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  1. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-12, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K, SB; .353/.411/.565 (overall) Lewis got the start in center field in Monday’s 11-7 win over Glendale and after reaching base on a fielders choice in the top of the first, proceeded to steal his fifth base before being stranded on second. In the third inning with the Desert Dogs up 2-0, Lewis got the Rafters on the board with an RBI single before his teammates added four more to go up 5-2. Glendale took back the lead 7-5 going into the ninth inning however, but Lewis again sparked his team with an RBI double to make it 7-6 before they tacked on five more for the final of 11-7. It was another fantastic performance for Lewis, but it wasn’t the best one in this game from Twins prospects —we’ll get to that later. After a few days of rest, Lewis was back in center field on Thursday against the Mesa Solar Sox and batting third in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat of the game, but both teams were woefully deficient on offense throughout as this one ended in a 0-0 tie. The teams combined to go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 18 men on base, and struck out 18 times versus just two walks. Finishing out the regular season on Friday against Peoria, Lewis made the start at another new position in the AFL, but you’ll be pleased to learn it was at shortstop. He also batted cleanup in this abbreviated seven inning game and delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning that made the score 5-1 Rafters. As the shortstop, Lewis committed a fielding error on the first batted ball of the game and had only one other opportunity for the rest of it. He had this to say afterwards, as the Rafters still had one more game to go on Saturday: https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1186699172449312770 Lewis ended his impressive AFL season by being named the league’s MVP, adding further hardware to his mantle from an impressive fall campaign. He was named the hitter of the week once and also took home the MVP award during the Fall Stars Game where he hit a home run. He paced the league in hits (30) and runs scored (21) while also ranking top three in doubles (9), RBI (20), total bases (48), batting average (.353), slugging percentage (.565), and OPS (.975). If you have found yourself unimpressed with Lewis after the regular minor league season in which he admittedly struggled, my advice now is to get over it. This was the most outstanding showing by a Minnesota Twins prospect in the Arizona Fall League since I’ve been recapping it in this fashion as a blogger, which was long before your favorite website Twins Daily came into existence. Get excited, because no matter what position Lewis shows up in the majors at, he’s going to be an impact player. Don’t just take my word for it either: https://twitter.com/BerniePleskoff/status/1188138808740462592 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K; 1-2, 5.09 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made his final start of regular season play in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs, finishing 3 2/3 innings. He allowed single runs in each of the first and second frames on RBI doubles before tossing a scoreless third inning after his offense gave him a 5-2 lead. Back out for the fourth a solo home run cut the lead to two and he walked a batter before picking up a strikeout to end his day. He mixed in four total strikeouts that pushed his total on the season to 25 in 17 2/3 innings to lead the Rafters staff. He threw 71 pitches on the game, with 42 going for strikes (59%). There was both good-to-great and bad-to-worse outings on Chalmers ledger during the AFL season, but after throwing just 34 2/3 innings in 2018 in his return from Tommy John surgery it’s hard to view his AFL performance as anything but positive. He showed a consistent high-90’s fastball and swing and miss breaking ball, and when he had command of them was dominant. That’s nothing new in relation to his prospect profile, but it was a solid step toward the 2020 season which will tell a lot more as he distances himself further from his surgery. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) While a knee injury Rortvedt had been playing with during the latter portion of the 2019 season ultimately put an end to his time in the AFL. Before that he had continued to showcase his defensive chops as a catcher while also bringing an improved bat. He’ll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and after reaching Double-A in 2019 will be looking to solidify his place near the top of the minor league depth chart among Twins catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 3-for-10, R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K; .244/.312/.439 (overall) After an impressive week 5 showing, Raley continued his emergence in the first game of week 6 with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate that out-shined his MVP teammate as alluded to above. His two hits included a two-RBI single in the third that made it 5-2 at the time, then his three-run home run in the ninth punctuated a six-run inning for the Rafters as they went back ahead for good 11-7. He also drew a walk in the sixth inning with the score tied at five, but while attempting to score the go-ahead run from third on a grounder he was thrown out at home. In Thursday’s 0-0 pitching duel with Mesa, Raley batted sixth in the lineup and was in right field. He finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout but reached base in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch. Closing out the regular season on Friday against the Javelinas Raley batted fifth behind Lewis and also finished 1-for-3. His single led off the second inning against top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley and the inning ended with him stranded on third. After missing several months of the minor league season due to an ankle injury, the AFL was mostly about making up time for Raley. It took him some time to get going but when he did, he was a force in the Rafters lineup. Over his final 10 games he had at least one hit in eight of them, and they included two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. His OPS in that time frame was over 1.000 as he slashed .333/.400/.639. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December, I expect Raley will get protected and should debut with the Twins at some point during the 2020 season. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, K; 0-1, 6.55 ERA, 2.09 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw his final action of the AFL season in Monday’s victory over Glendale, but it didn’t end as he probably would have liked. Coming on in relief of Chalmers in the fourth inning, Gomez inherited a runner in scoring position and walked his first batter before getting a ground out to keep his team up by two runs. Back out for the fifth inning Gomez got the first two hitters before trouble began to brew. He would walk the next three hitters to load the bases and end his outing. Two of those runners ended up coming around to score after his exit, to tie the game at five. After a fantastic minor league season that saw him come in third in Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting, Gomez got a nice reward and challenge by being sent to the AFL after spending less than half of the year in Fort Myers. While his 15 strikeouts in 11 total innings was nice, he also allowed runs in six of nine appearances and gave up nine free passes. I’d project he’ll start the 2020 season back with the Miracle, but if he shows improved command could again find himself promoted midsummer. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 0-1, 7.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Moran’s final appearance of the AFL season came in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Glendale when he entered the game to start the eighth inning with the Desert Dogs up 6-4. The left-hander delivered a one-two-three inning, striking out two in the process to end his season on a high note. He needed just twelve pitches and got both of those K’s on 94 MPH fastballs that hitters swung through near the top of the zone. Moran’s showing in the AFL was very similar to Gomez’s, in that he racked up strikeouts (14 in nine total innings) but also gave up walks and runs in bunches. His final outing this week was the first on the season that he did not issue at least one walk. Moran pitched with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for all of the 2019 season but did miss a few months during the summer with two separate trips to the injured list. He made up some innings in the AFL, but I’d expect him to be back with Pensacola at the start of the 2020 season looking to rediscover his magic from 2018. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, H; 1-0, 1 Save, 1.38 ERA, 0.54 WHIP (overall) Neff was called upon two more times in the season’s final week, appearing in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs and Thursday’s tie against the Solar Sox. In Monday’s contest Neff was summoned with two outs in the fifth inning after Gomez had loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. He allowed a two-run single to the first batter he faced that tied the game at five, but then got a lineout to end the inning. Starting clean in the sixth inning, Neff delivered a one-two-three frame, getting two ground outs and an infield pop out on thirteen pitches. He was charged with a blown save for giving up the game-tying hit in the fifth. In Thursday’s scoreless tie, Neff was called upon for the eighth inning and again delivered a one-two-three outing, getting each batter to pop out in the infield and requiring only five pitches to do so. That was the theme for Neff during the AFL season, recording outs in uber-efficient fashion and limiting baserunners. His 0.54 WHIP in league play ranked second on his team, and he recorded 12 strikeouts compared to just one walk in nine appearances and 13 innings pitched. He’s certainly raised his profile with his performance against the top competition of the AFL and will look to continue that into the 2020 season. Perhaps with a bump to Double-A to start the year on the merits of his AFL showing. AFL Championship Game As the East division champions for the second year in a row, the Salt River Rafters had one more game to play on Saturday for all the marbles in the AFL Championship against the West division winning Surprise Saguaros. On the mound to start the game for the Rafters was the Twins very own Dakota Chalmers, and he came out in the first inning determined to give his team his best effort. He needed 24 pitches and had full counts to three of the four hitters in the opening frame, but after walking the first hitter of the game he came back to finish off the next three with strikeouts. In the second he again walked the leadoff man, this time on four pitches, but needed just six more in the inning to get the three outs and keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the third a leadoff walk would finally catch up to him as that batter stole second base and then came around to score on a single and early 1-0 lead for Surprise. After that single Chalmers was lifted and finished with a line of one earned run on one hit and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, along with striking out three. The Rafters lineup picked him up in the top of the fourth however, as they erupted for five runs of their own to put the game out of reach. Royce Lewis led off the inning but grounded out before a hit batter, wild pitch, and single tied the game at one. Luke Raley and Colton Welker then drew walks to load the bases, and two batters later with two outs, Marlins outfield prospect Jerar Encarnacion broke it open with a grand slam and 5-1 lead that would stand until the end. Lewis tallied two hits in five at-bats on the game, including a double in the seventh inning and single to lead off the ninth. After that double in the seventh, Lewis got caught in a rundown between home and third on a comebacker to the pitcher for the inning's second out, but it would not matter. Lewis played third base and batted second in the lineup for the game. Luke Raley started the game in left field and batted fifth in the lineup, finishing 0-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch in the second inning. Raley was on third base when Encarnacion blasted the game-winning grand slam. Reliever Zach Neff also got into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he was brought on to face the left-handed hitting top of the Saguaros lineup with two outs. He allowed a double on a 3-2 breaking ball that he left over the heart of the plate but got the next hitter to chase a fastball out of the zone for an easy ground ball to first. The Rafters then took care of business in the ninth to bring home the hardware! https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1188195897785499648 Congratulations to all of the Minnesota Twins prospects, and those of the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks on a great season and thanks for following along during the AFL season with me! Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB Pipelines AFL Championship Game recap. -The Rafters home complex, Salt River Fields, was home to the automated ball-strike (ABS) system throughout AFL play, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with several players and prospects, including Royce Lewis, on how the system fared during the season. -Pensacola Blue Wahoos Senior Writer Bill Vilona on Royce Lewis and winning the AFL MVP award. -Vilona also caught up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer to recap his dream season that started with the Blue Wahoos. -MLB.com’s Jim Callis details eight players who stood out during the AFL Championship Game. -The Athletic’s Dan Hayes caught up with Royce Lewis to talk about his so-called struggles during the minor league season, his success in the AFL, and what he’ll be doing during the offseason (paywall). Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  2. After having wrapped up their East division title in week five and a place in the Arizona Fall League Championship Game, the Salt River Rafters closed out their regular season with two wins, one loss, and a tie in week six. They finished with the top record in the league at 17-11-1 (.607 winning percentage) and faced the West Division winning Surprise Saguaros on Saturday for the title. To find out how all your #MNTwinsInTheAFL closed out their regular seasons, and how that title game went down, keep reading! (This report includes the games played through 10/26 and the end of the AFL season)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-12, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K, SB; .353/.411/.565 (overall) Lewis got the start in center field in Monday’s 11-7 win over Glendale and after reaching base on a fielders choice in the top of the first, proceeded to steal his fifth base before being stranded on second. In the third inning with the Desert Dogs up 2-0, Lewis got the Rafters on the board with an RBI single before his teammates added four more to go up 5-2. Glendale took back the lead 7-5 going into the ninth inning however, but Lewis again sparked his team with an RBI double to make it 7-6 before they tacked on five more for the final of 11-7. It was another fantastic performance for Lewis, but it wasn’t the best one in this game from Twins prospects —we’ll get to that later. After a few days of rest, Lewis was back in center field on Thursday against the Mesa Solar Sox and batting third in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat of the game, but both teams were woefully deficient on offense throughout as this one ended in a 0-0 tie. The teams combined to go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 18 men on base, and struck out 18 times versus just two walks. Finishing out the regular season on Friday against Peoria, Lewis made the start at another new position in the AFL, but you’ll be pleased to learn it was at shortstop. He also batted cleanup in this abbreviated seven inning game and delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning that made the score 5-1 Rafters. As the shortstop, Lewis committed a fielding error on the first batted ball of the game and had only one other opportunity for the rest of it. He had this to say afterwards, as the Rafters still had one more game to go on Saturday: Lewis ended his impressive AFL season by being named the league’s MVP, adding further hardware to his mantle from an impressive fall campaign. He was named the hitter of the week once and also took home the MVP award during the Fall Stars Game where he hit a home run. He paced the league in hits (30) and runs scored (21) while also ranking top three in doubles (9), RBI (20), total bases (48), batting average (.353), slugging percentage (.565), and OPS (.975). If you have found yourself unimpressed with Lewis after the regular minor league season in which he admittedly struggled, my advice now is to get over it. This was the most outstanding showing by a Minnesota Twins prospect in the Arizona Fall League since I’ve been recapping it in this fashion as a blogger, which was long before your favorite website Twins Daily came into existence. Get excited, because no matter what position Lewis shows up in the majors at, he’s going to be an impact player. Don’t just take my word for it either: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K; 1-2, 5.09 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made his final start of regular season play in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs, finishing 3 2/3 innings. He allowed single runs in each of the first and second frames on RBI doubles before tossing a scoreless third inning after his offense gave him a 5-2 lead. Back out for the fourth a solo home run cut the lead to two and he walked a batter before picking up a strikeout to end his day. He mixed in four total strikeouts that pushed his total on the season to 25 in 17 2/3 innings to lead the Rafters staff. He threw 71 pitches on the game, with 42 going for strikes (59%). There was both good-to-great and bad-to-worse outings on Chalmers ledger during the AFL season, but after throwing just 34 2/3 innings in 2018 in his return from Tommy John surgery it’s hard to view his AFL performance as anything but positive. He showed a consistent high-90’s fastball and swing and miss breaking ball, and when he had command of them was dominant. That’s nothing new in relation to his prospect profile, but it was a solid step toward the 2020 season which will tell a lot more as he distances himself further from his surgery. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) While a knee injury Rortvedt had been playing with during the latter portion of the 2019 season ultimately put an end to his time in the AFL. Before that he had continued to showcase his defensive chops as a catcher while also bringing an improved bat. He’ll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and after reaching Double-A in 2019 will be looking to solidify his place near the top of the minor league depth chart among Twins catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 3-for-10, R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K; .244/.312/.439 (overall) After an impressive week 5 showing, Raley continued his emergence in the first game of week 6 with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate that out-shined his MVP teammate as alluded to above. His two hits included a two-RBI single in the third that made it 5-2 at the time, then his three-run home run in the ninth punctuated a six-run inning for the Rafters as they went back ahead for good 11-7. He also drew a walk in the sixth inning with the score tied at five, but while attempting to score the go-ahead run from third on a grounder he was thrown out at home. In Thursday’s 0-0 pitching duel with Mesa, Raley batted sixth in the lineup and was in right field. He finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout but reached base in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch. Closing out the regular season on Friday against the Javelinas Raley batted fifth behind Lewis and also finished 1-for-3. His single led off the second inning against top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley and the inning ended with him stranded on third. After missing several months of the minor league season due to an ankle injury, the AFL was mostly about making up time for Raley. It took him some time to get going but when he did, he was a force in the Rafters lineup. Over his final 10 games he had at least one hit in eight of them, and they included two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. His OPS in that time frame was over 1.000 as he slashed .333/.400/.639. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December, I expect Raley will get protected and should debut with the Twins at some point during the 2020 season. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, K; 0-1, 6.55 ERA, 2.09 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw his final action of the AFL season in Monday’s victory over Glendale, but it didn’t end as he probably would have liked. Coming on in relief of Chalmers in the fourth inning, Gomez inherited a runner in scoring position and walked his first batter before getting a ground out to keep his team up by two runs. Back out for the fifth inning Gomez got the first two hitters before trouble began to brew. He would walk the next three hitters to load the bases and end his outing. Two of those runners ended up coming around to score after his exit, to tie the game at five. After a fantastic minor league season that saw him come in third in Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting, Gomez got a nice reward and challenge by being sent to the AFL after spending less than half of the year in Fort Myers. While his 15 strikeouts in 11 total innings was nice, he also allowed runs in six of nine appearances and gave up nine free passes. I’d project he’ll start the 2020 season back with the Miracle, but if he shows improved command could again find himself promoted midsummer. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 0-1, 7.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Moran’s final appearance of the AFL season came in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Glendale when he entered the game to start the eighth inning with the Desert Dogs up 6-4. The left-hander delivered a one-two-three inning, striking out two in the process to end his season on a high note. He needed just twelve pitches and got both of those K’s on 94 MPH fastballs that hitters swung through near the top of the zone. Moran’s showing in the AFL was very similar to Gomez’s, in that he racked up strikeouts (14 in nine total innings) but also gave up walks and runs in bunches. His final outing this week was the first on the season that he did not issue at least one walk. Moran pitched with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for all of the 2019 season but did miss a few months during the summer with two separate trips to the injured list. He made up some innings in the AFL, but I’d expect him to be back with Pensacola at the start of the 2020 season looking to rediscover his magic from 2018. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, H; 1-0, 1 Save, 1.38 ERA, 0.54 WHIP (overall) Neff was called upon two more times in the season’s final week, appearing in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs and Thursday’s tie against the Solar Sox. In Monday’s contest Neff was summoned with two outs in the fifth inning after Gomez had loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. He allowed a two-run single to the first batter he faced that tied the game at five, but then got a lineout to end the inning. Starting clean in the sixth inning, Neff delivered a one-two-three frame, getting two ground outs and an infield pop out on thirteen pitches. He was charged with a blown save for giving up the game-tying hit in the fifth. In Thursday’s scoreless tie, Neff was called upon for the eighth inning and again delivered a one-two-three outing, getting each batter to pop out in the infield and requiring only five pitches to do so. That was the theme for Neff during the AFL season, recording outs in uber-efficient fashion and limiting baserunners. His 0.54 WHIP in league play ranked second on his team, and he recorded 12 strikeouts compared to just one walk in nine appearances and 13 innings pitched. He’s certainly raised his profile with his performance against the top competition of the AFL and will look to continue that into the 2020 season. Perhaps with a bump to Double-A to start the year on the merits of his AFL showing. AFL Championship Game As the East division champions for the second year in a row, the Salt River Rafters had one more game to play on Saturday for all the marbles in the AFL Championship against the West division winning Surprise Saguaros. On the mound to start the game for the Rafters was the Twins very own Dakota Chalmers, and he came out in the first inning determined to give his team his best effort. He needed 24 pitches and had full counts to three of the four hitters in the opening frame, but after walking the first hitter of the game he came back to finish off the next three with strikeouts. In the second he again walked the leadoff man, this time on four pitches, but needed just six more in the inning to get the three outs and keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the third a leadoff walk would finally catch up to him as that batter stole second base and then came around to score on a single and early 1-0 lead for Surprise. After that single Chalmers was lifted and finished with a line of one earned run on one hit and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, along with striking out three. The Rafters lineup picked him up in the top of the fourth however, as they erupted for five runs of their own to put the game out of reach. Royce Lewis led off the inning but grounded out before a hit batter, wild pitch, and single tied the game at one. Luke Raley and Colton Welker then drew walks to load the bases, and two batters later with two outs, Marlins outfield prospect Jerar Encarnacion broke it open with a grand slam and 5-1 lead that would stand until the end. Lewis tallied two hits in five at-bats on the game, including a double in the seventh inning and single to lead off the ninth. After that double in the seventh, Lewis got caught in a rundown between home and third on a comebacker to the pitcher for the inning's second out, but it would not matter. Lewis played third base and batted second in the lineup for the game. Luke Raley started the game in left field and batted fifth in the lineup, finishing 0-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch in the second inning. Raley was on third base when Encarnacion blasted the game-winning grand slam. Reliever Zach Neff also got into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he was brought on to face the left-handed hitting top of the Saguaros lineup with two outs. He allowed a double on a 3-2 breaking ball that he left over the heart of the plate but got the next hitter to chase a fastball out of the zone for an easy ground ball to first. The Rafters then took care of business in the ninth to bring home the hardware! Congratulations to all of the Minnesota Twins prospects, and those of the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks on a great season and thanks for following along during the AFL season with me! Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB Pipelines AFL Championship Game recap. -The Rafters home complex, Salt River Fields, was home to the automated ball-strike (ABS) system throughout AFL play, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with several players and prospects, including Royce Lewis, on how the system fared during the season. -Pensacola Blue Wahoos Senior Writer Bill Vilona on Royce Lewis and winning the AFL MVP award. -Vilona also caught up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer to recap his dream season that started with the Blue Wahoos. -MLB.com’s Jim Callis details eight players who stood out during the AFL Championship Game. -The Athletic’s Dan Hayes caught up with Royce Lewis to talk about his so-called struggles during the minor league season, his success in the AFL, and what he’ll be doing during the offseason (paywall). Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  3. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall) Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion. In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1184302618157338625 Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game. Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded. After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time. To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall) Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall) Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week. He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat: 2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead. 3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead. 5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River. 7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night. https://twitter.com/JonathanMayo/status/1185760714591367168 In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall) The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out. In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall) Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week. -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday. https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1186706048989585408 -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  4. The Salt River Rafters finished week five of the Arizona Fall League season with a 3-3 record that kept themselves atop the East division standings. After a big week four that saw him collect several accolades, Royce Lewis finally appeared somewhat human, but Luke Raley more than picked up the slack with a monster week that could go a long way toward his 2020 prospects with the big-league club. Dakota Chalmers also had another strong start and reliever Zach Neff continued to baffle his opponents with his savvy. Continue reading to see just how big Raley came up for the Rafters, and how all the #MNTwinsInTheAFL performed in week 5 of the AFL season! (This report includes the games played through 10/20)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall) Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion. In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak: Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game. Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded. After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time. To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall) Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall) Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week. He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat: 2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead. 3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead. 5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River. 7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night. In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall) The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out. In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall) Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week. -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday. -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  5. Week four of the AFL season was likely the most interesting to the casual prospect follower, as it featured the circuit’s all-star showcase on Saturday, where the Minnesota Twins top prospect cemented his status with an MVP performance. In the other games during the week the Salt River Rafters went 2-2 to maintain their lead in the East division. That top prospect also continued an impressive hit streak, while the pitchers were a mixed bag. To find out how all your #MNTwinsInTheAFL prospects performed on the week, keep reading! (This report includes the games played through 10/13)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall) Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday. Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single. While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded. In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game. In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman. While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall) Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth. Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play. Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win. In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall) The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall) Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone. The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner. -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game. -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  6. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall) Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday. Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single. https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1181784345494712321 While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded. In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game. In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1183208852595961858 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman. While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall) Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth. Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play. Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win. In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall) The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall) Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone. The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner. -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game. -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  7. The Salt River Rafters went 4-1 on the week in the Arizona Fall League and enter week four with the best record in the league and with a two-and-a-half game lead in the East division. Royce Lewis continued to stand out as a hitter and got some more time in the outfield on the week, while a starting pitcher also had a fantastic outing while showcasing his big fastball. Multiple Twins prospects were also named to the East roster of the Fall Stars Game that will be played on Saturday at the Rafters home ballpark. Keep reading to find out how all the #MNTwinsInTheAFL fared on the week! (This report includes the games played through 10/6)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall) It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game. He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback. While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7. Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early. With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games. This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall) After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale. He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day. In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall) While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs. Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning. In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall) The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday. He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall) Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts. His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall) Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season. In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field. It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up). -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday: Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  8. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall) It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game. He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback. While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7. Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early. With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games. This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1181784345494712321 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall) After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale. He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day. In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall) While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs. Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning. In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall) The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday. He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall) Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts. His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall) Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season. In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field. It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up). -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1181642442316992512 Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  9. In week 2 of the Arizona Fall League season, the Salt River Rafters went 4-1 to end the week tied atop the East Division standings at 6-4. After coming out scorching hot in the seasons first week, Royce Lewis continued that in week two with his bat while also adding his speed on the basepaths to the display of tools he’s shown thus far in the desert. Along with Lewis, a pitcher may have started making a name for himself with a level of efficiency and dominance on the week that’s quite eye-opening.To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall) Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale. He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended. After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3: In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways. In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward. That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day. He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts. He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching. He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall) Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other. In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one. That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River. Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall) Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame. In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that. Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall) Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa. He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts. On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches. If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with. Other AFL and Minor League Links -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall) -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development) Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  10. To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall) Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale. He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended. After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1178155779427164160 In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways. In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward. That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day. He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts. He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching. He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall) Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other. In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one. That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River. Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall) Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame. In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that. Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall) Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa. He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts. On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches. If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with. Other AFL and Minor League Links -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall) -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development) Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  11. The first week of the AFL season is in the books, and boy was it a good one from one of the games' top prospects. After somewhat of a down year with his bat, Royce Lewis showed there’s still a lot of promise there with multiple big games. He also showed off his defensive chops with a spectacular catch…as an outfielder. In addition to Lewis’ big week, a pitcher also made a strong impression in his first start, and a catcher continued to show why he’s so highly regarded as a defensive backstop.Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall) Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season. Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other. He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run: After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game. In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall) Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall) Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game. In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made. I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall) Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week. In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game. In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall). Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings. He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall). The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out. In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall). The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona. -For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline: Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  12. Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall) Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season. Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other. He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1174876147072425984 After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game. In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run: https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1175947963769774085 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall) Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall) Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game. In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made. I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall) Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week. In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game. In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall). Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings. He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall). The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out. In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall). The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona. -For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1175926873135534080 Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  13. With the minor league seasons (unfortunately) coming to a close for all of the Minnesota Twins’ affiliates, Twins Daily kicked off the final week of minor league coverage with th players of the year series on Sunday. Today we continue by getting to the full season affiliates and the 2019 Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. Previous 2019 Awards: Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year: Matt Wallner Short-Season Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Cody Laweryson Previous Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitchers of the Year: 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger 2017: John Curtiss 2018: Andrew VasquezFor the first time since Twins Daily’s MiLB writers have been voting on this particular award, there wasn’t much of a consensus for the top spot, whereas in the past if it wasn’t unanimous, it was relatively close. All three of the past four winners (one repeated) of this award have also gone on to pitch in the major leagues, so winning the award has been, to a degree, predictive of future success. The system wasn’t littered with as many pure strikeout relievers as they had last year, but there were still several standouts as the MLB bullpen got plenty of reinforcements throughout the year from the minors, including one who appears high on this list. Six Twins Daily Minor League writers voted for the various awards this year. For the relief pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Short profiles of our top five performers are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Tom Hackimer, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 36 Games, 6-2, 1 Save, 2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 56.2 IP, 33 H, 27 BB, 75 K (11.9/9IP)Adam Bray, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 35 Games (9 starts), 4-4, 1 Save, 2.61 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 93.0 IP, 76 H, 26 BB, 83 K (8.0/9IP)Hector Lujan, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 33 Games, 2-4, 6 Saves, 2.76 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 58.2 IP, 57 H, 15 BB, 55 K (8.4/9IP)Melvi Acosta, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 28 Games (8 starts), 7-5, 4 Saves, 3.24 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 86.0 IP, 87 H, 29 BB, 79 K (8.2/9IP)Alex Phillips, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 42 Games (1 start), 5-3, 9 Saves, 2.96 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 67.0 IP, 48 H, 21 BB, 74 K (9.9/9IP)Sam Clay, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 45 Games (1 start), 4-4, 10 Saves, 3.25 ERA, 1.413 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 70 H, 28 BB, 72 K (9.3/9IP)Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Here are the top five vote getters for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. #5 – Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 38 Games (1 start), 6-3, 8 Saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 72.2 IP, 63 H, 24 BB, 89 K (11.0/9IP) Neff was the Minnesota Twins 31st round selection in the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State University after spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Austin Peay University. After signing last year, he reported to the Elizabethton Twins before getting a late bump to finish with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. That’s where he began the 2019 season, and he was dominant with the Kernels, posting a 2.31 ERA and striking out 11.5/9IP through mid-June before being promoted to the Miracle. As to be expected, he wasn’t as good in the Florida State League but still struck out 10.4/9IP and racked up six of his eight saves while finishing the game in 13 of his 19 appearances with Fort Myers. As a left-hander he carried reverse splits on the year, holding righties to a .569 OPS versus .622 from lefties, but (literally) the only difference was in slugging percentage, as his only home run surrendered on the year was to a left-handed hitter. In the monthly awards during the season, Neff received honorable mention once and was #3 for the month of June, where he had a 1.40 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in eight appearances. #4 – Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 26 Games, 2-1, 11 Saves, 2.85 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 41.0 IP, 31 H, 11 BB, 61 K (13.4/9IP) Taken in the 14th round of the 2017 draft, Molina has steadily climbed the ladder in his two full seasons, appearing with Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in 2018, and the Kernels and Miracle this season. At each stop, he’s had great strikeout numbers and ERA’s, but this year he also added control to his game by cutting his walk rate nearly in half from the year prior. After striking out 46 hitters in 29 2/3 innings with the Kernels to start the year, he was promoted to the Miracle to finish his season. If not for a shoulder injury that ended his season on July 12th, he may have been much higher on this list. That’s because what’s truly amazing about Molina’s season, is if you take out the first two games he pitched, and his last, these were his numbers on the year: 0.50 ERA, .183 BAA, .458 OPS allowed, and 53 K’s in 35 2/3 innings pitched. He appeared on the monthly award list in May (#4), and took home the top honor in June. #3 – Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 32 Games, 1-4, 10 Saves, 3.59 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 52.2 IP, 28 H, 21 BB, 78 K (13.3/9IP) I’ll admit I was a little surprised Gomez didn’t appear on more ballots from our voters, but of the three he did, I wasn’t the only one who ranked him #1. What stood out for me is that he maintained a sub-1.00 WHIP while having a K-rate north of 13/9 innings on the season and allowing just a .155 batting average and .507 OPS to opposing hitters. He was even more oppressive to same-sided hitters, holding righties to a .464 OPS and striking out 40.8% of them. He did not throw his first pitch until the calendar turned to May, but from then on, he was a model of consistency along with periods of dominance. In no single month did hitters post a batting average higher than .184 while in the month of June he had a 0.51 WHIP in 15 2/3 innings, and followed that up in July by posting a 1.93 ERA. It’s no coincidence those were the months he appeared on the award lists at #2 and #4 respectively. #2 – Cody Stashak, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings: 33 Games, 7-3, 4 Saves, 3.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 45 H, 9 BB, 74 K (12.5/9IP) After being selected in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns, Stashak began his professional career as a starting pitcher, and a pretty good one at that. Over his first three steps on the organizational ladder he combined to go 19-11 with a 3.28 ERA. But when he made it to Double-A, the Twins shifted him to the bullpen and something crazy happened: his strikeout rate nearly doubled from subpar into elite territory. He set a career high in this number during the 2019 season with his 12.5K/9IP mark, and he rode that from Pensacola all the way up to 12 appearances (to this point) with the Twins. It’s a career path that should remind you a lot of Taylor Rogers’, and that’s definitely something to be excited about. He was especially dominant this season when he reached the Rochester Red Wings and triple-A’s “juiced ball,” which you probably wouldn’t have expected. With the Red Wings he racked up five wins with a 1.44 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 14 games, striking out 34 in 25 innings along the way. During the season he appeared on the monthly award lists in April (#5) and July (#3) #1 – Anthony Vizcaya, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 41 Games (2 starts), 3-3, 11 Saves, 1.82 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 51 H, 30 BB, 83 K (10.0/9IP) For the second year in a row, the winner of this award has the initials “AV,” as Andrew Vasquez took home this award for the 2018 season. Given this recent history, my advice to Twins scouts would be to keep these initials in the back of their mind when scouring the college ranks, independent leagues, and Latin winter leagues for new prospects. Vizcaya got his professional career started in the Cleveland Indians organization, but floundered in rookie ball for two seasons before ending up playing sporadically back home in Venuzuela from 2015 to 2018. Twins pro scout Rafael Yanez liked something he saw from Vizcaya during his 2018 season there and the organization signed him in January. He hit the ground running in Fort Myers, serving as their closer to start the year and picking up seven saves in fifteen appearances before being promoted to Pensacola. He took flight at that point, improving his ERA from 2.22 with the Miracle to 0.78 with the Blue Wahoos. In his last eight appearances in the Florida State League and first six appearances in the Southern League, he pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, .159 BAA, and struck out 34 in 24 1/3 innings along with picking up seven saves. He had only two appearances on the season where he surrendered more than one earned run and closed out the 2019 campaign with another stretch of twelve games where he didn’t allow an earned run and held opponents to a .508 OPS against. As a right-handed pitcher, he also held reverse splits on the year as he was lethal against lefties, holding them to a .152/.259/.202 slash line and only four extra-base hits (zero homers) in 117 plate appearances. He frequented the monthly award lists during the season, appearing on the lists for May (#2), June (honorable mention), and taking home the top honor in August for that stretch mentioned above. Congratulations to Anthony Vizcaya for being named Twins Daily’s 2019 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year and for also making a big impression in his return to affiliated baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization! The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Cody Stashak, 3) Alex Phillips, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Anthony VizcayaCody Christie – 1) Anthony Vizcaya, 2) Alex Phillips, 3) Sam Clay, 4) Zach Neff, 5) Derek MolinaTom Froemming - 1) Cody Stashak, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Zach Neff, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Hector LujanSteve Lein – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Tom Hackimer, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Cody StashakTed Schwerzler – 1) Melvi Acosta, 2) Sam Clay, 3) Adam Bray, 4) Hector Lujan, 5) Moises GomezMatt Braun – 1) Zach Neff, 2) Derek Molina, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Sam Clay, 5) Hector LujanFeel free to discuss! What do you think of our rankings? How would your ballot look? Who did we totally miss out on? Click here to view the article
  14. For the first time since Twins Daily’s MiLB writers have been voting on this particular award, there wasn’t much of a consensus for the top spot, whereas in the past if it wasn’t unanimous, it was relatively close. All three of the past four winners (one repeated) of this award have also gone on to pitch in the major leagues, so winning the award has been, to a degree, predictive of future success. The system wasn’t littered with as many pure strikeout relievers as they had last year, but there were still several standouts as the MLB bullpen got plenty of reinforcements throughout the year from the minors, including one who appears high on this list. Six Twins Daily Minor League writers voted for the various awards this year. For the relief pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Short profiles of our top five performers are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Tom Hackimer, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 36 Games, 6-2, 1 Save, 2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 56.2 IP, 33 H, 27 BB, 75 K (11.9/9IP) Adam Bray, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 35 Games (9 starts), 4-4, 1 Save, 2.61 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 93.0 IP, 76 H, 26 BB, 83 K (8.0/9IP) Hector Lujan, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 33 Games, 2-4, 6 Saves, 2.76 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 58.2 IP, 57 H, 15 BB, 55 K (8.4/9IP) Melvi Acosta, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 28 Games (8 starts), 7-5, 4 Saves, 3.24 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 86.0 IP, 87 H, 29 BB, 79 K (8.2/9IP) Alex Phillips, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos – 42 Games (1 start), 5-3, 9 Saves, 2.96 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 67.0 IP, 48 H, 21 BB, 74 K (9.9/9IP) Sam Clay, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings – 45 Games (1 start), 4-4, 10 Saves, 3.25 ERA, 1.413 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 70 H, 28 BB, 72 K (9.3/9IP) Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Here are the top five vote getters for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. #5 – Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 38 Games (1 start), 6-3, 8 Saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 72.2 IP, 63 H, 24 BB, 89 K (11.0/9IP) Neff was the Minnesota Twins 31st round selection in the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State University after spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Austin Peay University. After signing last year, he reported to the Elizabethton Twins before getting a late bump to finish with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. That’s where he began the 2019 season, and he was dominant with the Kernels, posting a 2.31 ERA and striking out 11.5/9IP through mid-June before being promoted to the Miracle. As to be expected, he wasn’t as good in the Florida State League but still struck out 10.4/9IP and racked up six of his eight saves while finishing the game in 13 of his 19 appearances with Fort Myers. As a left-hander he carried reverse splits on the year, holding righties to a .569 OPS versus .622 from lefties, but (literally) the only difference was in slugging percentage, as his only home run surrendered on the year was to a left-handed hitter. In the monthly awards during the season, Neff received honorable mention once and was #3 for the month of June, where he had a 1.40 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in eight appearances. #4 – Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 26 Games, 2-1, 11 Saves, 2.85 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 41.0 IP, 31 H, 11 BB, 61 K (13.4/9IP) Taken in the 14th round of the 2017 draft, Molina has steadily climbed the ladder in his two full seasons, appearing with Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in 2018, and the Kernels and Miracle this season. At each stop, he’s had great strikeout numbers and ERA’s, but this year he also added control to his game by cutting his walk rate nearly in half from the year prior. After striking out 46 hitters in 29 2/3 innings with the Kernels to start the year, he was promoted to the Miracle to finish his season. If not for a shoulder injury that ended his season on July 12th, he may have been much higher on this list. That’s because what’s truly amazing about Molina’s season, is if you take out the first two games he pitched, and his last, these were his numbers on the year: 0.50 ERA, .183 BAA, .458 OPS allowed, and 53 K’s in 35 2/3 innings pitched. He appeared on the monthly award list in May (#4), and took home the top honor in June. #3 – Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 32 Games, 1-4, 10 Saves, 3.59 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 52.2 IP, 28 H, 21 BB, 78 K (13.3/9IP) I’ll admit I was a little surprised Gomez didn’t appear on more ballots from our voters, but of the three he did, I wasn’t the only one who ranked him #1. What stood out for me is that he maintained a sub-1.00 WHIP while having a K-rate north of 13/9 innings on the season and allowing just a .155 batting average and .507 OPS to opposing hitters. He was even more oppressive to same-sided hitters, holding righties to a .464 OPS and striking out 40.8% of them. He did not throw his first pitch until the calendar turned to May, but from then on, he was a model of consistency along with periods of dominance. In no single month did hitters post a batting average higher than .184 while in the month of June he had a 0.51 WHIP in 15 2/3 innings, and followed that up in July by posting a 1.93 ERA. It’s no coincidence those were the months he appeared on the award lists at #2 and #4 respectively. #2 – Cody Stashak, Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings: 33 Games, 7-3, 4 Saves, 3.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 45 H, 9 BB, 74 K (12.5/9IP) After being selected in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns, Stashak began his professional career as a starting pitcher, and a pretty good one at that. Over his first three steps on the organizational ladder he combined to go 19-11 with a 3.28 ERA. But when he made it to Double-A, the Twins shifted him to the bullpen and something crazy happened: his strikeout rate nearly doubled from subpar into elite territory. He set a career high in this number during the 2019 season with his 12.5K/9IP mark, and he rode that from Pensacola all the way up to 12 appearances (to this point) with the Twins. It’s a career path that should remind you a lot of Taylor Rogers’, and that’s definitely something to be excited about. He was especially dominant this season when he reached the Rochester Red Wings and triple-A’s “juiced ball,” which you probably wouldn’t have expected. With the Red Wings he racked up five wins with a 1.44 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 14 games, striking out 34 in 25 innings along the way. During the season he appeared on the monthly award lists in April (#5) and July (#3) #1 – Anthony Vizcaya, Fort Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 41 Games (2 starts), 3-3, 11 Saves, 1.82 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 51 H, 30 BB, 83 K (10.0/9IP) For the second year in a row, the winner of this award has the initials “AV,” as Andrew Vasquez took home this award for the 2018 season. Given this recent history, my advice to Twins scouts would be to keep these initials in the back of their mind when scouring the college ranks, independent leagues, and Latin winter leagues for new prospects. Vizcaya got his professional career started in the Cleveland Indians organization, but floundered in rookie ball for two seasons before ending up playing sporadically back home in Venuzuela from 2015 to 2018. Twins pro scout Rafael Yanez liked something he saw from Vizcaya during his 2018 season there and the organization signed him in January. He hit the ground running in Fort Myers, serving as their closer to start the year and picking up seven saves in fifteen appearances before being promoted to Pensacola. He took flight at that point, improving his ERA from 2.22 with the Miracle to 0.78 with the Blue Wahoos. In his last eight appearances in the Florida State League and first six appearances in the Southern League, he pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, .159 BAA, and struck out 34 in 24 1/3 innings along with picking up seven saves. He had only two appearances on the season where he surrendered more than one earned run and closed out the 2019 campaign with another stretch of twelve games where he didn’t allow an earned run and held opponents to a .508 OPS against. As a right-handed pitcher, he also held reverse splits on the year as he was lethal against lefties, holding them to a .152/.259/.202 slash line and only four extra-base hits (zero homers) in 117 plate appearances. He frequented the monthly award lists during the season, appearing on the lists for May (#2), June (honorable mention), and taking home the top honor in August for that stretch mentioned above. Congratulations to Anthony Vizcaya for being named Twins Daily’s 2019 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year and for also making a big impression in his return to affiliated baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization! The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Cody Stashak, 3) Alex Phillips, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Anthony Vizcaya Cody Christie – 1) Anthony Vizcaya, 2) Alex Phillips, 3) Sam Clay, 4) Zach Neff, 5) Derek Molina Tom Froemming - 1) Cody Stashak, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Zach Neff, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Hector Lujan Steve Lein – 1) Moises Gomez, 2) Anthony Vizcaya, 3) Tom Hackimer, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Cody Stashak Ted Schwerzler – 1) Melvi Acosta, 2) Sam Clay, 3) Adam Bray, 4) Hector Lujan, 5) Moises Gomez Matt Braun – 1) Zach Neff, 2) Derek Molina, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Sam Clay, 5) Hector Lujan Feel free to discuss! What do you think of our rankings? How would your ballot look? Who did we totally miss out on?
  15. Over the weekend, we handed out our choices for the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Lewin Diaz) and Starting Pitcher of the Month (Jordan Balazovic). Today, we will discuss the relief pitchers. Which bullpen arms had a strong June? Previous 2019 Relief Pitchers of the Month: April: Ryan Mason, Pensacola Blue Wahoos May: Hector Lujan, Ft. Myers MiracleBefore we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in June, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 2.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 21.1 IP, 21 H, 4 BB, 18 K (.266/706)Melvi Acosta - Ft. Myers Miracle - 5 G, 2 GS, 2.20 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 16 K (.203/550)Ryan Eades - Rochester Red Wings -8 G, 2.35 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 21 K (.276/723)Anthony Vizcaya - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 1 GS, 0.53 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 18 K (.158/.529)THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Alex Phillips - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K Phillips finished up a long and windy college career at Baylor last June. It started at Arkansas but Tommy John surgery cost him about two seasons. He went to Baylor and pitched well yet still went undrafted. The Twins signed him very late last year and he helped the Miracle to an FSL title. The 24-year-old has spent most of this season dominating the Florida State League again. In fact, his June numbers are a little higher than his Miracle season numbers. He spent a couple of weeks pitching well in Pensacola in May. Opponents hit just .205 off of him this month with a .528 OPS. He pitched in the Florida State League All-Star game in June as well. #3 - Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1 GS, 1.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 24 K After three years at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State in 2018. The Twins made him their 31st-round pick in 2018. He spent time in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids last year. He began 2019 with the Kernels and pitched very well. He was even better in June which earned him a promotion to Ft. Myers. Neff doesn’t throw real hard, but the lefty finds a way to avoid hard contact. #2 - Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 2.30 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 7 H, 1 BB, 22 K Gomez is in his sixth season in the organization. Seems like he has been around forever and yet he is still just 22. He has been a work-in-progress all along, but in June, he put together a month to get noticed. Look again. One walk. 22 strikeouts. That is a pretty good ratio. Along with not walking anyone, he didn’t give up many hits either. Opponents hit just .132 with a .412 OPS off of him in the month. Overall this season, Gomez has 12 walks and 43 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Derek Molina - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 23 K Derek Molina began his college career at Cal-St. Nortridge, and he got some at-bats and did some pitching as a freshman. Wanting to play more, he transferred to Merced College where he was the team’s primary shortstop but also was a late-inning reliever. It was on the mound where he impressed Twins scouts (and scouts from other teams).They saw a strong, live arm with potential for good secondary pitches. The Twins drafted him in the 14th round of the 2017 draft. Now a pro ballplayer, Molina was ready for a career solely on the mound. He has been moved fairly patiently. He has had some moments where his control eludes him, but his progress has been steady. And so far in 2019, and especially in June, he’s been lights out. Mid-month, he had earned his promotion and continued to pitch very well. He has worked one inning, two innings or most recently three innings out of the bullpen. Overall in 2019, Molina had 57 strikeouts, and just ten walks, over 37 2/3 innings. Molina is a very good athlete, and as you would expect, he fields his position very well. While he may not be a household name, he is definitely an intriguing arm to watch over the next couple of seasons. As you can see, there were a few really strong relief pitcher performances in June. There guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Derek Molina, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2019. Click here to view the article
  16. Before we get to our Top 4 relievers in the Twins system in June, here are several Honorable Mentions. Adam Bray - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 7 G, 2.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 21.1 IP, 21 H, 4 BB, 18 K (.266/706) Melvi Acosta - Ft. Myers Miracle - 5 G, 2 GS, 2.20 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 16 K (.203/550) Ryan Eades - Rochester Red Wings -8 G, 2.35 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 21 K (.276/723) Anthony Vizcaya - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 1 GS, 0.53 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 9 H, 10 BB, 18 K (.158/.529) THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - Alex Phillips - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 13 K Phillips finished up a long and windy college career at Baylor last June. It started at Arkansas but Tommy John surgery cost him about two seasons. He went to Baylor and pitched well yet still went undrafted. The Twins signed him very late last year and he helped the Miracle to an FSL title. The 24-year-old has spent most of this season dominating the Florida State League again. In fact, his June numbers are a little higher than his Miracle season numbers. He spent a couple of weeks pitching well in Pensacola in May. Opponents hit just .205 off of him this month with a .528 OPS. He pitched in the Florida State League All-Star game in June as well. #3 - Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1 GS, 1.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 24 K After three years at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State in 2018. The Twins made him their 31st-round pick in 2018. He spent time in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids last year. He began 2019 with the Kernels and pitched very well. He was even better in June which earned him a promotion to Ft. Myers. Neff doesn’t throw real hard, but the lefty finds a way to avoid hard contact. #2 - Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 2.30 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 7 H, 1 BB, 22 K Gomez is in his sixth season in the organization. Seems like he has been around forever and yet he is still just 22. He has been a work-in-progress all along, but in June, he put together a month to get noticed. Look again. One walk. 22 strikeouts. That is a pretty good ratio. Along with not walking anyone, he didn’t give up many hits either. Opponents hit just .132 with a .412 OPS off of him in the month. Overall this season, Gomez has 12 walks and 43 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – RHP Derek Molina - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 23 K Derek Molina began his college career at Cal-St. Nortridge, and he got some at-bats and did some pitching as a freshman. Wanting to play more, he transferred to Merced College where he was the team’s primary shortstop but also was a late-inning reliever. It was on the mound where he impressed Twins scouts (and scouts from other teams).They saw a strong, live arm with potential for good secondary pitches. The Twins drafted him in the 14th round of the 2017 draft. Now a pro ballplayer, Molina was ready for a career solely on the mound. He has been moved fairly patiently. He has had some moments where his control eludes him, but his progress has been steady. And so far in 2019, and especially in June, he’s been lights out. Mid-month, he had earned his promotion and continued to pitch very well. He has worked one inning, two innings or most recently three innings out of the bullpen. Overall in 2019, Molina had 57 strikeouts, and just ten walks, over 37 2/3 innings. Molina is a very good athlete, and as you would expect, he fields his position very well. While he may not be a household name, he is definitely an intriguing arm to watch over the next couple of seasons. As you can see, there were a few really strong relief pitcher performances in June. There guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Derek Molina, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2019.
  17. Willians Astudillo and Jake Cave both spent time with the Twins this season. It’s also looking more and more like these two are going to try and hit their way back onto the Twins roster. Cave was named the team’s Minor League Hitter of the Week and La Tortuga has been almost impossible to get out since he was sent to Rochester. Would either player help the Red Wings to victory on Sunday?TRANSACTIONS RHP Cody Stashak promoted to Rochester from Pensacola. RHP Randy Dobnak transferred to Pensacola from Rochester. IF Randy Cesar transferred to Pensacola from Rochester. IF Ryan Costello transferred to Fort Myers from Pensacola. LHP J.T. Perez promoted to Cedar Rapids from Elizabethton. RHP Frandy Torres promoted to Cedar Rapids from GCL Twins. RHP Brian Rapp placed on the 7-day IL (lower back strain). IF Hunter Lee transferred to Elizabethton from Fort Myers. RHP Tyler Palm transferred to Elizabethton from Cedar Rapids. AWARDS The Twins announced their weekly Hitter and Pitcher of the Week: Hitter of the Week: Jake Cave, RochesterCave played in eight games for the Red Wings this week, hitting .417 (15-for-36) with seven doubles, two triples, one home run and nine RBI, which included a four-double game on Thursday at Syracuse. Since being optioned from Minnesota in mid-May, Cave has played in 27 games for the Red Wings, hitting .294 (32-for-109) with 11 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 21 RBI and a .861 OPS.Pitcher of the Week: Sean Poppen, RochesterPoppen started two games this week for the Red Wings, going 1-0, 0.75 ERA (12.0 IP, 1 ER) with five walks and 13 strikeouts. Poppen, 25, was selected by the Twins in the 19th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Harvard. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 5, Pawtucket 3 Box Score Rochester fell into an early hole as Chase De Jong allowed a first inning run to the Red Sox. He was able to settle in from there as he didn’t allow another run in his five innings pitched. He struck out one and walked one. The Red Wings offense took a little time to get going. In the third, Drew Maggi singled and Luis Arraez walked to put a runner in scoring position. Willians Astudillo singled to drive in Maggi and Rochester had tied the game at 1-1. Jake Cave wasn’t going to take his award lightly. He cracked his fourth home run of the season in the top of the sixth to put the Red Wings up 2-1. The eighth inning might have been the most important one for the Red Wings and they did all their damage with two outs. Nick Gordon started the damage with a single to right. La Tortuga stepped to the plate and crushed a two-run bomb. Rochester would win by two and this home run was the difference. Jake Reed was credited with his second win after he allowed one run, a home run, in two innings. He stuck out one and walked two. In one inning of work, D.J. Baxendale surrendered one run, a solo home run, but he struck out two. Zack Littell earned his first save with a perfect ninth inning where he struck out two. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 0, Tennessee 8 Box Score For Jorge Alcala, it was not his day. He allowed four first inning runs as he struggled to make it through three innings of work. Overall, he allowed five runs on five hits with a strikeout and a walk. Anthony Vizcaya took over for Alcala and struggled with his control. He walked three batters in 1 2/3 innings, but he only allowed one hit and he collected a pair of strikeouts. Pensacola had little offense to write home about. The team left eight runners on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The team didn’t collect a walk in the entire game and not a single batter was able to register multiple hits. Jimmy Kerrigan had the only extra-base hit, a double. Williams Ramirez allowed one run in 2/3 of an inning. He struck out one and walked one. Zack Weiss was charged with pitching the final 2 2/3 inning of the game. He allowed two runs on five hits with four strike outs and two walks. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 0, Jupiter 8 Box Score Fort Myers struggled to find any offense in this one as the club was held to three hits. Michael Helman had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double. Trevor Larnach and Aaron Whitefield both went 1-for-4. With the hit, Larnach extended his hitting streak to eight games. Overall, the club left seven men on base but had only three opportunities to bat with runners in scoring position. Edwar Colina took the loss but he pitched well. In seven innings, he allowed three runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking one. He continued to reach triple digits with his fastball. Calvin Faucher ran into some issues later in the game. He allowed five runs in his two innings on the mound. Fort Myers currently sits in first place in the Florida State League South Division. The Miracle hold a 1.0 game lead over Bradenton and a 1.5 game lead over Palm Beach. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 7, Peoria 2 (Game 1- 7 Innings) Box Score Cedar Rapids scored six runs in the game’s final three innings to come out victorious. Yeltsin Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Wander Javier reached base three times while scoring a run and driving in a run. Andrew Bechtold had an interesting day. He scored two runs without recording a hit because he walked in all four plate appearances. Andrew Cabezas went five innings and didn’t allow an earned run. He struck out five and walked two. Moises Gomez finished the final two innings. He allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Cedar Rapids 1, Peoria 2 (Game 2- 7 Innings) Box Score The Kernels couldn’t find the big hit in the second game of the double-header. Cedar Rapids went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left four men on base. Ricky Del La Torre had the team’s only run, a solo home run in the sixth inning. Peoria quickly answered back with the game-winning run in the bottom of the frame. Zach Neff struck out six batters in five innings of work. He limited Peoria to one run on three hits. Frandy Torres took the loss as he allowed the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth. He walked two and struck out one in his inning of work. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids (5.0 IP, ER, 3 H, 6 K, 0 BB) TD Hitter of the Day- Willians Astudillo, Rochester (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – 0-4 #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) – Injured list #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) – Injured list #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 1-3, BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 3-6, RBI, R, BB, 2 K #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – 1-3, BB, K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) – Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – Tommy John surgery, out for the year #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – 1-4, R, 2 K #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) – Injured list #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – Did not play #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) – 0-4, K #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 1-4, RBI, BB, K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – 1.0 IP, SV, 2 K #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 1-4, RBI #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, K, BB #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 0-3, 3 K, BB MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester – Scheduled Off-Day Pensacola @ Biloxi (6:35 CST) – RHP Andro Cutura (1-2, 4.45 ERA) Fort Myers @ Tampa (3:30 CST) – TBD Fort Myers @ Tampa (Game 2) – TBD Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (11:05 AM CST) – RHP Kai-Wei Teng (0-0, 4.91 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games. Click here to view the article
  18. TRANSACTIONS RHP Cody Stashak promoted to Rochester from Pensacola. RHP Randy Dobnak transferred to Pensacola from Rochester. IF Randy Cesar transferred to Pensacola from Rochester. IF Ryan Costello transferred to Fort Myers from Pensacola. LHP J.T. Perez promoted to Cedar Rapids from Elizabethton. RHP Frandy Torres promoted to Cedar Rapids from GCL Twins. RHP Brian Rapp placed on the 7-day IL (lower back strain). IF Hunter Lee transferred to Elizabethton from Fort Myers. RHP Tyler Palm transferred to Elizabethton from Cedar Rapids. AWARDS The Twins announced their weekly Hitter and Pitcher of the Week: Hitter of the Week: Jake Cave, Rochester Cave played in eight games for the Red Wings this week, hitting .417 (15-for-36) with seven doubles, two triples, one home run and nine RBI, which included a four-double game on Thursday at Syracuse. Since being optioned from Minnesota in mid-May, Cave has played in 27 games for the Red Wings, hitting .294 (32-for-109) with 11 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 21 RBI and a .861 OPS. Pitcher of the Week: Sean Poppen, Rochester Poppen started two games this week for the Red Wings, going 1-0, 0.75 ERA (12.0 IP, 1 ER) with five walks and 13 strikeouts. Poppen, 25, was selected by the Twins in the 19th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Harvard. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 5, Pawtucket 3 Box Score Rochester fell into an early hole as Chase De Jong allowed a first inning run to the Red Sox. He was able to settle in from there as he didn’t allow another run in his five innings pitched. He struck out one and walked one. The Red Wings offense took a little time to get going. In the third, Drew Maggi singled and Luis Arraez walked to put a runner in scoring position. Willians Astudillo singled to drive in Maggi and Rochester had tied the game at 1-1. Jake Cave wasn’t going to take his award lightly. He cracked his fourth home run of the season in the top of the sixth to put the Red Wings up 2-1. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1137793690783703043 The eighth inning might have been the most important one for the Red Wings and they did all their damage with two outs. Nick Gordon started the damage with a single to right. La Tortuga stepped to the plate and crushed a two-run bomb. Rochester would win by two and this home run was the difference. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/1137885369364570113 Jake Reed was credited with his second win after he allowed one run, a home run, in two innings. He stuck out one and walked two. In one inning of work, D.J. Baxendale surrendered one run, a solo home run, but he struck out two. Zack Littell earned his first save with a perfect ninth inning where he struck out two. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 0, Tennessee 8 Box Score For Jorge Alcala, it was not his day. He allowed four first inning runs as he struggled to make it through three innings of work. Overall, he allowed five runs on five hits with a strikeout and a walk. Anthony Vizcaya took over for Alcala and struggled with his control. He walked three batters in 1 2/3 innings, but he only allowed one hit and he collected a pair of strikeouts. Pensacola had little offense to write home about. The team left eight runners on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The team didn’t collect a walk in the entire game and not a single batter was able to register multiple hits. Jimmy Kerrigan had the only extra-base hit, a double. Williams Ramirez allowed one run in 2/3 of an inning. He struck out one and walked one. Zack Weiss was charged with pitching the final 2 2/3 inning of the game. He allowed two runs on five hits with four strike outs and two walks. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 0, Jupiter 8 Box Score Fort Myers struggled to find any offense in this one as the club was held to three hits. Michael Helman had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double. Trevor Larnach and Aaron Whitefield both went 1-for-4. With the hit, Larnach extended his hitting streak to eight games. Overall, the club left seven men on base but had only three opportunities to bat with runners in scoring position. Edwar Colina took the loss but he pitched well. In seven innings, he allowed three runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking one. He continued to reach triple digits with his fastball. Calvin Faucher ran into some issues later in the game. He allowed five runs in his two innings on the mound. https://twitter.com/JimCrikket/status/1137788134085877762 Fort Myers currently sits in first place in the Florida State League South Division. The Miracle hold a 1.0 game lead over Bradenton and a 1.5 game lead over Palm Beach. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 7, Peoria 2 (Game 1- 7 Innings) Box Score Cedar Rapids scored six runs in the game’s final three innings to come out victorious. Yeltsin Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Wander Javier reached base three times while scoring a run and driving in a run. Andrew Bechtold had an interesting day. He scored two runs without recording a hit because he walked in all four plate appearances. Andrew Cabezas went five innings and didn’t allow an earned run. He struck out five and walked two. Moises Gomez finished the final two innings. He allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Cedar Rapids 1, Peoria 2 (Game 2- 7 Innings) Box Score The Kernels couldn’t find the big hit in the second game of the double-header. Cedar Rapids went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left four men on base. Ricky Del La Torre had the team’s only run, a solo home run in the sixth inning. Peoria quickly answered back with the game-winning run in the bottom of the frame. Zach Neff struck out six batters in five innings of work. He limited Peoria to one run on three hits. Frandy Torres took the loss as he allowed the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth. He walked two and struck out one in his inning of work. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids (5.0 IP, ER, 3 H, 6 K, 0 BB) TD Hitter of the Day- Willians Astudillo, Rochester (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – 0-4 #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) – Injured list #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) – Injured list #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 1-3, BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 3-6, RBI, R, BB, 2 K #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – 1-3, BB, K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) – Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – Tommy John surgery, out for the year #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – 1-4, R, 2 K #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) – Injured list #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – Did not play #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) – 0-4, K #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 1-4, RBI, BB, K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – 1.0 IP, SV, 2 K #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 1-4, RBI #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, K, BB #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 0-3, 3 K, BB MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester – Scheduled Off-Day Pensacola @ Biloxi (6:35 CST) – RHP Andro Cutura (1-2, 4.45 ERA) Fort Myers @ Tampa (3:30 CST) – TBD Fort Myers @ Tampa (Game 2) – TBD Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (11:05 AM CST) – RHP Kai-Wei Teng (0-0, 4.91 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  19. Baseball players are a superstitious lot and pitchers perhaps more than the others. Don’t believe it? Count how often a pitcher steps on the first baseline on his way to or from the mound between innings. If you get to “one,” it would be a shock. So, when you hear that Cedar Rapids Kernels starting pitcher Josh Winder makes a practice of cleaning his room on the mornings of days he’s scheduled to start, you could assume he’s just another superstitious ballplayer. You could, but you’d be wrong.“I kind of like cleaning my room,” Winder explained in an interview a day after his most recent start (a seven-inning/seven-strikeout outing on Sunday in which he held Peoria to one earned run on four hits and one walk). “Making sure everything’s in order, kind of clearing my mind out while I’m doing it. Kind of therapeutic almost. I like laying everything out before my start, getting into that mindset on the day of my start, as opposed to going to the game kind of scatterbrained.” That may seem unusual, but then Winder didn’t come to professional baseball via quite the same path as most other college pitchers. When you consider that the Twins drafted him in the seventh round of last June’s amateur draft out of Virginia Military Institute, a habit of cleaning his room shouldn’t be unexpected at all. Winder admits he didn’t choose to attend VMI with the goal of a military career in mind, but primarily to play baseball and get a good education. (He accomplished both, by the way. After last season ended, he returned to school and got his degree in Economics and Business in December.) So how does a guy without a definitive interest in the military end up at Virginia Military Institute? Of course, the obvious answer is that they offered him a baseball scholarship, but there must be more to it than that. “It’s actually a funny story,” the 6’ 5” right-hander said. “We played a travel ball showcase tournament up there. I remember saying to my dad when we were driving away from the campus, ‘I have no idea why anybody would ever come here.’ A couple years later, I ended up going on a visit there. “The coaches saw me at a camp and liked my stuff, liked the way I pitched and everything. They got me on campus, showed me around. Really sold me on all the benefits of the place, all the good attributes and traits you acquire, almost by default, by being around that kind of environment. “Also, I fell in love with the coaching staff and fell in love with the atmosphere, the brotherhood and camaraderie in the locker room. It was something I really wanted to be a part of, and I made that decision, committed in my junior year and honestly, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t make that decision because it ended up being the best place for me.” It was certainly a more structured and disciplined environment than most college campuses and it had immediate effects on Winder. “It kind of changes you without you even realizing it,” he explained. “I remember going home for Christmas break my freshman year. Once I got home, I probably slept the whole first day because I was exhausted. But then after that, I’m cleaning my room, making my bed, kind of like setting out each day and making plans, not even realizing it had changed me into (being) much more disciplined, more on top of things. Planning things out.” Asked if his mother wondered who this stranger was and what he had done with her son, Winder didn’t hesitate. “She wasn’t complaining,” he said. “I was folding all the laundry. Yeah, she wasn’t too upset about it.” On the mound this season, Winder has been working with Kernels pitching coach Virgil Vasquez to rediscover the secrets of how to consistently miss bats and felt that Sunday’s outing might have been his best of the season. “Really good game (Sunday). That’s probably the best I’ve felt on the mound this year,” Winder said. “I’ve kind of been searching for that feeling and really feeling like I can beat guys and get the swings I wanted.” After notching nine strikeouts in a five-inning outing on April 13 against Burlington, the record holder for strikeouts per nine-innings at VMI failed to average a strikeout per inning pitched over his next five starts leading into Sunday’s performance, though most of his other stats were more than acceptable. In fact, in three of his four starts during May, Winder completed seven or more innings of work. “Definitely been very efficient the last few weeks, getting ahead,” he said. “Been working really well with my catchers.” As for the strikeouts… “I’ve been kind of struggling to put guys away,” he conceded. “Haven’t struggled to get to two strikes, but as far as striking people out and putting them away, I’ve kind of struggled. That’s something me and Virgil worked on this week and obviously the work paid off. Seven strikeouts yesterday, so we did a much better job kind of throwing pitches in tougher places to hit with two strikes.” Winder has an effective three-pitch repertoire and his primary focus this spring has been to add a more effective change-up to the mix. “I actually went down to Florida a month early for spring training to work on that change-up,” he said. “Work on that grip and (develop) a consistent pitch for me to add to my curveball. And then I have a cutter-slider, as well, in addition to the four-seam fastball. “So, we’re looking to develop that change-up to keep lefties off balance as well as throw it to righties some the second or third time through the lineup. Get them off my fastball. Just get something else in their head. Keep them off balance, so it complements all my other pitches.” At times, pitchers coming out of college programs get anxious to move up the organizational ladder quickly, but Winder’s not about to be putting that kind of pressure on himself. “No, I really try to stay away from thinking like that,” he said. “It’s still my first full professional season. “My mindset going through this whole journey, this whole process, started last year when I was a junior and got drafted, decided to take the draft instead of going back to school. I just try to approach everything to become the best baseball player I can be and once I become the best baseball player I can be, I’ll see where I end up.” Kernels Notes Since returning from their road trip to the Midwest League’s Eastern Division on May 11, the Kernels have posted a 10-5 record and have moved up to 5th place in the MWL Western Division. They’ve also evened their record on the year at 25-25. They still stand 8 ½ games behind Division leading Quad Cities, but only 3 ½ games behind second place Burlington for the all-important second spot in the first half race, which also qualifies for the postseason. Wander Javier, ranked as the Twins’ #4 prospect by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, joined the Kernels from Extended Spring Training on Saturday. The local fans haven’t had much of an opportunity to see him, yet, however. He played Saturday night, sat out Sunday’s game and Monday’s holiday matinee was rained out. The Kernels now begin a season-long 14 game road trip (while their home, Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, plays host to the NCAA Division III World Series). Hitting: Jared Akins arrived from EST on May 14 and went 0-3 in his first game. He hasn’t been held hitless since and now holds an 11-game hitting streak in which he has hit .419 with three doubles, two triples and four home runs. The streak is the longest of Akins’ career and the longest of any Kernels hitter this season. Andrew Bechtold has a streak of his own going on. He’s reached base in 17 straight games, going back to May 9. He’s hitting .333 in his last ten games and went 6-10 during the three-game series with Peoria over the weekend. Yeltsin Encarnacion has been hitting .318 in his last ten games, bringing his average for the year up to .270 and his OBP to .343. Pitching: Austin Schulfer and Jose Martinez combined to throw a no-hitter against Burlington on May 22 in the seven-inning nightcap of that day’s doubleheader. In Schulfer’s prior appearance, he struck out eight batters in three innings of relief work. Blayne Enlow held opponents to just three earned runs over a combined 18 innings of work in his last three starts, earning himself a promotion to Fort Myers. Reliever Zach Neff has allowed just two earned runs over 17 innings of work covering his last eight appearances. He has a 24/5 K/BB ratio in that stretch, including a 7K 3-inning performance on May 17. Derek Molina had a tough first couple of relief appearances to start 2019, but in the ten appearances since then, he’s surrendered a grand total of one earned run, striking out 18 in 13 innings of work. If you’d like to read more about the Kernels, check out these articles from The Gazette’s beat reporter Jeff Johnson: Emphatically Back to Break-Even for Cedar Rapids KernelsJared Akins Just Keeps RakingZach Neff - One Class Shy of Masters Degree Click here to view the article
  20. “I kind of like cleaning my room,” Winder explained in an interview a day after his most recent start (a seven-inning/seven-strikeout outing on Sunday in which he held Peoria to one earned run on four hits and one walk). “Making sure everything’s in order, kind of clearing my mind out while I’m doing it. Kind of therapeutic almost. I like laying everything out before my start, getting into that mindset on the day of my start, as opposed to going to the game kind of scatterbrained.” That may seem unusual, but then Winder didn’t come to professional baseball via quite the same path as most other college pitchers. When you consider that the Twins drafted him in the seventh round of last June’s amateur draft out of Virginia Military Institute, a habit of cleaning his room shouldn’t be unexpected at all. Winder admits he didn’t choose to attend VMI with the goal of a military career in mind, but primarily to play baseball and get a good education. (He accomplished both, by the way. After last season ended, he returned to school and got his degree in Economics and Business in December.) So how does a guy without a definitive interest in the military end up at Virginia Military Institute? Of course, the obvious answer is that they offered him a baseball scholarship, but there must be more to it than that. “It’s actually a funny story,” the 6’ 5” right-hander said. “We played a travel ball showcase tournament up there. I remember saying to my dad when we were driving away from the campus, ‘I have no idea why anybody would ever come here.’ A couple years later, I ended up going on a visit there. “The coaches saw me at a camp and liked my stuff, liked the way I pitched and everything. They got me on campus, showed me around. Really sold me on all the benefits of the place, all the good attributes and traits you acquire, almost by default, by being around that kind of environment. “Also, I fell in love with the coaching staff and fell in love with the atmosphere, the brotherhood and camaraderie in the locker room. It was something I really wanted to be a part of, and I made that decision, committed in my junior year and honestly, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t make that decision because it ended up being the best place for me.” It was certainly a more structured and disciplined environment than most college campuses and it had immediate effects on Winder. “It kind of changes you without you even realizing it,” he explained. “I remember going home for Christmas break my freshman year. Once I got home, I probably slept the whole first day because I was exhausted. But then after that, I’m cleaning my room, making my bed, kind of like setting out each day and making plans, not even realizing it had changed me into (being) much more disciplined, more on top of things. Planning things out.” Asked if his mother wondered who this stranger was and what he had done with her son, Winder didn’t hesitate. “She wasn’t complaining,” he said. “I was folding all the laundry. Yeah, she wasn’t too upset about it.” On the mound this season, Winder has been working with Kernels pitching coach Virgil Vasquez to rediscover the secrets of how to consistently miss bats and felt that Sunday’s outing might have been his best of the season. “Really good game (Sunday). That’s probably the best I’ve felt on the mound this year,” Winder said. “I’ve kind of been searching for that feeling and really feeling like I can beat guys and get the swings I wanted.” After notching nine strikeouts in a five-inning outing on April 13 against Burlington, the record holder for strikeouts per nine-innings at VMI failed to average a strikeout per inning pitched over his next five starts leading into Sunday’s performance, though most of his other stats were more than acceptable. In fact, in three of his four starts during May, Winder completed seven or more innings of work. “Definitely been very efficient the last few weeks, getting ahead,” he said. “Been working really well with my catchers.” As for the strikeouts… “I’ve been kind of struggling to put guys away,” he conceded. “Haven’t struggled to get to two strikes, but as far as striking people out and putting them away, I’ve kind of struggled. That’s something me and Virgil worked on this week and obviously the work paid off. Seven strikeouts yesterday, so we did a much better job kind of throwing pitches in tougher places to hit with two strikes.” Winder has an effective three-pitch repertoire and his primary focus this spring has been to add a more effective change-up to the mix. “I actually went down to Florida a month early for spring training to work on that change-up,” he said. “Work on that grip and (develop) a consistent pitch for me to add to my curveball. And then I have a cutter-slider, as well, in addition to the four-seam fastball. “So, we’re looking to develop that change-up to keep lefties off balance as well as throw it to righties some the second or third time through the lineup. Get them off my fastball. Just get something else in their head. Keep them off balance, so it complements all my other pitches.” At times, pitchers coming out of college programs get anxious to move up the organizational ladder quickly, but Winder’s not about to be putting that kind of pressure on himself. “No, I really try to stay away from thinking like that,” he said. “It’s still my first full professional season. “My mindset going through this whole journey, this whole process, started last year when I was a junior and got drafted, decided to take the draft instead of going back to school. I just try to approach everything to become the best baseball player I can be and once I become the best baseball player I can be, I’ll see where I end up.” Kernels Notes Since returning from their road trip to the Midwest League’s Eastern Division on May 11, the Kernels have posted a 10-5 record and have moved up to 5th place in the MWL Western Division. They’ve also evened their record on the year at 25-25. They still stand 8 ½ games behind Division leading Quad Cities, but only 3 ½ games behind second place Burlington for the all-important second spot in the first half race, which also qualifies for the postseason. Wander Javier, ranked as the Twins’ #4 prospect by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, joined the Kernels from Extended Spring Training on Saturday. The local fans haven’t had much of an opportunity to see him, yet, however. He played Saturday night, sat out Sunday’s game and Monday’s holiday matinee was rained out. The Kernels now begin a season-long 14 game road trip (while their home, Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, plays host to the NCAA Division III World Series). Hitting: Jared Akins arrived from EST on May 14 and went 0-3 in his first game. He hasn’t been held hitless since and now holds an 11-game hitting streak in which he has hit .419 with three doubles, two triples and four home runs. The streak is the longest of Akins’ career and the longest of any Kernels hitter this season. Andrew Bechtold has a streak of his own going on. He’s reached base in 17 straight games, going back to May 9. He’s hitting .333 in his last ten games and went 6-10 during the three-game series with Peoria over the weekend. Yeltsin Encarnacion has been hitting .318 in his last ten games, bringing his average for the year up to .270 and his OBP to .343. Pitching: Austin Schulfer and Jose Martinez combined to throw a no-hitter against Burlington on May 22 in the seven-inning nightcap of that day’s doubleheader. In Schulfer’s prior appearance, he struck out eight batters in three innings of relief work. Blayne Enlow held opponents to just three earned runs over a combined 18 innings of work in his last three starts, earning himself a promotion to Fort Myers. Reliever Zach Neff has allowed just two earned runs over 17 innings of work covering his last eight appearances. He has a 24/5 K/BB ratio in that stretch, including a 7K 3-inning performance on May 17. Derek Molina had a tough first couple of relief appearances to start 2019, but in the ten appearances since then, he’s surrendered a grand total of one earned run, striking out 18 in 13 innings of work. If you’d like to read more about the Kernels, check out these articles from The Gazette’s beat reporter Jeff Johnson: Emphatically Back to Break-Even for Cedar Rapids Kernels Jared Akins Just Keeps Raking Zach Neff - One Class Shy of Masters Degree
  21. TRANSACTIONS -Luis Arraez was recalled by the Twins, filling a roster spot opened up when Nelson Cruz was placed on the IL. -Kody Funderburk was activated from extended spring training and assigned to Fort Myers. -Albee Weiss was activated from extended spring and assigned to Cedar Rapids. The Kernels placed Gabe Snyder on the temporary inactive list. RED WINGS REPORT Durham 9, Rochester 5 Box Score Devin Smeltzer: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 65.3% strikes (49 of 75 pitches) HR: Drew Maggi (3), Jake Cave (1) Multi-hit games: LaMonte Wade (2-for-4), Cave (2-for-4, 2B, HR), Wilin Rosario (2-for-4) So Devin Smeltzer is human after all. He came into this start having given up just two earned runs over 45 innings between Pensacola and Rochester, but gave up four in this start. Trevor Hildenberger made his first minor league appearance since June 21, 2017. It did not go well. He gave up four runs on three hits, a walk and a wild pitch in his inning of work. All the scoring for the Red Wings came via the long ball. Jake Cave hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Drew Maggi hit a three-run shot in the seventh. BLUE WAHOO BITES Mobile 8, Pensacola 2 Box Score Sean Poppen: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 68.3% (56 of 82 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: None How often does a team get assists from all three of its outfielders? That was an oddity that occured in tonight’s game, as left fielder Travis Blankenhorn and center fielder Jaylin Davis both cut down runners at the plate and right fielder Alex Kirilloff nailed a runner at third. The Pensacola lineup couldn’t make the most of their opportunities tonight. Despite drawing eight walks, the Blue Wahoos scored just two runs. They were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Alex Kirilloff had the team’s lone extra-base hit, his second double of the season. He also drew two of those walks. Sean Poppen held the BayBears to three runs over the first 5 2/3 innings, but things got a little sloppy in the final three innings. Three runs scored while Sam Clay was on the mound, though just one was earned, and Cody Stashak surrendered a pair of runs in his two innings of work. MIRACLE MATTERS St. Lucie 2, Fort Myers 1 (10 innings) Box Score Tyler Watson: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 63.2% strikes (55 of 87 pitches) HR: Royce Lewis (1) Multi-hit games: Lewin Diaz (2-for-4) In his 38th game of the season, Royce Lewis finally has a home run. That has to be a relief. The Florida State League can very tough on hitters, and No. 1 overall picks are no exception. Lewis, who was the DH today, hit a 1-1 pitch grooved right over the middle of the plate over the left field wall to put Fort Myers up in the top of the first inning. Unfortunately, that was the only run the Miracle scored all game. Tyler Watson pitched great, giving up just one run over 7 1/3 innings. Hector Lujan held on through the ninth, but he allowed the bonus runner to score on a double in the top of the 10th inning. The Fort Myers bats were retired in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game. Speaking of how the FSL can be tough on a hitter, how about that Lewin Diaz!? He followed up a monster game in which he went 4-for-5 with three homers by collecting a couple of singles. He’s 18-for-50 so far in May (.360). KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Clinton 5 (11 innings) Box Score Tyler Palm: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 64.9% strikes (61 of 94 pitches) HR: Jared Akins (3) Multi-hit games: The Kernels just wouldn’t go away in this one. Trailing 3-0 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Jared Akins hit a game-tying homer. He fell behind 1-2 in that at bat, battled back to work the count full and then unleashed on a pitch left over the plate. Cedar Rapids managed to scratch across a run in the top of the 10th. Clinton answered, but they were unable to finish things off despite having the bases loaded with one out. Zach Neff got the second out on a strikeout and induced a grounder to end the threat. Akins scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th on a wild pitch and Yeltsin Encarnacion plated what ended up being a massive insurance run with a single. Neff went back out for his third inning of work to try to secure a well-fought Kernels victory. Neff struck out the first batter he faced but allowed the bonus runner to score on a double. With Cedar Rapids now clinging to a one-run lead, Neff struck out the next two batters he faced to finish things off. He had seven strikeouts in his three innings of about the highest-leverage work you could imagine. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Jared Akins, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-4, HR 2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 1-for-3, 2B, 2 BB, OF assist 4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 0-for-3, BB, 2 K 13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 0-for-4, K 14. Ben Rortvedt (PNS): 1-for-4, R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 1-for-6, 2 K 18. LaMonte Wade (ROC): 2-for-4, R 20. Jose Miranda (FM): 1-for-4, K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester at Durham, 5:35 pm CT (Lewis Thorpe) Pensacola vs. Mobile, 6:05 pm CT (Jorge Alcala) Fort Myers vs. St. Lucie, 5:00 pm CT (Melvi Acosta) Cedar Rapids at Clinton, 6:30 pm CT (Cole Sands) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.
  22. Apparently, those pushups paid off. A day after causing some controversy when he did pushups on the field after hitting a double, Royce Lewis muscled his first home run of the season. Come see what else happened across the system Friday night.TRANSACTIONS -Luis Arraez was recalled by the Twins, filling a roster spot opened up when Nelson Cruz was placed on the IL. -Kody Funderburk was activated from extended spring training and assigned to Fort Myers. -Albee Weiss was activated from extended spring and assigned to Cedar Rapids. The Kernels placed Gabe Snyder on the temporary inactive list. RED WINGS REPORT Durham 9, Rochester 5 Box Score Devin Smeltzer: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 65.3% strikes (49 of 75 pitches) HR: Drew Maggi (3), Jake Cave (1) Multi-hit games: LaMonte Wade (2-for-4), Cave (2-for-4, 2B, HR), Wilin Rosario (2-for-4) So Devin Smeltzer is human after all. He came into this start having given up just two earned runs over 45 innings between Pensacola and Rochester, but gave up four in this start. Trevor Hildenberger made his first minor league appearance since June 21, 2017. It did not go well. He gave up four runs on three hits, a walk and a wild pitch in his inning of work. All the scoring for the Red Wings came via the long ball. Jake Cave hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Drew Maggi hit a three-run shot in the seventh. BLUE WAHOO BITES Mobile 8, Pensacola 2 Box Score Sean Poppen: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 68.3% (56 of 82 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: None How often does a team get assists from all three of its outfielders? That was an oddity that occured in tonight’s game, as left fielder Travis Blankenhorn and center fielder Jaylin Davis both cut down runners at the plate and right fielder Alex Kirilloff nailed a runner at third. The Pensacola lineup couldn’t make the most of their opportunities tonight. Despite drawing eight walks, the Blue Wahoos scored just two runs. They were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Alex Kirilloff had the team’s lone extra-base hit, his second double of the season. He also drew two of those walks. Sean Poppen held the BayBears to three runs over the first 5 2/3 innings, but things got a little sloppy in the final three innings. Three runs scored while Sam Clay was on the mound, though just one was earned, and Cody Stashak surrendered a pair of runs in his two innings of work. MIRACLE MATTERS St. Lucie 2, Fort Myers 1 (10 innings) Box Score Tyler Watson: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 63.2% strikes (55 of 87 pitches) HR: Royce Lewis (1) Multi-hit games: Lewin Diaz (2-for-4) In his 38th game of the season, Royce Lewis finally has a home run. That has to be a relief. The Florida State League can very tough on hitters, and No. 1 overall picks are no exception. Lewis, who was the DH today, hit a 1-1 pitch grooved right over the middle of the plate over the left field wall to put Fort Myers up in the top of the first inning. Unfortunately, that was the only run the Miracle scored all game. Tyler Watson pitched great, giving up just one run over 7 1/3 innings. Hector Lujan held on through the ninth, but he allowed the bonus runner to score on a double in the top of the 10th inning. The Fort Myers bats were retired in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game. Speaking of how the FSL can be tough on a hitter, how about that Lewin Diaz!? He followed up a monster game in which he went 4-for-5 with three homers by collecting a couple of singles. He’s 18-for-50 so far in May (.360). KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Clinton 5 (11 innings) Box Score Tyler Palm: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 64.9% strikes (61 of 94 pitches) HR: Jared Akins (3) Multi-hit games: The Kernels just wouldn’t go away in this one. Trailing 3-0 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Jared Akins hit a game-tying homer. He fell behind 1-2 in that at bat, battled back to work the count full and then unleashed on a pitch left over the plate. Cedar Rapids managed to scratch across a run in the top of the 10th. Clinton answered, but they were unable to finish things off despite having the bases loaded with one out. Zach Neff got the second out on a strikeout and induced a grounder to end the threat. Akins scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th on a wild pitch and Yeltsin Encarnacion plated what ended up being a massive insurance run with a single. Neff went back out for his third inning of work to try to secure a well-fought Kernels victory. Neff struck out the first batter he faced but allowed the bonus runner to score on a double. With Cedar Rapids now clinging to a one-run lead, Neff struck out the next two batters he faced to finish things off. He had seven strikeouts in his three innings of about the highest-leverage work you could imagine. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Jared Akins, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-4, HR 2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 1-for-3, 2B, 2 BB, OF assist 4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 0-for-3, BB, 2 K 13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 0-for-4, K 14. Ben Rortvedt (PNS): 1-for-4, R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 1-for-6, 2 K 18. LaMonte Wade (ROC): 2-for-4, R 20. Jose Miranda (FM): 1-for-4, K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester at Durham, 5:35 pm CT (Lewis Thorpe) Pensacola vs. Mobile, 6:05 pm CT (Jorge Alcala) Fort Myers vs. St. Lucie, 5:00 pm CT (Melvi Acosta) Cedar Rapids at Clinton, 6:30 pm CT (Cole Sands) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games. Click here to view the article
  23. TRANSACTIONS IF Travis Blankenhorn promoted from Fort Myers to Pensacola. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Scranton/WB 3 (10 Innings) Box Score Rochester used some strong pitching and four runs over the final five innings to come out victorious. Zack Littell started and pitched five strong innings. He limited the RailRiders to one run on five hits. It was the second straight start where he pitched at least five innings and allowed one run or less. LaMonte Wade made a run- saving catch in the first inning to save at least one run. Littell struck out four and walked three, but he would be long gone before this one would be decided. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/1121506353086902273 Taking over for Littell, Jake Reed and Preston Guilmet combined for three shutout innings. Reed lasted two innings by walking one and allowing one hit. Guilmett struck out the side in the eighth. Gabriel Moya allowed Scranton/WB to tie it up in the ninth. He gave up two runs on three hits. It was his first blown save. DJ Baxendale pitched a perfect tenth inning for his first win. In the sixth inning, John Andreoli doubled with one out. Following a Brent Rooker strikeout, Randy Cesar homered to put Rochester up 2-1. Luke Raley led off the bottom of the seventh and he was able to reach on a fielding error. Two batters later, Jordany Valdespin drove him in with his third double of the season. The Red Wings had a 3-1 lead. After Moya allowed the tying run to score in the ninth, Rochester needed to find a way to score a run. Zander Wiel got to start the bottom of the tenth on second base. With one out, Adam Rosales singled to put runners on the corners. Ronald Torreyes hit a chopper to first and the ball had to be thrown home. Wiel slid in safe and the Red Wings went home happy. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 5, Jackson 2 (10 Innings) Box Score Sean Poppen compiled five strong innings to put the Blue Wahoos in position to win. He struck out seven over five innings. He limited Jackson to one run on five hits. His season ERA dropped to 0.75. Andro Cutura blew his first save of the season. He allowed one run on two hits in two innings. Pensacola scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Tanner English and Mitchell Kranson singled before Jaylin Davis reached on a throwing error. Taylor Grzelakowski came up with the big hit as he doubled to plate both runs. Cody Stashak picked up his second win in relief. He pitched two scoreless innings, while striking out three and walking one. Ryan Mason earned his fourth save of the year. He has yet to allow an earned run. In the tenth inning, Luis Arraez started on second and English walked to put to men on. Kranson used a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position. A passed ball allowed Arraez to score but it wouldn’t have mattered. Jaylin Davis blasted a two-run bomb. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 1, Palm Beach 7 Box Score Fort Myers got off to an early lead. Akil Baddoo led off the game with his second double of the season. Royce Lewis moved him to third with a fly out and then Trevor Larnach drove him in with a sacrifice fly. From there, the Miracle offense went cold. Tyler Watson ran into some trouble in the third inning as the Cardinals plated three runs. The first four batters reached base against him that frame. With the bases full, he allowed a single then a walk and finally a sacrifice fly. In the top of the sixth, Watson ran into some more trouble. A leadoff single was followed by a wild pitch. Another single saw a run score and Watson’s night was done. It was his third straight loss. Anthony Vizcaya and Alex Phillips both pitched two innings without allowing any earned runs. Vizcaya saw two runs scored but they were both unearned. Phillips allowed two hits and struck out two. He’s appeared in eight games so far this season and he has yet to allow an earned run. He has pitched more than one inning in five of his appearances and he has 18 strikeouts on the year. Fort Myers had three total hits. Larnach went 2-for-3 with and RBI to raise his average to .270. Baddoo had the lone extra-base hit. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 0, Kane County 7 Box Score Cedar Rapids offense was almost non-existent and Blayne Enlow struggled for the first time since his first start this season. Enlow had pitched five innings or more in two consecutive starts and limited the opposition to one run in both appearances. In 4 2/3 innings, he allowed seven runs, a career high, on 10 hits. He was still able to strike out seven and walked one. While Enlow struggled, Zach Neff was outstanding in relief. He was asked to pitch 3 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow any runs and he limited Kane County to two hits. Neff had allowed multiple runs in three of his six appearances entering the night. Kernels 1-4 hitters combined to go 0-for-16 with six strikeouts. Gilberto Celestino was the only batter with multiple hits. He finished 2-for-3 with his second double of the year. Joe Cronin and Yeltsin Encarnacion both went 1-for-3. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids (3.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 K) TD Hitter of the Day- Jaylin Davis, Pensacola (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, R) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – 0-4, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) – Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 2-3, RBI #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – 0-2, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 7 K, BB #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, R #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – Did not play #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 0-3 #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 2-3 #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – 5 IP, ER, 5 H, 4 K, 3 BB #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 0-2, K #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – Did not pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 0-3 FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs. Pawtucket (5:35 CST) – RHP Chase De Jong (0-1, 11.12 ERA) Pensacola @ Jackson (6:05 CST) – RHP Jorge Alcala (4-0, 3.92 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Palm Beach (5:30 CST) – RHP Bailey Ober (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (6:30 CST) – RHP Jordan Balazovic (2-1, 2.45 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games.
  24. Minnesota had an off-night on Thursday but there was plenty of action in the minor leagues. All four affiliates played. This meant 10 of the Twins Daily Top-20 Twins Prospects were in action. Who played well? Who struggled? Who helped their team to a pair of extra-inning victories?TRANSACTIONS IF Travis Blankenhorn promoted from Fort Myers to Pensacola. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Scranton/WB 3 (10 Innings) Box Score Rochester used some strong pitching and four runs over the final five innings to come out victorious. Zack Littell started and pitched five strong innings. He limited the RailRiders to one run on five hits. It was the second straight start where he pitched at least five innings and allowed one run or less. LaMonte Wade made a run- saving catch in the first inning to save at least one run. Littell struck out four and walked three, but he would be long gone before this one would be decided. Taking over for Littell, Jake Reed and Preston Guilmet combined for three shutout innings. Reed lasted two innings by walking one and allowing one hit. Guilmett struck out the side in the eighth. Gabriel Moya allowed Scranton/WB to tie it up in the ninth. He gave up two runs on three hits. It was his first blown save. DJ Baxendale pitched a perfect tenth inning for his first win. In the sixth inning, John Andreoli doubled with one out. Following a Brent Rooker strikeout, Randy Cesar homered to put Rochester up 2-1. Luke Raley led off the bottom of the seventh and he was able to reach on a fielding error. Two batters later, Jordany Valdespin drove him in with his third double of the season. The Red Wings had a 3-1 lead. After Moya allowed the tying run to score in the ninth, Rochester needed to find a way to score a run. Zander Wiel got to start the bottom of the tenth on second base. With one out, Adam Rosales singled to put runners on the corners. Ronald Torreyes hit a chopper to first and the ball had to be thrown home. Wiel slid in safe and the Red Wings went home happy. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 5, Jackson 2 (10 Innings) Box Score Sean Poppen compiled five strong innings to put the Blue Wahoos in position to win. He struck out seven over five innings. He limited Jackson to one run on five hits. His season ERA dropped to 0.75. Andro Cutura blew his first save of the season. He allowed one run on two hits in two innings. Pensacola scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Tanner English and Mitchell Kranson singled before Jaylin Davis reached on a throwing error. Taylor Grzelakowski came up with the big hit as he doubled to plate both runs. Cody Stashak picked up his second win in relief. He pitched two scoreless innings, while striking out three and walking one. Ryan Mason earned his fourth save of the year. He has yet to allow an earned run. In the tenth inning, Luis Arraez started on second and English walked to put to men on. Kranson used a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position. A passed ball allowed Arraez to score but it wouldn’t have mattered. Jaylin Davis blasted a two-run bomb. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 1, Palm Beach 7 Box Score Fort Myers got off to an early lead. Akil Baddoo led off the game with his second double of the season. Royce Lewis moved him to third with a fly out and then Trevor Larnach drove him in with a sacrifice fly. From there, the Miracle offense went cold. Tyler Watson ran into some trouble in the third inning as the Cardinals plated three runs. The first four batters reached base against him that frame. With the bases full, he allowed a single then a walk and finally a sacrifice fly. In the top of the sixth, Watson ran into some more trouble. A leadoff single was followed by a wild pitch. Another single saw a run score and Watson’s night was done. It was his third straight loss. Anthony Vizcaya and Alex Phillips both pitched two innings without allowing any earned runs. Vizcaya saw two runs scored but they were both unearned. Phillips allowed two hits and struck out two. He’s appeared in eight games so far this season and he has yet to allow an earned run. He has pitched more than one inning in five of his appearances and he has 18 strikeouts on the year. Fort Myers had three total hits. Larnach went 2-for-3 with and RBI to raise his average to .270. Baddoo had the lone extra-base hit. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 0, Kane County 7 Box Score Cedar Rapids offense was almost non-existent and Blayne Enlow struggled for the first time since his first start this season. Enlow had pitched five innings or more in two consecutive starts and limited the opposition to one run in both appearances. In 4 2/3 innings, he allowed seven runs, a career high, on 10 hits. He was still able to strike out seven and walked one. While Enlow struggled, Zach Neff was outstanding in relief. He was asked to pitch 3 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow any runs and he limited Kane County to two hits. Neff had allowed multiple runs in three of his six appearances entering the night. Kernels 1-4 hitters combined to go 0-for-16 with six strikeouts. Gilberto Celestino was the only batter with multiple hits. He finished 2-for-3 with his second double of the year. Joe Cronin and Yeltsin Encarnacion both went 1-for-3. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Zach Neff, Cedar Rapids (3.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 K) TD Hitter of the Day- Jaylin Davis, Pensacola (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, R) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – 0-4, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) – Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 2-3, RBI #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – 0-2, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 7 K, BB #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, R #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – Did not play #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 0-3 #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 2-3 #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – 5 IP, ER, 5 H, 4 K, 3 BB #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 0-2, K #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – Did not pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 0-3 FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs. Pawtucket (5:35 CST) – RHP Chase De Jong (0-1, 11.12 ERA) Pensacola @ Jackson (6:05 CST) – RHP Jorge Alcala (4-0, 3.92 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Palm Beach (5:30 CST) – RHP Bailey Ober (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (6:30 CST) – RHP Jordan Balazovic (2-1, 2.45 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games. Click here to view the article
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