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  1. Last week, Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote the following: “There was no 2020 MiLB season, so a legal argument could have been constructed that there was no championship season, which would mean that all players who came into the season with six years of minor league service time compiled would have to wait until after the 2021 season to reach free agency.” So, what does this mean for Minnesota Twins and their players? Well, mostly it means that it will affect them as if there was a season played. If they would have said that it isn’t a ‘championship season’, all players would be one year further from free agency. The team would have had one more year of control. Six-Year Minor League Free Agents Players that the Twins signed in the past offseason on minor league deal will be free agents at season’s end, unless they are on the 40-man roster. So, a player like Calten Daal or Mitch Horacek who are on minor league deals with the Twins will become free agents at the end of the year. Guys like Drew Maggi and Jack Reinheimer and Wilfredo Tovar who are on the current Twins 60-player pool will become free agents at the end of the season, unless they are added to the 40-man roster before then. Caleb Thielbar signed a minor league free agent deal with the Twins. He was practicing in St. Paul. He got added to the 40-man roster to be added to the team’s 28-man roster. If the Twins keep him on their 40-man roster all season, he isn’t a free agent. But if the Twins do take him off of the 40-man roster, he can become a free agent. First-Time Free Agents Players drafted in the 2014 MLB draft are eligible to be free agents at the end of the season. So are the guys who signed as international free agents after the 2013 season and through the 2014 season. Sam Clay - LHP - 27 Clay was the Twins fourth round pick in 2014 out of Georgia Tech. The Twins gave him an opportunity to start and he was an All Star starting pitcher in the Midwest League, but he moved to the bullpen where he has had some ups and downs. However, he is left-handed, and he has allowed just one home run since the 2017 season. He is at the Twins alternate training site. During the Twins recent road trip, he was on the taxi squad. Jake Reed - RHP - 27 Reed was the team’s fifth round pick in 2014 out of the University of Oregon. Reed signed quickly and immediately made a strong impression. After a dominant debut, he went to the Arizona Fall League. In 2015, he was quickly promoted to Double-A. The past four seasons have been split between Double-A and Triple-A. At times, particularly the second half of 2018, he was dominant. However, he has not been given a big-league opportunity. He has not been added to the Twins player pool, though one would hope if that group expands (as has been discussed), he would be in that group. Andro Cutura - RHP - 26 Cutura was the Twins’ seventh round pick in 2014 from Southeastern Louisiana University. After just six starts in 2016, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2017. He returned in 2018. He spent most of 2020 at Double-A Pensacola and pitched four innings for the Red Wings. Jose Martinez - RHP - 23 Martinez signed from Venezuela with the Twins on August 3rd, 2013. His progression through the organization has been slow. He spent a season each in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. He then spent two years with the Elizabethton Twins. He spent 2018 and 2019 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Moises Gomez - RHP - 23 The Twins signed Gomez out of Venezuela in April of 2014. They were patient with him early. He spent a year in the DSL before spending two seasons in the Gulf Coast League. He split 2017 between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He missed time with injury in 2018 but pitched his nine games in E-Town. In 2019, he was one of the top relief pitchers in the minor league system. Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, he posted a 2.91 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League. One More To Watch Nick Gordon was added to the Twins 40-man roster after the 2018 season. 2020 is his second option year, so obviously he would have another option after this year. However, if the Twins top pick from that 2014 draft were to be removed from the 40-man roster and unclaimed, the 24-year-old could become a free agent as well. Any thoughts on any of these players and their upcoming free agencies? Which, if any, do you think the organization should prioritize attempting to bring back? Should any be put on the 40-man roster before they become free agents?
  2. A week ago, Seth did a great job outlining players that the Minnesota Twins needed to add to the 40-man roster. With five of them being handed promotions to the 40- man, a handful of players are left open to the possibility of selection through the Rule 5 process. Although a well-positioned contender like the Twins aren’t an ideal candidate to make a selection, they are a team that could get pulled from. When taking a player through the Rule 5 Draft process a major league team must keep the player on their active 26-man (New for 2020) roster throughout the full season or offer him back to the original team. That caveat makes low-level prospects a bit of a reach to select, and the most often targeted are pitchers that can immediately slot into a relief role. Although Wander Javier is the headliner of the bunch that went unprotected, he is just 20 years old (soon to be 21) and struggled in his first exposure to full-season ball. The ceiling on Javier remains high but asking him to contribute at the big-league level right now seems like a massive leap. That leads us to the question of who is likely to get selected from the organization. Here’s some names that make sense: RHP Griffin Jax Jax recently turned 25 and the third-round pick in the 2016 draft is as close to the big leagues as he’s ever been. Having pitched initially intermittently due to a military commitment, he was as advertised in 2019. Throwing 127 innings, he combined to post a 2.90 ERA at AA/AAA with a 6.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. The ceiling isn’t much here as he’s more finesse than velocity, but Jax has command and control down and that should help him at the next level. There’s no reason a non-contender couldn’t find a place for him at the back end of their rotation. LHP Sam Clay Pitching is generally the easiest commodity to control through Rule 5 stipulations, and a high-strikeout lefty can be plenty enticing. Clay was selected by the Twins in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He’ll be 27 in 2020 but owned a 9.3 K/9 across 69.1 IP at AA/AAA in 2019. In the 22 innings at Triple-A, the 10.3 H/9 is pretty concerning. However, Clay didn’t give up a single home run last year and surrendered just one in 2018. Across 405 minor league innings he’s allowed six balls to leave the yard. In a game that’s now power rich, it’s a skill set that any manager would love to employ in their pen. 1B/OF Zander Wiel The former Vanderbilt star was a 12th-round pick in the 2015 draft. Wiel started slowly in his professional career but turned in his best season as a 26-year-old for Rochester last season. He posted an .834 OPS that was buoyed by 40 doubles and 24 dingers. He’s not a huge on-base guy and driving up his plate discipline could lead to a longer big-league leash. With the Twins he’s blocked at both first and corner outfield so he became expendable, but there could be a nice bat to be had here for someone looking to take a flier on their bench. RHP Jake Reed Appearing in columns like this for the past couple of years, Reed finds himself here once again. Originally expected to blitz the system as a fifth-round pick in 2014, being passed over at the end of 2018 seemed to be the book closing on potential with the Twins. His 1.89 ERA a year ago was watered down by a 4.0 BB/9. In 2019 he posted an ugly 5.76 ERA but pushed his strikeout rate to a career best 11.0. Minnesota changed up his arm action a significant amount last season, and there were stretches of productivity, but he was often done in as evidenced by the career worst 1.467 WHIP. As a high-velocity arm, it’s more than arguable that a sink or swim moment at the big-league level should come from some organization. Do you think the Twins lose anyone during the Rule 5 Draft, and if so, who are you most certain gets taken?
  3. Now that you’ve had your Thanksgiving feast and are relaxing after a day of family and festivities, it’s time to prepare for the next logical step…Let’s go shopping! Entering Black Friday, we’ve got as good of an opportunity as ever to take a look at what players teams may snipe from the Twins in the Rule 5 Draft.A week ago, Seth did a great job outlining players that the Minnesota Twins needed to add to the 40-man roster. With five of them being handed promotions to the 40- man, a handful of players are left open to the possibility of selection through the Rule 5 process. Although a well-positioned contender like the Twins aren’t an ideal candidate to make a selection, they are a team that could get pulled from. When taking a player through the Rule 5 Draft process a major league team must keep the player on their active 26-man (New for 2020) roster throughout the full season or offer him back to the original team. That caveat makes low-level prospects a bit of a reach to select, and the most often targeted are pitchers that can immediately slot into a relief role. Although Wander Javier is the headliner of the bunch that went unprotected, he is just 20 years old (soon to be 21) and struggled in his first exposure to full-season ball. The ceiling on Javier remains high but asking him to contribute at the big-league level right now seems like a massive leap. That leads us to the question of who is likely to get selected from the organization. Here’s some names that make sense: RHP Griffin Jax Jax recently turned 25 and the third-round pick in the 2016 draft is as close to the big leagues as he’s ever been. Having pitched initially intermittently due to a military commitment, he was as advertised in 2019. Throwing 127 innings, he combined to post a 2.90 ERA at AA/AAA with a 6.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. The ceiling isn’t much here as he’s more finesse than velocity, but Jax has command and control down and that should help him at the next level. There’s no reason a non-contender couldn’t find a place for him at the back end of their rotation. LHP Sam Clay Pitching is generally the easiest commodity to control through Rule 5 stipulations, and a high-strikeout lefty can be plenty enticing. Clay was selected by the Twins in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He’ll be 27 in 2020 but owned a 9.3 K/9 across 69.1 IP at AA/AAA in 2019. In the 22 innings at Triple-A, the 10.3 H/9 is pretty concerning. However, Clay didn’t give up a single home run last year and surrendered just one in 2018. Across 405 minor league innings he’s allowed six balls to leave the yard. In a game that’s now power rich, it’s a skill set that any manager would love to employ in their pen. 1B/OF Zander Wiel The former Vanderbilt star was a 12th-round pick in the 2015 draft. Wiel started slowly in his professional career but turned in his best season as a 26-year-old for Rochester last season. He posted an .834 OPS that was buoyed by 40 doubles and 24 dingers. He’s not a huge on-base guy and driving up his plate discipline could lead to a longer big-league leash. With the Twins he’s blocked at both first and corner outfield so he became expendable, but there could be a nice bat to be had here for someone looking to take a flier on their bench. RHP Jake Reed Appearing in columns like this for the past couple of years, Reed finds himself here once again. Originally expected to blitz the system as a fifth-round pick in 2014, being passed over at the end of 2018 seemed to be the book closing on potential with the Twins. His 1.89 ERA a year ago was watered down by a 4.0 BB/9. In 2019 he posted an ugly 5.76 ERA but pushed his strikeout rate to a career best 11.0. Minnesota changed up his arm action a significant amount last season, and there were stretches of productivity, but he was often done in as evidenced by the career worst 1.467 WHIP. As a high-velocity arm, it’s more than arguable that a sink or swim moment at the big-league level should come from some organization. Do you think the Twins lose anyone during the Rule 5 Draft, and if so, who are you most certain gets taken? Click here to view the article
  4. Before we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in July, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 2 GS, 1.86 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 13 K Nate Hadley - Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 0.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 7 BB, 18 K, Jose Martinez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 1.23 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 11 K Steven Cruz - Elizabethton Twins - 8 G, 1.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 25 K Jose Guevara - GCL Twins - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 8 K THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Moises Gomez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 14 K Runner-up last month, Gomez returns to the top four in July. He was promoted to the Miracle and continued to pitch great. He limited hits. Opponents hit just .133 against him. He was able to get a lot of swings and misses. Though he is in his sixth season in the Twins organization, Gomez is still just 22 years old . #3 - Cody Stashak - Rochester Red Wings - 6 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 12 K We only included Stashak’s minor league numbers in the above stats, so it is clear why it made sense to give him an opportunity. Batters hit just .158 off of him with a .430 OPS. And he did make his big league debut and threw two scoreless innings against the New York Yankees. Stashak isn’t tall and he is thin, but he’s got a good fastball, a good slider and generally has good control and command. The 25-year-old was the Twins 13th-round pick in 2015 out of St. Johns. #2 - Sam Clay - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 9 G, 1.13 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 9 H, 3 BB, 16 K Clay was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2014 out of Georgia Tech. He was given an opportunity to start for a couple of seasons but eventually was moved to the bullpen. He spent 2018 in Chattanooga where he posted a 5.88 ERA. He began this year in Pensacola where he posted a 2.70 ERA in 31 games. He was promoted to Rochester in mid-July. He has given up just one run in six outings with the Red Wings so far, and that included an outing in which he threw three hitless innings. For the month, opponents hit just .167 with a .424 OPS against him. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Joe Record - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 13 K Joe Record is having a really nice professional debut season. The 24-year-old was the Twins 28th-round pick in 2017 out of UC-Santa Barbara. His junior season he pitched in just three games before being shut down. The Twins still drafted him, and soon after, he had Tommy John surgery. He spent the 2018 season rehabbing. He began the 2019 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and was a very strong candidate for this award in April. In seven games for the Kernels, he did not allow an earned run and recorded five saves. He was promoted to Ft. Myers in early May. He’s had some ups and downs, as you would expect, but in July he was really good. In fact, Florida State League hitters hit just .111 off of him with a .278 OPS. Record is big, strong and he throws the ball into the mid-90s. He’s still working his way back, so expect that he could move quickly in 2020. As you can see, there were several strong relief pitcher performances in July. These guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Joe Record, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2019.
  5. In recent days, we have announced our choices for the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Jaylin Davis) and Starting Pitcher of the Month (Edwar Colina). Today, we will discuss the relief pitchers. Which bullpen arms had a strong July? Previous 2019 Relief Pitchers of the Month: April: Ryan Mason, Pensacola Blue Wahoos May: Hector Lujan, Ft. Myers Miracle June: Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers MiracleBefore we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in July, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 2 GS, 1.86 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 13 KNate Hadley - Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 0.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 7 BB, 18 K,Jose Martinez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 1.23 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 11 KSteven Cruz - Elizabethton Twins - 8 G, 1.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 25 KJose Guevara - GCL Twins - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 8 KTHE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Moises Gomez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 14 K Runner-up last month, Gomez returns to the top four in July. He was promoted to the Miracle and continued to pitch great. He limited hits. Opponents hit just .133 against him. He was able to get a lot of swings and misses. Though he is in his sixth season in the Twins organization, Gomez is still just 22 years old . #3 - Cody Stashak - Rochester Red Wings - 6 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 12 K We only included Stashak’s minor league numbers in the above stats, so it is clear why it made sense to give him an opportunity. Batters hit just .158 off of him with a .430 OPS. And he did make his big league debut and threw two scoreless innings against the New York Yankees. Stashak isn’t tall and he is thin, but he’s got a good fastball, a good slider and generally has good control and command. The 25-year-old was the Twins 13th-round pick in 2015 out of St. Johns. #2 - Sam Clay - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 9 G, 1.13 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 9 H, 3 BB, 16 K Clay was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2014 out of Georgia Tech. He was given an opportunity to start for a couple of seasons but eventually was moved to the bullpen. He spent 2018 in Chattanooga where he posted a 5.88 ERA. He began this year in Pensacola where he posted a 2.70 ERA in 31 games. He was promoted to Rochester in mid-July. He has given up just one run in six outings with the Red Wings so far, and that included an outing in which he threw three hitless innings. For the month, opponents hit just .167 with a .424 OPS against him. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Joe Record - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 13 K Joe Record is having a really nice professional debut season. The 24-year-old was the Twins 28th-round pick in 2017 out of UC-Santa Barbara. His junior season he pitched in just three games before being shut down. The Twins still drafted him, and soon after, he had Tommy John surgery. He spent the 2018 season rehabbing. He began the 2019 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and was a very strong candidate for this award in April. In seven games for the Kernels, he did not allow an earned run and recorded five saves. He was promoted to Ft. Myers in early May. He’s had some ups and downs, as you would expect, but in July he was really good. In fact, Florida State League hitters hit just .111 off of him with a .278 OPS. Record is big, strong and he throws the ball into the mid-90s. He’s still working his way back, so expect that he could move quickly in 2020. As you can see, there were several strong relief pitcher performances in July. These guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Joe Record, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2019. Click here to view the article
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. Before we share our Twins Daily Minor League Top 6 Relievers for July, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. It may have been a shorter list to jot down which minor league relievers didn’t have a good month out of the bullpen. HONORABLE MENTION Luke Bard - Chattanooga Lookouts - 10 G, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 5 BB, 16 K, 1.26 ERA, 1.33 WHIP. John Curtiss - Rochester Red Wings - 9 G, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 17 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.03 WHIP. Colton Davis - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 9.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.1 WHIP. Raul Fernandez - Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 15.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 20 K, 0.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP. Logan Lombana - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 1.42 ERA, 0.79 WHIP. Hector Lujan - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 14 K, 0.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP. Jose Martinez - Elizabethton Twins - 5 G, 9.1 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 0.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP. Mason Melotakis - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 9.2 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP. Alex Muren - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 14.2 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 15 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP. Alex Robinson - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 22 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP. Randy Rosario - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 16.0 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 1.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP. Drew Rucinski - Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 11.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.06 WHIP. Michael Tonkin - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 10.0 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP. Alex Wimmers - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 10.0 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP. THE TOP SIX RELIEF PITCHERS #6 - Todd Van Steensel - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 21 K It seems like Todd Van Steensel has been around the Twins organization for a long time. He has, even if not all of the time has been continuous . Originally signed by the Phillies, he pitched for them in 2009. The Twins signed him in 2011 and he pitched (primarily as a starter) for Elizabethton. The Twins let him go at that time, and he pitched in Europe and in his native Australia. But before the 2014 season, the Twins signed him again, and he’s been really good ever since. He pitched in Cedar rapids that season. He pitched in 101 games out of the Miracle bullpen over three years. Last year, he made his AA debut late in the season. He was set to stay in Ft. Myers to start this season, but last minute, he had to drive himself to Chattanooga because of some plane scheduling issues. And as always, he’s been very good. In July, opponents hit just .190/.246/.254 (.500) which is really impressive when you realize that he threw 18 innings, most among Twins relievers in the month by two innings.He’s always been able to miss bats, but he threw a lot of strikes in July, the one thing that he has struggled with to some degree in the past. Overall this season, he is 4-2 with a 1.52 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. In 47.1 innings, he has 19 walks and 51 strikeouts. Van Steensel continues to fly under the radar. #5 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 20 K Andrew Vasquez is another relatively unknown Twins minor league relief prospect. That’s easy to happen because relievers don’t get talked about as much as starters and position players. But that’s reason #194 why we want to highlight relievers each month here at Twins Daily. Vasquez is becoming more known because he’s been showing up on these reports consistently. Recently, he ended a streak of 30.1 scoreless innings. He did not give up a run from May 16th until August 3rd. Which brings us to his July performance. He did not give up a run, obviously. He allowed very few base runners. He can get a lot of strikeouts, and he’s got good control. Opponents hit just .212/.281/.231 (.511). Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, Vasquez has a 1.15 ERA and a 1.00 ERA. In 47 innings, he’s walked 15 batters and struck out 72 (13.8 K/9!). At this rate, lots more Twins fans will know about the former 32nd-round pick from 2015 from Westmont College. #4 - Sam Clay - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 5 H, 9 BB, 13 K Sam Clay has had a real good year in his transition from starter to reliever (which he had been at Georgia Tech too). Overall this year for the Miracle, he is 8-0 with nine saves. He’s got a 1.29 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. Those numbers are even more impressive when you remember that his first appearance of the year did not go well. He gave up six earned runs in 0.2 innings. Since that game, he has given up two earned runs in 55.1 innings (0.33 ERA). His current streak is 29 straight scoreless innings. How he’s stayed in Ft. Myers all year is beyond my knowledge. In July, batters hit just .119/.275/.119 (.394) off him. If there is one area that he’s struggled, it is with his control. He has 28 walks in 56 innings this year, with 56 strikeouts. I guess we can say that he is effectively wild. #3 - Tom Hackimer - Ft. Myers Miracle - 10 G, 0.68 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 17 K Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2016 as a senior out of St. John’s University. At 5-11 and stocky, Hackimer doesn’t look like a typical Twins pitcher. And he doesn’t throw like one either. Well, literally he throws like one Twins pitcher… Trevor Hildenberger. Hackimer throws from the side which can be real tough on opposing hitters. He ended last year in Cedar Rapids, and that’s where he began this season. With the Kernels, he posted a 1.50 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP in 24 innings before a late-May promotion to the Miracle. In 25.1 innings with Ft. Myers, he’s got a 1.07 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. In July, opponents hit just .095/.220/.095 (.315). #2 - Patrick McGuff - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.56 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 25 K A year ago, Patrick McGuff was the Twins 36th-round pick out of Morehead State. He began in the GCL where he threw 5.2 scoreless innings before moving up to Elizabethton. He continued to pitch well there as he picked up nine saves and struck out 33 in 26 innings. He was called up to the Kernels and helped them in the postseason. It was a surprise when he began this season in extended spring training. He was brought up to the Kernels at the end of May. He struggled for a couple of weeks, but the last six weeks, he’s been really good (as indicated by his July numbers). Opponents hit just .148/.220/.222 (.443) off him in the month. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts – RHP Nick Anderson - 10 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.39 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 14 K It’s been a wild and interesting ride for Nick Anderson in his career since graduating from Brainerd High School. He went to St. Cloud State for three years before going to Mayville State. He was drafted by the Brewers, but they didn’t even offer him a contract. So, he had to go the independent ball route. Late in the 2015 season, he was signed by the Twins, and he’s been terrific since. He ended that season closing games for the Kernels. He split the 2016 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He began this season with the Miracle as well. In 15 games, he posted a 0.89 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. He has pitched in 18 games with the Lookouts and posted a 1.19 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP. And July was a big part of that. Anderson dominated hitters in July. They hit just .088/.139/.147 (.286) off him. He has a good, mid-90s fastball, and he throws a lot of strikes. But he also is able to miss bats. Already 26, he’s one of several Lookouts relievers who are ready for Triple-A, and they all become intriguing options for an organization whose big league club is in need of bullpen options. There were a lot of very strong relief pitcher performances in July throughout the Twins minor league system. There aren’t a lot of months with this many Honorable Mentions. Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations to each of these individuals on an excellent month of relief work. Congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2017, Nick Anderson.
  9. The last two days, we’ve handed out our July Twins Minor League Hitter and Starting Pitcher of the Month Awards. Today, we’ll take a look at the top relievers in the Twins system in July. It was extremely difficult to come up with the top six because there were so many good candidates. However, we did it, and our honorable mention list is huge too, so let’s get started. If you missed any of the previous July awards, click the following links: Hitter of the Month - Jonathan Rodriguez, Chattanooga LookoutsStarting Pitcher of the Month - Aaron Slegers, Rochester Red WingsBefore we share our Twins Daily Minor League Top 6 Relievers for July, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. It may have been a shorter list to jot down which minor league relievers didn’t have a good month out of the bullpen. HONORABLE MENTION Luke Bard - Chattanooga Lookouts - 10 G, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 5 BB, 16 K, 1.26 ERA, 1.33 WHIP.John Curtiss - Rochester Red Wings - 9 G, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 17 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.03 WHIP.Colton Davis - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 9.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.1 WHIP.Raul Fernandez - Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 15.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 20 K, 0.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP.Logan Lombana - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 1.42 ERA, 0.79 WHIP.Hector Lujan - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 14 K, 0.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP.Jose Martinez - Elizabethton Twins - 5 G, 9.1 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 0.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP.Mason Melotakis - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 9.2 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP.Alex Muren - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 14.2 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 15 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP.Alex Robinson - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 22 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP.Randy Rosario - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 16.0 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 1.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP.Drew Rucinski - Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 11.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.06 WHIP.Michael Tonkin - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 10.0 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP.Alex Wimmers - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 10.0 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP.THE TOP SIX RELIEF PITCHERS #6 - Todd Van Steensel - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 21 K It seems like Todd Van Steensel has been around the Twins organization for a long time. He has, even if not all of the time has been continuous . Originally signed by the Phillies, he pitched for them in 2009. The Twins signed him in 2011 and he pitched (primarily as a starter) for Elizabethton. The Twins let him go at that time, and he pitched in Europe and in his native Australia. But before the 2014 season, the Twins signed him again, and he’s been really good ever since. He pitched in Cedar rapids that season. He pitched in 101 games out of the Miracle bullpen over three years. Last year, he made his AA debut late in the season. He was set to stay in Ft. Myers to start this season, but last minute, he had to drive himself to Chattanooga because of some plane scheduling issues. And as always, he’s been very good. In July, opponents hit just .190/.246/.254 (.500) which is really impressive when you realize that he threw 18 innings, most among Twins relievers in the month by two innings.He’s always been able to miss bats, but he threw a lot of strikes in July, the one thing that he has struggled with to some degree in the past. Overall this season, he is 4-2 with a 1.52 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. In 47.1 innings, he has 19 walks and 51 strikeouts. Van Steensel continues to fly under the radar. #5 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 20 K Andrew Vasquez is another relatively unknown Twins minor league relief prospect. That’s easy to happen because relievers don’t get talked about as much as starters and position players. But that’s reason #194 why we want to highlight relievers each month here at Twins Daily. Vasquez is becoming more known because he’s been showing up on these reports consistently. Recently, he ended a streak of 30.1 scoreless innings. He did not give up a run from May 16th until August 3rd. Which brings us to his July performance. He did not give up a run, obviously. He allowed very few base runners. He can get a lot of strikeouts, and he’s got good control. Opponents hit just .212/.281/.231 (.511). Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, Vasquez has a 1.15 ERA and a 1.00 ERA. In 47 innings, he’s walked 15 batters and struck out 72 (13.8 K/9!). At this rate, lots more Twins fans will know about the former 32nd-round pick from 2015 from Westmont College. #4 - Sam Clay - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 5 H, 9 BB, 13 K Sam Clay has had a real good year in his transition from starter to reliever (which he had been at Georgia Tech too). Overall this year for the Miracle, he is 8-0 with nine saves. He’s got a 1.29 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. Those numbers are even more impressive when you remember that his first appearance of the year did not go well. He gave up six earned runs in 0.2 innings. Since that game, he has given up two earned runs in 55.1 innings (0.33 ERA). His current streak is 29 straight scoreless innings. How he’s stayed in Ft. Myers all year is beyond my knowledge. In July, batters hit just .119/.275/.119 (.394) off him. If there is one area that he’s struggled, it is with his control. He has 28 walks in 56 innings this year, with 56 strikeouts. I guess we can say that he is effectively wild. #3 - Tom Hackimer - Ft. Myers Miracle - 10 G, 0.68 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 17 K Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2016 as a senior out of St. John’s University. At 5-11 and stocky, Hackimer doesn’t look like a typical Twins pitcher. And he doesn’t throw like one either. Well, literally he throws like one Twins pitcher… Trevor Hildenberger. Hackimer throws from the side which can be real tough on opposing hitters. He ended last year in Cedar Rapids, and that’s where he began this season. With the Kernels, he posted a 1.50 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP in 24 innings before a late-May promotion to the Miracle. In 25.1 innings with Ft. Myers, he’s got a 1.07 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. In July, opponents hit just .095/.220/.095 (.315). #2 - Patrick McGuff - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.56 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 25 K A year ago, Patrick McGuff was the Twins 36th-round pick out of Morehead State. He began in the GCL where he threw 5.2 scoreless innings before moving up to Elizabethton. He continued to pitch well there as he picked up nine saves and struck out 33 in 26 innings. He was called up to the Kernels and helped them in the postseason. It was a surprise when he began this season in extended spring training. He was brought up to the Kernels at the end of May. He struggled for a couple of weeks, but the last six weeks, he’s been really good (as indicated by his July numbers). Opponents hit just .148/.220/.222 (.443) off him in the month. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts – RHP Nick Anderson - 10 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.39 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 14 K It’s been a wild and interesting ride for Nick Anderson in his career since graduating from Brainerd High School. He went to St. Cloud State for three years before going to Mayville State. He was drafted by the Brewers, but they didn’t even offer him a contract. So, he had to go the independent ball route. Late in the 2015 season, he was signed by the Twins, and he’s been terrific since. He ended that season closing games for the Kernels. He split the 2016 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He began this season with the Miracle as well. In 15 games, he posted a 0.89 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. He has pitched in 18 games with the Lookouts and posted a 1.19 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP. And July was a big part of that. Anderson dominated hitters in July. They hit just .088/.139/.147 (.286) off him. He has a good, mid-90s fastball, and he throws a lot of strikes. But he also is able to miss bats. Already 26, he’s one of several Lookouts relievers who are ready for Triple-A, and they all become intriguing options for an organization whose big league club is in need of bullpen options. There were a lot of very strong relief pitcher performances in July throughout the Twins minor league system. There aren’t a lot of months with this many Honorable Mentions. Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations to each of these individuals on an excellent month of relief work. Congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2017, Nick Anderson. Click here to view the article
  10. To find out who did what in the minors on Tuesday, read on! TRANSACTIONS There were a few of transactions before the games on Tuesday. Minnesota sent Hector Santiago on a rehab assignment to Rochester and he started their game. The option of Kyle Gibson was also made official. In the Gulf Coast League Derek Molina was activated from the disabled list and made his pro debut with the start. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 1, Indianapolis 5 Box Score The Red Wings had trouble solving Indians starter and top prospect Tyler Glasnow, who improved to 6-0 with a 1.46 ERA in Triple-A after struggling in his first taste of the majors with Pittsburgh. He held Rochester to just one run on four hits and three walks. Hector Santiago made the rehab start for the Red Wings and labored through just 1+ innings. He surrendered four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks. Drew Rucinski came in to the game for him after the first three hitters reached base in the second inning. If not for an Engelb Vielma error on a double-play ball, Rucinski may have gotten them out of the inning with little damage. He was literally unhittable. In four innings he struck out four, retiring twelve of the other hitters he faced and ten in a row after that error. In case you were wondering, over the months of June and July back with Rochester, Rucinski has pitched 25.0 innings, allowing just one run on fourteen hits and one walk, while striking out seventeen. (That’s pretty good…) Matt Hague finally got the Wings on the board versus Glasnow in the sixth, as he led off the frame with his eighth home run. They added one in the ninth on an RBI single from John Ryan Murphy that was basically seceded by defensive indifference. The offense as a team was just 1-4 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Mason Melotakis pitched 1.1 innings of relief after Rucinski, allowing one run on two hits and a walk before Michael Tonkin finished the final 1.1 innings. He allowed one hit and struck out three (and continues his dominance of AAA). CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Birmingham 4, Chattanooga 9 Box Score Chattanooga is a train that just keeps on rolling as they improved to a remarkable 24-7 in the second half of the season. If you take into account the first half when they won the Southern League North Division, they have an 11 game lead on the second place team in the standings. One of the main reasons why they have been so good is their starting rotation and on Tuesday it was Stephen Gonsalves' turn. Even though he wasn’t necessarily at his best, he picked up his seventh win of the season by going 5.2 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits and three walks as 51 of his 98 pitches went for strikes. He struck out six. Andy Wilkins gave the Lookouts the early 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with his eighth home run of year. In the fourth they took back the lead 3-1 on a bases-loaded walk to Max Murphy and sacrifice fly from Ryan Walker. Randy Rosario came on with runners on first and second in the sixth and promptly gave up a double, but the throw from LaMonte Wade and relay from Gordon got the tying runner at home to end the inning and keep Gonsalves in line for the win. Rosario went 2.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on four hits. He walked none and struck out none. The Lookouts offense then exploded for a six-run bottom of the sixth. Even more impressive, all the runs scored after a double-play to notch the first two outs. Murphy, Walker and Travis Harrison all drew walks to load the bases after that before Carlos Paulino scored two with a single. Nick Gordon then delivered an RBI single, Wade a 2-RBI double, and Wilkins capped the inning with an RBI single and 9-2 lead. Nick Anderson came out for the ninth and if not for an error was perfect. He struck out two. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Lakeland 1 (13 innings) Box Score If you like pitching and defense, this was your type of game as both teams combined for just thirteen hits and two runs through the first nine innings. They then went four more before any more runs were scored. Cody Stashak made the start for the Miracle, but unfortunately only went two innings before being removed from the game for an apparent injury. He allowed only a single before his exit. David Fischer went the next three scoreless innings, walking three and striking out two. Williams Ramirez pitched a scoreless sixth before getting himself ejected in the seventh. He pitched 1.1 innings and was on the hook for the bases being loaded. Alex Muren came on in relief of him and a sac fly gave Lakeland a 1-0 lead, but escaping that jam without any further damage proved to be the pivotal point in the game. Muren finished 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing no runs on two hits and walk. He struck out two. Sam Clay took over in the extra frames, and brought them into the thirteenth with 3.0 scoreless innings of his own. He gave up one hit, one walk and struck out four. Due to his offense's rally in the top of thirteenth, he improved to 8-0 on the season with a 1.36 ERA. He hasn’t given up a run in his last seventeen appearances dating back to May 31st and spanning 27.0 innings pitched. In the top of the thirteenth the Miracle offense finally woke up, as singles from Brandon Lopez and Sean Miller put a runner in scoring position before a wild pitch and intentional walk loaded the bases for Nelson Molina. His double brought in two for 3-1 Miracle lead, and a passed ball later in the frame made it 4-1. Tom Hackimer came on to close the door, and did so for his third save with the Miracle and ninth of the season. He allowed a single and struck out one. Jermaine Palacios (2-7, R, 3B), Lopez (2-5, R) and Brian Navaretto (2-5) each had two hits to lead the offense. Zander Wiel was 1-3, drew three walks and scored a run. The teams combined to go just 2-21 with runners in scoring position on the game, and left 21 men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Scheduled Day Off The Kernels had the day off on Tuesday as they travel to Peoria for a three-game series on the road. They went 3-3 on their six game homestand against Great Lakes and Lansing and have some work to do in the second half of the season as they are just 14-17 and six games back of the Western Division-leading Quad Cities River Bandits. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 9, Pulaski 3 Box Score Elizabethton got multiple hit efforts from five hitters in their lineup Tuesday night as they handed Pulaski just their fourth loss of the season at home. Robert Molina (2-4, R, 2B, RBI) was one of those hitters and his RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the Twins. Mark Contreras (2-3, R, RBI) and Matt Albanese added sacrifice flies to make it 3-0 after two. Melvi Acosta made the start for Elizabethton and went the first 5.2 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits but control was a problem as he walked five. He also struck out five. With two outs in the sixth his final walk ended his day at 92 pitches (50 for strikes). The Twins added four runs in the top of the fifth after Akil Baddoo (2-5, R, 3B, 2 RBI) led off the inning with his first triple. Jose Miranda brought him in with a sac fly before Shane Carrier (2-5, 2 R’s, HR, 2 RBI) and Kolton Kendrick (2-5, 2 R’s, HR, RBI) hit back-to-back jacks to make the score 7-2 in favor of E-Town. They added two more insurance runs in the eighth on a two-RBI single from Baddoo. In relief of Acosta Juan Gamez went 1.2 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out two. Ricky Ramirez finished the game with 1.2 innings of scoreless ball. He allowed one hit and struck out one. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 8, GCL Orioles 5 Box Score The Twins jumped out to an 8-0 lead after four innings and it was more than enough to hold off a sixth inning rally from the Orioles. The offense put up crooked numbers in each of the first, second and fourth innings. In the first Royce Lewis led off the game with a walk, advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw, stole third base after Jean Carlos Arias was hit by a pitch, and then scored on steal attempt of second base that led to a throwing error from the catcher. Ricky De La Torre drove in Arias with a single for the 2-0 lead after one. The Twins attempted four steals in the first inning alone, with only De La Torre getting thrown out. A three-run two-out rally came in the second inning as a double from Jared Akins was followed by an RBI single from Lewis, and a two-RBI triple from Arias. Three more runs scored in the fourth thanks to Arias (RBI single), an error to score Akins, and a wild pitch that allowed Arias to scamper home from third. 2017 14th-round draft pick Derek Molina made his professional debut on the mound and went the first three innings. The right-hander out of Merced College in California gave up just two hits and struck five. Pedro Garcia added two scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He was replaced by Matz Schutte with two outs and ended up allowing three runs on three hits and three walks in 2.2 innings. Two of those runs came because Schutte gave up a grand slam after walking his first batter but got out of the inning with the score 8-5. Vadim Balan pitched the final three innings and picked up his fourth save in the process. He allowed just one hit and walked one while striking out two. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Fort Myers Miracle Staff (13 IP, 13 H’s, 5 BB, 9 K’s, 1 run allowed. W-Sam Clay, S-Tom Hackimer) Hitter of the Day – Andy Wilkins, Chattanooga Lookouts (3-4, 2 R’s, HR, 2 RBI, BB) WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Indianapolis (12:35PM CST) – RHP Dillon Gee (2-1, 2.14 ERA) Birmingham @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) – RHP Kohl Stewart (4-4, 3.63 ERA) Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30PM CST) – RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.11 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (7:00PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beardsley (3-4, 5.98 ERA) Elizabethton @ Pulaski (6:00PM CST) – TBD GCL Orioles @ GCL Twins (11:00AM CST) – TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  11. Minnesota Twins affiliates went 4-1 on Tuesday on a pretty good day throughout the system. Chattanooga kept on trucking with a top prospect on the mound, the rookie league teams scored a lot of runs, and Fort Myers needed extra innings in a game dominated by pitching on both sides. A major leaguer also made a rehab appearance with Rochester.To find out who did what in the minors on Tuesday, read on! TRANSACTIONS There were a few of transactions before the games on Tuesday. Minnesota sent Hector Santiago on a rehab assignment to Rochester and he started their game. The option of Kyle Gibson was also made official. In the Gulf Coast League Derek Molina was activated from the disabled list and made his pro debut with the start. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 1, Indianapolis 5 Box Score The Red Wings had trouble solving Indians starter and top prospect Tyler Glasnow, who improved to 6-0 with a 1.46 ERA in Triple-A after struggling in his first taste of the majors with Pittsburgh. He held Rochester to just one run on four hits and three walks. Hector Santiago made the rehab start for the Red Wings and labored through just 1+ innings. He surrendered four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks. Drew Rucinski came in to the game for him after the first three hitters reached base in the second inning. If not for an Engelb Vielma error on a double-play ball, Rucinski may have gotten them out of the inning with little damage. He was literally unhittable. In four innings he struck out four, retiring twelve of the other hitters he faced and ten in a row after that error. In case you were wondering, over the months of June and July back with Rochester, Rucinski has pitched 25.0 innings, allowing just one run on fourteen hits and one walk, while striking out seventeen. (That’s pretty good…) Matt Hague finally got the Wings on the board versus Glasnow in the sixth, as he led off the frame with his eighth home run. They added one in the ninth on an RBI single from John Ryan Murphy that was basically seceded by defensive indifference. The offense as a team was just 1-4 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Mason Melotakis pitched 1.1 innings of relief after Rucinski, allowing one run on two hits and a walk before Michael Tonkin finished the final 1.1 innings. He allowed one hit and struck out three (and continues his dominance of AAA). CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Birmingham 4, Chattanooga 9 Box Score Chattanooga is a train that just keeps on rolling as they improved to a remarkable 24-7 in the second half of the season. If you take into account the first half when they won the Southern League North Division, they have an 11 game lead on the second place team in the standings. One of the main reasons why they have been so good is their starting rotation and on Tuesday it was Stephen Gonsalves' turn. Even though he wasn’t necessarily at his best, he picked up his seventh win of the season by going 5.2 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits and three walks as 51 of his 98 pitches went for strikes. He struck out six. Andy Wilkins gave the Lookouts the early 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with his eighth home run of year. In the fourth they took back the lead 3-1 on a bases-loaded walk to Max Murphy and sacrifice fly from Ryan Walker. Randy Rosario came on with runners on first and second in the sixth and promptly gave up a double, but the throw from LaMonte Wade and relay from Gordon got the tying runner at home to end the inning and keep Gonsalves in line for the win. Rosario went 2.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on four hits. He walked none and struck out none. The Lookouts offense then exploded for a six-run bottom of the sixth. Even more impressive, all the runs scored after a double-play to notch the first two outs. Murphy, Walker and Travis Harrison all drew walks to load the bases after that before Carlos Paulino scored two with a single. Nick Gordon then delivered an RBI single, Wade a 2-RBI double, and Wilkins capped the inning with an RBI single and 9-2 lead. Nick Anderson came out for the ninth and if not for an error was perfect. He struck out two. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Lakeland 1 (13 innings) Box Score If you like pitching and defense, this was your type of game as both teams combined for just thirteen hits and two runs through the first nine innings. They then went four more before any more runs were scored. Cody Stashak made the start for the Miracle, but unfortunately only went two innings before being removed from the game for an apparent injury. He allowed only a single before his exit. David Fischer went the next three scoreless innings, walking three and striking out two. Williams Ramirez pitched a scoreless sixth before getting himself ejected in the seventh. He pitched 1.1 innings and was on the hook for the bases being loaded. Alex Muren came on in relief of him and a sac fly gave Lakeland a 1-0 lead, but escaping that jam without any further damage proved to be the pivotal point in the game. Muren finished 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing no runs on two hits and walk. He struck out two. Sam Clay took over in the extra frames, and brought them into the thirteenth with 3.0 scoreless innings of his own. He gave up one hit, one walk and struck out four. Due to his offense's rally in the top of thirteenth, he improved to 8-0 on the season with a 1.36 ERA. He hasn’t given up a run in his last seventeen appearances dating back to May 31st and spanning 27.0 innings pitched. In the top of the thirteenth the Miracle offense finally woke up, as singles from Brandon Lopez and Sean Miller put a runner in scoring position before a wild pitch and intentional walk loaded the bases for Nelson Molina. His double brought in two for 3-1 Miracle lead, and a passed ball later in the frame made it 4-1. Tom Hackimer came on to close the door, and did so for his third save with the Miracle and ninth of the season. He allowed a single and struck out one. Jermaine Palacios (2-7, R, 3B), Lopez (2-5, R) and Brian Navaretto (2-5) each had two hits to lead the offense. Zander Wiel was 1-3, drew three walks and scored a run. The teams combined to go just 2-21 with runners in scoring position on the game, and left 21 men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Scheduled Day Off The Kernels had the day off on Tuesday as they travel to Peoria for a three-game series on the road. They went 3-3 on their six game homestand against Great Lakes and Lansing and have some work to do in the second half of the season as they are just 14-17 and six games back of the Western Division-leading Quad Cities River Bandits. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 9, Pulaski 3 Box Score Elizabethton got multiple hit efforts from five hitters in their lineup Tuesday night as they handed Pulaski just their fourth loss of the season at home. Robert Molina (2-4, R, 2B, RBI) was one of those hitters and his RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the Twins. Mark Contreras (2-3, R, RBI) and Matt Albanese added sacrifice flies to make it 3-0 after two. Melvi Acosta made the start for Elizabethton and went the first 5.2 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits but control was a problem as he walked five. He also struck out five. With two outs in the sixth his final walk ended his day at 92 pitches (50 for strikes). The Twins added four runs in the top of the fifth after Akil Baddoo (2-5, R, 3B, 2 RBI) led off the inning with his first triple. Jose Miranda brought him in with a sac fly before Shane Carrier (2-5, 2 R’s, HR, 2 RBI) and Kolton Kendrick (2-5, 2 R’s, HR, RBI) hit back-to-back jacks to make the score 7-2 in favor of E-Town. They added two more insurance runs in the eighth on a two-RBI single from Baddoo. In relief of Acosta Juan Gamez went 1.2 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out two. Ricky Ramirez finished the game with 1.2 innings of scoreless ball. He allowed one hit and struck out one. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 8, GCL Orioles 5 Box Score The Twins jumped out to an 8-0 lead after four innings and it was more than enough to hold off a sixth inning rally from the Orioles. The offense put up crooked numbers in each of the first, second and fourth innings. In the first Royce Lewis led off the game with a walk, advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw, stole third base after Jean Carlos Arias was hit by a pitch, and then scored on steal attempt of second base that led to a throwing error from the catcher. Ricky De La Torre drove in Arias with a single for the 2-0 lead after one. The Twins attempted four steals in the first inning alone, with only De La Torre getting thrown out. A three-run two-out rally came in the second inning as a double from Jared Akins was followed by an RBI single from Lewis, and a two-RBI triple from Arias. Three more runs scored in the fourth thanks to Arias (RBI single), an error to score Akins, and a wild pitch that allowed Arias to scamper home from third. 2017 14th-round draft pick Derek Molina made his professional debut on the mound and went the first three innings. The right-hander out of Merced College in California gave up just two hits and struck five. Pedro Garcia added two scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He was replaced by Matz Schutte with two outs and ended up allowing three runs on three hits and three walks in 2.2 innings. Two of those runs came because Schutte gave up a grand slam after walking his first batter but got out of the inning with the score 8-5. Vadim Balan pitched the final three innings and picked up his fourth save in the process. He allowed just one hit and walked one while striking out two. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Fort Myers Miracle Staff (13 IP, 13 H’s, 5 BB, 9 K’s, 1 run allowed. W-Sam Clay, S-Tom Hackimer) Hitter of the Day – Andy Wilkins, Chattanooga Lookouts (3-4, 2 R’s, HR, 2 RBI, BB) WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Indianapolis (12:35PM CST) – RHP Dillon Gee (2-1, 2.14 ERA) Birmingham @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) – RHP Kohl Stewart (4-4, 3.63 ERA) Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30PM CST) – RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.11 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (7:00PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beardsley (3-4, 5.98 ERA) Elizabethton @ Pulaski (6:00PM CST) – TBD GCL Orioles @ GCL Twins (11:00AM CST) – TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games! Click here to view the article
  12. Before we share our Twins Daily Minor League Top 5 Relievers for June, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Nick Anderson - Chattanooga - 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 12 K DJ Baxendale - Rochester - 6 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 8 K Max Cordy - Cedar Rapids - 7 G, 2 GS, 1.13 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 9 H, 13 BB, 14 K Colton Davis - Cedar Rapids - 9 G, 1 GS, 2.57 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 13 K Tom Hackimer - Ft. Myers - 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 8 K Jake Reed - Chattanooga/Rochester - 8 G, 1.50 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 12 K Michael Tonkin - Rochester - 8 G, 3.18 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 18 K Todd Van Steensel - Chattanooga - 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 8 K THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Sam Clay - Ft. Myers - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 10 K This spring, much was made of the Twins decision to move lefties Randy Rosario and Tyler Jay to the bullpen. Clay made 24 starts a year ago between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He was the starting pitcher in the Midwest League All-Star Game last year. However, he has made the transition to the bullpen appear effortless. Clay gave up six earned runs in ⅔ of an inning in his first appearance this year. Since then, he has given up just two runs over 39 innings. He went 24.1 innings without giving up a run. He gave up a single run in two straight games, and is now on a run of 13.2 innings without giving up a run. In June, opponents hit just .194/.293/.222 (.515) off of him. #4 - Hector Lujan - Cedar Rapids - 8 G, 1.04 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K Lujan was the Twins 35th-round pick in 2015 out of Westmost College. While he moved slowly initially, he has always had a big fastball. He now sits between 93 and 96 mph, and as his pitching coach JP Martinez told us last night, he has developed a cutter that is now a weapon. This year, he joined the Kernels very early in the season. While they were looking for a guy to close games, Lujan just continued to get outs. He got an opportunity to be the closer, and he has taken advantage of it. In the month, batters hit just .172/.194/.276 (.469) off him. He had four saves in the month and now has eight since taking the job. #3 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 18 K Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round draft pick in 2015 out of Westmont College (yes, the same small college that Lujan was selected from, three rounds later). The southpaw has some tremendous stuff. Vasquez throws hard and gets a lot of movement. He joined Cedar Rapids late last year and became a threat in the bullpen. That’s where he began this year, but after a strong first two months, he was moved up to Ft. Myers where he has continued to impress. For the month, not only did he not give up runs (or many base runners), opponents hit just .152/.222/.182 (.404) off of him. He struck out nearly two batters per inning. He has yet to allow a run in 11.1 innings in Ft. Myers. It’s been a combined 18 innings since he’s given up a run. #2 - Luke Bard - Chattanooga - 7 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 15 K Bard was a supplemental first-round pick for the Twins in 2012. He found himself on the disabled list a lot for the first four years of his career. 2016 was first healthy season, and he sat 93-96, touching 97. He’s been healthy again this year, and he’s been pitching really well. Overall, he has thrown 36 innings this season and has 59 strikeouts with just 13 walks. In June, opponents have hit just .167/.268/.250 (.518). Again, nearly two strikeouts per innings pitched. Bard was touted last season for having a very high spin rate which helps make his fastball jump on hitters and his breaking pitches very sharp. At 26, he should move up to AAA soon. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts and Rochester Red Wings – RHP John Curtiss - 8 G, 1.54 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 15 K Through April and May John Curtiss gave up zero earned runs. Yet, for whatever reason, he was not the choice for Twins Daily relief pitcher of the month. In June, he finally gave up a run. In fact, he had one game in which he gave up two runs. And yet, this month he is our choice for relief pitcher of the month. Why? Well, he didn’t give up hits. He didn’t issue walks. He continued striking out well over a batter per inning. Opponents hit just .054/.125/.081 (.206). While he had probably earned a promotion much earlier, he finally got that call in mid-June, and he’s been very good so far in Rochester. I mean, he’s given up one hit and one walk in 5.1 innings for the Red Wings. Curtiss was the Twins 6th-round pick in 2014 out of Texas. He had already gone through thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and Tommy John surgery. He tried his luck as a starter in 2015, but he missed time with a concussion. In 2016, he moved to the bullpen, and has been dominant since. He was invited to the Arizona Fall League and pitched well. The 24-year-old could see time as early as this season in the Twins bullpen. There were a lot of very strong relief pitcher performances in June throughout the Twins minor league system. It’s encouraging that several of them are in the upper levels as well. We’ve seen Alan Busenitz and Trevor Hildenberger already. My sense is that we will see several more before the season is over. Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations to each of these individuals on an excellent first month to their seasons. Congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2017, John Curtiss.
  13. It’s hard to believe that the baseball season is already nearly three months complete. The calendar has turned to July, and it is again time to hand out some awards. Today we start with the relief pitchers. Over the next few days, we’ll also post our top starting pitchers and hitters in the Twins minor leagues in June. There have been several transactions in recent days, and that will likely continue. Ironically, this was a terrific month for minor league relievers in the Twins system. Most important, several of those strong bullpen performances came from the upper levels of the system, AAA and AA. It was hard to cut down the honorable mention group, but it had to be done. If you missed any of the Twins Daily minor league awards to this point, check them out here: Hitter of the Month - Zack Granite, Rochester Red WingsStarting Pitcher of the Month - Stephen Gonsalves, Chattanooga LookoutsBefore we share our Twins Daily Minor League Top 5 Relievers for June, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Nick Anderson - Chattanooga - 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 12 KDJ Baxendale - Rochester - 6 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 8 KMax Cordy - Cedar Rapids - 7 G, 2 GS, 1.13 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 9 H, 13 BB, 14 KColton Davis - Cedar Rapids - 9 G, 1 GS, 2.57 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 13 KTom Hackimer - Ft. Myers - 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 8 KJake Reed - Chattanooga/Rochester - 8 G, 1.50 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 12 KMichael Tonkin - Rochester - 8 G, 3.18 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 18 KTodd Van Steensel - Chattanooga - 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 8 KTHE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Sam Clay - Ft. Myers - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 10 K This spring, much was made of the Twins decision to move lefties Randy Rosario and Tyler Jay to the bullpen. Clay made 24 starts a year ago between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He was the starting pitcher in the Midwest League All-Star Game last year. However, he has made the transition to the bullpen appear effortless. Clay gave up six earned runs in ⅔ of an inning in his first appearance this year. Since then, he has given up just two runs over 39 innings. He went 24.1 innings without giving up a run. He gave up a single run in two straight games, and is now on a run of 13.2 innings without giving up a run. In June, opponents hit just .194/.293/.222 (.515) off of him. #4 - Hector Lujan - Cedar Rapids - 8 G, 1.04 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K Lujan was the Twins 35th-round pick in 2015 out of Westmost College. While he moved slowly initially, he has always had a big fastball. He now sits between 93 and 96 mph, and as his pitching coach JP Martinez told us last night, he has developed a cutter that is now a weapon. This year, he joined the Kernels very early in the season. While they were looking for a guy to close games, Lujan just continued to get outs. He got an opportunity to be the closer, and he has taken advantage of it. In the month, batters hit just .172/.194/.276 (.469) off him. He had four saves in the month and now has eight since taking the job. #3 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers - 6 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 18 K Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round draft pick in 2015 out of Westmont College (yes, the same small college that Lujan was selected from, three rounds later). The southpaw has some tremendous stuff. Vasquez throws hard and gets a lot of movement. He joined Cedar Rapids late last year and became a threat in the bullpen. That’s where he began this year, but after a strong first two months, he was moved up to Ft. Myers where he has continued to impress. For the month, not only did he not give up runs (or many base runners), opponents hit just .152/.222/.182 (.404) off of him. He struck out nearly two batters per inning. He has yet to allow a run in 11.1 innings in Ft. Myers. It’s been a combined 18 innings since he’s given up a run. #2 - Luke Bard - Chattanooga - 7 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 15 K Bard was a supplemental first-round pick for the Twins in 2012. He found himself on the disabled list a lot for the first four years of his career. 2016 was first healthy season, and he sat 93-96, touching 97. He’s been healthy again this year, and he’s been pitching really well. Overall, he has thrown 36 innings this season and has 59 strikeouts with just 13 walks. In June, opponents have hit just .167/.268/.250 (.518). Again, nearly two strikeouts per innings pitched. Bard was touted last season for having a very high spin rate which helps make his fastball jump on hitters and his breaking pitches very sharp. At 26, he should move up to AAA soon. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts and Rochester Red Wings – RHP John Curtiss - 8 G, 1.54 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 15 K Through April and May John Curtiss gave up zero earned runs. Yet, for whatever reason, he was not the choice for Twins Daily relief pitcher of the month. In June, he finally gave up a run. In fact, he had one game in which he gave up two runs. And yet, this month he is our choice for relief pitcher of the month. Why? Well, he didn’t give up hits. He didn’t issue walks. He continued striking out well over a batter per inning. Opponents hit just .054/.125/.081 (.206). While he had probably earned a promotion much earlier, he finally got that call in mid-June, and he’s been very good so far in Rochester. I mean, he’s given up one hit and one walk in 5.1 innings for the Red Wings. Curtiss was the Twins 6th-round pick in 2014 out of Texas. He had already gone through thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and Tommy John surgery. He tried his luck as a starter in 2015, but he missed time with a concussion. In 2016, he moved to the bullpen, and has been dominant since. He was invited to the Arizona Fall League and pitched well. The 24-year-old could see time as early as this season in the Twins bullpen. There were a lot of very strong relief pitcher performances in June throughout the Twins minor league system. It’s encouraging that several of them are in the upper levels as well. We’ve seen Alan Busenitz and Trevor Hildenberger already. My sense is that we will see several more before the season is over. Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like, but congratulations to each of these individuals on an excellent first month to their seasons. Congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2017, John Curtiss. Click here to view the article
  14. Transactions: Jake Reed assigned to Chattanooga from Rochester, Ryan Pressly optioned to Rochester from Minnesota, Jason Wheeler designated for assignment from Minnesota, Alex Wimmers promoted to Minnesota from Rochester, Randy LeBlanc promoted to Chattanooga from Fort Myers, Nick Anderson promoted to Chattanooga from Fort Myers, Randy Rosario promoted to Minnesota from Chattanooga, Andrew Vasquez promoted to Fort Myers from Cedar Rapids.Logan Lombana returns to Cedar Rapids from extended spring training. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 3 @ Durham 6 Box Score Rochester's bullpen has a 1.08 ERA over the last seven games, including 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings headed into Thursday night’s game and Niko Goodrum has a nine-game hitting streak. The scoreless innings streak came to an end as Alan Busenitz gave up a run in the seventh inning, but Goodrum extended his streak on a 3-4 night that included a double and a pair of RBI. Leonardo Reginatto also had a pair of hits, including a double and a walk, but the rest of the Red Wings squad had just two hits. ByungHo Park was 0-3 with two strikeouts and a walk. The Red Wings were down 6-0 before they pushed three runs across in the eighth to make the final score look respectable. Red Wings starter Nik Turley gave up five runs over 6.1 innings, including three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Turley struck out seven to go along with just one walk. Busenitz was charged with an earned run over 1.2 innings of work, he struck out three and walked none. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1 @ Birmingham 3 Box Score Nick Gordon entered the game leading the Southern League in extra-base hits (23) and got to enjoy the night off in Birmingham. The Lookouts bats sputtered without him, just 1-11 with runners in scoring position, and scoring just a single run despite FIVE doubles. Ryan Strausborger was 2-3 with a double and a run scored, the only Lookout with more than one hit. Lookouts starter Matt Tracy pitched very well, 7.0 innings, just five hits, two runs (both earned) and he struck out four against just one walk. Unfortunately for Tracy, he gave up a pair of solo home runs, and without any run support was tagged with his fourth loss of the season. Mason Melotakis gave up a run on two hits in one inning of relief. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 1 @ Bradenton 5 Box Score Before the game it was announced that Chris Paul, Dereck Rodriguez, Sam Clay, and Brian Navarreto were all selected to the Florida State League All-Star Game. The Miracle could have used some all-star bats on Thursday night as they stranded 13 runners! The Miracle bunched their hits at the top of the order with leadoff man Max Murphy picking up three singles on a 3-5 night (he also scored the lone run), and the next batter up, Nelson Molina, was 3-5 as well. Zander Wiel the third hitter in the lineup, had a pair of hits and a walk on a 2-4 night. The three combined for 8 of the Miracle’s 10 hits. Brady Anderson was tagged with his first loss of the season after giving up four runs (all earned) in 5.0 innings. He gave up nine hits, including a home run, walked two, and struck out three. He was replaced by Tom Hackimer for 2.0 innings. Hackimer gave up three hits, a run and two walks. Michael Theofanopoulos closed out the pitching for the Miracle with three strikeouts in the eighth inning. KERNELS NUGGETS Quad Cities 1 @ Cedar Rapids 11 Box Score The Kernels made up for the lackluster hitter performances in the rest of the system on Thursday night, exploding for 11 runs. Travis Blankenhorn led the way (and hit leadoff, how perfect) with a 2-4 night that included a triple and a home run. Jermaine Palacios had three hits, Jaylin Davis, Mitchell Kranson and Aaron Whitefield each had a pair of hits for the Kernels, and Lewin Diaz and Caleb Hamilton each had a hit of his own. In addition to Blankenhorn’s solo home run in the fifth inning, Aaron Whitefield hit one too. Sean Poppen picked up his fourth win of the year to move to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.12 with 6.1 innings of five-hit baseball. He gave up one run, unearned, struck out five, and did not walk anyone. Logan Lombana went 2.2 perfect innings to finish off the River Bandits, striking out five of the seven batters he faced (he induced a double-play to the first batter he faced in the seventh). TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Matt Tracy, Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Niko Goodrum, Rochester Red Wings FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Norfolks (6:05pm) – David Hurlbut (2-3, 3.41) Chattanooga @ Birmingham (7:05pm) – Felix Jorge (5-1, 3.48) Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30pm) - Dereck Rodriguez (3-2, 2.95) Cedar Rapids @ Burlington (6:30pm) – Domenick Carlini (2-3, 5.65) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday's games.
  15. The Twins needed a couple of fresh arms in the aftermath of the Astros series, so they’ve promoted a couple of minor league arms, with ripple effects all through the system. The new names on the Twins to know are Alex Wimmers and Randy Rosario, but the full list of transactions is below.Transactions: Jake Reed assigned to Chattanooga from Rochester, Ryan Pressly optioned to Rochester from Minnesota, Jason Wheeler designated for assignment from Minnesota, Alex Wimmers promoted to Minnesota from Rochester, Randy LeBlanc promoted to Chattanooga from Fort Myers, Nick Anderson promoted to Chattanooga from Fort Myers, Randy Rosario promoted to Minnesota from Chattanooga, Andrew Vasquez promoted to Fort Myers from Cedar Rapids.Logan Lombana returns to Cedar Rapids from extended spring training. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 3 @ Durham 6 Box Score Rochester's bullpen has a 1.08 ERA over the last seven games, including 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings headed into Thursday night’s game and Niko Goodrum has a nine-game hitting streak. The scoreless innings streak came to an end as Alan Busenitz gave up a run in the seventh inning, but Goodrum extended his streak on a 3-4 night that included a double and a pair of RBI. Leonardo Reginatto also had a pair of hits, including a double and a walk, but the rest of the Red Wings squad had just two hits. ByungHo Park was 0-3 with two strikeouts and a walk. The Red Wings were down 6-0 before they pushed three runs across in the eighth to make the final score look respectable. Red Wings starter Nik Turley gave up five runs over 6.1 innings, including three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Turley struck out seven to go along with just one walk. Busenitz was charged with an earned run over 1.2 innings of work, he struck out three and walked none. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1 @ Birmingham 3 Box Score Nick Gordon entered the game leading the Southern League in extra-base hits (23) and got to enjoy the night off in Birmingham. The Lookouts bats sputtered without him, just 1-11 with runners in scoring position, and scoring just a single run despite FIVE doubles. Ryan Strausborger was 2-3 with a double and a run scored, the only Lookout with more than one hit. Lookouts starter Matt Tracy pitched very well, 7.0 innings, just five hits, two runs (both earned) and he struck out four against just one walk. Unfortunately for Tracy, he gave up a pair of solo home runs, and without any run support was tagged with his fourth loss of the season. Mason Melotakis gave up a run on two hits in one inning of relief. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 1 @ Bradenton 5 Box Score Before the game it was announced that Chris Paul, Dereck Rodriguez, Sam Clay, and Brian Navarreto were all selected to the Florida State League All-Star Game. The Miracle could have used some all-star bats on Thursday night as they stranded 13 runners! The Miracle bunched their hits at the top of the order with leadoff man Max Murphy picking up three singles on a 3-5 night (he also scored the lone run), and the next batter up, Nelson Molina, was 3-5 as well. Zander Wiel the third hitter in the lineup, had a pair of hits and a walk on a 2-4 night. The three combined for 8 of the Miracle’s 10 hits. Brady Anderson was tagged with his first loss of the season after giving up four runs (all earned) in 5.0 innings. He gave up nine hits, including a home run, walked two, and struck out three. He was replaced by Tom Hackimer for 2.0 innings. Hackimer gave up three hits, a run and two walks. Michael Theofanopoulos closed out the pitching for the Miracle with three strikeouts in the eighth inning. KERNELS NUGGETS Quad Cities 1 @ Cedar Rapids 11 Box Score The Kernels made up for the lackluster hitter performances in the rest of the system on Thursday night, exploding for 11 runs. Travis Blankenhorn led the way (and hit leadoff, how perfect) with a 2-4 night that included a triple and a home run. Jermaine Palacios had three hits, Jaylin Davis, Mitchell Kranson and Aaron Whitefield each had a pair of hits for the Kernels, and Lewin Diaz and Caleb Hamilton each had a hit of his own. In addition to Blankenhorn’s solo home run in the fifth inning, Aaron Whitefield hit one too. Sean Poppen picked up his fourth win of the year to move to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.12 with 6.1 innings of five-hit baseball. He gave up one run, unearned, struck out five, and did not walk anyone. Logan Lombana went 2.2 perfect innings to finish off the River Bandits, striking out five of the seven batters he faced (he induced a double-play to the first batter he faced in the seventh). TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Matt Tracy, Chattanooga Lookouts Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Niko Goodrum, Rochester Red Wings FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Norfolks (6:05pm) – David Hurlbut (2-3, 3.41) Chattanooga @ Birmingham (7:05pm) – Felix Jorge (5-1, 3.48) Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30pm) - Dereck Rodriguez (3-2, 2.95) Cedar Rapids @ Burlington (6:30pm) – Domenick Carlini (2-3, 5.65) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday's games. Click here to view the article
  16. On Friday night, Lewis Thorpe made his first start since August of 2014. On Saturday night, there was another talented left-handed pitcher who made his first start of the season. Stephen Gonsalves went to big league camp, but a few weeks in, he was shut down with a shoulder issue. He’s been in Ft. Myers working his way back since then and on Saturday night he made that start. Extra innings were needed to decide games for the Rochester Red Wings and Ft. Myers Miracle. One Twins minor league hitter got to play hero for the second time in a week. Another Twins prospect went home and had his best game of the year so far.Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday night, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS Check out the transactions through the minor league system on Wednesday: The Twins have released catcher AJ Murray and pitcher Michael Cederoth. Both had been in extended spring training this season, on disabled lists.While we mentioned it in yesterday’s minor league report, Chattanooga officially removed Stephen Gonsalves from the disabled list.RED WINGS REPORTRochester 4, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 5 (11 innings) Box Score Nick Tepesch made the start for the Red Wings and gave up three runs in the first inning. But he settled in and finished with four runs on five hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out two. Three of the hits were home runs, producing the four runs he was charged with. Alex Wimmers made his return to the Red Wings and struck out three over two shutout innings. DJ Baxendale came on and threw scoreless ninth and tenth innings. However, with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, he gave up the winning run. In his 2.2 innings, he gave up the one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out three. Byungho Park cut the Wings deficit to 4-3 in the sixth inning with a two-run homer, his second of the season. An inning later, John Ryan Murphy singled in a run to tie the game. Niko Goodrum hit his fifth and sixth doubles of the year. Daniel Palka went 2-5 with his sixth double. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 0, Biloxi 2 (5 innings) Box Score Twins fans have been waiting for almost two months to see Twins Daily's #2 Twins Prospect Stephen Gonsalves. Gonsalves has been impatiently waiting to make his 2017 debut. And then… he had to wait a little longer. This game started on time. The Lookouts went scoreless in the top of the first inning. Gonsalves made his trek to the mound for the bottom of the first inning, but before the inning began, a torrential rainfall came, causing a delay. However, when the game resumed, Gonsalves was on the mound. In the first inning, he got two ground outs and an infield pop fly. In the second, he caught a comebacker, which should probably be a Top Play nominee. Then he fielded a groundball, gave up a double, and then fielded another grounder. He struck out the first two batters of the third inning and then got a line out to end the inning. In the fourth inning, he gave up a walk to start the inning. He then struck out the next batter and got a fly out to left for the second out. Unfortunately, he gave up a two-run homer to Angel Ortega before getting the final out. That ended the night for Gonsalves. In total, he gave up the two runs on two hits. He walked one and struck out three. 33 of his 57 pitches were strikes. According to Gonsalves, he had some adrenaline running early. "I had a little adrenaline today, but I kept telling myself I've been here and I've been able to compete well at this level. So I was getting myself comfortable." He put up solid numbers considering he didn't feel like he had all his pitches working. In fact, in his mind, he only had one of his pitches working. "Only thing working for me today was my fastball. I couldn't get anything over other than that. Curveball was getting spiked. Slider wasn't sliding. That's what the double was hit off of. And I kept pushing my change ups. I want to say I only three off speed pitches for strikes out of 15. But my fastball command was all I had working tonight, just beating up kids on the hands. I think I went outside twice and one was the home run." It's that kind of push for perfection and expectations for himself that has pushed Gonsalves up the prospect rankings and up the Twins organizational level. It also was the end of the game. The Lookouts batted in the top of the fifth. Randy LeBlanc went out to the mound to warm up, but then the rains came again. This time, the game was called. Because the game had passed the top of the 5th with the home team winning, the Lookouts lost 2-0. The Lookouts offense had just three hits, two by catcher Dan Rohlfing. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 9, Bradenton 8 (10 innings) Box Score For the second time within the last week, Chris Paul played hero for the Miracle. Earlier in the week, he hit a three-run walk off homer. On Saturday night, it was a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Paul went 2-4 with two walks and his 12th double. Bradley Strong and Sean Miller each had three hits in the game. Tanner English went 2-4 with a walk and his first homer. Zander Wiel went 1-2 with three walks and his fourth home run. Dereck Rodriguez started and gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out seven. Jonny Drozd came on for the sixth inning. He gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits and a walk. Williams Ramirez got the next four outs. Sam Clay improved to 5-0 by throwing 2.2 scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out three to improve to 5-0 and drop his season ERA to 2.25. As you recall, Sam Clay gave up six earned runs in just ⅔ of an inning in his first outing of the season. Since then, he has thrown 23.1 scoreless innings. The Miracle extended their winning streak to seven games with the win. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Wisconsin 2 Box Score It was a very nice night in Wisconsin for the Kernels battery. Let’s start on the mound. Eduardo Del Rosario made the start. He gave up two runs on five hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out eight. Through seven innings, he did not allow a run. Tom Hackimer came in for the ninth. He recorded his sixth save of the season as he had one strikeout in a perfect ninth inning. Ben Rortvedt was the Twins second-round pick a year ago out of Verona Area High School in Verona, Wisconsin. The Kernels were playing in Appleton which is about 120 miles, or a two-hour drive for Rortvedt’s friends and family. He came into the game hitting just .122. He went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth double, raising his average to .141 on the year. Christian Cavaness went 2-4 with the other RBI. Ariel Montesino added his fifth double. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Eduardo Del Rosario, Cedar Rapids Kernels Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Zander Wiel, Ft. Myers Miracle SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes Barre (12:05 CST) - LHP Nik Turley Chattanooga @ Biloxi (1:05 CST) - LHP Matt Tracy Bradenton @ Ft. Myers (3:05 CST) - RHP Cody Stashak Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (1:05 CST) - RHP Tyler Beardsley Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games. Click here to view the article
  17. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday night, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS Check out the transactions through the minor league system on Wednesday: The Twins have released catcher AJ Murray and pitcher Michael Cederoth. Both had been in extended spring training this season, on disabled lists. While we mentioned it in yesterday’s minor league report, Chattanooga officially removed Stephen Gonsalves from the disabled list. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 5 (11 innings) Box Score Nick Tepesch made the start for the Red Wings and gave up three runs in the first inning. But he settled in and finished with four runs on five hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out two. Three of the hits were home runs, producing the four runs he was charged with. Alex Wimmers made his return to the Red Wings and struck out three over two shutout innings. DJ Baxendale came on and threw scoreless ninth and tenth innings. However, with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, he gave up the winning run. In his 2.2 innings, he gave up the one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out three. Byungho Park cut the Wings deficit to 4-3 in the sixth inning with a two-run homer, his second of the season. An inning later, John Ryan Murphy singled in a run to tie the game. Niko Goodrum hit his fifth and sixth doubles of the year. Daniel Palka went 2-5 with his sixth double. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 0, Biloxi 2 (5 innings) Box Score Twins fans have been waiting for almost two months to see Twins Daily's #2 Twins Prospect Stephen Gonsalves. Gonsalves has been impatiently waiting to make his 2017 debut. And then… he had to wait a little longer. This game started on time. The Lookouts went scoreless in the top of the first inning. Gonsalves made his trek to the mound for the bottom of the first inning, but before the inning began, a torrential rainfall came, causing a delay. However, when the game resumed, Gonsalves was on the mound. In the first inning, he got two ground outs and an infield pop fly. In the second, he caught a comebacker, which should probably be a Top Play nominee. https://twitter.com/jgonsalves63/status/866146114612862976 Then he fielded a groundball, gave up a double, and then fielded another grounder. He struck out the first two batters of the third inning and then got a line out to end the inning. In the fourth inning, he gave up a walk to start the inning. He then struck out the next batter and got a fly out to left for the second out. Unfortunately, he gave up a two-run homer to Angel Ortega before getting the final out. That ended the night for Gonsalves. In total, he gave up the two runs on two hits. He walked one and struck out three. 33 of his 57 pitches were strikes. According to Gonsalves, he had some adrenaline running early. "I had a little adrenaline today, but I kept telling myself I've been here and I've been able to compete well at this level. So I was getting myself comfortable." He put up solid numbers considering he didn't feel like he had all his pitches working. In fact, in his mind, he only had one of his pitches working. "Only thing working for me today was my fastball. I couldn't get anything over other than that. Curveball was getting spiked. Slider wasn't sliding. That's what the double was hit off of. And I kept pushing my change ups. I want to say I only three off speed pitches for strikes out of 15. But my fastball command was all I had working tonight, just beating up kids on the hands. I think I went outside twice and one was the home run." It's that kind of push for perfection and expectations for himself that has pushed Gonsalves up the prospect rankings and up the Twins organizational level. It also was the end of the game. The Lookouts batted in the top of the fifth. Randy LeBlanc went out to the mound to warm up, but then the rains came again. This time, the game was called. Because the game had passed the top of the 5th with the home team winning, the Lookouts lost 2-0. The Lookouts offense had just three hits, two by catcher Dan Rohlfing. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 9, Bradenton 8 (10 innings) Box Score For the second time within the last week, Chris Paul played hero for the Miracle. Earlier in the week, he hit a three-run walk off homer. On Saturday night, it was a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Paul went 2-4 with two walks and his 12th double. Bradley Strong and Sean Miller each had three hits in the game. Tanner English went 2-4 with a walk and his first homer. Zander Wiel went 1-2 with three walks and his fourth home run. Dereck Rodriguez started and gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out seven. Jonny Drozd came on for the sixth inning. He gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits and a walk. Williams Ramirez got the next four outs. Sam Clay improved to 5-0 by throwing 2.2 scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out three to improve to 5-0 and drop his season ERA to 2.25. As you recall, Sam Clay gave up six earned runs in just ⅔ of an inning in his first outing of the season. Since then, he has thrown 23.1 scoreless innings. The Miracle extended their winning streak to seven games with the win. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Wisconsin 2 Box Score It was a very nice night in Wisconsin for the Kernels battery. Let’s start on the mound. Eduardo Del Rosario made the start. He gave up two runs on five hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out eight. Through seven innings, he did not allow a run. Tom Hackimer came in for the ninth. He recorded his sixth save of the season as he had one strikeout in a perfect ninth inning. Ben Rortvedt was the Twins second-round pick a year ago out of Verona Area High School in Verona, Wisconsin. The Kernels were playing in Appleton which is about 120 miles, or a two-hour drive for Rortvedt’s friends and family. He came into the game hitting just .122. He went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth double, raising his average to .141 on the year. Christian Cavaness went 2-4 with the other RBI. Ariel Montesino added his fifth double. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Eduardo Del Rosario, Cedar Rapids Kernels Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Zander Wiel, Ft. Myers Miracle SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes Barre (12:05 CST) - LHP Nik Turley Chattanooga @ Biloxi (1:05 CST) - LHP Matt Tracy Bradenton @ Ft. Myers (3:05 CST) - RHP Cody Stashak Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (1:05 CST) - RHP Tyler Beardsley Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games.
  18. Find out everything that happened in the Twins minor league system on Thursday. RED WINGS REPORT Gwinnett 4 @ Rochester 5 Box Score Jason Wheeler cruised through six innings, and the Red Wings were in a scoreless tie headed to the seventh. Wheeler gave up a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, but the Wings scored two more in the bottom half of the inning. Wheeler came back out for the eighth, but gave up hits to the first two batters he faced and was replaced before getting an out. He was replaced by Alan Busenitz. Busnetiz got a line-out from the first batter he faced, but let both base runners score, one by wild pitch and the other on a single to right field. It was a bumpy inning for Busenitz in the eighth, but he came back out in the ninth and shut the Braves down. In the bottom of the ninth, the Wings pushed three runs across for a come from behind win with six consecutive singles to open the frame. The Red Wings ended up with 12 hits (six of them in the ninth inning alone!), and were led by Matt Hague, 2-4 with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored. John Ryan Murphy continues to turn things around with a 2-4 night that included an RBI. In his last four games, Murphy has improved his average from .067 to .233 with six hits in 15 at-bats. Ehire Adrianza continues his hot play, was 2-3 and is hitting .500 after six games. Interestingly he started the game in left field, perhaps signaling the Twins desire to find a replacement for Danny Santana, their ultra-utility man who brings poor play to almost every position on the diamond, and doesn’t hit well enough to make up for any of that. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 5 @ Jackson 4 Box Score Starter Paul Clemens ran into trouble in the fifth inning and was lifted after 4.2 innings, giving up just a pair of hits, but walking four to go along with four strike- outs. He was replaced by Todd Van Steensel who didn’t have a great night, giving up two runs in just 0.2 innings, on three hits and three walks. He struck out one. Van Steensel was replaced by Luke Bard who frickin’ mowed some dudes down, 2.2 innings pitched, one hit, no walks, five strikeouts. John Curtiss came in for the ninth and earned his third save of the year with a scoreless ninth. Despite falling behind in the fifth inning, the Lookouts rallied in the top of the sixth, putting three runs across, which gave them just enough offense to hang on for a 5-4 win. No Lookouts player had multiple hits, and they combined for just six hits but added eight walks. Engelb Vielma, Edgar Corcino and Travis Harrison all had doubles, and Ryan Walker was 0-2 but contributed three walks. MIRACLE MATTERS Bradenton 1 @ Miracle 2 Box Score In a pitchers’ duel in Fort Myers, the Miracle earned a 2-1 come-from-behind victory. Starter David Fischer pitched into the fifth, but put the first man aboard and was lifted for Sam Clay. Fishcher gave up four hits, one run, three walks and struck out five over four-plus innings. Clay came in and earned the win with 3.0 scoreless innings. Clay gave up just a single hit and struck out three, and has pitched 10 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts since giving up 6 earned runs over 0.2 innings in his first appearance of the year. Anthony McIver pitched a couple of scoreless innings to earn the save for the Miracle. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out two. Max Murphy had a nice night with three singles, and Brian Navarreto was 3-3 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the way for the Miracle. The Miracle had plenty of opportunities to score more runs on Thursday night, but were just 2-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 5 @ Peoria 3 Box Score With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 12th inning, the Kernels got a lift from the number nine hitter, Aaron Whitefield, who launched a two-run home run to cap an exciting road victory. Whitefield finished the night 2-5. Four other Kernels had multi- hit nights, including Mitchell Kranson 2-5, Jaylin Davis 3-5, Caleb Hamilton 2-5 (including a solo home run), and Ariel Montesino 2-5. The Kernels needed six pitchers to get through 12 innings, thanks to a couple of blown saves. Starter Sean Poppen went 6.1 solid innings, gave up 1 run on five hits, two walks, and struck out six before being lifted for Andrew Vasquez who let an inherited runner score and surrendered the Kernels’ narrow lead giving up a pair of hits, a pair of walks, and a run of his own on a bases loaded walk, in just a third of an inning. Hector Lujan, the third pitcher of the evening, came in and quickly got a ground out to end the bases loaded threat. Lujan pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, but gave up a leadoff single in the ninth (a run that would come around to score) and was lifted for Tom Hackimer. Hackimer got two quick outs, but a two-out liner to center brought home the tying run, and after a ground out, the game went to extra innings. Alex Robinson replaced Hackimer to start the 10th and gave the Kernels two scoreless innings, giving up a hit, a walk, and he struck out a pair to earn the win when the Kernels pushed across two in the top of the 12th. Quin Grogan earned the save to end the 3 hour and 42 minute game. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Sam Clay, Fort Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Aaron Whitefield, Cedar Rapids Kernels FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ Rochester (5:35pm) – Adalberto Mejia (0-0, -.--) Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05pm) - Randy LeBlanc (0-0, -.--) Dunedin @ Ft. Myers (5:35pm) – Keaton Steele (1-2, 6.19) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:30pm) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday's games.
  19. The Twins had Thursday off to recover from a blasting delivered by the Rangers in the series finale, and the minor league squads took center stage. Rochester and Cedar Rapids won games in their last at-bats, and three of the four games were one-run squeakers.Find out everything that happened in the Twins minor league system on Thursday. RED WINGS REPORT Gwinnett 4 @ Rochester 5 Box Score Jason Wheeler cruised through six innings, and the Red Wings were in a scoreless tie headed to the seventh. Wheeler gave up a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, but the Wings scored two more in the bottom half of the inning. Wheeler came back out for the eighth, but gave up hits to the first two batters he faced and was replaced before getting an out. He was replaced by Alan Busenitz. Busnetiz got a line-out from the first batter he faced, but let both base runners score, one by wild pitch and the other on a single to right field. It was a bumpy inning for Busenitz in the eighth, but he came back out in the ninth and shut the Braves down. In the bottom of the ninth, the Wings pushed three runs across for a come from behind win with six consecutive singles to open the frame. The Red Wings ended up with 12 hits (six of them in the ninth inning alone!), and were led by Matt Hague, 2-4 with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored. John Ryan Murphy continues to turn things around with a 2-4 night that included an RBI. In his last four games, Murphy has improved his average from .067 to .233 with six hits in 15 at-bats. Ehire Adrianza continues his hot play, was 2-3 and is hitting .500 after six games. Interestingly he started the game in left field, perhaps signaling the Twins desire to find a replacement for Danny Santana, their ultra-utility man who brings poor play to almost every position on the diamond, and doesn’t hit well enough to make up for any of that. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 5 @ Jackson 4 Box Score Starter Paul Clemens ran into trouble in the fifth inning and was lifted after 4.2 innings, giving up just a pair of hits, but walking four to go along with four strike- outs. He was replaced by Todd Van Steensel who didn’t have a great night, giving up two runs in just 0.2 innings, on three hits and three walks. He struck out one. Van Steensel was replaced by Luke Bard who frickin’ mowed some dudes down, 2.2 innings pitched, one hit, no walks, five strikeouts. John Curtiss came in for the ninth and earned his third save of the year with a scoreless ninth. Despite falling behind in the fifth inning, the Lookouts rallied in the top of the sixth, putting three runs across, which gave them just enough offense to hang on for a 5-4 win. No Lookouts player had multiple hits, and they combined for just six hits but added eight walks. Engelb Vielma, Edgar Corcino and Travis Harrison all had doubles, and Ryan Walker was 0-2 but contributed three walks. MIRACLE MATTERS Bradenton 1 @ Miracle 2 Box Score In a pitchers’ duel in Fort Myers, the Miracle earned a 2-1 come-from-behind victory. Starter David Fischer pitched into the fifth, but put the first man aboard and was lifted for Sam Clay. Fishcher gave up four hits, one run, three walks and struck out five over four-plus innings. Clay came in and earned the win with 3.0 scoreless innings. Clay gave up just a single hit and struck out three, and has pitched 10 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts since giving up 6 earned runs over 0.2 innings in his first appearance of the year. Anthony McIver pitched a couple of scoreless innings to earn the save for the Miracle. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out two. Max Murphy had a nice night with three singles, and Brian Navarreto was 3-3 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the way for the Miracle. The Miracle had plenty of opportunities to score more runs on Thursday night, but were just 2-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 5 @ Peoria 3 Box Score With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 12th inning, the Kernels got a lift from the number nine hitter, Aaron Whitefield, who launched a two-run home run to cap an exciting road victory. Whitefield finished the night 2-5. Four other Kernels had multi- hit nights, including Mitchell Kranson 2-5, Jaylin Davis 3-5, Caleb Hamilton 2-5 (including a solo home run), and Ariel Montesino 2-5. The Kernels needed six pitchers to get through 12 innings, thanks to a couple of blown saves. Starter Sean Poppen went 6.1 solid innings, gave up 1 run on five hits, two walks, and struck out six before being lifted for Andrew Vasquez who let an inherited runner score and surrendered the Kernels’ narrow lead giving up a pair of hits, a pair of walks, and a run of his own on a bases loaded walk, in just a third of an inning. Hector Lujan, the third pitcher of the evening, came in and quickly got a ground out to end the bases loaded threat. Lujan pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, but gave up a leadoff single in the ninth (a run that would come around to score) and was lifted for Tom Hackimer. Hackimer got two quick outs, but a two-out liner to center brought home the tying run, and after a ground out, the game went to extra innings. Alex Robinson replaced Hackimer to start the 10th and gave the Kernels two scoreless innings, giving up a hit, a walk, and he struck out a pair to earn the win when the Kernels pushed across two in the top of the 12th. Quin Grogan earned the save to end the 3 hour and 42 minute game. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Sam Clay, Fort Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Aaron Whitefield, Cedar Rapids Kernels FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ Rochester (5:35pm) – Adalberto Mejia (0-0, -.--) Chattanooga @ Jackson (6:05pm) - Randy LeBlanc (0-0, -.--) Dunedin @ Ft. Myers (5:35pm) – Keaton Steele (1-2, 6.19) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:30pm) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday's games. Click here to view the article
  20. Last month, I compiled a list of my top five players who should be promoted. A little more than a month later, all five of those prospects have either been promoted or, in J.T. Chargois’ case, spent time at the next level. With those promotions, I thought it would be a good idea to give an updated list, so here is an updated version of my top five prospects who should be promoted: 5. Trevor Hildenberger, RP, Chattanooga I debated whether or not I should include Hildenberger on this list for the simple fact that he has only been in Chattanooga for two months. However, in those two months, he has been nothing short of dominant for the Lookouts. With Chattanooga, he has thrown 28.1 innings and has only allowed three runs on 15 hits for an ERA of just 0.95. He started the season in high-A Fort Myers and allowed one run in 9.1 innings, but he has elevated his game to another level. After allowing an opponents batting average of .282 with the Miracle early in the season, he has allowed teams to hit at just .156 clip since the move up to Double-A. His WHIP is also outstanding at 0.67 and he has a strikeouts per nine innings rate of 9.8. His walks per nine innings is also solid at 1.3. I don’t know if they would promote him so shortly after being at Double-A for only two months, but I would expect him to be promoted to Triple-A Rochester by the end of the season. 4. Tyler Jay, SP, Fort Myers After going six starts with only allowing three runs combined, Jay has allowed eight in his previous eight innings (two starts). But still, he has done enough to be able to be promoted to Chattanooga. Jay has had two starts where he was hammered, which has inflated his ERA. His ERA is still a very solid 3.02, but has allowed 11 earned runs combined in two starts and 11 in the other 10 starts. His opponents batting average is .247, which needs to improve, as does his WHIP of 1.22. He still has a bit of work to do, but he deserves a promotion. Since he was a reliever at Illinois, Jay will be on an innings limit this year, so he could move up to Chattanooga and be in the bullpen. 3. Sam Clay, SP, Cedar Rapids Clay has struggled recently, having allowed 19 earned runs in his last six starts (28.1 innings) after having given up just five earned runs in his first 41 innings this season. That raised his ERA by two full runs. Perhaps his recent struggles is the reason that Fernando Romero was promoted before him. Maybe Miles Nordgren could pass him up too, but as of right now, I have Clay here. His opponent’s batting average is .226, which is solid, and his 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings rate is good as well. His WHIP of 1.33 needs to improve, as does his poor 4.7 walks per nine innings rate. He could move up to Fort Myers, along with Nordgren if both Jorge and Jay are promoted by the end of the season, which seems likely. 2. Felix Jorge, SP, Fort Myers Despite only being on Fort Myers for this year, it is about time to move up Jorge. He is destroying High-A right now. He has not allowed more than three runs in any one start this season, and he has allowed three in just one start. Jorge is coming off a start in which he had a season-high 10 strikeouts against Palm Beach. His strikeouts per nine innings rate is less than ideal at 7.7, but in every other statistic, Jorge dominates. He has an opponents batting average of .224 and a terrific 0.94 WHIP. He has also only allowed just three home runs on the year and his walks per nine innings rate is just 1.2. His 1.67 ERA leads the entire Twins system, so I expect Jorge to be in Chattanooga by the end of the season. 1. J.T. Chargois, RP, Rochester While Chargois did make an appearance with the big league club last month, that stay lasted only three days and he only made one appearance......and it did not go well. However, many players who went onto nice careers were shelled in their debuts. I believe he has earned another stint with the Twins, especially since their bullpen is a dumpster fire. Since being optioned back to Rochester, Chargois has picked up right where he left off. Since being recalled, he has allowed one run in nine innings. His opponent’s batting average is still very good at .190 and he has a WHIP of 0.94. He still has a strikeouts per nine innings rate of an impressive 11.8. With the Twins out of contention and in need of bullpen help, Chargois needs to be recalled so the big league club knows what they have in him to see if he will be a big part of future plans.
  21. The Eastern Division stars notched a come-from-behind 11-10 victory in what could only be described as an entertaining ballgame. Kernels pitcher Sam Clay got the start for the West stars and notched a 1-2-3 inning in the first inning, completing it with a strikeout. Cedar Rapids' second baseman Luis Arraez led off the bottom of the second with a single and team mate LaMonte Wade reached on a hit-by-pitch to start the home half of the first. Both players came around to score, giving the West the first two runs of the game. Kernels catcher AJ Murray, who participated in the pregame Home Run Derby, entered the game about halfway through the contest and went to the opposite field for a two-run blast that put his team up 10-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning. That's probably all you need to know about the game itself, but I'll add a number of pictures from the festivities on Monday and Tuesday. A lot of work goes into putting on one of these events and big time kudos go out to the entire Kernels staff (augmented with staff from the Northwoods League's Waterloo Bucks front office) for putting on a first class show. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/MWL-Mascots900-600x400.jpg More than half of the Midwest League's team mascots made the trip to Cedar Rapids. My daughter commented afterwards, "It was like Mr Shucks had a party and got to invite all his friends." http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ManagersMtgASG-600x400.jpg As the manager of the Western Division Champions from a year ago, Kernels manager Jake Mauer was at the helm for the Western Division All-Stars http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ClayASG-600x400.jpg Kernels pitcher Sam Clay worked a perfect first inning for the West squad. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ArraezASG-600x400.jpg Luis Arraez had a pair of hits for the West squad. Here he's fist-bumped by Kernels coach Brian Dinkelman. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/WadeASG-600x400.jpg LaMonte Wade had one hit in two at bats and was hit by a pitch. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/MurrayASG2-600x400.jpg AJ Murray strokes a 2-run home run for the West stars in the 7th inning. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/20160621_223422-600x450.jpg AJ Murray (left) and Sam Clay (11) take in the postgame fireworks with the rest of the crowd. All photos by SD Buhr
  22. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 3, Indianapolis 9 Box Score The suddenly Buxton-less Red Wings line-up had to search out other options to fill his offensive void. Eddie Rosario hit his first Triple-A home run of the season as part of a two-hit night. Buck Britton and Wilfredo Tovar joined Rosario in the multi-hit category and Tovar swiped a pair of bases. His 16 steals were tied with the league leaders in the International League as play started on Tuesday. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each cracked his fourth double of the season. Jose Berrios had dominated Triple-A all season so maybe it was time for a clunker. He pitched five innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits. He struck out six and walked two. Of his 86 pitches, 58 were for strikes and he surrendered two home runs. David Martinez finished out the last three innings by allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. The loss dropped the Red Wings to 29-23 as they sit a half game behind the Scranton/WB RailRiders for first place in the International League North. In the last week, Rochester has played Indianapolis five times and lost three of those games. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 10, Birmingham 6 Box Score The Lookouts found themselves in the midst of back-and-forth contest where either squad could have come out on top. DJ Hicks had a solid night at the plate as he went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored. Travis Harrison and Leonardo Reginatto both collected triples as part of a multi-hit evening. Mitch Garver scored two runs and drove in another run and Stuart Turner finished 2-for-4. D.J. Baxendale started and allowed five runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts. Corey Williams kept the team in the game by only allowing one batter to reach base in 1.2 innings while striking out two. Mason Melotakis gave up a solo home run as the Lookout lead shrunk to one run. Trevor Hildenberger pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to close out the game. With the win, Chattanooga improved to 23-28 as they have won four of their last six games. The Jackson Generals have jumped out to an 8.5 game lead in the Southern League North. The Lookouts currently sit 10 games out of first place. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 4, St. Lucie 0 Box Score Tyler Jay was simply dominant on this night. For the second straight start, he set a career-high in strikeouts and he collected double digits in strikeouts for the first time. Jay threw 98 pitches (73 strikes) across eight shutout innings. He struck out 11 and walked one while limiting the Mets to two hits that were both singles. Yorman Landa finished out the ninth to complete the shutout as the two pitchers faced one batter over the minimum. Fort Myers wasted little time jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning to support Jay. Most of the damage was done as Alex Real walked with two out to put runners on first and second. Edgar Corcino tripled to drive in the first two runs. Chris Paul followed this with a single to cap off the inning and put the Miracle up for good. Every hitter in the line-up reached base with the exception of Trey Vavra. Engelb Vielma and Tanner Witt both reached base three times. Witt drove in the team's fourth run and Vielma stole his first base. Paul finished the night 2-for-4. The win ended a three-game losing streak for Fort Myers. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 1, Beloit 2 (10 Innings) Box Score In his last start, Sam Clay got beat up and didn't make it out of the third inning. A very different pitcher took the mound on Tuesday night. Clay pitched seven shutout innings by allowing one hit and striking out eight. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and his seven scoreless innings were a career high. In two of his last three starts, he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or less. The rest of the Kernels pitching staff wasn't so good. Sam Gibbons had to wiggle out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning before leaving the tying run at second. Williams Ramirez wasn't as lucky as he allowed the tying run, his first earned run of the season, to score in the bottom of the ninth. In his first appearance with the club, Cam Booser took the loss as he was only able to record one out in the tenth. Cedar Rapids went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and the club couldn't manage a single extra-base hit. Sean Miller collected three of the team's eight hits and the only RBI. Nelson Molina went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Alex Perez reached base twice out of the lead-off spot. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Tyler Jay, Fort Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- DJ Hicks, Chattanooga Lookouts WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Indianapolis (12:35 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (5-4, 3.74 ERA) Chattanooga @ Birmingham (12:30 CST)- LHP Nick Greenwood (2-1, 4.50 ERA) Fort Myers vs. St. Lucie (6:05 CST)- RHP Keaton Steele (1-4, 4.03 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (7:00 CST)- RHP Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.90 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Tuesday games.
  23. Tuesday was a roster movement day in the Twins system. The move most of Twins Territory will focus on is top-prospect Byron Buxton being recalled by the big league club. Buxton had been destroying the baseball at Triple-A and a hamstring injury to Danny Santana opened a roster spot. At Rochester, Buxton's roster space was filled by left-handed pitcher Dan Runzler who had been on the DL. One of the team's other top prospects, Kohl Stewart, was also promoted from Fort Myers to Chattanooga. The Miracle also sent outfielder Austin Diemer to extended spring training. Fort Myers filled their roster by adding right-handed pitcher Luke Bard from Chattanooga and right-handed pitcher Randy LeBlanc from Cedar Rapids. Left-handed reliever Cam Booser was also activated by Cedar Rapids Would any of these new faces make an impact in their new places? You'll have to read on to find out.RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 3, Indianapolis 9 Box Score The suddenly Buxton-less Red Wings line-up had to search out other options to fill his offensive void. Eddie Rosario hit his first Triple-A home run of the season as part of a two-hit night. Buck Britton and Wilfredo Tovar joined Rosario in the multi-hit category and Tovar swiped a pair of bases. His 16 steals were tied with the league leaders in the International League as play started on Tuesday. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each cracked his fourth double of the season. Jose Berrios had dominated Triple-A all season so maybe it was time for a clunker. He pitched five innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits. He struck out six and walked two. Of his 86 pitches, 58 were for strikes and he surrendered two home runs. David Martinez finished out the last three innings by allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. The loss dropped the Red Wings to 29-23 as they sit a half game behind the Scranton/WB RailRiders for first place in the International League North. In the last week, Rochester has played Indianapolis five times and lost three of those games. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 10, Birmingham 6 Box Score The Lookouts found themselves in the midst of back-and-forth contest where either squad could have come out on top. DJ Hicks had a solid night at the plate as he went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored. Travis Harrison and Leonardo Reginatto both collected triples as part of a multi-hit evening. Mitch Garver scored two runs and drove in another run and Stuart Turner finished 2-for-4. D.J. Baxendale started and allowed five runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts. Corey Williams kept the team in the game by only allowing one batter to reach base in 1.2 innings while striking out two. Mason Melotakis gave up a solo home run as the Lookout lead shrunk to one run. Trevor Hildenberger pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to close out the game. With the win, Chattanooga improved to 23-28 as they have won four of their last six games. The Jackson Generals have jumped out to an 8.5 game lead in the Southern League North. The Lookouts currently sit 10 games out of first place. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 4, St. Lucie 0 Box Score Tyler Jay was simply dominant on this night. For the second straight start, he set a career-high in strikeouts and he collected double digits in strikeouts for the first time. Jay threw 98 pitches (73 strikes) across eight shutout innings. He struck out 11 and walked one while limiting the Mets to two hits that were both singles. Yorman Landa finished out the ninth to complete the shutout as the two pitchers faced one batter over the minimum. Fort Myers wasted little time jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning to support Jay. Most of the damage was done as Alex Real walked with two out to put runners on first and second. Edgar Corcino tripled to drive in the first two runs. Chris Paul followed this with a single to cap off the inning and put the Miracle up for good. Every hitter in the line-up reached base with the exception of Trey Vavra. Engelb Vielma and Tanner Witt both reached base three times. Witt drove in the team's fourth run and Vielma stole his first base. Paul finished the night 2-for-4. The win ended a three-game losing streak for Fort Myers. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 1, Beloit 2 (10 Innings) Box Score In his last start, Sam Clay got beat up and didn't make it out of the third inning. A very different pitcher took the mound on Tuesday night. Clay pitched seven shutout innings by allowing one hit and striking out eight. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and his seven scoreless innings were a career high. In two of his last three starts, he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or less. The rest of the Kernels pitching staff wasn't so good. Sam Gibbons had to wiggle out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning before leaving the tying run at second. Williams Ramirez wasn't as lucky as he allowed the tying run, his first earned run of the season, to score in the bottom of the ninth. In his first appearance with the club, Cam Booser took the loss as he was only able to record one out in the tenth. Cedar Rapids went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and the club couldn't manage a single extra-base hit. Sean Miller collected three of the team's eight hits and the only RBI. Nelson Molina went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Alex Perez reached base twice out of the lead-off spot. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Tyler Jay, Fort Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- DJ Hicks, Chattanooga Lookouts WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Indianapolis (12:35 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (5-4, 3.74 ERA) Chattanooga @ Birmingham (12:30 CST)- LHP Nick Greenwood (2-1, 4.50 ERA) Fort Myers vs. St. Lucie (6:05 CST)- RHP Keaton Steele (1-4, 4.03 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (7:00 CST)- RHP Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.90 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Tuesday games. Click here to view the article
  24. (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.) That’s not bad for a guy who spent almost no time behind the plate during his college career, despite performing well enough in high school that Houston selected him late in the 2011 draft. “I caught all through high school,” Murray explained. “Then when I got to college, they converted me to a first baseman because we had Zane Evans (who was ultimately drafted by the Royals in the 4th round of the 2013 draft), who was a lot better than I was at the time. So I learned first base, but I also got to play a little bit in the outfield. It kind of made me more versatile as a player in college.” Murray certainly wasn’t disappointed when he was told the Twins had drafted him as a catcher, however. Quite the opposite. “When they drafted me as a catcher, I was very happy because I thought that was my most comfortable position and I could be the biggest asset to the team,” he recalled. “I think it’s the best position on the field, besides pitching, because you’re in every pitch. You pretty much control the game as far as being a leader out there. I love catching every day and it’s definitely a learning process.” http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Murray16a9x6-600x400.jpg AJ Murray After seeing limited time on the field behind the plate during his college career, Murray has certainly had a lot to learn about playing the position at the professional level. “I think the biggest adjustment has been calling your own game. That’s kind of been a lost art in baseball," he said. “I called my own game in high school, but when you get to college, a lot of the pitching coaches like to call the pitches. So that’s been the biggest adjustment.” The biggest adjustment maybe, but not the only thing that differentiates catching in the pros from what he has done in the past. “Learning to read hitters, learning to look at the stat sheet, look for tendencies, then fill in the game plans, which is fun actually,” he added. “JP (Martinez, the Kernels’ pitching coach) does a great job of giving us stats, getting the pitchers together, talking over game plans, hitters’ approaches and how we’re going to transfer that over to the game, so he’s the main driver in getting us ready.” His work behind the plate hasn’t gone unnoticed by fellow Yellow Jacket Clay. “As soon as he got to Elizabethton, he was far and away a much better catcher than he was at Georgia Tech,” Clay said of his battery mate. “He became unbelievable behind the plate and I love throwing to him.” Murray and his fellow Kernels went through a stretch earlier in the season when they struggled offensively. Runs were rare and that put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff. They’ve pulled out of that rut over the past few weeks and Murray’s bat has been a big reason. He is hitting .333 in May and has a .986 OPS for the month. “I’m definitely feeling more comfortable at the plate and focusing on having consistent at-bats,” Murray said, of his recent success at the plate. He’s quick to point out, however, that he’s not the only hitter in the lineup that’s making a difference. “I think a lot of it has to do with others guys on the team hitting around me. You look at our stats the last couple of weeks, we’ve put up a lot of runs. Everyone’s been hitting well, so I think it’s contagious. When you’re getting on base, it puts pressure on the pitcher, and then hitting in the middle of the lineup, hitting behind LaMonte (Wade), (Luis) Arraez, guys like that getting on base a lot.” Like Murray, Clay has also had to make some adjustments to the professional game. In college, Clay worked out of the bullpen and, in fact, he began the 2015 season as a member of the Kernels’ relief corps. Things didn’t go terribly well for Clay, however, in his first tour with Cedar Rapids, and he was sent down to Elizabethton. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Clay16f9x6-600x400.jpg Sam Clay “Last year was a little bit of a struggle,” Clay recalled. “I started off up here in the bullpen and I had a lot of trouble finding the plate, so they kind of pigeon-holed me into throwing basically strictly fastballs and one off-speed (pitch), whichever was working for me that day, so hitters were looking for one of two pitches. “Once I got sent down, I had one or two weeks in the bullpen and then they turned me into a starter when one of our guys went down. It gave me a chance to get up there and throw all of my pitches and really learn how to pitch instead of just going up there and throwing the ball.” Clay has taken to the conversion to a starting pitcher very well. He and righthander Randy LeBlanc have combined to form a powerful left-right combination at the top of the Kernels’ rotation. Combined, the two have made 15 starts and evenly split just 10 combined earned runs surrendered. Neither pitcher has given up a home run this season. Making the switch to starting pitcher did mean some adjustments for Clay in the offseason. “They pretty much had me being a starter, so I knew that going into the offseason, what I needed to work on conditioning-wise and weight training wise,” he said. “So I really kind of got after it this offseason and just worked harder than I probably ever have. “I lived with my parents in the offseason and I would probably lift weights four times a week. I didn’t really pick up a ball, because I threw a lot of innings last year compared to what I usually would as a reliever. So I didn’t really pick up a ball until probably January and January in Georgia is pretty cold. "It probably got me ready for the first month here (in Iowa),” Clay added, with a smile. Once he was ready to start throwing, however, Clay still had challenges to overcome – such as finding someone to throw with. “Probably the first two or three weeks I was throwing I didn’t have anybody to throw with, so I was throwing long toss into a screen. Not very fun,” he remembered. “But I was lucky, I had one of my friends from high school, Jake Burnette, he’s playing for the Pirates organization (7th round pick in 2011), I got together with him and was able to throw with him for the rest of the offseason.” As minor league seasons approach their midpoints toward mid-to-late June, it would be understandable for players performing as well as Murray and Clay to start peeking at the next rung on their organizational ladder and wondering what more they need to prove to earn a promotion. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ClayHS9x6-600x400.jpg Sam Clay Clay, however, says he knew coming into the season that he had work to do at this level and he’s not going to let his focus get drawn away from his business at hand. “I knew that I was coming back here as soon as I got to spring training because I didn’t perform that well here when I was here. So I knew I had to come out and really show what I could do - show that I could be a starter, that I could throw against these hitters. “All the Fort Myers starters are doing really well right now so it will be really tough for us to move up, but we can’t really think about them. We have to focus on ourselves.” For now, Clay, Murray and their Cedar Rapids teammates are sitting atop the Midwest League’s Western Division standings and they have four more weeks of work to do in the season’s first half. The top two teams in each division during the first half qualify for the MWL playoffs in September and earning that berth early takes a lot of pressure off for the remainder of the season.
  25. Most of the work that Sam Clay and AJ Murray did together during their shared time at Georgia Tech was confined to the bullpen, but this season the pair of former Yellow Jackets have played critical roles together for the Midwest League Western Division-leading Cedar Rapids Kernels. Clay, a lefty who was the Minnesota Twins’ fourth-round draft pick in 2014, carries a 3-1 record and a 1.10 ERA into his Wednesday night start at Burlington. He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning in his seven starts. Murray, selected by the Twins in the 14th round of last year’s draft, is carrying a .285/.394/.489 (.883 OPS) slash line as the Kernels’ primary catcher. He’s hit 11 doubles, one triple and five home runs while batting in the middle of the Cedar Rapids lineup and has thrown out 35% of runners attempting to steal a base.(This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.) That’s not bad for a guy who spent almost no time behind the plate during his college career, despite performing well enough in high school that Houston selected him late in the 2011 draft. “I caught all through high school,” Murray explained. “Then when I got to college, they converted me to a first baseman because we had Zane Evans (who was ultimately drafted by the Royals in the 4th round of the 2013 draft), who was a lot better than I was at the time. So I learned first base, but I also got to play a little bit in the outfield. It kind of made me more versatile as a player in college.” Murray certainly wasn’t disappointed when he was told the Twins had drafted him as a catcher, however. Quite the opposite. “When they drafted me as a catcher, I was very happy because I thought that was my most comfortable position and I could be the biggest asset to the team,” he recalled. “I think it’s the best position on the field, besides pitching, because you’re in every pitch. You pretty much control the game as far as being a leader out there. I love catching every day and it’s definitely a learning process.” http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Murray16a9x6-600x400.jpgAJ MurrayAfter seeing limited time on the field behind the plate during his college career, Murray has certainly had a lot to learn about playing the position at the professional level. “I think the biggest adjustment has been calling your own game. That’s kind of been a lost art in baseball," he said. “I called my own game in high school, but when you get to college, a lot of the pitching coaches like to call the pitches. So that’s been the biggest adjustment.” The biggest adjustment maybe, but not the only thing that differentiates catching in the pros from what he has done in the past. “Learning to read hitters, learning to look at the stat sheet, look for tendencies, then fill in the game plans, which is fun actually,” he added. “JP (Martinez, the Kernels’ pitching coach) does a great job of giving us stats, getting the pitchers together, talking over game plans, hitters’ approaches and how we’re going to transfer that over to the game, so he’s the main driver in getting us ready.” His work behind the plate hasn’t gone unnoticed by fellow Yellow Jacket Clay. “As soon as he got to Elizabethton, he was far and away a much better catcher than he was at Georgia Tech,” Clay said of his battery mate. “He became unbelievable behind the plate and I love throwing to him.” Murray and his fellow Kernels went through a stretch earlier in the season when they struggled offensively. Runs were rare and that put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff. They’ve pulled out of that rut over the past few weeks and Murray’s bat has been a big reason. He is hitting .333 in May and has a .986 OPS for the month. “I’m definitely feeling more comfortable at the plate and focusing on having consistent at-bats,” Murray said, of his recent success at the plate. He’s quick to point out, however, that he’s not the only hitter in the lineup that’s making a difference. “I think a lot of it has to do with others guys on the team hitting around me. You look at our stats the last couple of weeks, we’ve put up a lot of runs. Everyone’s been hitting well, so I think it’s contagious. When you’re getting on base, it puts pressure on the pitcher, and then hitting in the middle of the lineup, hitting behind LaMonte (Wade), (Luis) Arraez, guys like that getting on base a lot.” Like Murray, Clay has also had to make some adjustments to the professional game. In college, Clay worked out of the bullpen and, in fact, he began the 2015 season as a member of the Kernels’ relief corps. Things didn’t go terribly well for Clay, however, in his first tour with Cedar Rapids, and he was sent down to Elizabethton. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Clay16f9x6-600x400.jpgSam Clay“Last year was a little bit of a struggle,” Clay recalled. “I started off up here in the bullpen and I had a lot of trouble finding the plate, so they kind of pigeon-holed me into throwing basically strictly fastballs and one off-speed (pitch), whichever was working for me that day, so hitters were looking for one of two pitches. “Once I got sent down, I had one or two weeks in the bullpen and then they turned me into a starter when one of our guys went down. It gave me a chance to get up there and throw all of my pitches and really learn how to pitch instead of just going up there and throwing the ball.” Clay has taken to the conversion to a starting pitcher very well. He and righthander Randy LeBlanc have combined to form a powerful left-right combination at the top of the Kernels’ rotation. Combined, the two have made 15 starts and evenly split just 10 combined earned runs surrendered. Neither pitcher has given up a home run this season. Making the switch to starting pitcher did mean some adjustments for Clay in the offseason. “They pretty much had me being a starter, so I knew that going into the offseason, what I needed to work on conditioning-wise and weight training wise,” he said. “So I really kind of got after it this offseason and just worked harder than I probably ever have. “I lived with my parents in the offseason and I would probably lift weights four times a week. I didn’t really pick up a ball, because I threw a lot of innings last year compared to what I usually would as a reliever. So I didn’t really pick up a ball until probably January and January in Georgia is pretty cold. "It probably got me ready for the first month here (in Iowa),” Clay added, with a smile. Once he was ready to start throwing, however, Clay still had challenges to overcome – such as finding someone to throw with. “Probably the first two or three weeks I was throwing I didn’t have anybody to throw with, so I was throwing long toss into a screen. Not very fun,” he remembered. “But I was lucky, I had one of my friends from high school, Jake Burnette, he’s playing for the Pirates organization (7th round pick in 2011), I got together with him and was able to throw with him for the rest of the offseason.” As minor league seasons approach their midpoints toward mid-to-late June, it would be understandable for players performing as well as Murray and Clay to start peeking at the next rung on their organizational ladder and wondering what more they need to prove to earn a promotion. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ClayHS9x6-600x400.jpgSam ClayClay, however, says he knew coming into the season that he had work to do at this level and he’s not going to let his focus get drawn away from his business at hand. “I knew that I was coming back here as soon as I got to spring training because I didn’t perform that well here when I was here. So I knew I had to come out and really show what I could do - show that I could be a starter, that I could throw against these hitters. “All the Fort Myers starters are doing really well right now so it will be really tough for us to move up, but we can’t really think about them. We have to focus on ourselves.” For now, Clay, Murray and their Cedar Rapids teammates are sitting atop the Midwest League’s Western Division standings and they have four more weeks of work to do in the season’s first half. The top two teams in each division during the first half qualify for the MWL playoffs in September and earning that berth early takes a lot of pressure off for the remainder of the season. Click here to view the article
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