, it started to add up. Cave finished the season very strong in AAA, but there just isn't a spot for him on the Twins at this point. I could see some other team having some interest in Cave. The gray beard does utterly nothing for his cause...

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19 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

I supposed Cave getting a mulligan on 2020, but when he was helpless at the plate last year, it started to add up. Cave finished the season very strong in AAA, but there just isn't a spot for him on the Twins at this point. I could see some other team having some interest in Cave. The gray beard does utterly nothing for his cause...

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4 hours ago, ashbury said:

You don't suppose having a broken bone in his spine might have had a teensy effect?

I don't care if his face melted off and his eyes fell out. I literally do not care how badly a player is/was hurt when it comes to giving them a spot on the roster. It's a question of whether or not he was capable on the baseball field at the MLB level and the docs said yes. He was bad in 2020. I supported him being given a mulligan even though most of the folks here absolutely did not.

Then, Cave played poorly at AAA in 2021 to start off the season .167/.239/.262 OPS .511 through May 12th before being diagnosed with a stress reaction in his back. Stress reactions are not the same as a typical broken bone, just FYI. Anyway, Cave was cleared to return to baseball activities after coming off the 60 day IL. I didn't have access to waterboard the team doctors and trainers on the conspiracy to get Cave out there even though he wasn't ready to play, and the fact Cave had a .367/.472/.500 OPS .972 return to AAA once he was removed from the IL seems to lend a little credibility to the Twins putting him back on the field. 

Cave proceeded to get called up as he'd earned it and he stumbled badly the rest of the season to finish with a .213/.259/.325 OPS .584 line from July 25th to the end of the year. I guess the stress reaction which was considered cured and was clearly not impacting his .972 OPS in AAA after his return mystically came back to life the moment Cave faced MLB pitchers again. What a coincidence! Based on Cave being bad in 2020, being terrible in 2021 and how stretched he is when playing CF, he simply found himself not generating MLB interest.

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