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  • Twins Minor League Report (5/15): Mussels Sweep! Kernels Keep Winning!


    Theo Tollefson

    The Twins had a series victory over the Guardians this weekend. The minor-league affiliates had a packed schedule with a doubleheader for the Saints, a canceled game due to weather for the Wind Surge, the Kernels maintaining the best record in the Midwest League, and the Mighty Mussels setting a new franchise record.

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter

    TRANSACTIONS 
    Following the Twins' game on Sunday, OF Mark Contreras was optioned to St. Paul. Presumably, Kyle Garlick will come off of the Injured List before the Monday series against the A's. 

    SAINTS SENTINEL 

    Game 1
    St. Paul 3, Columbus 5 

    Box Score 
    SP: Bailey Ober - 5 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
    HR: Jermaine Palacios (2)
    Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-4), Kyle Garlick (2-4, R, K), Caleb Hamilton (2-2, BB)

    The Saints played two on Sunday afternoon against the Columbus Clippers. The first game was started by Bailey Ober as he made his rehab start with the team. Ober totaled 72 pitches through five innings for the Saints but did not have the best return to the mound on Sunday. Ober gave up five runs (4 earned) on four hits. He struck out seven without giving up any walks. 

    Even with all of Ober’s efforts, the Saints offense was not able to come through with run support in Game 1 to give themselves a victory. Alex Kirilloff did have a good return to the Saints on Sunday as he went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter in the first game. The Saints mounted a comeback in the top of the sixth thanks to RBI singles from Derek Fisher and Jose Godoy, but the offense was not able to pick itself back up in the seventh to make a comeback.

    The loss in game one to the Clippers brought the Saints losing streak to six in a row. 

    Game 2
    St. Paul 4, Columbus 5 (8 Innings)

    Box Score 
    SP: Dereck Rodriguez - 4 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    HR: Curtis Terry (4)
    Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-3, R, BB), Curtis Terry (2-4, R, HR, RBI (16), K)

    Dereck Rodriguez was on the mound for the start in Game 2 for the Saints and his afternoon on the mound lasted an inning shorter than Ober's. The Clippers hitters were able to find the location where many of Rodriguez’s pitches were heading, accounting for seven hits and three runs, all of which were scored in the bottom of the first.

    As he cooled off from a rough first inning, the Saints' offense put two runs on the board in the top of the second thanks to RBI singles from David Banuelos and Ernie Yake to bring themselves within a run of the Clippers. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth when Saint's first baseman Curtis Terry crushed a two-run home run to give the Saints their first lead of the day at 4-3.

    The Saints had the lead going into the bottom of the seventh to close the game out and snap their losing streak. However, the Clippers were able to tie the game up and force extra innings thanks to a game-tying home run from second baseman Tyler Freeman off of Trevor Megill

    The Saints could not amount any runs for a lead in the top of the eighth, the game went into the bottom half of the inning with Megill still on the mound. That worked in favor of the Clippers as they walked off Megill on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Oscar Gonzalez

    The second loss in the doubleheader brings the Saints losing streak to seven straight. They will look to break the losing streak on the road Tuesday against the Omaha Storm for their first matchup of the season. 

    WIND SURGE WISDOM
    Wichita, Northwest Arkansas Canceled


    The Wind Surge’s series finale against Northwest Arkansas on the road was canceled due to rain. The game will not be made up for future dates as the teams do not meet again during the season’s first half. 

    Casey Legumina was scheduled to pitch for the Wind Surge on Sunday but will piggyback in relief on Tuesday for Matt Canterino who is scheduled to start for the Wind Surge. 

    Wind Surge catcher Andrew Bechtold and Michael Helman had seven-game hitting streaks going into Sunday’s game which they still keep and have a chance to extend on Tuesday against the Springfield Cardinals at home. 

    KERNELS NUGGETS
    Cedar Rapids 6, Peoria 3

    Box Score
    SP: John Stankiewicz 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
    HR: Alerick Soularie (2)
    Multi-hit games: Soularie (2-3, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI (8), BB, K)

    The Kernels completed their final game against the Chiefs on Sunday winning in a 6-3 final and taking the series five to one against Peoria.

    The 6-3 victory for the Kernels was thanks in major part to second baseman Alerick Soularie, who scored three of the six runs for the Kernels and drove in four, finishing the day with his best offensive performance of the season so far. 

    John Stankiewicz got the start for the Kernels making his first start of the season for them after spending all of April in Ft. Myers and making his Kernels debut out of the bullpen a week earlier. Stankiewicz pitched five solid innings for the Kernels allowing two earned runs on seven hits and only one walk while striking out five. In the four innings to follow, the Kernels bullpen only allowed three base runners on a hit, a walk, and an error. 

    The Kernels will return home for a two-week homestand on Tuesday playing their first series against the Lake County Captains. 

    MUSSEL MATTERS
    Fort Myers 6, Palm Beach 0

    Box Score
    SP: Marco Raya 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    HR:  None
    Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, SB (7), RBI (9)), Noah Miller (2-5, 2 R, K), Emmanuel Rodriguez (2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI (14), SB (7), BB, K), Kyle Schmidt (2-4, RBI (14))

    The Mighty Mussels extended their winning streak to seven games Sunday afternoon completing a six-game sweep over the Palm Beach Cardinals with a shutout. The six-game sweep over the Cardinals became the first-ever six-game series sweep by the Mighty Mussels in franchise history. 

    Marco Raya made his fourth start and threw his second scoreless outing of the season completing four innings in the frame. Raya only allowed one base runner in his four innings of work with a one-out walk in the top of the first. 

    Following Raya in the Mussels shutout was Jaylen Nowlin making his seventh relief appearance of the season. Nowlin went three innings for the Mussels allowing only three base runners on a hit, walk and hit by pitch and registered four strikeouts. 

    The final pitcher to come into the game for the Mighty Mussels Malik Barrington who recorded a six-out save for the Mussels. Barrington did surrender three hits in his two innings of work but retired five of the six outs he needed via strikeout. 

    The Mussels offense had a slow start to the game as it was scoreless through five and a half innings. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Mussels got the offense going thanks to an RBI single from Kyle Schmidt that scored Emmanuel Rodriguez. The Mussels added more insurance runs in the seventh with an RBI single from Mikey Perez and a bases-loaded walk from Kala’i Rosario. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Jake Rucker had an RBI double scoring Luis Baez and later in the inning, Emmanuel Rodriguez had a bases-clearing triple that brought the score to 6-0. 

    The Mussels will begin their next series on the road Tuesday at Clearwater with a semi-double header. The first game Tuesday is the resumption of a suspended game from May 1 that will start in the top of the 11th inning tied 4-4. The regularly scheduled game against Clearwater will start a half-hour after the suspended game’s conclusion. 

    TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Pitcher of the Day –  Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    Hitter of the Day – Alerick Soularie (Cedar Rapids) - 2-3, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI (8), BB, K

    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed:

    #1 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 0-3  
    #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
    #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) -  2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI (14), SB (7), BB, K
    #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2 R, K
    #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4

    TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    All Twins Minor League Affiliates are off on Monday and will resume their games on Tuesday, May 17. The only Monday in which there will be minor-league games is July 4th (and some for the Saints in September). 

    St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35 PM CST) - TBD
    Springfield @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - Matt Canterino
    Lake Country @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - TBD
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater Game 1, Resuming May 1 Suspended Game (4:00 PM CST) - TBD
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater Game 2 (5:30 PM CST) - TBD

    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games.

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    Just wanted to point out that Cody Lawyeryson had an 11.12 ERA and a WHIP of 1.94 on April 22nd. After not a allowing a run his last 12 innings his ERA is back down to 3.57 and WHIP is at .91.  He has been pitching really well since that early season blip.  His longest outing this year has been 4 innings and I wonder if they feel they can get more out of him as a pen arm?  At any rate just another really good under the radar arm at High A that makes that team special.

    Stankiewicz struggled a bit giving up 7 hits and 1 walk in just 5 innings so not a great outing.  Still he managed to only give up 2 runs.  Looks like it might take some time for him to adjust to the new level.

    The Kernals faced a tough pitcher and it showed as they only managed 3 hits.  Hopefully with the off day they can regroup and get the bats going again.

    Raya was back to his dominant ways pitching 4 no hit innings in 44 pitches.  Only two K's but an incredibly efficient outing.  Twins are keeping his pitch count low for now but he could be a special arm moving forward.  Nowlin equally as good giving up just 1 hit and striking out 4 in three innings.

    Rucker has gotten his groove back and working toward getting that OPS to 800.  Still a ways to go but nice to see some hits falling in.  Miller and Rodriquez are the stars of that team though.  As they are both doing well as 19 year old's. Rodriguez leads the team with his 900 OPS and he has nearly as many walks as K's so a balanced approach.  Miller lacks power so his OPS is lower but has a balanced approach as well.  The extra beauty of Miller is that he is a switch hitter.  So far both are good defenders at up the middle positions although both have question marks about whether they can stay in those up the middle spots.  I was low on Miller but so far it looks like I am going to be more wrong than right about him which is a good thing.
     

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    Marco Raya should be headed to Cedar Rapids this summer.

    Noah Miller seems pretty good. It's so early but I wonder if we will eventually see him take over short and displace Royce Lewis to second.

    Glad to see Kirilloff go 4-7, but the biggest casualty of his wrist injuries seems to have been his power. 

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    Cedar Rapids is 24-9 and Fort Myers, 20-10.  The A-ball teams are both winning two-thirds of their games, or more.  WOW!  St. Paul seems in need of help.  Unfortunately, most of their better players are either with the Twins or on the IL.  Hopefully, Jordan B. will shake off his early season rust and start throwing the ball like we expect.  Add Contreras and I suspect Miranda, and maybe Lewis (?), in the next few days and their roster should start being more competitive.

    Will second the above comments about Miller and Rodriguez, who's numbers are looking awfully nice.  Have a question, Dman, if both Miller and Rodrguez are good defenders, why are there question marks whether or not they can stay at short and center?  Sure, I expect they still needs work on D, but both are 19-year old kids who you would expect need a lot of work in all aspects of the game.

    Loved seeing Raya's start yesterday.  This kid sure looks like he could be a good one, really good!

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    49 minutes ago, Dman said:

    Just wanted to point out that Cody Lawyeryson had an 11.12 ERA and a WHIP of 1.94 on April 22nd. After not a allowing a run his last 12 innings his ERA is back down to 3.57 and WHIP is at .91.  He has been pitching really well since that early season blip.  His longest outing this year has been 4 innings and I wonder if they feel they can get more out of him as a pen arm?  At any rate just another really good under the radar arm at High A that makes that team special.

    Thanks for this note.  I admit that I have not followed him closely at all, so I appreciate your heads up on Cody.  It is truly amazing how many good young arms are in the system.

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    Nice to see Kirilloff get 4 hits in 8 PA, with one walk.  I hope they were actual line drives and not the weak contact he had been doing up here.  I still have high hopes for him, but this wrist issue may take a long time for him to adjust. 

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    49 minutes ago, roger said:

     

    Will second the above comments about Miller and Rodriguez, who's numbers are looking awfully nice.  Have a question, Dman, if both Miller and Rodrguez are good defenders, why are there question marks whether or not they can stay at short and center?  Sure, I expect they still needs work on D, but both are 19-year old kids who you would expect need a lot of work in all aspects of the game.

     

    I think those concerns from Scouts etc. are mainly based on speed.  As we all know Buxton is one of the fastest players in baseball and this helps make his defense elite because he can get to balls that other center fielders cannot.  Rodriguez has 55 speed and generally guys that are going to stick in center are a bit faster than that.  Also as players move from teenager to more physically developed they tend to get slower not faster so starting out as 55 runner is fine for now but if he gets slower which is more likely than not he becomes a greater defensive liability in center.  You can play him there but what are you willing to give up defensively to do it?  

    Same goes for Miller who is a 50 runner. Usually guys that make it at that position start as 60 runners.  Now Miller has really good actions at short.  Sets his feet well gets good speed on his throws and has good instincts but will that be enough in the end?  I know Correa isn't the fastest shortstop and with the way they shift the infield maybe speed isn't as large of an issue at short anymore but having a guy with Lewis's speed in that spot is pretty nice.  He should be able to cover more ground and get to balls that Miller just won't be able to catch up to.

    I know Fangraphs and others had Celestino as a borderline center fielder early in his career and he is doing just fine in center and MLB.com has him as a 55 runner.  I think the projections don't mean that Rodriguez and Millers can't stay up the middle it is just that the odds are not in their favor to do so given the speed generally required to be above average to elite at those positions.

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    24 minutes ago, Dman said:

    I think those concerns from Scouts etc. are mainly based on speed.  As we all know Buxton is one of the fastest players in baseball and this helps make his defense elite because he can get to balls that other center fielders cannot.  Rodriguez has 55 speed and generally guys that are going to stick in center are a bit faster than that.  Also as players move from teenager to more physically developed they tend to get slower not faster so starting out as 55 runner is fine for now but if he gets slower which is more likely than not he becomes a greater defensive liability in center.  You can play him there but what are you willing to give up defensively to do it?  

    Same goes for Miller who is a 50 runner. Usually guys that make it at that position start as 60 runners.  Now Miller has really good actions at short.  Sets his feet well gets good speed on his throws and has good instincts but will that be enough in the end?  I know Correa isn't the fastest shortstop and with the way they shift the infield maybe speed isn't as large of an issue at short anymore but having a guy with Lewis's speed in that spot is pretty nice.  He should be able to cover more ground and get to balls that Miller just won't be able to catch up to.

    I know Fangraphs and others had Celestino as a borderline center fielder early in his career and he is doing just fine in center and MLB.com has him as a 55 runner.  I think the projections don't mean that Rodriguez and Millers can't stay up the middle it is just that the odds are not in their favor to do so given the speed generally required to be above average to elite at those positions.

    Thanks, Dman, was wondering what your thoughts were.

    Can certainly understand your comments about Rodriguez.  But does running speed really matter at short?  Isn't it more quickness?  Granted there can be a play down in foul territory where flat out speed is important.  Remember Lewis making a play like that in spring training a couple years ago and said, WOW.  But the vast majority of plays, a shortstop takes a couple steps left, right or up.  So to me quickness is more important and their running speed doesn't tell us that.

    Remember Robin Yount, was reasonably fast but certainly not a burner.  One hell of a shortstop.  And wasn't J.J. Hardy actually somewhat slow?  Another excellent defensive shortstop.  Heck, that guy that played short all those years in Baltimore wasn't a burner, although my memory is a bit foggy as far as he is concerned.

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    Just now, roger said:

    Thanks, Dman, was wondering what your thoughts were.

    Can certainly understand your comments about Rodriguez.  But does running speed really matter at short?  Isn't it more quickness?  Granted there can be a play down in foul territory where flat out speed is important.  Remember Lewis making a play like that in spring training a couple years ago and said, WOW.  But the vast majority of plays, a shortstop takes a couple steps left, right or up.  So to me quickness is more important and their running speed doesn't tell us that.

    Remember Robin Yount, was reasonably fast but certainly now a burner.  One hell of a shortstop.  And wasn't J.J. Hardy actually somewhat slow?  Another excellent defensive shortstop.  Heck, that guy that played short all those years in Baltimore wasn't a burner, although my memory is a bit foggy as far as he is concerned.

    Agreed with shifting speed isn't as large a liability as some other positions.  When watching Miller during spring training he looked like a regular out there on the field as a 19 year old.  He gobbled up ground balls and made good throws.  I don't think he is making many error's this year,  although I haven't checked into that.  While I am no scout with what little I have seen it seems to me his defense is essentially MLB ready right now.  I have to say I have been surprised at how well he looks on both sides of the ball.  Obviously be needs more experience against advanced pitching and needs to grow into more power but he looks rock solid for his first year in pro ball. 

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    3 hours ago, Dman said:

    Agreed with shifting speed isn't as large a liability as some other positions.  When watching Miller during spring training he looked like a regular out there on the field as a 19 year old.  He gobbled up ground balls and made good throws.  I don't think he is making many error's this year,  although I haven't checked into that.  While I am no scout with what little I have seen it seems to me his defense is essentially MLB ready right now.  I have to say I have been surprised at how well he looks on both sides of the ball.  Obviously be needs more experience against advanced pitching and needs to grow into more power but he looks rock solid for his first year in pro ball. 

    I agree with pretty much everything you said here and earlier.  Shortstop is easily the most demanding position in terms of overall athleticism, not just speed but quickness, reactions, hands, arm, agility, durability.  It's usually easy to knock a prospect on at least one aspect of what goes into being a good shortstop.  It seems like in the majors there does end up being a fairly wide variance on some of the skills, and plenty of shortstops aren't all that fast.  It helps for a young guy like Lewis to have the speed and quickness to get to a few extra balls, but it doesn't really seem to be the most important thing for guys that stick long term.

    I was also very impressed by Noah Miller in spring training.  First time I saw him make a play I didn't have the sound on, had no idea who he was and was very surprised when I eventually figured out it was him.  He made a few nice plays, I think maybe the footwork was the only thing that didn't look quite as fluid as a major league SS in spring training.

    Only two errors on the year for a .979 fielding percentage.  I would think that probably means the arm has been accurate and the hands have been pretty much as good as they looked in spring training.

    I've been very excited to see his bat get hot the last few weeks, he's got a lot going for him right now.

     

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