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  1. TRANSACTIONS None Saints Sentinel St. Paul 11, Iowa 1 Box Score Andrew Albers: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K HR: David Bañuelos (3) Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (3-for-6, 2B, R, 3 RBI), David Bañuelos (2-for-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB) The Saints steamrolled the Cubs on Sunday. St. Paul took all the way until the 2nd inning to score a number of runs that would be wholly unnecessary for them to win. A wild pitch plated B.J. Boyd before Jose Miranda brought two more runners in safely with a single up the middle. Miranda racked up three RBIs in the game; his first time doing that since… Friday. David Bañuelos provided the firepower for the 3rd inning. He unclogged the bases with a two-run double that put St. Paul up 5-0 after the first third of the game. They would be far from done scoring. The 7th inning would prove to be the most fruitful for the Saints’ offense. Jose Miranda flexed his muscles once more and banged a run-scoring double to take the lead 7-1. Drew Maggi singled home a run before B.J. Boyd tripled home two more. Mr. Bañuelos added a solo homer in the 8th for good measure. In total, the Saints offense knocked ten hits, walked an astounding 13 times, and scored 11 runs. Somehow, actually, it seems that the Cubs got off easier than they should have. But it did not matter as Andrew Albers and the rest of the Saints pitching staff carried the torch the rest of the way. Albers allowed a single run over his five excellent innings of work while Ian Hamilton, Derek Law, and Ian Gibaut combined to hold Iowa’s offense scoreless. In total, the three relievers struck out five, walked one, and allowed one hit en route to that lopsided victory. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 0, Quad Cities 5 Box Score Cody Laweryson: 1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB HR: None Multi-hit games: None The Kernels lost Game 5 to Quad Cities, finish second in High-A Central League. Cody Laweryson was wild early. Four of the first five hitters he faced reached base, and he was pulled after throwing 26 pitches to net one out. Denny Bentley held the bleeding to just a pair of runs, but he was also touched up for two runs over his 2 2/3 innings of work. Derek Molina was the most effective out-getter of the night as he allowed no runs over 2 2/3 innings while striking out three batters. Even if the River Bandits failed to score after the 1st inning, they still would have won the game. The Kernels’ offense was completely blanked in the game as, despite walking eight times, they were unable to score a run. In a unique outcome, the team left ten men on base despite only having two hits in the ballgame. The River Bandits gave the Kernels a plethora of opportunities to plate a run, but the offense could not find a single hit with a runner on base. DaShawn Keirsey tried to kick-start the bats with a 9th inning double-the only extra-base hit of the game for Cedar Rapids-but he was stranded at second. It was a tough loss for a team that was in the driver’s seat just two days ago. Cedar Rapids was up 2-1 in the series but lost on Saturday and Sunday, and they now find themselves as the second place team in the High-A Central, as they were in the regular season. Nonetheless, it was an impressive season for the team as they were without Matt Canterino and Blayne Enlow for most of the year, and only had one healthy player from our Twins Daily Top 20 on the roster for the final game (Matt Wallner). TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Andrew Albers Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – David Bañuelos PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-6, 2B, R, 3 RBI #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 1-5, R, K #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-2, 2 K
  2. The Saints crushed their opponents on Sunday while the Kernels season came to an end with a loss in the championship series Game 5. TRANSACTIONS None Saints Sentinel St. Paul 11, Iowa 1 Box Score Andrew Albers: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K HR: David Bañuelos (3) Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (3-for-6, 2B, R, 3 RBI), David Bañuelos (2-for-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB) The Saints steamrolled the Cubs on Sunday. St. Paul took all the way until the 2nd inning to score a number of runs that would be wholly unnecessary for them to win. A wild pitch plated B.J. Boyd before Jose Miranda brought two more runners in safely with a single up the middle. Miranda racked up three RBIs in the game; his first time doing that since… Friday. David Bañuelos provided the firepower for the 3rd inning. He unclogged the bases with a two-run double that put St. Paul up 5-0 after the first third of the game. They would be far from done scoring. The 7th inning would prove to be the most fruitful for the Saints’ offense. Jose Miranda flexed his muscles once more and banged a run-scoring double to take the lead 7-1. Drew Maggi singled home a run before B.J. Boyd tripled home two more. Mr. Bañuelos added a solo homer in the 8th for good measure. In total, the Saints offense knocked ten hits, walked an astounding 13 times, and scored 11 runs. Somehow, actually, it seems that the Cubs got off easier than they should have. But it did not matter as Andrew Albers and the rest of the Saints pitching staff carried the torch the rest of the way. Albers allowed a single run over his five excellent innings of work while Ian Hamilton, Derek Law, and Ian Gibaut combined to hold Iowa’s offense scoreless. In total, the three relievers struck out five, walked one, and allowed one hit en route to that lopsided victory. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 0, Quad Cities 5 Box Score Cody Laweryson: 1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB HR: None Multi-hit games: None The Kernels lost Game 5 to Quad Cities, finish second in High-A Central League. Cody Laweryson was wild early. Four of the first five hitters he faced reached base, and he was pulled after throwing 26 pitches to net one out. Denny Bentley held the bleeding to just a pair of runs, but he was also touched up for two runs over his 2 2/3 innings of work. Derek Molina was the most effective out-getter of the night as he allowed no runs over 2 2/3 innings while striking out three batters. Even if the River Bandits failed to score after the 1st inning, they still would have won the game. The Kernels’ offense was completely blanked in the game as, despite walking eight times, they were unable to score a run. In a unique outcome, the team left ten men on base despite only having two hits in the ballgame. The River Bandits gave the Kernels a plethora of opportunities to plate a run, but the offense could not find a single hit with a runner on base. DaShawn Keirsey tried to kick-start the bats with a 9th inning double-the only extra-base hit of the game for Cedar Rapids-but he was stranded at second. It was a tough loss for a team that was in the driver’s seat just two days ago. Cedar Rapids was up 2-1 in the series but lost on Saturday and Sunday, and they now find themselves as the second place team in the High-A Central, as they were in the regular season. Nonetheless, it was an impressive season for the team as they were without Matt Canterino and Blayne Enlow for most of the year, and only had one healthy player from our Twins Daily Top 20 on the roster for the final game (Matt Wallner). TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Andrew Albers Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – David Bañuelos PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-6, 2B, R, 3 RBI #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 1-5, R, K #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-2, 2 K View full article
  3. Following a non-existent 2020 minor league season, the line between reliever and starter continues to be blurred for prospects. That being said, a few pitchers were used more regularly out of the bullpen and were able to separate themselves statistically. Before exploring the top four relievers, here are three Honorable Mentions: Jordan Gore, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 8 walks, 21 strikeouts Osiris German, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 6 walks, 23 strikeouts Ryan Mason, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 0.82 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 10 H, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts. THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - RHP Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 22 K Molina was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round back in 2017. He ended the 2019 season at High-A and that’s where he’s spent all of 2021. Things didn’t start off great for him during the 2021 campaign as he entered the month of July with a 5.46 ERA with opponents getting on base over 33% of the time against him. There were some positive signs as his strikeout totals were high (40 K in 29 2/3 innings). He seemed to put it all together in July as was asked to pitch two innings or more in every appearance. Opponents were only able to hit .190/.257/.286 (.543), and his five walks were the fewest he’s had in any month. Righties really struggle against Molina as he has held them to a .190 average with 35 strikeouts in 100 at-bats this season. His numbers could have looked even better if he hadn’t allowed two earned runs on the last day of the month. #3 - LHP Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints - 8 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 34 K Moran joined the Twins in 2015 as a 7th round pick from Puerto Rico, and the development of his dominant changeup have made him a reliever to keep an eye on. He made his first five appearances at Triple-A during July, where he is over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He posted some dominant numbers during the month as he faced a total of 71 batters and compiled 34 strikeouts. Yes, he struck out nearly 50% of the batters he faced during the month. Also, he was asked to pitch more than one inning in every appearance during July. Batters struggled to do anything against him as he held them to a .094/.183/.203 slash line. With him now in St. Paul, it is not hard to imagine him making his big league debut before season’s end. #2 - LHP Denny Bentley - Fort Myers Mighty Mussels - 11 G, 1.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 8 H, 8 BB, 21 K Bentley, a 33rd round pick back in 2018, was the June Relief Pitcher of the Month, so it’s no surprise to see his name back near the top of the list. For the second straight month, batters hit under .145 against him and got on base only 25% of the time. All three of his earned runs this month came in one appearance as he was asked to make a spot start back on July 6. That means he ended the month with eight straight scoreless appearances. Even as a lefty, Bentley allows a .705 OPS against left-handed hitters, which is nearly 240 points higher than his OPS versus righties. Since he’s pitched at Low-A for the entire season, one has to wonder if he will make the jump to High-A during the season’s second half. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: RHP Erik Manoah Jr. - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 20 K Manoah might not be a familiar name to Twins fans because he wasn’t even in the organization at season’s start. He began the year pitching in independent baseball as part of the Atlantic League, but he impressed enough to catch the eye of the Twins organization. Originally, he was a 13th round pick of the Mets and he pitched parts of three seasons for that organization before joining the Angels organization. He topped out at High-A with Los Angeles and ended 2019 pitching in the American Association. As the calendar turned to July, Manoah was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he made an immediate impact. Across nine appearances, he only allowed one run and he held batters to hitting .140/.241/.180 (.421). Lefties have only been able to combine for a .313 OPS when facing Manoah. Also, he seems to buckle down in pressure situations as he has 24 strikeouts in 43 at-bats with runners on base. Because of his stints in independent leagues, all but one of his at-bats this season has come against younger batters. Other players might have quit after multiple years in independent leagues, but now he is back on the professional map. And yes, his younger brother Alek pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. As the Twins have seen this year, an organization can never have too much relief pitching. All of these players had strong month and some may be worthy of promotions in the weeks ahead. Congratulations to Erik Manoah Jr., the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2021.
  4. Over the last two days, Twins Daily announced the writer’s picks for top minor league hitter and starting pitcher for July. Now it’s time to discuss the relief pitchers that shined during the season’s third month. Following a non-existent 2020 minor league season, the line between reliever and starter continues to be blurred for prospects. That being said, a few pitchers were used more regularly out of the bullpen and were able to separate themselves statistically. Before exploring the top four relievers, here are three Honorable Mentions: Jordan Gore, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 8 walks, 21 strikeouts Osiris German, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 6 walks, 23 strikeouts Ryan Mason, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 0.82 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 10 H, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts. THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - RHP Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 22 K Molina was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round back in 2017. He ended the 2019 season at High-A and that’s where he’s spent all of 2021. Things didn’t start off great for him during the 2021 campaign as he entered the month of July with a 5.46 ERA with opponents getting on base over 33% of the time against him. There were some positive signs as his strikeout totals were high (40 K in 29 2/3 innings). He seemed to put it all together in July as was asked to pitch two innings or more in every appearance. Opponents were only able to hit .190/.257/.286 (.543), and his five walks were the fewest he’s had in any month. Righties really struggle against Molina as he has held them to a .190 average with 35 strikeouts in 100 at-bats this season. His numbers could have looked even better if he hadn’t allowed two earned runs on the last day of the month. #3 - LHP Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints - 8 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 34 K Moran joined the Twins in 2015 as a 7th round pick from Puerto Rico, and the development of his dominant changeup have made him a reliever to keep an eye on. He made his first five appearances at Triple-A during July, where he is over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He posted some dominant numbers during the month as he faced a total of 71 batters and compiled 34 strikeouts. Yes, he struck out nearly 50% of the batters he faced during the month. Also, he was asked to pitch more than one inning in every appearance during July. Batters struggled to do anything against him as he held them to a .094/.183/.203 slash line. With him now in St. Paul, it is not hard to imagine him making his big league debut before season’s end. #2 - LHP Denny Bentley - Fort Myers Mighty Mussels - 11 G, 1.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 8 H, 8 BB, 21 K Bentley, a 33rd round pick back in 2018, was the June Relief Pitcher of the Month, so it’s no surprise to see his name back near the top of the list. For the second straight month, batters hit under .145 against him and got on base only 25% of the time. All three of his earned runs this month came in one appearance as he was asked to make a spot start back on July 6. That means he ended the month with eight straight scoreless appearances. Even as a lefty, Bentley allows a .705 OPS against left-handed hitters, which is nearly 240 points higher than his OPS versus righties. Since he’s pitched at Low-A for the entire season, one has to wonder if he will make the jump to High-A during the season’s second half. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: RHP Erik Manoah Jr. - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 20 K Manoah might not be a familiar name to Twins fans because he wasn’t even in the organization at season’s start. He began the year pitching in independent baseball as part of the Atlantic League, but he impressed enough to catch the eye of the Twins organization. Originally, he was a 13th round pick of the Mets and he pitched parts of three seasons for that organization before joining the Angels organization. He topped out at High-A with Los Angeles and ended 2019 pitching in the American Association. As the calendar turned to July, Manoah was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he made an immediate impact. Across nine appearances, he only allowed one run and he held batters to hitting .140/.241/.180 (.421). Lefties have only been able to combine for a .313 OPS when facing Manoah. Also, he seems to buckle down in pressure situations as he has 24 strikeouts in 43 at-bats with runners on base. Because of his stints in independent leagues, all but one of his at-bats this season has come against younger batters. Other players might have quit after multiple years in independent leagues, but now he is back on the professional map. And yes, his younger brother Alek pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. As the Twins have seen this year, an organization can never have too much relief pitching. All of these players had strong month and some may be worthy of promotions in the weeks ahead. Congratulations to Erik Manoah Jr., the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2021. View full article
  5. For the first time since Twins Daily’s MiLB writers have been voting on this particular award, there wasn’t much of a consensus for the top spot, whereas in the past if it wasn’t unanimous, it was relatively close. All three of the past four winners (one repeated) of this award have also gone on to pitch in the major leagues, so winning the award has been, to a degree, predictive of future success. The system wasn’t littered with as many pure strikeout relievers as they had last year, but there were still several standouts as the MLB bullpen got plenty of reinforcements throughout the year from the minors, including one who appears high on this list. Six Twins Daily Minor League writers voted for the various awards this year. For the relief pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Short profiles of our top five performers are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Tom Hackimer, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 36 Games, 6-2, 1 Save, 2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 56.2 IP, 33 H, 27 BB, 75 K (11.9/9IP) Adam Bray, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 35 Games (9 starts), 4-4, 1 Save, 2.61 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 93.0 IP, 76 H, 26 BB, 83 K (8.0/9IP) Hector Lujan, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 33 Games, 2-4, 6 Saves, 2.76 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 58.2 IP, 57 H, 15 BB, 55 K (8.4/9IP) Melvi Acosta, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 28 Games (8 starts), 7-5, 4 Saves, 3.24 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 86.0 IP, 87 H, 29 BB, 79 K (8.2/9IP) Alex Phillips, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 42 Games (1 start), 5-3, 9 Saves, 2.96 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 67.0 IP, 48 H, 21 BB, 74 K (9.9/9IP) Sam Clay, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 45 Games (1 start), 4-4, 10 Saves, 3.25 ERA, 1.413 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 70 H, 28 BB, 72 K (9.3/9IP) Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Here are the top five vote getters for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. #5 – Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 38 Games (1 start), 6-3, 8 Saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 72.2 IP, 63 H, 24 BB, 89 K (11.0/9IP) Neff was the Minnesota Twins 31st round selection in the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State University after spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Austin Peay University. After signing last year, he reported to the Elizabethton Twins before getting a late bump to finish with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. That’s where he began the 2019 season, and he was dominant with the Kernels, posting a 2.31 ERA and striking out 11.5/9IP through mid-June before being promoted to the Miracle. As to be expected, he wasn’t as good in the Florida State League but still struck out 10.4/9IP and racked up six of his eight saves while finishing the game in 13 of his 19 appearances with Fort Myers. As a left-hander he carried reverse splits on the year, holding righties to a .569 OPS versus .622 from lefties, but (literally) the only difference was in slugging percentage, as his only home run surrendered on the year was to a left-handed hitter. In the monthly awards during the season, Neff received honorable mention once and was #3 for the month of June, where he had a 1.40 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in eight appearances. #4 – Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 26 Games, 2-1, 11 Saves, 2.85 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 41.0 IP, 31 H, 11 BB, 61 K (13.4/9IP) Taken in the 14th round of the 2017 draft, Molina has steadily climbed the ladder in his two full seasons, appearing with Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in 2018, and the Kernels and Miracle this season. At each stop, he’s had great strikeout numbers and ERA’s, but this year he also added control to his game by cutting his walk rate nearly in half from the year prior. After striking out 46 hitters in 29 2/3 innings with the Kernels to start the year, he was promoted to the Miracle to finish his season. If not for a shoulder injury that ended his season on July 12th, he may have been much higher on this list. That’s because what’s truly amazing about Molina’s season, is if you take out the first two games he pitched, and his last, these were his numbers on the year: 0.50 ERA, .183 BAA, .458 OPS allowed, and 53 K’s in 35 2/3 innings pitched. He appeared on the monthly award list in May (#4), and took home the top honor in June. #3 – Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 32 Games, 1-4, 10 Saves, 3.59 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 52.2 IP, 28 H, 21 BB, 78 K (13.3/9IP) I’ll admit I was a little surprised Gomez didn’t appear on more ballots from our voters, but of the three he did, I wasn’t the only one who ranked him #1. What stood out for me is that he maintained a sub-1.00 WHIP while having a K-rate north of 13/9 innings on the season and allowing just a .155 batting average and .507 OPS to opposing hitters. He was even more oppressive to same-sided hitters, holding righties to a .464 OPS and striking out 40.8% of them. He did not throw his first pitch until the calendar turned to May, but from then on, he was a model of consistency along with periods of dominance. In no single month did hitters post a batting average higher than .184 while in the month of June he had a 0.51 WHIP in 15 2/3 innings, and followed that up in July by posting a 1.93 ERA. It’s no coincidence those were the months he appeared on the award lists at #2 and #4 respectively. #2 – Cody Stashak, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings: 33 Games, 7-3, 4 Saves, 3.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 45 H, 9 BB, 74 K (12.5/9IP) After being selected in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns, Stashak began his professional career as a starting pitcher, and a pretty good one at that. Over his first three steps on the organizational ladder he combined to go 19-11 with a 3.28 ERA. But when he made it to Double-A, the Twins shifted him to the bullpen and something crazy happened: his strikeout rate nearly doubled from subpar into elite territory. He set a career high in this number during the 2019 season with his 12.5K/9IP mark, and he rode that from Pensacola all the way up to 12 appearances (to this point) with the Twins. It’s a career path that should remind you a lot of Taylor Rogers’, and that’s definitely something to be excited about. He was especially dominant this season when he reached the Rochester Red Wings and triple-A’s “juiced ball,” which you probably wouldn’t have expected. With the Red Wings he racked up five wins with a 1.44 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 14 games, striking out 34 in 25 innings along the way. During the season he appeared on the monthly award lists in April (#5) and July (#3) #1 – Anthony Vizcaya, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 41 Games (2 starts), 3-3, 11 Saves, 1.82 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 51 H, 30 BB, 83 K (10.0/9IP) For the second year in a row, the winner of this award has the initials “AV,” as Andrew Vasquez took home this award for the 2018 season. Given this recent history, my advice to Twins scouts would be to keep these initials in the back of their mind when scouring the college ranks, independent leagues, and Latin winter leagues for new prospects. Vizcaya got his professional career started in the Cleveland Indians organization, but floundered in rookie ball for two seasons before ending up playing sporadically back home in Venuzuela from 2015 to 2018. Twins pro scout Rafael Yanez liked something he saw from Vizcaya during his 2018 season there and the organization signed him in January. He hit the ground running in Fort Myers, serving as their closer to start the year and picking up seven saves in fifteen appearances before being promoted to Pensacola. He took flight at that point, improving his ERA from 2.22 with the Miracle to 0.78 with the Blue Wahoos. In his last eight appearances in the Florida State League and first six appearances in the Southern League, he pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, .159 BAA, and struck out 34 in 24 1/3 innings along with picking up seven saves. He had only two appearances on the season where he surrendered more than one earned run and closed out the 2019 campaign with another stretch of twelve games where he didn’t allow an earned run and held opponents to a .508 OPS against. As a right-handed pitcher, he also held reverse splits on the year as he was lethal against lefties, holding them to a .152/.259/.202 slash line and only four extra-base hits (zero homers) in 117 plate appearances. He frequented the monthly award lists during the season, appearing on the lists for May (#2), June (honorable mention), and taking home the top honor in August for that stretch mentioned above. Congratulations to Anthony Vizcaya for being named Twins Daily’s 2019 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year and for also making a big impression in his return to affiliated baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization! The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Cody Stashak, 3) Alex Phillips, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Anthony Vizcaya Cody Christie – 1) Anthony Vizcaya, 2) Alex Phillips, 3) Sam Clay, 4) Zach Neff, 5) Derek Molina Tom Froemming - 1) Cody Stashak, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Zach Neff, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Hector Lujan Steve Lein – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Tom Hackimer, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Cody Stashak Ted Schwerzler – 1) Melvi Acosta, 2) Sam Clay, 3) Adam Bray, 4) Hector Lujan, 5) Moises Gomez Matt Braun – 1) Zach Neff, 2) Derek Molina, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Sam Clay, 5) Hector Lujan Feel free to discuss! What do you think of our rankings? How would your ballot look? Who did we totally miss out on?
  6. With the minor league seasons (unfortunately) coming to a close for all of the Minnesota Twins’ affiliates, Twins Daily kicked off the final week of minor league coverage with th players of the year series on Sunday. Today we continue by getting to the full season affiliates and the 2019 Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. Previous 2019 Awards: Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year: Matt Wallner Short-Season Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Cody Laweryson Previous Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitchers of the Year: 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger 2017: John Curtiss 2018: Andrew VasquezFor the first time since Twins Daily’s MiLB writers have been voting on this particular award, there wasn’t much of a consensus for the top spot, whereas in the past if it wasn’t unanimous, it was relatively close. All three of the past four winners (one repeated) of this award have also gone on to pitch in the major leagues, so winning the award has been, to a degree, predictive of future success. The system wasn’t littered with as many pure strikeout relievers as they had last year, but there were still several standouts as the MLB bullpen got plenty of reinforcements throughout the year from the minors, including one who appears high on this list. Six Twins Daily Minor League writers voted for the various awards this year. For the relief pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Short profiles of our top five performers are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Tom Hackimer, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 36 Games, 6-2, 1 Save, 2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 56.2 IP, 33 H, 27 BB, 75 K (11.9/9IP)Adam Bray, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 35 Games (9 starts), 4-4, 1 Save, 2.61 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 93.0 IP, 76 H, 26 BB, 83 K (8.0/9IP)Hector Lujan, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 33 Games, 2-4, 6 Saves, 2.76 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 58.2 IP, 57 H, 15 BB, 55 K (8.4/9IP)Melvi Acosta, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 28 Games (8 starts), 7-5, 4 Saves, 3.24 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 86.0 IP, 87 H, 29 BB, 79 K (8.2/9IP)Alex Phillips, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 42 Games (1 start), 5-3, 9 Saves, 2.96 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 67.0 IP, 48 H, 21 BB, 74 K (9.9/9IP)Sam Clay, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 45 Games (1 start), 4-4, 10 Saves, 3.25 ERA, 1.413 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 70 H, 28 BB, 72 K (9.3/9IP)Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Here are the top five vote getters for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. #5 – Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 38 Games (1 start), 6-3, 8 Saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 72.2 IP, 63 H, 24 BB, 89 K (11.0/9IP) Neff was the Minnesota Twins 31st round selection in the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State University after spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Austin Peay University. After signing last year, he reported to the Elizabethton Twins before getting a late bump to finish with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. That’s where he began the 2019 season, and he was dominant with the Kernels, posting a 2.31 ERA and striking out 11.5/9IP through mid-June before being promoted to the Miracle. As to be expected, he wasn’t as good in the Florida State League but still struck out 10.4/9IP and racked up six of his eight saves while finishing the game in 13 of his 19 appearances with Fort Myers. As a left-hander he carried reverse splits on the year, holding righties to a .569 OPS versus .622 from lefties, but (literally) the only difference was in slugging percentage, as his only home run surrendered on the year was to a left-handed hitter. In the monthly awards during the season, Neff received honorable mention once and was #3 for the month of June, where he had a 1.40 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in eight appearances. #4 – Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 26 Games, 2-1, 11 Saves, 2.85 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 41.0 IP, 31 H, 11 BB, 61 K (13.4/9IP) Taken in the 14th round of the 2017 draft, Molina has steadily climbed the ladder in his two full seasons, appearing with Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in 2018, and the Kernels and Miracle this season. At each stop, he’s had great strikeout numbers and ERA’s, but this year he also added control to his game by cutting his walk rate nearly in half from the year prior. After striking out 46 hitters in 29 2/3 innings with the Kernels to start the year, he was promoted to the Miracle to finish his season. If not for a shoulder injury that ended his season on July 12th, he may have been much higher on this list. That’s because what’s truly amazing about Molina’s season, is if you take out the first two games he pitched, and his last, these were his numbers on the year: 0.50 ERA, .183 BAA, .458 OPS allowed, and 53 K’s in 35 2/3 innings pitched. He appeared on the monthly award list in May (#4), and took home the top honor in June. #3 – Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 32 Games, 1-4, 10 Saves, 3.59 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 52.2 IP, 28 H, 21 BB, 78 K (13.3/9IP) I’ll admit I was a little surprised Gomez didn’t appear on more ballots from our voters, but of the three he did, I wasn’t the only one who ranked him #1. What stood out for me is that he maintained a sub-1.00 WHIP while having a K-rate north of 13/9 innings on the season and allowing just a .155 batting average and .507 OPS to opposing hitters. He was even more oppressive to same-sided hitters, holding righties to a .464 OPS and striking out 40.8% of them. He did not throw his first pitch until the calendar turned to May, but from then on, he was a model of consistency along with periods of dominance. In no single month did hitters post a batting average higher than .184 while in the month of June he had a 0.51 WHIP in 15 2/3 innings, and followed that up in July by posting a 1.93 ERA. It’s no coincidence those were the months he appeared on the award lists at #2 and #4 respectively. #2 – Cody Stashak, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings: 33 Games, 7-3, 4 Saves, 3.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 45 H, 9 BB, 74 K (12.5/9IP) After being selected in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns, Stashak began his professional career as a starting pitcher, and a pretty good one at that. Over his first three steps on the organizational ladder he combined to go 19-11 with a 3.28 ERA. But when he made it to Double-A, the Twins shifted him to the bullpen and something crazy happened: his strikeout rate nearly doubled from subpar into elite territory. He set a career high in this number during the 2019 season with his 12.5K/9IP mark, and he rode that from Pensacola all the way up to 12 appearances (to this point) with the Twins. It’s a career path that should remind you a lot of Taylor Rogers’, and that’s definitely something to be excited about. He was especially dominant this season when he reached the Rochester Red Wings and triple-A’s “juiced ball,” which you probably wouldn’t have expected. With the Red Wings he racked up five wins with a 1.44 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 14 games, striking out 34 in 25 innings along the way. During the season he appeared on the monthly award lists in April (#5) and July (#3) #1 – Anthony Vizcaya, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 41 Games (2 starts), 3-3, 11 Saves, 1.82 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 51 H, 30 BB, 83 K (10.0/9IP) For the second year in a row, the winner of this award has the initials “AV,” as Andrew Vasquez took home this award for the 2018 season. Given this recent history, my advice to Twins scouts would be to keep these initials in the back of their mind when scouring the college ranks, independent leagues, and Latin winter leagues for new prospects. Vizcaya got his professional career started in the Cleveland Indians organization, but floundered in rookie ball for two seasons before ending up playing sporadically back home in Venuzuela from 2015 to 2018. Twins pro scout Rafael Yanez liked something he saw from Vizcaya during his 2018 season there and the organization signed him in January. He hit the ground running in Fort Myers, serving as their closer to start the year and picking up seven saves in fifteen appearances before being promoted to Pensacola. He took flight at that point, improving his ERA from 2.22 with the Miracle to 0.78 with the Blue Wahoos. In his last eight appearances in the Florida State League and first six appearances in the Southern League, he pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, .159 BAA, and struck out 34 in 24 1/3 innings along with picking up seven saves. He had only two appearances on the season where he surrendered more than one earned run and closed out the 2019 campaign with another stretch of twelve games where he didn’t allow an earned run and held opponents to a .508 OPS against. As a right-handed pitcher, he also held reverse splits on the year as he was lethal against lefties, holding them to a .152/.259/.202 slash line and only four extra-base hits (zero homers) in 117 plate appearances. He frequented the monthly award lists during the season, appearing on the lists for May (#2), June (honorable mention), and taking home the top honor in August for that stretch mentioned above. Congratulations to Anthony Vizcaya for being named Twins Daily’s 2019 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year and for also making a big impression in his return to affiliated baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization! The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Cody Stashak, 3) Alex Phillips, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Anthony VizcayaCody Christie – 1) Anthony Vizcaya, 2) Alex Phillips, 3) Sam Clay, 4) Zach Neff, 5) Derek MolinaTom Froemming - 1) Cody Stashak, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Zach Neff, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Hector LujanSteve Lein – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Tom Hackimer, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Cody StashakTed Schwerzler – 1) Melvi Acosta, 2) Sam Clay, 3) Adam Bray, 4) Hector Lujan, 5) Moises GomezMatt Braun – 1) Zach Neff, 2) Derek Molina, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Sam Clay, 5) Hector LujanFeel free to discuss! What do you think of our rankings? How would your ballot look? Who did we totally miss out on? Click here to view the article
  7. Before we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in June, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 2.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 21.1 IP, 21 H, 4 BB, 18 K (.266/706) Melvi Acosta - Ft. Myers Miracle - 5 G, 2 GS, 2.20 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 16 K (.203/550) Ryan Eades - Rochester Red Wings -8 G, 2.35 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 21 K (.276/723) Anthony Vizcaya - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 1 GS, 0.53 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 18 K (.158/.529) THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Alex Phillips - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K Phillips finished up a long and windy college career at Baylor last June. It started at Arkansas but Tommy John surgery cost him about two seasons. He went to Baylor and pitched well yet still went undrafted. The Twins signed him very late last year and he helped the Miracle to an FSL title. The 24-year-old has spent most of this season dominating the Florida State League again. In fact, his June numbers are a little higher than his Miracle season numbers. He spent a couple of weeks pitching well in Pensacola in May. Opponents hit just .205 off of him this month with a .528 OPS. He pitched in the Florida State League All-Star game in June as well. #3 - Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1 GS, 1.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 24 K After three years at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State in 2018. The Twins made him their 31st-round pick in 2018. He spent time in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids last year. He began 2019 with the Kernels and pitched very well. He was even better in June which earned him a promotion to Ft. Myers. Neff doesn’t throw real hard, but the lefty finds a way to avoid hard contact. #2 - Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 2.30 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 7 H, 1 BB, 22 K Gomez is in his sixth season in the organization. Seems like he has been around forever and yet he is still just 22. He has been a work-in-progress all along, but in June, he put together a month to get noticed. Look again. One walk. 22 strikeouts. That is a pretty good ratio. Along with not walking anyone, he didn’t give up many hits either. Opponents hit just .132 with a .412 OPS off of him in the month. Overall this season, Gomez has 12 walks and 43 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Derek Molina - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 23 K Derek Molina began his college career at Cal-St. Nortridge, and he got some at-bats and did some pitching as a freshman. Wanting to play more, he transferred to Merced College where he was the team’s primary shortstop but also was a late-inning reliever. It was on the mound where he impressed Twins scouts (and scouts from other teams).They saw a strong, live arm with potential for good secondary pitches. The Twins drafted him in the 14th round of the 2017 draft. Now a pro ballplayer, Molina was ready for a career solely on the mound. He has been moved fairly patiently. He has had some moments where his control eludes him, but his progress has been steady. And so far in 2019, and especially in June, he’s been lights out. Mid-month, he had earned his promotion and continued to pitch very well. He has worked one inning, two innings or most recently three innings out of the bullpen. Overall in 2019, Molina had 57 strikeouts, and just ten walks, over 37 2/3 innings. Molina is a very good athlete, and as you would expect, he fields his position very well. While he may not be a household name, he is definitely an intriguing arm to watch over the next couple of seasons. As you can see, there were a few really strong relief pitcher performances in June. There guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Derek Molina, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2019.
  8. Over the weekend, we handed out our choices for the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Lewin Diaz) and Starting Pitcher of the Month (Jordan Balazovic). Today, we will discuss the relief pitchers. Which bullpen arms had a strong June? Previous 2019 Relief Pitchers of the Month: April: Ryan Mason, Pensacola Blue Wahoos May: Hector Lujan, Ft. Myers MiracleBefore we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in June, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 2.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 21.1 IP, 21 H, 4 BB, 18 K (.266/706)Melvi Acosta - Ft. Myers Miracle - 5 G, 2 GS, 2.20 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 16 K (.203/550)Ryan Eades - Rochester Red Wings -8 G, 2.35 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 21 K (.276/723)Anthony Vizcaya - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 1 GS, 0.53 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 18 K (.158/.529)THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Alex Phillips - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K Phillips finished up a long and windy college career at Baylor last June. It started at Arkansas but Tommy John surgery cost him about two seasons. He went to Baylor and pitched well yet still went undrafted. The Twins signed him very late last year and he helped the Miracle to an FSL title. The 24-year-old has spent most of this season dominating the Florida State League again. In fact, his June numbers are a little higher than his Miracle season numbers. He spent a couple of weeks pitching well in Pensacola in May. Opponents hit just .205 off of him this month with a .528 OPS. He pitched in the Florida State League All-Star game in June as well. #3 - Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1 GS, 1.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 24 K After three years at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State in 2018. The Twins made him their 31st-round pick in 2018. He spent time in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids last year. He began 2019 with the Kernels and pitched very well. He was even better in June which earned him a promotion to Ft. Myers. Neff doesn’t throw real hard, but the lefty finds a way to avoid hard contact. #2 - Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 2.30 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 7 H, 1 BB, 22 K Gomez is in his sixth season in the organization. Seems like he has been around forever and yet he is still just 22. He has been a work-in-progress all along, but in June, he put together a month to get noticed. Look again. One walk. 22 strikeouts. That is a pretty good ratio. Along with not walking anyone, he didn’t give up many hits either. Opponents hit just .132 with a .412 OPS off of him in the month. Overall this season, Gomez has 12 walks and 43 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Derek Molina - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 23 K Derek Molina began his college career at Cal-St. Nortridge, and he got some at-bats and did some pitching as a freshman. Wanting to play more, he transferred to Merced College where he was the team’s primary shortstop but also was a late-inning reliever. It was on the mound where he impressed Twins scouts (and scouts from other teams).They saw a strong, live arm with potential for good secondary pitches. The Twins drafted him in the 14th round of the 2017 draft. Now a pro ballplayer, Molina was ready for a career solely on the mound. He has been moved fairly patiently. He has had some moments where his control eludes him, but his progress has been steady. And so far in 2019, and especially in June, he’s been lights out. Mid-month, he had earned his promotion and continued to pitch very well. He has worked one inning, two innings or most recently three innings out of the bullpen. Overall in 2019, Molina had 57 strikeouts, and just ten walks, over 37 2/3 innings. Molina is a very good athlete, and as you would expect, he fields his position very well. While he may not be a household name, he is definitely an intriguing arm to watch over the next couple of seasons. As you can see, there were a few really strong relief pitcher performances in June. There guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Derek Molina, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2019. Click here to view the article
  9. Before we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in May, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 9 G, 2.53 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 21.1 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 22 K Sam Clay - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 10 G, 1.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 11 H, 6 BB, 18 K Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 1.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 22 K THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 0.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 19 K Molina was the Twins 14th-round pick in 2017 out of Merced College where he was a two-way player. He was the team’s shortstop and pitched as well. The Twins liked his arm a lot and drafted him as a pitcher only. He throws hard and has a good breaking ball. After a slow start to his season, Molina was fantastic in May. Opponents hit just .167/.255/.190 (.446). When he throws strikes consistently, good things happen. #3 - Tom Hackimer - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 20 K After four seasons at St. Johns, Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft. He was promoted fairly quickly and even pitched in the Arizona Fall League. However, he was sidelined by injury through much of 2018 and his season ended early with a biceps surgery. He returned in 2019 and has been great. He began with the Miracle, however, after one May outing, he was promoted to Double-A Pensacola where he remained nearly unhittable. Opponents hit just .156/.296/.156 (.452) off of him in the month. He had 20 strikeouts in just 13 1/3 innings and he could advance another level this season. #2 - Anthony Vizcaya - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 7 G, 1.59 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 4 H, 3 BB,14 K Vizcaya is potentially one of those feel-good stories that we all enjoy so much. He was originally signed in 2011 by Cleveland. He was in their organization through the 2014 season, peaking in the advanced rookie New York-Penn League. And then he was out of affiliated baseball until the Twins signed him this spring. He pitched some in the Venezuelan Winter League, but not a lot. However, he throws hard and has proven it was worth a shot for the Twins. He began the season in Ft. Myers and was promoted to Double-A Pensacola late in May. For the month, opponents hit just .160/.189/.200 (.389) off of the right-hander. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Hector Lujan - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 16 K Lujan was the Twins 35th-round pick in 2015 out of Division III Westmont College in California where he teamed with the Twins 32nd-round pick that year, Andrew Vasquez. Lujan has really improved since signing with the Twins. He now has a fastball that reaches to 95-96 mph and much improved breaking pitches. He took off late in the 2017 season when he became the Cedar Rapids closer and led the organization in saves. He was also the recipient of the 2017 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for Cedar Rapids. He pitched well in 2018 in Ft. Myers. He posted a 2.64 ERA over 71 2/3 innings. Almost inexplicably, he remains with the Miracle. Through another 36 2/3 innings this year, he has a 2.21 ERA. In May, opponents hit just .151/.179/.219 (.398) against him. He walked three batters in the month, and all three were intentional. There were some really solid relief pitcher performances in May throughout the Twins minor league system.There were several players with 0.00 ERAs. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Hector Lujan, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May 2019.
  10. Over the weekend, we handed out our choices for the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Lewin Diaz) and Starting Pitcher of the Month (Jordan Balazovic). Today, we will discuss the relief pitchers. Which bullpen arms had a strong May? Previous 2019 Relief Pitchers of the Month: April: Ryan Mason, Pensacola Blue WahoosBefore we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in May, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 9 G, 2.53 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 21.1 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 22 KSam Clay - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 10 G, 1.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 11 H, 6 BB, 18 KZach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 1.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 22 K THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 0.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 19 K Molina was the Twins 14th-round pick in 2017 out of Merced College where he was a two-way player. He was the team’s shortstop and pitched as well. The Twins liked his arm a lot and drafted him as a pitcher only. He throws hard and has a good breaking ball. After a slow start to his season, Molina was fantastic in May. Opponents hit just .167/.255/.190 (.446). When he throws strikes consistently, good things happen. #3 - Tom Hackimer - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 20 K After four seasons at St. Johns, Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft. He was promoted fairly quickly and even pitched in the Arizona Fall League. However, he was sidelined by injury through much of 2018 and his season ended early with a biceps surgery. He returned in 2019 and has been great. He began with the Miracle, however, after one May outing, he was promoted to Double-A Pensacola where he remained nearly unhittable. Opponents hit just .156/.296/.156 (.452) off of him in the month. He had 20 strikeouts in just 13 1/3 innings and he could advance another level this season. #2 - Anthony Vizcaya - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 7 G, 1.59 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 4 H, 3 BB,14 K Vizcaya is potentially one of those feel-good stories that we all enjoy so much. He was originally signed in 2011 by Cleveland. He was in their organization through the 2014 season, peaking in the advanced rookie New York-Penn League. And then he was out of affiliated baseball until the Twins signed him this spring. He pitched some in the Venezuelan Winter League, but not a lot. However, he throws hard and has proven it was worth a shot for the Twins. He began the season in Ft. Myers and was promoted to Double-A Pensacola late in May. For the month, opponents hit just .160/.189/.200 (.389) off of the right-hander. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Hector Lujan - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 16 K Lujan was the Twins 35th-round pick in 2015 out of Division III Westmont College in California where he teamed with the Twins 32nd-round pick that year, Andrew Vasquez. Lujan has really improved since signing with the Twins. He now has a fastball that reaches to 95-96 mph and much improved breaking pitches. He took off late in the 2017 season when he became the Cedar Rapids closer and led the organization in saves. He was also the recipient of the 2017 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for Cedar Rapids. He pitched well in 2018 in Ft. Myers. He posted a 2.64 ERA over 71 2/3 innings. Almost inexplicably, he remains with the Miracle. Through another 36 2/3 innings this year, he has a 2.21 ERA. In May, opponents hit just .151/.179/.219 (.398) against him. He walked three batters in the month, and all three were intentional. There were some really solid relief pitcher performances in May throughout the Twins minor league system.There were several players with 0.00 ERAs. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Hector Lujan, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May 2019. Click here to view the article
  11. Earlier this week, we announced the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Alex Kirilloff). Today, we discuss some of the top relief pitchers in the Twins minor leagues in August. I’ll be honest, even with the honorable mentions, there could have been even more. But when we get to the top of the list, you’ll fully understand the choice. You’ll also get to learn a little more about some guys you may not know as much about. Previous Relief Pitchers of the Month for 2018: April 2018: Nick Anderson, Rochester Red Wings May 2018: Todd Van Steensel, Chattanooga Lookouts June 2018: Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels July 2018: Jovani Moran, Ft. Myers Miracle August 2018:Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for August, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Colton Davis, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 17 K.Ryan Eades, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3 GS, 1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 22 K.Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 6 G, 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 11 KRyne Harper, Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 13 H, 3 BB, 21 K.Jose Martinez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 5 G, 2.77 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 15 KMichael Montero, GCL Twins, 5 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 8 KJovani Moran, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 23 K.Cody Stashak, Chattanooga Lookouts, 7 G, 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 8 KTHE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Johan Quezada - Elizabethton/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 0.75 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 15 K Quezada signed with the Twins way back in 2012. He was a skinny kid. Since then, he has grown to 6-8 and over 240 pounds. He was posting upper-90s velocities until shoulder problems cost him the 2017 season. He returned this year and got into some games in Elizabethton. However, he has done a nice job since joining the Kernels in the middle of August. Recent reports had him hitting 99 mph again. He is already 24. He signed a little later and the shoulder issues have cost him time, but he is certainly one to watch over the next year as he could move fast if he can stay healthy. In August, opponents hit just .209/.261/.233 (.493) off of him. #4 - Jake Reed - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 5 BB,18 K Lots of talk about Byron Buxton, and deservingly so. Because he’s one of us and struck out a ton of batters in Rochester this year, we also hear a lot, wondering why Nick Anderson wasn’t promoted. However, it is inexplicable to me that Jake Reed didn’t get called up for September. They were fortunate that he wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft a year ago. After this season, it’s much more unlikely that he would again. His season started out slow, but since June 1st, he has a 1.43 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. August was his best month as he didn’t give up runs, didn’t allow base runners and even walked less than he did over the course of the season. Opponents hit just .143/.234/.167 (.401) off of him in the month, and he missed a lot of bats. #3 - Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 22 K While he can occasional struggle with his control, Derek Molina is very intriguing because he misses a lot of bats. And, he’s only been pitching full time since the Twins made him their 14th-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Merced College in California. In August, things came together nicely for him. Opponents hit just ..146/.196/.188 (.384) against him. Molina throws a good fastball, a solid curveball and an improving changeup. Check out this Q&A with Molina from earlier this season. #2 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1.42 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 16 K Three rounds after taking this month’s top reliever, the Twins selected his Westmont College teammate Hector Lujan. Lujan had a terrific 2017 season in which he led the Twins minor leagues in saves for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After a slow start with the Miracle this year, he really came on strong. August was easily his best month. His control improved and his stuff definitely helped him miss bats. For the month, opponents hit just .133/.170/.200 (.370) against him. He will participate in the Arizona Fall League this year. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – LHP Andrew Vasquez - 9 G, 0.61 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 30 K Andrew Vasquez pitched in the Florida State League All-Star Game in mid-June. Following the game, he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. He spent almost exactly one month with the Lookouts before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester. He spent about eight days with the Red Wings, and following the August 31st game, he was told that he was heading to the big leagues. As we have seen in his two short appearances with the Twins, Vasquez is primarily a slider pitcher. His fastball sits 89-90 mph, but it is his breaking ball that can be absolutely devastating to opposing hitter. A quick look at his above-mentioned stat line for August, he averaged over two strikeouts per inning. In August, opponents hit just .157/.259/.176 (.435) off of him. Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College (after three years at UC-Santa Barbara). He went to the GCL that year where he walked 15 batters (and struck out 22) in 12 1/3 innings. He was moved along slowly as he worked through his control issues. But once he had command of his control, he flew up the system. This year, he has 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. He was an easy pick to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, so the Twins brought him up for September. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in August throughout the Twins minor league system, and at least another handful probably could have been mentioned. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but it was a great month, which culminated in his first big league call-up. Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August 2018. Click here to view the article
  12. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for August, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Colton Davis, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 17 K. Ryan Eades, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3 GS, 1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 22 K. Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 6 G, 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 11 K Ryne Harper, Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 13 H, 3 BB, 21 K. Jose Martinez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 5 G, 2.77 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 15 K Michael Montero, GCL Twins, 5 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 8 K Jovani Moran, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 23 K. Cody Stashak, Chattanooga Lookouts, 7 G, 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 8 K THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Johan Quezada - Elizabethton/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 0.75 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 15 K Quezada signed with the Twins way back in 2012. He was a skinny kid. Since then, he has grown to 6-8 and over 240 pounds. He was posting upper-90s velocities until shoulder problems cost him the 2017 season. He returned this year and got into some games in Elizabethton. However, he has done a nice job since joining the Kernels in the middle of August. Recent reports had him hitting 99 mph again. He is already 24. He signed a little later and the shoulder issues have cost him time, but he is certainly one to watch over the next year as he could move fast if he can stay healthy. In August, opponents hit just .209/.261/.233 (.493) off of him. #4 - Jake Reed - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 5 BB,18 K Lots of talk about Byron Buxton, and deservingly so. Because he’s one of us and struck out a ton of batters in Rochester this year, we also hear a lot, wondering why Nick Anderson wasn’t promoted. However, it is inexplicable to me that Jake Reed didn’t get called up for September. They were fortunate that he wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft a year ago. After this season, it’s much more unlikely that he would again. His season started out slow, but since June 1st, he has a 1.43 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. August was his best month as he didn’t give up runs, didn’t allow base runners and even walked less than he did over the course of the season. Opponents hit just .143/.234/.167 (.401) off of him in the month, and he missed a lot of bats. #3 - Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 22 K While he can occasional struggle with his control, Derek Molina is very intriguing because he misses a lot of bats. And, he’s only been pitching full time since the Twins made him their 14th-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Merced College in California. In August, things came together nicely for him. Opponents hit just ..146/.196/.188 (.384) against him. Molina throws a good fastball, a solid curveball and an improving changeup. Check out this Q&A with Molina from earlier this season. #2 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1.42 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 16 K Three rounds after taking this month’s top reliever, the Twins selected his Westmont College teammate Hector Lujan. Lujan had a terrific 2017 season in which he led the Twins minor leagues in saves for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After a slow start with the Miracle this year, he really came on strong. August was easily his best month. His control improved and his stuff definitely helped him miss bats. For the month, opponents hit just .133/.170/.200 (.370) against him. He will participate in the Arizona Fall League this year. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – LHP Andrew Vasquez - 9 G, 0.61 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 30 K Andrew Vasquez pitched in the Florida State League All-Star Game in mid-June. Following the game, he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. He spent almost exactly one month with the Lookouts before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester. He spent about eight days with the Red Wings, and following the August 31st game, he was told that he was heading to the big leagues. As we have seen in his two short appearances with the Twins, Vasquez is primarily a slider pitcher. His fastball sits 89-90 mph, but it is his breaking ball that can be absolutely devastating to opposing hitter. A quick look at his above-mentioned stat line for August, he averaged over two strikeouts per inning. In August, opponents hit just .157/.259/.176 (.435) off of him. Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College (after three years at UC-Santa Barbara). He went to the GCL that year where he walked 15 batters (and struck out 22) in 12 1/3 innings. He was moved along slowly as he worked through his control issues. But once he had command of his control, he flew up the system. This year, he has 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. He was an easy pick to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, so the Twins brought him up for September. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in August throughout the Twins minor league system, and at least another handful probably could have been mentioned. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but it was a great month, which culminated in his first big league call-up. Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August 2018.
  13. TRANSACTIONS Chattanooga Lookouts INF Jordan Gore placed on DL with a left wrist sprain RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6. Buffalo 1 Box Score Wrapping up their second-to-last series of the 2018 season, the Rochester Red Wings threw a bullpen game in this one. Ryan Eades got the start and lasted into the fourth inning. Luke Bard went just an out shy of three complete innings and tallied his second win of the season. Andrew Vasquez escaped some trouble to blank Buffalo over one and two-thirds innings, and Tyler Duffey recorded his third save of the year. The Bison scored their first and only run in the first inning of this one. From there, the Red Wings answered with two runs of their own. Byron Buxton scored on a Gregorio Petit single, and Petit was driven in by LaMonte Wade. Rochester tallied another run in the third as Nick Gordon raced home on a passed ball. Up 3-1 entering their half of the fourth, it was time for the Red Wings to pull away. Jon Kemmer doubled in Zander Wiel, and then another wild pitch allowed Alex Perez to cross the plate. Gordon earned the game’s final RBI on a single that scored Buxton. As the season comes to a close for the Red Wings, it will be interesting who can use some nice performances down the stretch to cement their position with the Twins in the final month. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Jackson 2, Chattanooga 1 Box Score Recently signed Austin Adams was on the bump to start this one. Working as the opener for Jorge Alcala, he went two scoreless innings offering up three hits and two walks but avoiding any damage. The Generals struck first, tallying a run in the third inning. After a single dropped in, a misplay in the infield allowed the Jackson runner to score. Alcala was given a fresh slate in the sixth however, as Mitchell Kranson launched his third home run of the year for Chattanooga to draw things even. Unfortunately the tie was short-lived, and Jackson answered with a run of their own in the seventh. On the night, Jackson doubled up Chattanooga in the run column and nearly did so in hits as well. These two teams will play game two of the series tomorrow night. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Bradenton 0 Box Score Charlie Barnes was given the start in this one, and he lasted one out shy of five innings. Allowing just one hit, he struck out five and issued only one free pass. The strong effort lowered his ERA to 2.81 on the year. The sixth inning is where all the damage came in this one. Alex Kirilloff homered, his sixth of the season for the Miracle, and the two-run shot put the good guys on the board. Ryan Costello followed with a solo blast of his own, and that 3-0 score is how this one ended. Jovani Moran got the win working three and one-third innings of hitless relief. The Miracle outhit the competition seven to one in this one. Thanks to dropping both games of their doubleheader tonight, Charlotte now is a game and a half back of Fort Myers in the FSL South standings. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 11, Burlington 3 Box Score If tonight’s results are any indication, it appears the Kernels are ready to storm into the postseason. Jhoan Duran made an abbreviated start with his playoff efforts looming. Still, he turned in four solid innings allowing three unearned runs on three hits while walking and striking out three. Cedar Rapids offense made sure that there was no doubt in this one. Scoring 11 runs on 11 hits, an eight-run sixth inning gave the home team all the cushion it needed. Trailing after the top half of the second, Trevor Larnach ripped his third homer of the year to put the home team on the board. A wild pitch then allowed Trey Cabbage to score knotting the game at two. In the third Burlington again jumped out ahead, and that 3-2 lead stood until the sixth. Michael Davis tripled in both Larnach and Jacob Pearson to put Cedar Rapids up for good. Victor Tademo added on with an RBI single, and Michael Helman got involved with a two-RBI single of his own. Capping off the inning, Cabbage notched his 22nd double of the season to clear loaded bases and put this one out of reach at 10-3. Yet another passed ball allowed the final run in the eighth, this time scoring Helman. Derek Molina earned the win in relief, twirling three shutout innings and fanning five batters. Tomorrow night Cedar Rapids will put a bow on their 2018 regular season schedule at home. E-TWINS E-TALK Scheduled Off Day STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Derek Molina (Cedar Rapids) – 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB 5 K Twins Daily Hitter(s) of the Day – Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) – 1-2, 3 R, RBI, 3 BB, HR(3) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (Fort Myers) – 1-4 #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Fort Myers) – 1-4, R, 2 RBI, HR(6) #4 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – 2-5, R, RBI #6 - Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) – 1-2, 3 R, RBI, 3 BB, HR(3) #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – 1-4, K #12 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 2-3, BB #13 - Travis Blankenhorn (Fort Myers) – 1-3 #15 - Ben Rortvedt (Fort Myers) – 0-3 #18 - Ryan Jeffers (Cedar Rapids) – 0-3, 2 BB, 3 K #19 - Jacob Pearson (Cedar Rapids) – 0-4, R, BB, K #20 - Luis Arraez (Chattanooga) – 0-4 FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-2, 4.91 ERA) Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05PM CST) – RHP Tyler Wells (1-2, 1.67 ERA) Clearwater @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (3-3, 3.28 ERA) Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Melvi Acosta (2-4, 2.88 ERA) Elizabethton @ Kingsport (5:30PM CST) – RHP Josh Winder (0-0, -.—ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games!
  14. The big league club had a getaway game today so the focus this evening was on the minor league action. A duo of top prospects left the yard, while plenty of relief pitchers turned in very strong outings for their respective clubs. As the regular season comes to a close, these farm teams are looking to finish strong.TRANSACTIONS Chattanooga Lookouts INF Jordan Gore placed on DL with a left wrist sprain RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6. Buffalo 1 Box Score Wrapping up their second-to-last series of the 2018 season, the Rochester Red Wings threw a bullpen game in this one. Ryan Eades got the start and lasted into the fourth inning. Luke Bard went just an out shy of three complete innings and tallied his second win of the season. Andrew Vasquez escaped some trouble to blank Buffalo over one and two-thirds innings, and Tyler Duffey recorded his third save of the year. The Bison scored their first and only run in the first inning of this one. From there, the Red Wings answered with two runs of their own. Byron Buxton scored on a Gregorio Petit single, and Petit was driven in by LaMonte Wade. Rochester tallied another run in the third as Nick Gordon raced home on a passed ball. Up 3-1 entering their half of the fourth, it was time for the Red Wings to pull away. Jon Kemmer doubled in Zander Wiel, and then another wild pitch allowed Alex Perez to cross the plate. Gordon earned the game’s final RBI on a single that scored Buxton. As the season comes to a close for the Red Wings, it will be interesting who can use some nice performances down the stretch to cement their position with the Twins in the final month. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Jackson 2, Chattanooga 1 Box Score Recently signed Austin Adams was on the bump to start this one. Working as the opener for Jorge Alcala, he went two scoreless innings offering up three hits and two walks but avoiding any damage. The Generals struck first, tallying a run in the third inning. After a single dropped in, a misplay in the infield allowed the Jackson runner to score. Alcala was given a fresh slate in the sixth however, as Mitchell Kranson launched his third home run of the year for Chattanooga to draw things even. Unfortunately the tie was short-lived, and Jackson answered with a run of their own in the seventh. On the night, Jackson doubled up Chattanooga in the run column and nearly did so in hits as well. These two teams will play game two of the series tomorrow night. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Bradenton 0 Box Score Charlie Barnes was given the start in this one, and he lasted one out shy of five innings. Allowing just one hit, he struck out five and issued only one free pass. The strong effort lowered his ERA to 2.81 on the year. The sixth inning is where all the damage came in this one. Alex Kirilloff homered, his sixth of the season for the Miracle, and the two-run shot put the good guys on the board. Ryan Costello followed with a solo blast of his own, and that 3-0 score is how this one ended. Jovani Moran got the win working three and one-third innings of hitless relief. The Miracle outhit the competition seven to one in this one. Thanks to dropping both games of their doubleheader tonight, Charlotte now is a game and a half back of Fort Myers in the FSL South standings. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 11, Burlington 3 Box Score If tonight’s results are any indication, it appears the Kernels are ready to storm into the postseason. Jhoan Duran made an abbreviated start with his playoff efforts looming. Still, he turned in four solid innings allowing three unearned runs on three hits while walking and striking out three. Cedar Rapids offense made sure that there was no doubt in this one. Scoring 11 runs on 11 hits, an eight-run sixth inning gave the home team all the cushion it needed. Trailing after the top half of the second, Trevor Larnach ripped his third homer of the year to put the home team on the board. A wild pitch then allowed Trey Cabbage to score knotting the game at two. In the third Burlington again jumped out ahead, and that 3-2 lead stood until the sixth. Michael Davis tripled in both Larnach and Jacob Pearson to put Cedar Rapids up for good. Victor Tademo added on with an RBI single, and Michael Helman got involved with a two-RBI single of his own. Capping off the inning, Cabbage notched his 22nd double of the season to clear loaded bases and put this one out of reach at 10-3. Yet another passed ball allowed the final run in the eighth, this time scoring Helman. Derek Molina earned the win in relief, twirling three shutout innings and fanning five batters. Tomorrow night Cedar Rapids will put a bow on their 2018 regular season schedule at home. E-TWINS E-TALK Scheduled Off Day STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Derek Molina (Cedar Rapids) – 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB 5 K Twins Daily Hitter(s) of the Day – Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) – 1-2, 3 R, RBI, 3 BB, HR(3) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (Fort Myers) – 1-4 #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Fort Myers) – 1-4, R, 2 RBI, HR(6) #4 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – 2-5, R, RBI #6 - Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) – 1-2, 3 R, RBI, 3 BB, HR(3) #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – 1-4, K #12 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 2-3, BB #13 - Travis Blankenhorn (Fort Myers) – 1-3 #15 - Ben Rortvedt (Fort Myers) – 0-3 #18 - Ryan Jeffers (Cedar Rapids) – 0-3, 2 BB, 3 K #19 - Jacob Pearson (Cedar Rapids) – 0-4, R, BB, K #20 - Luis Arraez (Chattanooga) – 0-4 FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-2, 4.91 ERA) Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05PM CST) – RHP Tyler Wells (1-2, 1.67 ERA) Clearwater @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (3-3, 3.28 ERA) Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Melvi Acosta (2-4, 2.88 ERA) Elizabethton @ Kingsport (5:30PM CST) – RHP Josh Winder (0-0, -.—ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! Click here to view the article
  15. Keep reading to find out more on the night in the Twins minor league system on Monday. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. TRANSACTIONS Outfielder Ryan LaMarre was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. The Twins released Felix Jorge last week, but they announced Monday night that they have re-signed him to a minor league deal. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester Box Score The Red Wings are now on their All-Star break. Willians Astudillo was the one Red Wings player to make the International League All-Star team. Since Astudillo was called up to the big league club, Nick Anderson will represent the Red Wings. The International League will take on the Pacific Coast League All-Stars on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 2, Jacksonville 3 Box Score Sean Poppen probably deserves better, but part of the development process is getting your work. Through six innings, Poppen had yet to allow a run and had given up just two hits. But he went out for the seventh inning and gave up three runs on two homers. So, over his seven innings, he gave up three runs on five hits. He struck out seven without issuing a walk. It was a quality start, yet it doesn’t highlight just how well he pitched. Cody Stashak worked a scoreless inning in relief. The offense provided just two runs. Zander Wiel went 2-for-4 with his 19th double and first triple. Jaylin Davis also had two hits. Taylor Motter added his first double. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 2, Palm Beach 6 Box Score The Miracle got behind early and weren’t able to come back. Andro Cutura started and was charged with five runs on five hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings. Colton Davis went the next 3 1/3 innings and did not allow a run. He gave up three hits and struck out four. Ryan Mason went the next 3 1/3 innings and also did not allow a run. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out two. Brady Anderson walked two, but he got the final two outs of the game without allowing a run. The Miracle had just five hits. Taylor Grzelakowski went 2-for-3 with a walk and his 11th and 12th doubles. Alex Kirilloff had two singles. Miguel Sano went 0-4 with a strikeout. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Kane County 3 Box Score Royce Lewis had a day off, but he was called on to pinch hit in the ninth inning. He came through with a single to center field which loaded the bases with one out. Unfortunately, the Kernels were not able to score the game-tying run and lost a close one. Randy Dobnak again provided the Kernels with exactly what they needed, quality innings. The right-hander gave up two runs on eight hits and a walk over the first seven innings. He struck out four and needed just 89 pitches. Melvi Acosta came in for the eighth inning and gave up a run on four hits. Jose Miranda led the offense. He went 3-for-5 with his 18th double. Jean Carlos Arias went 2-for-5 with his eighth triple. David Banuelos went 2-for-5 with his 11th double, and Jared Akins went 2-for-5 with his first Kernels double. E-TWINS E-TALK Elizabethton 2, Danville 0 Box Score The story of this game was some terrific pitching for the Twins. 2018 draft pick Kody Funderburk gave up four hits and no runs over the first four innings. He walked two and struck one out. Moises Gomez worked the middle three innings. He gave up just one hit and walked one while striking out two. Derek Molina recorded his second save. He struck out four batters over two perfect innings. The E-Twins managed just three hits in the game but were able to score two runs. Chris Williams and Alex Robles had back-to-back bases-loaded RBI singles in the sixth inning to provide the run support. Ryan Jeffers went 1-for-2 with two walks in the game. On a side note, Zack Seipel, Atlanta’s 27th round pick in June, worked two scoreless innings. . He walked one and struck out two. He was drafted out of the University of Minnesota-Crookston. It was the fourth appearance of his professional career. GCL TWINS TALK GCL Twins 3, GCL Rays 6 Box Score Steven Cruz started for the Twins. He gave up four runs on two hits in 2 2/3 innings. He walked five and struck out four. Michael Montero came on and gave up one hit over 3 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck one out. Denny Bentley threw two scoreless innings. Erik Cha was charged with two unearned runs on one hit. Tyler Webb led the offense by going 4-for-5 in the game. Janigson Villalobos went 2-for-3 with his third double. Samuel Vasquez was 2-for-5. Side note: 2017 #4 overall pick Brendan McKay made a rehab appearance for the GCL Rays. He had not played for the last month due to oblique muscle tightness. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Also, Jelfry Marte, who agreed to terms with the Twins a year ago but never signed after the Twins withdrew their offer after his physical. Marte went 1-for-4 and is now hitting .271. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Tyler Webb, GCL Twins (4-5) Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Sean Poppen, Chattanooga Lookouts (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed. Please note that we will be updating our Top Prospect rankings so this list will be updated soon. #1 - Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) - 1-1 (used as pinch hitter) #2 - Fernando Romero (Rochester) - Did not pitch #3 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - All Star break #4 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - All Star break #5 - Alex Kirilloff (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, K #6 - Wander Javier - out of for the season #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - 1-4, K #8 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #9 - Brusdar Graterol (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, BB, R, K, SB(16) #11 - Zack Littell (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #12 - Lewis Thorpe (Chattanooga) - Did not pitch #13 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, RBI, K #14 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - All Star break #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did not play #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, BB, K, R #18 - Yunior Severino (Elizabethton Twins) - 0-3, BB, R, K #19 - Tyler Jay (Chattanooga) - Did not pitch #20 - Felix Jorge (Chattanooga) - DFAd and Released and Re-signed on Monday. TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester - All Star break Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (6:05 CST) - TBD Palm Beach @ Ft. Myers (6:00 CST) - RHP Clark Beeker (3-6, 3.48 ERA) Cedar Rapids - No Game Scheduled Elizabethton @ Johnson City (6:00 CST) - TBD GCL Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00 am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s games, or ask any questions you may have.
  16. The Triple A All-Star break is upon us. The short-season leagues are in full swing. There were a number of low-scoring contests in the Twins farm system on Monday. Weil and Webb provided offense. The catcher’s mitt was Poppen for Ft. Myers, and Kirilloff and Gelly provided the offense.Keep reading to find out more on the night in the Twins minor league system on Monday. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. TRANSACTIONS Outfielder Ryan LaMarre was claimed by the Chicago White Sox.The Twins released Felix Jorge last week, but they announced Monday night that they have re-signed him to a minor league deal.RED WINGS REPORTRochester Box Score The Red Wings are now on their All-Star break. Willians Astudillo was the one Red Wings player to make the International League All-Star team. Since Astudillo was called up to the big league club, Nick Anderson will represent the Red Wings. The International League will take on the Pacific Coast League All-Stars on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 2, Jacksonville 3 Box Score Sean Poppen probably deserves better, but part of the development process is getting your work. Through six innings, Poppen had yet to allow a run and had given up just two hits. But he went out for the seventh inning and gave up three runs on two homers. So, over his seven innings, he gave up three runs on five hits. He struck out seven without issuing a walk. It was a quality start, yet it doesn’t highlight just how well he pitched. Cody Stashak worked a scoreless inning in relief. The offense provided just two runs. Zander Wiel went 2-for-4 with his 19th double and first triple. Jaylin Davis also had two hits. Taylor Motter added his first double. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 2, Palm Beach 6 Box Score The Miracle got behind early and weren’t able to come back. Andro Cutura started and was charged with five runs on five hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings. Colton Davis went the next 3 1/3 innings and did not allow a run. He gave up three hits and struck out four. Ryan Mason went the next 3 1/3 innings and also did not allow a run. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out two. Brady Anderson walked two, but he got the final two outs of the game without allowing a run. The Miracle had just five hits. Taylor Grzelakowski went 2-for-3 with a walk and his 11th and 12th doubles. Alex Kirilloff had two singles. Miguel Sano went 0-4 with a strikeout. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Kane County 3 Box Score Royce Lewis had a day off, but he was called on to pinch hit in the ninth inning. He came through with a single to center field which loaded the bases with one out. Unfortunately, the Kernels were not able to score the game-tying run and lost a close one. Randy Dobnak again provided the Kernels with exactly what they needed, quality innings. The right-hander gave up two runs on eight hits and a walk over the first seven innings. He struck out four and needed just 89 pitches. Melvi Acosta came in for the eighth inning and gave up a run on four hits. Jose Miranda led the offense. He went 3-for-5 with his 18th double. Jean Carlos Arias went 2-for-5 with his eighth triple. David Banuelos went 2-for-5 with his 11th double, and Jared Akins went 2-for-5 with his first Kernels double. E-TWINS E-TALK Elizabethton 2, Danville 0 Box Score The story of this game was some terrific pitching for the Twins. 2018 draft pick Kody Funderburk gave up four hits and no runs over the first four innings. He walked two and struck one out. Moises Gomez worked the middle three innings. He gave up just one hit and walked one while striking out two. Derek Molina recorded his second save. He struck out four batters over two perfect innings. The E-Twins managed just three hits in the game but were able to score two runs. Chris Williams and Alex Robles had back-to-back bases-loaded RBI singles in the sixth inning to provide the run support. Ryan Jeffers went 1-for-2 with two walks in the game. On a side note, Zack Seipel, Atlanta’s 27th round pick in June, worked two scoreless innings. . He walked one and struck out two. He was drafted out of the University of Minnesota-Crookston. It was the fourth appearance of his professional career. GCL TWINS TALK GCL Twins 3, GCL Rays 6 Box Score Steven Cruz started for the Twins. He gave up four runs on two hits in 2 2/3 innings. He walked five and struck out four. Michael Montero came on and gave up one hit over 3 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck one out. Denny Bentley threw two scoreless innings. Erik Cha was charged with two unearned runs on one hit. Tyler Webb led the offense by going 4-for-5 in the game. Janigson Villalobos went 2-for-3 with his third double. Samuel Vasquez was 2-for-5. Side note: 2017 #4 overall pick Brendan McKay made a rehab appearance for the GCL Rays. He had not played for the last month due to oblique muscle tightness. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Also, Jelfry Marte, who agreed to terms with the Twins a year ago but never signed after the Twins withdrew their offer after his physical. Marte went 1-for-4 and is now hitting .271. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Tyler Webb, GCL Twins (4-5) Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Sean Poppen, Chattanooga Lookouts (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed. Please note that we will be updating our Top Prospect rankings so this list will be updated soon. #1 - Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) - 1-1 (used as pinch hitter) #2 - Fernando Romero (Rochester) - Did not pitch #3 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - All Star break #4 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - All Star break #5 - Alex Kirilloff (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, K #6 - Wander Javier - out of for the season #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - 1-4, K #8 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #9 - Brusdar Graterol (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, BB, R, K, SB(16) #11 - Zack Littell (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #12 - Lewis Thorpe (Chattanooga) - Did not pitch #13 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, RBI, K #14 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - All Star break #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did not play #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, BB, K, R #18 - Yunior Severino (Elizabethton Twins) - 0-3, BB, R, K #19 - Tyler Jay (Chattanooga) - Did not pitch #20 - Felix Jorge (Chattanooga) - DFAd and Released and Re-signed on Monday. TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester - All Star break Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (6:05 CST) - TBD Palm Beach @ Ft. Myers (6:00 CST) - RHP Clark Beeker (3-6, 3.48 ERA) Cedar Rapids - No Game Scheduled Elizabethton @ Johnson City (6:00 CST) - TBD GCL Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00 am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s games, or ask any questions you may have. Click here to view the article
  17. I am often asked for the names of a few Twins minor leaguers who might not rank in a Top 30 list but are sleeper candidates. Maybe they were drafted out of a smaller school but have strong tools. Maybe there is a player who develops a little later. Maybe the player has one pitch or one tool that is significant and worth following. One name that I often mention is that of Elizabethton Twins relief pitcher Derek Molina. In fact, if you read Molina’s profile in the 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, you’ll see a star above his picture with the words Seth’s Sleeper. I recently had the opportunity to chat with the 20-year-old and get to know a little more about him.Derek Molina grew up in northern California, so it is no surprise that his favorite team was the Oakland A’s. “Just because they were near, and my dad really liked them.” You might be a little surprised to learn that his favorite player was not a pitcher. Instead, it was one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history. Molina said, “I looked up to Derek Jeter, especially growing up playing infield all my life. He was a role model for me.” When Derek Molina entered high school, he played three sports. Besides baseball, he spent some time playing football and basketball. Unfortunately, a couple of major injuries pushed him to focusing on baseball. “In high school, I played football my freshman year. I messed up my knee, my meniscus, but I kept playing through the season. When basketball season came along, I made the team. I went up for a rebound, and I really messed up my knee more. I needed surgery, and that’s when I stopped playing basketball.” Molina’s story continued, “The next year, I played football again, but I tore my ACL and meniscus, so that’s when I stopped playing football and focused on baseball.” At Atwater High School, he was a three-year letter winner in baseball and impressed on the national circuit. Following high school, Molina spent one year at Cal State-Northridge. He played 19 games but accumulated just 16 at bats. He made the decision to transfer to Merced College, a two-year school closer to home. “I knew the coach from Merced growing up. My brother had gone there, and he was always around and at a lot of our games. He had interest in me out of high school, but he also helped set me up at Northridge. He and the recruiting coordinator at Northridge were really good friends. It was the closest school to home, and I knew I would be in good hands if I went to Merced because of the coaching staff. It was a late decision, but I trusted it.” He went to Merced where he played mostly second base and hit most every game. However, he also pitched, working 28 1/3 innings over the season. As the season went on, there was one scout that watched Molina frequently throughout the season. “Michael (Quesada), the Twins scout responsible for drafting me was one of the only ones all along. He wanted to see me throw. He took the time to go out there. I wasn’t throwing a lot, but he made sure he was there when I did. I’m not going to say I was a bad hitter, but all the scouts really liked my arm. It wasn’t something I really expected or tried to focus on. I just wanted to have fun.” As the draft approached, Molina was hearing a variety of thing, but mostly he assumed he would be a Day 3 pick. “I was talking to a scout for a good amount of time. I had an idea the day before. ‘Be excited for tomorrow.’ I really didn’t think I was going to go in the 14th round, like I did, because other scouts I’d talked to thought I would be late third day because you’re a reliever and don’t have much experience. I kind of had an idea that I was going to the Twins.” Upon signing, Molina went to the Gulf Coast League where, in 16 2/3 innings, he walked three and struck out 21 batters. This spring, he began the season at Extended Spring Training. He had a short, seven game stretch with Cedar Rapids early in the season when the needed an arm. In 13 2/3 innings, he struck out 15, but he also walked nine.He gave up at least one run in five of the seven appearances. However, he had one outing in which he faced eight batters and got each of them out, six of them on strikeouts. In his next outing, he pitched three scoreless innings to record a win. He returned to Extended Spring Training and made the trek north to Elizabethton where he has seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings. Molina has a good, three-pitch mix. He throws a fastball. (“I’m really comfortable with my fastball.”) He has a curveball (“actually, it’s a little slurvish. I’d say it’s my number two pitch.). He is also working on his changeup (“I really like my changeup. I’m just not throwing it as much as I should.” Pitching was still so new to new to Molina. In fact, he acknowledges that last year, he didn’t know a lot about pitching, as much on the mental part of the game along with the act of pitching. “I was able to go up on the mound and, pitching was new to me, so I didn’t have too much to think about. I went out there with an empty mind and filled the zone. This year, I’ve faced some adversity. I’m learning as I go. There are things that I wish wouldn’t occur like learning how to respond to them. I’m definitely learning more on the mental side of the game. I think that’s a big thing. I can always work on that, to be more mentally strong. Just little things with batters to get your advantage. That’s something I’m always working on. There’s some stuff that the pitching coordinator and the coaches want me to do. My glove hand a little higher when I pitch. That could help me be more explosive with my legs. Just little mechanical things. Help save my arm and add a little velo.” Pitching is definitely much more than taking the sign from the catcher and throwing the ball. That’s for sure. As a reliever, one of the bigger adjustments for Molina has been getting used to pitching occasionally and not playing every day. Asked if he misses hitting, Molina answered definitively. “I miss it a lot. I just miss playing in the infield and hitting. It’s just something I did all my life. I always dreamed of myself being in the infield and hitting. But he doesn’t call that his biggest adjustment. “Biggest adjustment would probably be, I’d say, taking care of your body. As a pitcher, you’re not in the game every day, but still you’re out on the field doing a lot of stuff. This is my first longer season. I was in CR (Cedar Rapids) for a bit. In the beginning of the year, I got drained really, really fast. I think that’s something I’ll work on. You've got to really take care of your body and be in the training room a lot. You don’t want to get hurt in the season.” Molina has a nice, three-pitch mix already despite doing very little pitching in his lifetime. As he works more innings and continues to learn the mechanics and the mentals side of the game, his natural skills should continue to improve. He sits 92-93 with his fastball and touches 94 and even 95 already. Mechanical adjustments could increase his velocity a few ticks. But mostly just learning from in-game experiences, good and bad, is what he needs. “I’m really happy with where I am right now. I’m not going to take anything for granted.” Click here to view the article
  18. Derek Molina grew up in northern California, so it is no surprise that his favorite team was the Oakland A’s. “Just because they were near, and my dad really liked them.” You might be a little surprised to learn that his favorite player was not a pitcher. Instead, it was one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history. Molina said, “I looked up to Derek Jeter, especially growing up playing infield all my life. He was a role model for me.” When Derek Molina entered high school, he played three sports. Besides baseball, he spent some time playing football and basketball. Unfortunately, a couple of major injuries pushed him to focusing on baseball. “In high school, I played football my freshman year. I messed up my knee, my meniscus, but I kept playing through the season. When basketball season came along, I made the team. I went up for a rebound, and I really messed up my knee more. I needed surgery, and that’s when I stopped playing basketball.” Molina’s story continued, “The next year, I played football again, but I tore my ACL and meniscus, so that’s when I stopped playing football and focused on baseball.” At Atwater High School, he was a three-year letter winner in baseball and impressed on the national circuit. Following high school, Molina spent one year at Cal State-Northridge. He played 19 games but accumulated just 16 at bats. He made the decision to transfer to Merced College, a two-year school closer to home. “I knew the coach from Merced growing up. My brother had gone there, and he was always around and at a lot of our games. He had interest in me out of high school, but he also helped set me up at Northridge. He and the recruiting coordinator at Northridge were really good friends. It was the closest school to home, and I knew I would be in good hands if I went to Merced because of the coaching staff. It was a late decision, but I trusted it.” He went to Merced where he played mostly second base and hit most every game. However, he also pitched, working 28 1/3 innings over the season. As the season went on, there was one scout that watched Molina frequently throughout the season. “Michael (Quesada), the Twins scout responsible for drafting me was one of the only ones all along. He wanted to see me throw. He took the time to go out there. I wasn’t throwing a lot, but he made sure he was there when I did. I’m not going to say I was a bad hitter, but all the scouts really liked my arm. It wasn’t something I really expected or tried to focus on. I just wanted to have fun.” As the draft approached, Molina was hearing a variety of thing, but mostly he assumed he would be a Day 3 pick. “I was talking to a scout for a good amount of time. I had an idea the day before. ‘Be excited for tomorrow.’ I really didn’t think I was going to go in the 14th round, like I did, because other scouts I’d talked to thought I would be late third day because you’re a reliever and don’t have much experience. I kind of had an idea that I was going to the Twins.” Upon signing, Molina went to the Gulf Coast League where, in 16 2/3 innings, he walked three and struck out 21 batters. This spring, he began the season at Extended Spring Training. He had a short, seven game stretch with Cedar Rapids early in the season when the needed an arm. In 13 2/3 innings, he struck out 15, but he also walked nine.He gave up at least one run in five of the seven appearances. However, he had one outing in which he faced eight batters and got each of them out, six of them on strikeouts. In his next outing, he pitched three scoreless innings to record a win. He returned to Extended Spring Training and made the trek north to Elizabethton where he has seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings. Molina has a good, three-pitch mix. He throws a fastball. (“I’m really comfortable with my fastball.”) He has a curveball (“actually, it’s a little slurvish. I’d say it’s my number two pitch.). He is also working on his changeup (“I really like my changeup. I’m just not throwing it as much as I should.” Pitching was still so new to new to Molina. In fact, he acknowledges that last year, he didn’t know a lot about pitching, as much on the mental part of the game along with the act of pitching. “I was able to go up on the mound and, pitching was new to me, so I didn’t have too much to think about. I went out there with an empty mind and filled the zone. This year, I’ve faced some adversity. I’m learning as I go. There are things that I wish wouldn’t occur like learning how to respond to them. I’m definitely learning more on the mental side of the game. I think that’s a big thing. I can always work on that, to be more mentally strong. Just little things with batters to get your advantage. That’s something I’m always working on. There’s some stuff that the pitching coordinator and the coaches want me to do. My glove hand a little higher when I pitch. That could help me be more explosive with my legs. Just little mechanical things. Help save my arm and add a little velo.” Pitching is definitely much more than taking the sign from the catcher and throwing the ball. That’s for sure. As a reliever, one of the bigger adjustments for Molina has been getting used to pitching occasionally and not playing every day. Asked if he misses hitting, Molina answered definitively. “I miss it a lot. I just miss playing in the infield and hitting. It’s just something I did all my life. I always dreamed of myself being in the infield and hitting. But he doesn’t call that his biggest adjustment. “Biggest adjustment would probably be, I’d say, taking care of your body. As a pitcher, you’re not in the game every day, but still you’re out on the field doing a lot of stuff. This is my first longer season. I was in CR (Cedar Rapids) for a bit. In the beginning of the year, I got drained really, really fast. I think that’s something I’ll work on. You've got to really take care of your body and be in the training room a lot. You don’t want to get hurt in the season.” Molina has a nice, three-pitch mix already despite doing very little pitching in his lifetime. As he works more innings and continues to learn the mechanics and the mentals side of the game, his natural skills should continue to improve. He sits 92-93 with his fastball and touches 94 and even 95 already. Mechanical adjustments could increase his velocity a few ticks. But mostly just learning from in-game experiences, good and bad, is what he needs. “I’m really happy with where I am right now. I’m not going to take anything for granted.”
  19. Half of the Twins Daily Top-20 Prospects were in action on Sunday afternoon. Chattanooga fought through a doubleheader. Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids were forced to mount comebacks. All four games were decided by two runs or less. How did the organization’s top prospects perform? Were any able to help their club’s to thrilling wins? Read on to find out…ROSTER MOVES C Brian Olson was reinstated from the disabled list for Chattanooga OF Jaylin Davis reinstated from the disabled list for Fort Myers RHP Max Cordy transferred from Fort Myers to Elizabethton RHP Moises Gomez promoted to the Kernels from Extended Spring Training RHP Melvi Acosta assigned to extended spring training from the Kernels RED WINGS REPORT Rochester --, Syracuse -- Box Score Rain and cold weather got in the way of this contest between the Red Wings and the Chiefs. The plan is to play a doubleheader on Monday, June 25 with the first game scheduled to start at 3:05 CST. Rochester has been postponed five times this season. The Reds Wings head to Pawtucket for a three-game set starting on Monday. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 2, Tennessee 3 (Game 1- 7 Innings) Box Score A pair of Smokies home runs got in the way of the Lookouts chance to move further above the .500 mark. Zack Littell fell to 0-3 after allowing three runs on six hits including the aforementioned long balls. He struck out three and walked two in 4 2/3 innings. Tyler Jay finished off the game with 2 1/3 scoreless frames. He struck out two and walked one. He has pitched multiple innings in two of his three appearances so far this season. Chris Paul and Brent Rooker both went 2-for-3. Paul’s leadoff single in the second allowed him to come around and score the game’s first run. In the third inning, Paul plated a run with his sixth double. Overall, the team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Chattanooga 2, Tennessee 3 (Game 2- 7 Innings) Box Score That score isn’t a misprint. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” However, Chattanooga’s starter didn’t factor into the decision in this contest. Omar Bencomo, in his first start of the season, tossed four scoreless frames with three strikeouts and no walks. His season ERA dropped to 1.56 to go along with a 1.04 WHIP. Sam Clay had a rough fifth inning. Two doubles, a walk, a single, and a wild pitch led to three runs being scored. Zack Jones was terrific to end the game with five strikeouts over two innings. Hits were few and far between for the Lookouts. Only the top three batters in the lineup recorded hits. For the second straight game, Brent Rooker went 2-for-3 while adding his fourth double and an RBI. It was Rooker’s fifth multi-hit effort during the 2018 campaign. Nick Gordon went 1-for-2 and LaMonte Wade finished 1-for-3 with a run scored. Zander Wiel had an outfield assist in the game as he threw out a runner at home from left field. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 5, Daytona 4 (11 Innings) Box Score Things weren’t looking good in extra-innings for the Miracle. In the top of the 10th frame, Daytona had taken a one-run lead. Due to new rules, Luis Arraez started the bottom of the inning at second base. After a sacrifice bunt, he came home on a Travis Blankenhorn single to tie the game. Trailing again by one in the 11t- inning, Lewin Diaz stepped up to the plate and drove an 0-1 fastball over the right field wall for the walk-off home run. Earlier in the contest, the Miracle had scored first in the game for the first time in the series. Taylor Grzelakowski led off the second with a double. Caleb Hamilton reached base on a throwing error that allowed Grzelakowski to come around and score. Nelson Molina drove in Hamilton with a one-out single. Fort Myers had an early 2-0 lead. Clark Beeker pitched into the fifth inning without allowing an earned run. He struck out four and walked two in 4 1/3 innings. Beeker has pitched 9 2/3 straight innings of scoreless baseball. Andrew Vasquez was asked to get five outs and he collected strikeouts in four of those five at-bats. Sean Poppen tossed four innings and collected seven strikeouts. Although, he walked a pair and scattered two hits, which led to three runs (two earned) being scored. Logan Lombana gets credit for his second win thank to the Diaz walk-off. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2 Box Score With Bryan Sammons on the mound, the Kernels found themselves in an early hole but it wasn’t all his fault. In the bottom of the first with one out, Sammons walked a batter before a wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position. Andrew Bechtold and Ben Rodriguez commited fielding errors on back-to-back plays to keep the inning alive. Two runs would score but Cedar Rapids buckled down from there. In the fourth frame, Cedar Rapids got a run back. Two walks and a wild pitch loaded the bases for Jordan Gore. He grounded out but the lead was cut in half. Gore has reached safely in all 11 games this year. Trey Cabbage tied the game in the top of the sixth with his first home run of the year. In the seventh inning, the Kernels scored two runs without recording a hit. The team collected five walks and pushed across the final two runs of the game. Ben Rodriguez finished the game hitless but reached base three times. Derek Molina and Moises Gomez combined for five shutout innings to end the game. Molina earned his first win by striking out two and walking two over three innings. Gomez earned his first save as he struck out two in the last two innings. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Travis Blankenhorn, Fort Myers (3-for-5, RBI, K) Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (3 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, 1st MWL Win) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #3 – Nick Gordon (Chattanooga) – 1-5 #5 – Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) – 1-5, 2 K #7 – Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – 4-6, 2B, RBI, R #10 – Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) – 0-3, 2 BB, K #11 – Zack Littell (Chattanooga) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 2 BB #13 – Lewin Diaz (Fort Myers) – 1-1, HR, 2 RBI, R #14 – LaMonte Wade (Chattanooga) – 2-7, R, K #16 – Ben Rortvedt (Cedar Rapids) – 0-2, 2 BB, R #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 3-5, RBI, K #19 – Tyler Jay (Cedar Rapids) – 2.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, BB MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Pawtucket (5:15 CST) - LHP Dietrich Enns (0-3, 5.79 ERA) Chattanooga vs. Tennessee (10:15 AM CST) – RHP Randy LeBlanc (3-1, 1.99 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions about Sunday’s games, or ask any questions you may have. Click here to view the article
  20. ROSTER MOVES C Brian Olson was reinstated from the disabled list for Chattanooga OF Jaylin Davis reinstated from the disabled list for Fort Myers RHP Max Cordy transferred from Fort Myers to Elizabethton RHP Moises Gomez promoted to the Kernels from Extended Spring Training RHP Melvi Acosta assigned to extended spring training from the Kernels https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/990654486686437376 RED WINGS REPORT Rochester --, Syracuse -- Box Score Rain and cold weather got in the way of this contest between the Red Wings and the Chiefs. The plan is to play a doubleheader on Monday, June 25 with the first game scheduled to start at 3:05 CST. Rochester has been postponed five times this season. The Reds Wings head to Pawtucket for a three-game set starting on Monday. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 2, Tennessee 3 (Game 1- 7 Innings) Box Score A pair of Smokies home runs got in the way of the Lookouts chance to move further above the .500 mark. Zack Littell fell to 0-3 after allowing three runs on six hits including the aforementioned long balls. He struck out three and walked two in 4 2/3 innings. Tyler Jay finished off the game with 2 1/3 scoreless frames. He struck out two and walked one. He has pitched multiple innings in two of his three appearances so far this season. Chris Paul and Brent Rooker both went 2-for-3. Paul’s leadoff single in the second allowed him to come around and score the game’s first run. In the third inning, Paul plated a run with his sixth double. Overall, the team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Chattanooga 2, Tennessee 3 (Game 2- 7 Innings) Box Score That score isn’t a misprint. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” However, Chattanooga’s starter didn’t factor into the decision in this contest. Omar Bencomo, in his first start of the season, tossed four scoreless frames with three strikeouts and no walks. His season ERA dropped to 1.56 to go along with a 1.04 WHIP. Sam Clay had a rough fifth inning. Two doubles, a walk, a single, and a wild pitch led to three runs being scored. Zack Jones was terrific to end the game with five strikeouts over two innings. Hits were few and far between for the Lookouts. Only the top three batters in the lineup recorded hits. For the second straight game, Brent Rooker went 2-for-3 while adding his fourth double and an RBI. It was Rooker’s fifth multi-hit effort during the 2018 campaign. Nick Gordon went 1-for-2 and LaMonte Wade finished 1-for-3 with a run scored. Zander Wiel had an outfield assist in the game as he threw out a runner at home from left field. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 5, Daytona 4 (11 Innings) Box Score Things weren’t looking good in extra-innings for the Miracle. In the top of the 10th frame, Daytona had taken a one-run lead. Due to new rules, Luis Arraez started the bottom of the inning at second base. After a sacrifice bunt, he came home on a Travis Blankenhorn single to tie the game. Trailing again by one in the 11t- inning, Lewin Diaz stepped up to the plate and drove an 0-1 fastball over the right field wall for the walk-off home run. Earlier in the contest, the Miracle had scored first in the game for the first time in the series. Taylor Grzelakowski led off the second with a double. Caleb Hamilton reached base on a throwing error that allowed Grzelakowski to come around and score. Nelson Molina drove in Hamilton with a one-out single. Fort Myers had an early 2-0 lead. Clark Beeker pitched into the fifth inning without allowing an earned run. He struck out four and walked two in 4 1/3 innings. Beeker has pitched 9 2/3 straight innings of scoreless baseball. Andrew Vasquez was asked to get five outs and he collected strikeouts in four of those five at-bats. Sean Poppen tossed four innings and collected seven strikeouts. Although, he walked a pair and scattered two hits, which led to three runs (two earned) being scored. Logan Lombana gets credit for his second win thank to the Diaz walk-off. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2 Box Score With Bryan Sammons on the mound, the Kernels found themselves in an early hole but it wasn’t all his fault. In the bottom of the first with one out, Sammons walked a batter before a wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position. Andrew Bechtold and Ben Rodriguez commited fielding errors on back-to-back plays to keep the inning alive. Two runs would score but Cedar Rapids buckled down from there. In the fourth frame, Cedar Rapids got a run back. Two walks and a wild pitch loaded the bases for Jordan Gore. He grounded out but the lead was cut in half. Gore has reached safely in all 11 games this year. Trey Cabbage tied the game in the top of the sixth with his first home run of the year. In the seventh inning, the Kernels scored two runs without recording a hit. The team collected five walks and pushed across the final two runs of the game. Ben Rodriguez finished the game hitless but reached base three times. Derek Molina and Moises Gomez combined for five shutout innings to end the game. Molina earned his first win by striking out two and walking two over three innings. Gomez earned his first save as he struck out two in the last two innings. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Travis Blankenhorn, Fort Myers (3-for-5, RBI, K) Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (3 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, 1st MWL Win) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #3 – Nick Gordon (Chattanooga) – 1-5 #5 – Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) – 1-5, 2 K #7 – Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – 4-6, 2B, RBI, R #10 – Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) – 0-3, 2 BB, K #11 – Zack Littell (Chattanooga) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 2 BB #13 – Lewin Diaz (Fort Myers) – 1-1, HR, 2 RBI, R #14 – LaMonte Wade (Chattanooga) – 2-7, R, K #16 – Ben Rortvedt (Cedar Rapids) – 0-2, 2 BB, R #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 3-5, RBI, K #19 – Tyler Jay (Cedar Rapids) – 2.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, BB MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Pawtucket (5:15 CST) - LHP Dietrich Enns (0-3, 5.79 ERA) Chattanooga vs. Tennessee (10:15 AM CST) – RHP Randy LeBlanc (3-1, 1.99 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions about Sunday’s games, or ask any questions you may have.
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