Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Twins Minor League Report
Good morning everybody! Thank you, as always, for stopping by the site. I hope that you find it informative but also fun. Today, we're going back to school, and I get to be the teacher. OK, I get to be the guy who gives out grades. The Twins went 15-8 in April, so it was a good start, but all of the players need to be graded.
Now, I'm not a teacher, but I come from a family of teachers, so I think that I can do this. So, let's take a look at the players and see how they did in the season's first month:
(2 starts, 7.2 Innings Pitched, 1-0 with a 5.87 ERA, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 1.30 WHIP, .281 Opponent Average, 2.35 K/9)
When Silva was prematurely put on the disabled list, the Twins had to decide who to bring up to make a couple of starts in his place. Well, the Twins the last few years have had injuries early in the year and they call up whoever the last player they sent down was. Well, the Twins sent Scott Baker and David Gassner down the same day. Baker struggled in his first AAA start and Gassner was good, so he was brought up. He made his major league debut in Cleveland and gave up just two runs (1 earned) in six innings to record his first win. His second start didn't go so well as the Royals scored five runs (4 earned) and was taken out in the second inning. But what he did in just two starts was show the type of pitcher he can be (and we knew he would be). He doesn't throw hard, and totally relies on control. When he is on, he can frustrate, but if he's off, he can get hit hard! He is back at AAA now and depending on need, he could come up and pitch in the Twins bullpen.
April Grade: B
(4 starts, 21.2 Innings Pitched, 1-2 with a 6.65 ERA, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts, 1.38 WHIP, .314 Opponent Average, 5.40 K/9)
Toolsy. Good stuff. Young. These are words that we keep hearing about Kyle Lohse. The fact that he won 13 games his first two years gave us hope that he could eventually do well. Of course, if you look back at his 'other' numbers those first two years, they weren't all that great either. So, at this point, you just have to wonder if Lohse will ever be an effective starter for the Twins. I can see him going elsewhere and becoming an adequate starter. I just don't see a turnaround happening in Minnesota. He had to leave his last start because of shoulder problems. Either way, it is possible that he could be destined for the bullpen as Scott Baker continues to impress in Rochester.
April Grade: D
(3 Starts, 20 Innings, 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts, 1.30 WHIP, .281 Opponent Average, 3.15 K/9)
Mays was skipped the first couple weeks of the season because a 5th starter wasn't needed. But Mays has shown a lot in terms of his health. He also seems to have a lot of movement on his pitches, something that was missing when we last saw him pitch. He is keeping the ball down and getting ground balls. Surely, there is still room for improvement. His walk number is high for him, but many of those were early. He was never a strikeout guy anyway, but like Silva, he uses his infield a lot. I am happy that he is back and healthy. We can hope that he returns to his 2001 form.
April Grade: B
(6 Starts, 41 Innings Pitched, 2-3 with a 4.39 ERA, 1 walk, 23 strikeouts, 1.15 WHIP, .286 Opponent Average, 5.05 K/9)
After what Radke did last year, it would be hard to duplicate those number. In April, Radke was a very average pitcher. But he really pitched the extremes within games. His problem, as it has been throughout his career is giving up first inning runs. But usually he gives up a couple of 1st inning runs and then he settles down and has gone seven or eight innings and been fine. In his final start of the month, Saturday against the Angels, he got through the first inning unscathed and pitched his best game of the year. You have to love the walk to strikeout ratio. His strikeout rate is never high, but it is a little bit lower than usual so far. Excellent WHIP. I expect huge things from Radke throughout the rest of the season.
April Grade: B-
(5 Starts, 33 Innings Pitched, 4-0 with a 3.55 ERA, 3 walks, 45 strikeouts, 0.94 WHIP, .224 Opponent Average, 12.27 K/9)
Remember that Santana's start on Monday was on May 1, so that is why his loss does not appear on here. Johan has been excellent again. Santana increased his consecutive win streak to 17 with the 4-0 start. The record is obviously great, but we have really not seen the Santana of the second half of 2004 yet. To me, that is exciting though because even without pitching spectacularly (for him), he is doing so much. Look at the walk to strikeout ratio. The WHIP. The K Rate. The Opponent Average. They are all incredible.
April Grade: A-
(3 Starts, 21 Innings Pitched, 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, 1.33 WHIP, .333 Opponent Average, 3.86 K/9)
Silva spent two weeks on the Disabled List because of a tear in his knee. It was determined that he didn't need surgery or rehab, so he doesn't need to miss any additional time. For the Twins, that is a very good thing. He has made three very strong starts. His only walk was an intentional one. I find it interesting to look at his 'other' numbers in comparison to Lohse's. Opponents actually hit for a better average against Silva. However, Silva has just somehow found a way to battle through the singles he gives up to get out of innings, certainly out of big innings. Yes, he will have games where he gives up double-digit hits, and he doesn't have a lot of room for error because of his lack of strikeouts, but he can be a very successful starter.
April Grade: A
(10 Games, 8 Innings Pitched, 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1.00 WHIP, Opponent Average .192, 2.25 K/9)
It is curious as to why Gardy was so hesitant to put Crain into games early in the season and why he was so quick to pull him. Especially with the loss of Grant Balfour, I would have thought that Crain would have played a far more prevalent role. I fully expect him to start getting more innings and more crucial situations in May and for the rest of the season. But, obviously a 0.00 ERA is good. His WHIP is good. The opponent's batting average is good. The question with Crain is "What happened to the strikeouts?" He has a track record of being a strikeout pitcher. Did the Twins alterations to his pitching style change him? Will he get it back? I totally believe that he will with more innings.
April Grade: B+
(5 Games, 10.2 Innings Pitched, 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1.03 WHIP, .222 Opponent Average, 5.06 K/9)
Guerrier earned his spot onto this roster in spring training. Yes, he is out of options, but I think he has done a great job, in his role, for the Twins and shown he deserves to stick around for now. Last year, Guerrier made a few starts for the Twins and really wasn't good. This year, he made the team as its final pitcher and is given some mop up innings, or early inning innings. In Gassner's bad start, Guerrier came in and pitched 3 1/3 innings and struck out five without giving up a run. But that impressive outing doesn't get mentioned because he stayed in for the next inning but gave up three runs (two homers) without recording an out. Aside from those three batters, he's been great. Every team needs a guy like that. And Guerrier is now hitting 92 on the radar gun with a sharp curveball in the mid-70s.
April Grade: B
(6 Games, 10 Innings Pitched, 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1.20 WHIP, .263 Opponent Average, 1.80 K/9)
I'm all supportive of loyalty, and Mulholland helped the Twins out a lot in 2004. I think he brings a lot to a baseball team. However, I think his "veteran leadership" and "savvy" are what he brings more than actually pitching ability. He has had struggled in any role he's had so far. Inexplicably, Ron Gardenhire has put him into one-run games in the late innings. I personally don't think that should be his role, but Mulholland takes the ball whenever he is asked. It's commendable, and allows some minor leaguers like Gassner, Baker, Durbin and Bowyer to remain in the minors for more seasoning. I just have a hard time believing Mulholland will remain on the active roster the whole season.
April Grade: D
(12 Games, 11.1 Innings Pitched, 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 8 Saves in 9 Chances, 0 walks, 13 strikeouts, 0.44 WHIP, Opponent Average, 10.32 K/9)
Closers have been struggling this year. Joe Nathan is the best closer in baseball. He is the most sure thing. Even the blown save he does have was the result of an unearned run. But what more could Nathan do in a month. No unearned runs. No walks. Not many baserunners and more than a strikeout an inning. The best in baseball. No question!
April Grade: A
(11 Games, 11 Innings Pitched, 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts, 1.27 WHIP, .231 Opponent Average, 12.27 K/9)
I still contend that Rincon is the most dominant set up man in the league as well. His numbers are great. He did have a two or three game stretch where he uncharacteristically struggled with his control and walked a few and threw some wild pitches. But his fastball at 96 with his slider at 88 makes for a difficult combination to try to hit. Expect much of the same from Rincon this season.
April Grade: B+
(11 Games, 9.2 Innings Pitched, 0-1 with a 0.93 ERA, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts, 1.14 WHIP, .200 Opponent Average, 8.38 K/9)
Look at those numbers again. Is it possible that we are all wrong about Romero? According to those numbers, he looks to be having a great year. And maybe he is. But I think we all know that stats are not easy to judge for relievers. And again, if you have a tough situation, do you feel comfortable bringing Romero into the game? Well, the team signed him to a two year deal in the offseason, so they are going to stick with him and give him every chance to work things out. It seems as though Romero is just fine when he starts an inning. But when he has to come into a tough situation with runners on, he really struggles. But again, if he keeps up these types of numbers, you'll be able to compare them to any other lefty in baseball and be surprisingly happy.
April Grade: B+
(17 Games, 17-69, .246/.297/.377, 4-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 8 RBI, 0/0 SB, 5 BB, 9 K)
Bartlett was the big story all spring. Defense was his big question mark and he did well with the glove. He also hit the ball well. He made the team as the starting shortstop and has basically been starting two games and then sitting one. The team showed a lot of confidence in him right away by putting him in the 2 spot in the order. After a fast start, his numbers are not that impressive at this point. However, I have been quite impressed by his at bats. He is patient, yet has also shown situational aggressiveness. His patience should lead to more walks as the season progresses. Now, I'm not expecting him to hit .300, but think that .275 is very possible with a .350 on base percentage. And his defense so far has been great. He had just two errors in April. Certainly room for improvement both offensively and defensively, but it was a good first month.
April Grade: B
(22 Games, 15-73, .205/.275/.288, 3-2B, 1-HR, 6-RBI, 0/2 SB, 7 BB, 16 K)
Clearly Cuddyer has been the most disappointing Twins player so far this year. He is the player taking probably the most heat. His average is low. He has been anything but clutch. His swing was off. And, my big concern is all of the called third strikes. I have always liked his approach at the plate, but to date, he has consistently found himself behind in the count and on the defensive. I think Cuddyer would be the first to tell you that he wasn't happy with his April. But I am definitely in the group that believes that he will pull out of it. I think that his average will jump another 50-60 points, his walk rate will continue to be good, and his power numbers will greatly increase. I hope that the strikeout numbers come down, but that has been a part of his game throughout. Defensively, I have been impressed by his range and his arm. Sometimes he takes a little too long and has to showcase his arm, but he has also made a lot of plays that Corey Koskie would not have. So, I'm really not worried about him.
April Grade: D-
(10 Games, 6-23, .261/.292/.348, 2-2B, 0-HR, 2-RBI, 0/0 SB, 1 BB, 4 K)
Came in with a reputation as a defensive whiz (even though defensive stats speak to the contrary), but he committed seven spring training errors, so everyone was a little skeptical. But then the season started, and Castro has lived up to the hype so far whether at 3B or SS. He is starting ever third game or so at SS and coming in to play some defense at 3B in late innings. Offensively, he is also living up to his reputation. He's terrible. His numbers, as poor as they are, do not take into account how weak his swing is, how he swings at everything, and how he has little power. It makes zero sense for him to ever bat second in the order. But a player like this can certainly play a role on a winning team.
April Grade: C+
(21 Games, 23/78, .295/.360/.410, 3-2B, 2-HR, 14-RBI, 1/2 SB, 4 BB, 15 K)
Ford got off to a slow start. He wasn't getting hits and he'd probably be the first to tell you that he really wasn't even hitting the ball well or getting good swings. But he got a few infield hits and then hit a couple of three run homers in about a week. Since then, he has hit, taken walks, been hit by four pitches, and really has driven in runs. He has hit leadoff, third, and usually seventh in the Twins order. I think you will see his strikeout rate drop and he will take more walks. I also think he'll start stealing more bases. Defensively, he has been solid in all three outfield position, giving the Soul Patrol days to DH.
April Grade: B
(23 Games, 20/83, .241/.337/.446, 5-2B, 4-HR, 17-RBI, 11/11 SB, 12 BB, 18 K)
If Hunter could just find a way to hit closer to .280, he would be the perfect player. He is even taking a lot of walks this year. He's hitting for power. He's driving in runs. His base running is really just incredible at this point. Defensively, he's the best there is. He plays every day. He is the leader of the team. It is hard to really argue with anything Hunter did in April. Except that .241 batting average. But then again, it's not like he's going to hit .330. If he can simply increase that to .280, we should be thrilled.
April Grade: A-
(21 Games, 24-68, .353/.471/.603, 6-2B, 1-3B, 3-HR, 14-RBI, 1/2 SB, 14 BB, 14 K)
How much money could a person have made if they had bet that Jacque Jones would be leading the Twins in walks through the season's first month? Jones still has a huge righty/lefty productivity differential, but I think that if Jones would end the season with an .850 OPS against lefties, he will make a lot of money in the offseason. Of course, if he ends the season with a 1.150 OPS against righties, that might too! Jones has done everything in the first month. He's hit for average, got on base almost every other time, and hit for power. He continues to play strong defense. Jones looked like a different hitter in April. Let's hope that Jacque Jones sticks around throughout the season!
April Grade: A
(16 Games, 16-52, .308/.400/.500, 1-2B, 3-HR, 11-RBI, 0/0 SB, 6 BB, 8 K)
LeCroy got much more playing time in April than anyone in the organization would have hoped for (Well, except him). Because of the Justin Morneau injury, he had to play a lot of first base. Fortunately, LeCroy really hit well in April. He too hit for average, patience and power. He drove in runs. Now, he has no speed, so there is always the double play threat, but the man is a productive hitter. You have to wonder what he could really do with 500 at bats in a season. But it's tough because where is he going to take at bats? DH? Ford shouldn't lose any at bats. 1B? Ahead of Morneau? But Gardy will do a good job of putting him into good situations and getting him plenty of at bats when guys get days off. He will also be put in crucial situations. Oh, and defensively, he's not only a bad catcher, but a really bat 1B too. Sorry!
April Grade: A-
(21 Games, 21-69, .304/.410/.435, 3-2B, 2-HR, 7-RBI, 1/2 SB, 13 BB, 12 K)
There was so much concern about Mauer's knee heading into the season that the team kept Corky Miller around for awhi... (what? Miller's still on the roster?). There have been no problems with the knee so far, and I certainly don't anticipate any injury at this point. Offensively, Mauer actually struggled a little bit early in the season with striking out. But that seems to have been overcome now. His approach at the plate is incredible. If it isn't a strike, he doesn't swing at it. But when he does swing, it is such a perfect, fluid swing. No, the power hasn't really come as some may have hoped, but I'm not worried. That will come in time. His 12 walks are impressive. He is averaging 3.93 pitches per plate appearance. And, when he hasn't caught, he has pinch hit. He is ready to bust out now.
April Grade: A-
(5 Games, 0-12, .000/.000/.000, 0-2B, 0-HR, 0-RBI, 0 BB, 0 K)
Horrible! Terrible! As bad as anyone I have ever seen. I'm still wondering why he is on the team. I understand that there was concern about Mauer. And then Redmond got hurt. The thing is that the Twins fear an injury and Rob Bowen needing to come up again. They greatly want him to get a full minor league season in. Miller is known as a defensive catcher. I guess I haven't seen anything spectacular from him behind the plate. And offensively, I am almost arrogant enough to think that I could move up to the big leagues right now and get at least TWO hits if I got 51 at bats!!! Mauer is healthy. Miller must go so that Tiffee can come back up!
April Grade: F
(10 Games, 18-41, .439/.442/.707, 3-2B, 1-3B, 2-HR, 10-RBI, 0/0 SB, 0 BB, 3 K)
Just three games into the season, and Morneau was beaned by a Ron Villone fastball. He was soon put on the Disabled List and it took awhile to recover. There was a lot of concern about if he would come back as the same type of hitter, or if he would understandably be a little leery to step into the batter's box. Well, it didn't take Morneau long to alleviate any concern. And he has continued to rake since then. The lone problem so far is that he has no walked. He is averaging just 3.35 pitches per plate appearance. But I have no doubt that as he continues to hit well, he will draw plenty of walks. His power is incredible and despite missing a dozen games, I still expect him to hit 30 or more homers. It has been a very good return for Morneau and expect a great rest of the season.
April Grade: A
(15 Games, 11-41, .268/.375/.366, 2-2B, 1-3B, 0-HR, 3-RBI, 1/1 SB, 7 BB, 12 K)
He was going to be given a shot at the shortstop job in spring training, but injury kept that from happening. But as Luis Rivas continued to play like, well, Luis Rivas, Punto has played more and more 2B. As a matter of fact, he started the final five April games at 2B. I don't think that this should be surprising and I would almost expect that trend to continue. Given more consistent playing time, Punto has been more productive. He takes a lot of pitches (4.0 per PA), and works the count well. Early in the season, he was actually taking too many pitches and striking out too much because of it. And you hate to keep bringing it up, but there is no questioning Nick Punto's effort, and I think that Twins fans are ready to see that effort on a more consistent basis.
April Grade: B
(3 Games, 3-10, .300/.462/.400, 1-2B, 0-HR, 2-RBI, 2 BB, 0 K)
Well, it is almost impossible to even grade Redmond. Miller has taken away too many of his at bats. Yes, he was hurt for a week. Now that Redmond is fine, there is no reason to keep Miller around. Redmond is an excellent backup. I was thrilled that he, and not Henry Blanco, would be around the next two years. You see, Redmond can actually hit. No, he's not going to hit .300, but he does know what he is doing up there. Defensively, he is excellent and has a very good arm. He is a veteran and will help the staff as well. He just needs more time.
April Grade: B (probably should be Incomplete)
(17 Games, 8-41, .195/.244/.195, 0-2B, 0-3B, 0-HR, 1-RBI, 0/0 SB, 2 BB, 9 K)
Is it possible that we are finally beginning to see the beginning of the end of the Luis Rivas tenure as the team's second baseman? Gardy showed a lot of patience and loyalty to Rivas the last couple of years. Terry Ryan inexplicably resigned him to a big contract for this year. But at some point, enough is enough. He has done nothing at the plate. He doesn't find ways to get on base. If he did maybe he could use the speed that everyone knows he has. And, at least before you could argue that he hit for some power, but he is yet to get an extra base hit. Yeah, the time has come to replace Rivas. The unfortunate thing is I can't imagine any other organization willing to give up anything to acquire Rivas and his salary.
April Grade: D, higher than Cuddyer only because did anyone really expect much more than this from him?
(23 Games, 26/99, .263/.318/.323, 3-2B, 1-HR, 8-RBI, 1/1 SB, 6 BB, 8 K)
Terry Ryan likes to call Shannon Stewart the team's best hitter. At times, a decent argument could be made. The team seems to do better when he is in the lineup. That said, he is not really hitting well yet. The average is down from where it will end up. Yes, he has found a way to get on base most games, which is good, but his overall numbers are not that great. And, he's still playing defense, which isn't a good thing. I have no doubt that Stewart's average will approach .300 in no time. People like to talk about his quality at bats. Well, only Corky Miller and Terry Tiffee have averaged less than his 3.31 pitches per plate appearance.
April Grade: B-
(8 Games, 7-25, .280/.345/.520, 3-2B, 1-HR, 6-RBI, 0/0 SB, 3 BB, 2 K)
After Morneau was finally put on the Disabled List, Tiffee was called up. He was immediately inserted into Morneau's cleanup spot in the lineup and came through with an RBI double in his first at bat. He hit a homer later in the game. And he stayed in the lineup and he continued to produce offensively. There is absolutely no reason for him to not be on the roster at this point. He can play 1B and 3B, and the team desperately needs another bat on the bench, especially a productive switch hitter. Tiffee has never walked much in the minor leagues, but he does put together solid at bats.
April Grade: B+
So, there are my April Grade for the Minnesota Twins players. I would love to hear you thoughts or comments on any of them. Please feel free to agree or disagree and let me know why. Send me an e-mail.
Obviously there are a couple of fairly large Twins topics the last few days. I wrote briefly yesterday about the Juan Rincon suspension after I heard about it. He will now be out 10 days because of his suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Of course I want to believe it isn't true too, but I'm not naive. It also doesn't make me think any less of Rincon or his ability. Sure I too am disappointed, but there isn't much that can be done at this point. I would love to hear (and believe?) Rincon's story. Either way, I will continue to support him. I enjoy how Twins fans seem to think that our team is above anything like this. Anyway, if you want to read a bunch of people whining about Rincon, be sure to check out the Bat-girl thread with plenty of comments as well as the Dickie Thon Twins Fan Forum.
Maybe more important to the Twins 2005 season is the loss of Grant Balfour to Tommy John surgery. It is really unfortunate because the Twins were really counting on him this season. I think the whole situation was strange. Last year it was his shoulder. This year it was his forearm and now it is his elbow? Where does the blame go? Balfour? The Twins training staff? Who?
Anyway, the combination of Rincon's suspension and Balfour's injury means question marks in the Twins bullpen. JC Romero will just have to be counted on. Gardy will have to start showing some confidence in Jesse Crain. After that, I believe that Matt Guerrier is capable as the next option. I would like to see Kyle Lohse sent to the bullpen and Scott Baker put into the rotation. But don't be surprised if Travis Bowyer finds himself in a Twins uniform for a significant part of the season as well. You may have noticed that I added his statistics to the left side of this screen, just, without a picture.
Tonight the Twins will start a three game series at the Metrodome against the Cleveland Indians. Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Monday - REDWINGS - No Game Scheduled.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
Monday - ROCKCATS, Portland - Rained Out.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Monday - MIRACLE 0, Lakeland 9 - A very rough outing for Adam Harben last night. He made it through six innings. However, he gave up nine earned runs on ten hits and EIGHT walks. Ouch! Jan Granado came in and pitched two shutout innings. Tristan Crawford pitched a scoreless ninth. JR Taylor had two of the Miracle's three singles on the game.
Monday - SNAPPERS 4, Cedar Rapids 2 - The Snappers used six hits and six walks to get four runs which was enough for the win. Deacon Burns went 2-5. He also stole his fifth base. Angel Garcia continues to be used cautiously. He went 2 2/3 innings and gave up one run. He didn't give up a hit but walked four. He also struck out four. John Williams got the win by going the next 2 1/3 innings. He gave up a run on five hits and a walk. Josh Hill was incredibly impressive. He recorded the save by pitching four innings. He gave up no runs on one hit and one run. He also struck out a very impressive TEN batters.
OK, we run the gamut of topics here at SethSpeaks. Lots of baseball. Some other sports. TV and movie thoughts. Talk about the pope or politics. Here is an interesting question for the day. A "What would you do?" of sorts. Here is the scenario:
You're on a first date. You are plenty nervous. You don't really know the person you are dating. You see each other and exchange pleasantries. While doing your quick once-over of the other person, you notice that their zipper is down. What do you do? Do you tell the person right away? Do you hope that they need to use the restroom right away and figure it out themselves? What if you tell the person? Will they assume that you're checking them out? Think of it this way, would you want to be told by your date?
Just curious as to what you would do in this situation. I would love to hear your thoughts. E-mail me.
Gotta keep things interesting around here, right? Thanks again for stopping by this site. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
Back to Archives Home