Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Minor League Notes
If you're looking for my thoughts on the Twins loss to the White Sox, or at least my thoughts on Gavin Floyd's performance, you'll want to slide down. A guy nearly no-hits the Twins... I had to post something right away. So, this article is going to be a little Minor League notebook for you. Just some odds and ends I've been able to pick up in the last week or so.
Some of you have noticed that Ozzie Lewis has not played for the Beloit Snappers in the last ten days or so. I have been able to find out that he is dealing with a wrist injury. The teams is still trying to figure out how to address it, or what the next steps are for him.
Deibinson Romero is just now starting to rehab his knee after surgery. He will be out for a couple of months, at least.
Mike McCardell is rehabbing down in Ft. Myers and is expected to be pitching for Beloit again later this week.
The bullpen in Ft. Myers has really been terrific to this point in the season. Robert Delaney is the closer, although Anthony Slama has been sharing the save chances as well. Danny Vais has been thrown into several situations from long relief to middle relief. I have been able to find out a little more on each, thanks to a couple of people much closer to these players than I am, and I thought you might be interested.
Robert Delaney - 23 years old - In 11 games, he is 0-2 with eight saves and a 0.54 ERA. In 16.1 innings, he has walked two and struck out 17. The report on him is that he throws a fastball between 88 and 91 mph. It has good angle and sink, and he has been able to keep it down this season (and last year too!). His second pitch is a slider which has become "effective" since he joined the Twins as a free agent after finishing his senior season at St. John's University.
Anthony Slama - 24 years old - In 11 games, he is 2-0 with five saves and a 0.50 ERA. In 18 innings, he has walked six and struck out 24 hitters. He throws his fastball between 88 and 92 mph and has a very good slider or slurve. Better control has been the key for Slama's success so far this season. He was the Twins 39th round pick in 2006.
Danny Vais - 23 years old - In 11 games, he is 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA. In 19.2 innings, he has seven walks and 14 strikeouts. He doesn't throw as hard. His fastball sits between 84 and 88 mph, so it is very important that he keep the ball down and locate well. He throws a good mix of pitches with his best pitch being a cut fastball. Someone in the Twins organization told me that Vais has "some of the best makeup of any of our pitchers." He was the Twins 17th round pick in 2003 out of junior college.
As you can see, each has some similarities and some differences and through five weeks all three of them have been quite successful. The general thought is that they have been successful by being aggressive and challenging hitters.
How to evaluate young pitchers is one topic that is very interesting to me. I asked a couple of people in and around the Twins organization about what they are looking for in young minor league pitchers. I think it is an interesting topic. Look at the Ft. Myers rotation. You have an immensely talented 19 year old in Deolis Guerra who comes from a different organization. You have Alex Burnett and Tyler Robertson who have each been in the organization a couple of years but are still just twenty years old. Then you have Jeff Manship who spent three years at Notre Dame, so he is 23 years old.
I asked a couple of generic questions. I asked what the team/organization is looking for in these pitchers in 2008. Are they looking for numbers, walks and strikeouts, dominance, etc.? In a way, I was trying to figure out if there was some number or statistic that I could look at to try to help me think through what the Twins are thinking of young pitchers' progress.
Well, the answers I got were more generic on one level. I was told that the Twins want these guys to "improve and become a better pitcher" or to "make progress." Those answers are fairly frustrating, but then some other thoughts helped me better understand this thinking, and it really does make sense.
It means a lot to hear that someone is "working on and developing things that are more important than performance at this stage in their career." The Twins don't focus on the numbers although they might indicate how a player has performed. The focus is on "improving areas that will result in better numbers, not the numbers themselves."
Again, that sounds generic and it doesn't specify anything that we can really quantify, but it is a great philosophy. Numbers are great and numbers tell us a lot about where a player is right now. But to an organization, is the goal to make them the best pitcher they can be right now... or to make them the best big league pitcher that they can be. Maybe it's two years from now. Maybe it's four years from now. Maybe it is later this summer. The goal is to develop pitchers for big league success.
That doesn't mean that minor league numbers mean nothing. Of course they do and as the pitcher gets closer to the big leagues, the correlation between the development stage and the performance rates will hopefully be getting more close.
Now, Deolis Guerra is new to the organization so the Twins are still trying to learn many things about him. They are really going to be doing a lot of teaching and evaluating. Tyler Robertson and Alex Burnett are just a year older, but the Twins obviously have a lot more information on them (stuff, make up, what drives them, etc.). We also have to remember that one year ago, Tyler Robertson was still in Extended Spring Training, so he is really a year ahead of where he maybe should be. He is holding his own. When it comes to Jeff Manship, he "can and will be pushed as it is warranted." He has things to work on including command of his fastball and improved usage of his changeup to help him be successful when he moves up. If he dominates, he can move fast, but again, he is in just his second full pro season.
If you are looking for a couple of general things to look for in a developing, young pitcher, here they are. First, there should be improved command at each level. That could show up in the Walks per nine inning stat, although as new pitches are added to a pitcher's repertoire or the team wants them to use other pitches more, there will be adjustment time. Secondly, the team wants and needs to evaluate how a pitcher learns how to make adjustments. Baseball is all about adjustments for hitters and pitchers, and that is at every level. Each step up the system is another opportunity and another need for more adjustments.
I think it is an interesting topic. When I am looking at my Top 50 Prospect lists, I look at several things; age to level of competition, reports on what pitches a guy throws, velocity, walks and strikeouts, strikeouts per inning pitched, WHIP. I look at maybe eight to ten things. The Twins organization looks at each player much more closely. What are your thoughts?
In his last five games, Ft. Myers outfielder Edward Ovalle has gone 10-19 (.526) with two triples, two homers and eight RBI. That has increased his batting average from .246 to .307. Ovalle has been in the Twins organization since signing in 2002 as a free agent out of The Dominican Republic. This is his second season at Ft. Myers, after hitting .222 there last year. But then when you step back and realize that he is still just 22 years old, I do think that he is worth at least acknowledging. He hasn't hit for real high average. He hasn't hit a lot of homers. He doesn't have blazing speed. But he seems to be a solid baseball player. Maybe not a top prospect. Maybe not even a Top 30 or Top 50 prospect. However, I think that he is worth watching for awhile.
There are a few Minor League topics for now. Be sure to keep checking back as you never know when we will have new minor league information.
Twins Minor League Updates
Monday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Darnell McDonald, Rochester Red Wings
Monday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – Cole DeVries, Ft. Myers Miracle
Tuesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day – Ben Revere, Beloit Snappers
Tuesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day – David Bromberg, Beloit Snappers
Monday - Red Wings 6, Columbus 7 – Darnell McDonald has been on fire since coming off of the DL. In this one, he went 2-3 with a walk, his eighth double, his fourth homer and four RBI. Denard Span went 2-4 with a walk and his ninth stolen base. Chris Basak hit his second homer. Howie Clark went 2-4. Francisco Liriano was, as he will be any time he pitches this year, the story. Liriano started and gave up one runs on two hits in five innings. He still walked four, but he also struck out four, so I would call the game a step in the right direction. Mariano Gomez then gave up two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings. Tim Lahey then experienced the negative side of being a closer. He came in and got the final two outs, but before then he gave up four runs on four hits to take the loss.
Tuesday - Red Wings 1, Columbus 3 – After pitching out of the bullpen the last couple of weeks, Philip Humber was back in the starting rotation. Humber gave up a run on five hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out six. Ricky Barrett gave up two runs on three hits in two innings. Julio DePaula struck out three in his two perfect innings. Denard Span went 3-4 with two stolen bases. He now has 11. Jose Morales was also 3-4. Chris Basak went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth double.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Monday - Rockcats 5, Bowie 4 – Yohan Pino had yet another quality start. He gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk in six innings. Kyle Aselton gave up a run on a hit and a walk in 0.2 innings. Armando Gabino gets the Win as he threw 1.1 perfect innings. Ben Julianel got his fifth save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth. Brock Peterson went 2-4 with his tenth double and two RBI. Luke Hughes went 2-3 with a walk. Erik Lis was 2-3 with a walk and his fourth double. Matt Moses hit his first homer of the year and drove in two runs.
Tuesday - Rockcats 5, Bowie 3 – A Matt Moses double in the bottom of the 7th scored Brock Peterson with what would prove to be the game-winning run. Moses went 2-3 with a walk and his 11th double. Luke Hughes went 2-5. Drew Butera, the nine-hitter, went 0-0 with three walks. Ryan Mullins got the start for the Rockcats and gave up three runs (2 earned) in six innings. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out six. Zach Ward picked up the win with two shutout innings out of the bullpen. Ben Julianel recorded his sixth save with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Monday - Miracle 1, Daytona 9 – You look at this score and it is hard to believe that my choice for pitcher of the day would be from this game. Cole DeVries gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk in seven innings. It was after that that the game got out of hand. Zach Day gave up four runs on six hits in the eighth inning. Danny Hernandez then gave up three runs on a hit and three walks in the ninth inning. Edward Ovalle led the offense by going 2-3 with his fourth triple. Danny Valencia went 2-4.
Tuesday - Miracle 4, Daytona 2 – Jeff Manship continues to pitch well, although he got a no-decision in this one. Manship gave up two runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out eight. Anthony Slama continues to dominate, striking out three in two perfect innings to improve to 2-0. Robert Delaney got his eighth save with one scoreless frame. Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with his seventh double. Brian Dinkelman was also 2-4. Edward Ovalle went 1-3 with three RBI. Danny Valencia was 0-2, but he walked twice.
Monday - Snappers 4, Lansing 2 – Santos Arias got his a win in his second start. He gave up two runs on four hits in five innings. He walked none and struck out five. Charles Nolte struck out three in two shutout innings. Spencer Steedley struck out three in 1.1 shutout innings. Matt Williams picked up his second save by getting the final two outs. Ben Revere went 2-4 with his first triple. Garrett Olson went 2-5 with his sixth stolen base. The Snappers had nine walks in the game, and Chris Parmelee had three of them.
Tuesday - Snappers 6, Lansing 2 – Ben Revere is certainly adapting to life in the Midwest League well. He went 3-5 with his third double. He also stole two bases. Ramon Santana went 2-4. Mark Dolenc hit his first homer. David Bromberg went the first six innings. He gave up one run on three hits. He walked three and struck out nine. Steve Hirschfeld came in and gave up a run on one hit and one walk. He struck out five and because the Snappers broke a 1-1 tie with five ninth inning runs, he is credited with the Win.
Have a great Wednesday!|
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