Friday, July 7, 2006
Twins Minor League Reports
Good morning, ya'll!
Please remember - My interview with the Minnesota Twins Fan Network. is set to launch later tonight, probably sometime after the Twins game. So be sure to stop by here and listen to the podcast if you have a chance.
Today, I just have a few Twins thoughts, and a semi-preview of the upcoming three-game set in Texas against the Rangers. That will be followed by the evening in the Twins minor league system as well as some random thoughts on each of the team's and some of their players. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to e-mail me or leave some Comments below. Also, if you have any questions for me, ask them in the Comments over via e-mail and I will try to respond to you in a semi-timely manner.
The Twins had an off-day down to Texas yesterday and today will start their final series before the All-Star break. Here are some random Twins Thoughts as well as a look at the Texas Rangers and this series.
thing that I have to do is congratulate Pat Neshek on his
recall to the Twins yesterday. It was expected, but I am sure that
the reality of it had to be incredible for Pat and his family. He
has obviously been very good to this site over the last couple of
years and we here at SethSpeaks want to with him nothing but success
and good luck! Maybe he can get into a game or two down in Texas!
Here is what I wrote in an update early yesterday afternoon:
UPDATES - In an e-mail I received from Pat Neshek today, "I'm going up, I just got the call!!!"
Congratulations to Pat Neshek!! This morning, he found out that he, in fact as has been speculated, was recalled by the Twins. He will be flying to Texas this afternoon to join the team for their three game series against the Rangers. He left a couple of brief comments on his website, and I saw it officially on the Transaction Page of ESPN.com too. For today's paper, Patrick Reusse wrote a great article on Neshek and the possibility of his recall to the Twins. Here is the official article on the call up in the Strib. Pat has done several Q&As for this website, including one less than two weeks ago.
I know that Pat reads this site, so if you would like to, please feel free to wish him well or congratulate him in the Comments below.
If you check out the Pat Neshek diary on Twinkie Town, I have to give some MAJOR credit to 'cmathewson' for his very Berman-like nickname of Pat "Shadac" Neshek! That's very creative!
Now that Neshek is in the big leagues, I do have to say that I think the Twins were probably smart to keep him down so long. There probably hasn't been a week in the last two months that I haven't said that he should be recalled. However, this was his first season at AAA. It probably was a good thing to let him get a couple of months there before having him jump up. To me, this isn't as much a case of holding Neshek back as keeping Jason Bartlett in Rochester was. Bartlett had that AAA track record whereas Neshek needed to prove himself there for a couple of months.
The other bit of news regarding the Twins yesterday was not quite as positive. Francisco Liriano finished second in fan voting for the final AL roster spot in the All-Star game. Making it worse was that it was AJ Pierzynski of the White Sox that edged him out. That is horrible on so many levels. First, it's AJ. It is almost impossible to like the guy. If anyone does, please explain with some Comments below. Second, it is the seventh White Sox player to make the roster. Now, they are the defending World Champs and have the second best record in baseball, so it is understandable. However, the Detroit Tigers, the team with the best record in baseball, has just two representatives. Third, Liriano has been the best pitcher in baseball outside of Johan Santana since becoming a starter and was terrific when he was in the bullpen. Fourth, if I was from North Dakota or Cleveland, I think I would be outraged that the best hitter in the league, Travis Hafner, was not named to the All-Star game in the first place, much less finished third in this voting. Finally, the White Sox and AJ Pierzynski marketed the "Punch AJ" campaign on several national sports shows. First, don't market yourself. And second, don't market yourself for something so negative. Obviously it is a play on when Michael Barrett punched Pierzynski back in May. That's pretty classless, but again, would we expect more from AJ and the White Sox? Big picture, it's just another example of how fan voting, although good in theory, is an incredibly flawed concept.
On the positive side of this, now Liriano can start the first game back after the All-Star break on Thursday against the Indians.
By the Numbers gives us their opinions on the All Star Snubs and Flubs. They agree with me on Hafner and Liriano... and Verlander!
Here are the pitching matchups
for the weekend series with the Rangers:
Friday - 7:35 pm - Carlos Silva (4-8, 6.62, 1.57, .337) vs John Wasdin (1-1, 3.86, 1.21, .224)
Saturday - 7:05 pm - Francisco Liriano (9-1, 1.99, 0.97, .203) vs John Rheinecker (4-2, 3.88, 1.53, .321)
Sunday - 1:05 pm - Johan Santana (9-4, 2.76, 0.99, .219) vs John Koronka (6-5, 4.68, 1.38, .278)
So, the Twins will get to face off against three Johns. I am sure that there is a joke involving toiletry in there, but it's too late for me to think about it!
The Rangers are 43-43, 1.5 games behind the Oakland A's in the AL West. The Twins are 46-37, ten games behind the Tigers and nine games behind the White Sox in the AL Central.
Wasdin is making the start in place of $60 million man Kevin Millwood who is being rested due to concern about a strained biceps in his pitching arm.
Gary Matthews Jr. was named to the AL All-Star squad. His father, the former Cubs OF "Sarge", was a very good player too. Matthews is primarily known for his defense. Last Saturday, he made the play of the millennium when he leapt over the centerfield fence acrobatically robbing a home run. However, this season, he is batting .331/.376/.527 with 8 homers and 43 RBI as well. In his last six games, he is 11-27 (.407).
Mark DeRosa was a utility man in Atlanta for the better part of a decade. He came to Texas this season hoping for some playing time at 2B. When Ian Kinsler got hurt, he played so well that he is now finding time at 3B (against lefties) and RF as well. He is hitting .336/.388/.449 with four homers and 29 RBI.
Michael Young is an All-Star by every definition. The SS is hitting .316/.360/.449 with six homers and 55 RBI. However, in his last seven games, he has gone 5-27 (.185)
Mark Teixeira was one of three players that I would have traded Francisco Liriano straight-up this past off-season. He has been one of the league's biggest disappointments so far in 2006. He is hitting just .274/.354/.435. He has just eight homers and 45 RBI. He does, however, have 29 doubles. In his last ten games, he is just 7-39 (.179). He was 5-12 in their series against the Blue Jays though earlier this week.
Remember when some Twins fans were upset because the Twins would not trade Francisco Liriano for Hank Blalock? Well, hopefully they have changed their tune by now. Blalock is hitting .282/.349/.443 this season with 12 homers and 56 RBI. In his last eight games, he is 6-30 (.200). One of the biggest knocks I (and several others) had about Blalock was his complete inability to hit left-handed pitching. So how are his lefty-right splits this season? Against righties, Blalock is hitting .303/.364/.471. Against lefties, he is hitting just .224/.309/.365. So, his OPS against righties is .835 and against lefties it is .674. That is fairly significant!
Back to Ian Kinsler, he was a guy that I wanted on my fantasy teams before the year started. He was injured and missed a lot of playing time early, but he is back now and really hitting the ball. He is currently on a seven game hitting streak during which he is hitting .520 (13-25). Overall this year, he is hitting .326/.389/.572 with seven homers in just 138 at bats. Not bad production from a 2B. I still think that he should be playing SS with Michael Young moving back to 2B.
Kevin Mench was 2-4 on Wednesday night. In his previous five games, he had been 0-12.
Brad Wilkerson was a guy I, and many experts, touted as a breakout performer for 2006. Why? Because of his power production with the Expos (and how that would transfer into Texas) and his great on-base skills. Well, it is safe to say that his .238 batting average has been disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. What he does best is take pitches and get on base. He is certainly doing that. His on-base percentage is .338, so he has an Isolated Discipline of .110 which is excellent. He has just 13 homers and 33 RBI though. Here are a couple of very interesting statistics. In his last six games, Wilkerson is just 1-10. However, he has walked nine times. That means he has a .100 batting average and an on-base percentage of .526. That is an extreme case for why you can't just look at batting average! In his last 12 games, he is just 4-30 (.133), but his 12 walks in that time give him an on-base percentage of .381.
Rod Barajas continues to be the Rangers primary catcher. He must be good behind the plate. He is hitting just .226 this season and is 1 for 13 in his last four games. Meanwhile, Gerald Laird is hitting .330. Since June 23, he is 5-16 with four doubles.
In FoxSports.com's Dayn Perry's most recent Power Rankings, he puts the Twins at #7. He comments on the two losses to the Royals. He also tells us that Baseball Prospectus puts the Twins shot at the playoffs at 5.6%
Former Twins closer Eddie Guardado was traded yesterday by the Seattle Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league pitcher Travis Chick. Wayne Krivsky really does like those former Twins, doesn't he?
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Royals, or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day - JR Taylor, New Britain Rockcats
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Brian Duensing, Ft. Myers Miracle
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Thursday - Red Wings 3, Scranton/Wilkes Barre 1 – Jason Miller got his second win of the year with a very impressive performance. The lefty went six innings and gave up just a run on three hits and a walk. He struck out five. Then Kevin Cameron came in an threw three shutout innings for the save, his fifth of the year.
Odds and Ends - It will be interesting to see who emerges as the team's closer over the next couple of weeks with Pat Neshek now with the Twins. My guess is that the primary closer would be Kevin Cameron as he has been on days when Neshek was unable to pitch. Beau Kemp is another option. He is 6-1 with a 2.23 ERA. My concern with him is that in 48.1 innings, he has just 21 strikeouts to go with 19 walks. Certainly not a dominating presence. The other option would be Bobby Korecky. Don't forget that he was the closer in New Britain in 2004 before Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2005 season. But again, in 20 innings with the Red Wings, he has just 11 strikeouts.
Rondell White was 0-4 last night. He is 7-24 in his AAA stint with six singles and a homer. There is talk that he would go to Ft. Myers to play in games during the AAA All-Star break.
Jason Tyner really is having a fine season. With his 2-4 last night, he is hitting .329 on the year. I am of the view that Denard Span is not ready yet (and there is no need to rush him!) so there is not an immediate replacement should the Twins concede this season and trade Torii Hunter. However, since there would be a concession, I would be fine with the Twins working a CF platoon of Lew Ford and Jason Tyner for the remainder of the season.
It is really sad. I don't think manager Stan Cliburn likes Alex Romero much. He just is not getting the number of at bats that a true hitting prospect like Romero should be getting.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday - Rockcats 12, New Hampshire 1 – Justin Olson got the start last night and recorded his fifth win. In six innings of work, Olson gave up just one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five. Adam Harben went the next two innings without allowing a run. Most impressively, he walked one and struck out three! Julio DePaula worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts. Garrett Guzman was 3-5 with his third double. Matt Tolbert continues his hot streak with a 3-6 day. He had a double and three RBI. JR Taylor went 3-3 with two walks, his 10th double, his first homer, his fifth stolen base and three RBI. Trent Oeltjen was 2-5 with a walk and a double. Scott Whitrock was 2-5. Jose Morales was 2-5 with his 11th doubles, his third homer and three RBI.
Odds and Ends - Matt Moses's batting average is way down. Interestingly, he has also not played now for a few games. I have not been able to find any information on whether he is hurt, or he has been benched.
Trent Oeltjen will miss time this weekend to represent the Twins and Australia in the Futures Game in Pittsburgh.
Remember how poor the start of the season was for Doug Deeds. That really makes his .286 batting average now look solid. He has really come on again after the disappointing start. If only we could see Danny Matienzo start hitting more.
Scott Whitrock's downfall in the past has always been his strikeouts. Again this season, his first in New Britain, he now has 46 strikeouts in 139 at bats (149 plate appearances). When he does put the ball in play, he really has a strong power/speed combination that has to be intriguing to the Twins scouts.
I remember before the season, there was so much talk (from this site included) about the incredible pitching staff of the Rockcats. Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn and Errol Simonitsch would be back for awhile, and Adam Harben and Justin Jones would be the high ceiling new guys. Well, Perkins is 2-9. Blackburn is 5-7 and pitching out of the bullpen. Simonitsch is 5-9. Harben is 1-4 with a 1.54 WHIP and now in the bullpen. He has 42 walks and 32 strikeouts in 66.1 innings. Justin Jones was shipped back to Ft. Myers. Now, I still believe that all five of these pitchers could eventually have a role in the big leagues with the Twins, but it just goes to show that especially with pitching prospects, you just never know. It is also important to remember that these pitchers now have scouting reports on them, so they are in the process, I'm sure, of making adjustments in their games as well.
As the rotation sits now, Perkins and Simonitsch are still in the rotation. They are joined by flamethrower Justin Olson, and the two mega-prospects Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday - Miracle 7, Tampa 1 - Brian Duensing gave the Miracle seven strong innings last night on his way to his second win with the team. He gave up just one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out five. Tim Lahey threw two scoreless innings in relief. Brock Peterson went 3-5 with his 10th homer. Brandon Roberts was 2-5 with a stolen base. Steven Tolleson returned and went 2-4 with his third double. Erold Andrus went 2-4 with two RBI
Odds and Ends - I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to see that Brock Peterson was sent back to Ft. Myers to start the season. It was an obvious move since Danny Matienzo remained at New Britain. However, for Peterson's development, this might have been the best thing for him. He has really been hitting well of late and ten homers in the Florida State League is nothing to sneeze at. Peterson is still very young and has a bright future ahead of him.
Brandon Roberts and Alexi Casilla each stole their 30th base of the season last night. It will be an interesting competition the rest of the season to see who ends up with more.
It is very good too see David Winfree back and playing 3B for the Miracle. Hopefully he was able to take care of whatever his issues were early in the season and he can continue to climb the Twins ladder.
When you look at Trevor Plouffe's .221 batting average, it isn't exactly intimidating. However, something must have happened because just a couple of weeks ago, he was hitting about .196. He has actually been hitting well of late. His defense, however, remains a concern. Last night, he committed his 20th error of the season. That isn't good. However, Rickie Weeks of the Milwaukee Brewers already has 21 errors this season. In other words, Plouffe is not a great defensive player yet, but he still has time to work on it. If he were hitting at all, we probably wouldn't worry about it quite so much.
Another reason for why looking at W-L record is dumb, particularly in the minor leagues. Last night, Brian Duensing got the win to improve to 2-4. You would think he was pitching poorly. However, he now has an ERA of 2.77! That is excellent. His WHIP is a very solid 1.18.
Thursday - Snappers 6, South Bend 7 – The Snappers were the only team in the organization to lose last night, and it came in the 10th inning. Kyle Waldrop had his first rough start in a long time. The righty gave up six runs in five innings. Danny Vais and David Shinskie each went two shutout innings. Yohan Pino then fell to 7-2 when he allowed a walk-off homer with one out in the bottom of the 10th. The first eight hitters in the Snappers lineup each had one hit.
Odds and Ends - What a pro debut for Whit Robbins! The Georgia Tech product drafted in the 4th round by the Twins has gone 14-29 to start his career. He is hitting .483/.541/.828 for a 1.368 OPS! He has five doubles, a triple and a home run. He did not play in last night's game.
Erik Lis continues his strong season with the bat. He is hitting .324/.405/.519 with 27 doubles, nine homers and 44 RBI. However, I think we are now seeing exactly why he was not promoted to Ft. Myers. Last night, he committed his 14th error of the season. That is hard for a 1B to do in any league.
Defense is often a struggle in the lower levels of the minor leagues. I am sure that in many cases, it is simply a matter of concentrating every pitch of every inning every day for a season. Steven Tolleson had 14 errors in 47 games with the Snappers. Drew Thompson has committed 17 errors in 64 games. Juan Portes, never known for his defense, has committed 10 errors in just 27 games. Of course, he is playing all over the field. I say all this really to point out what Paul Kelly has done as the team's every day shortstop. In 79 games, he has just eight errors.
Waldrop is now 6-2 with a 3.62 ERA for the Snappers. Last night's outing aside, he has been terrific for the last six weeks. But don't overlook Oswaldo Sosa. He is just 6-6 on the year, he has has an impressive 2.61 ERA in 93 innings.
Although he took the loss last night, Yohan Pino has been great out of the bullpen. Before last night, he was 7-1 with a 1.41 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. In 44.2 innings, he had 56 strikeouts and just 12 walks.
Thursday - E-Twins 9, Burlington 3 – It was a very good game for the E-Twins last night all around. Brian Kirwin got his first pro win. In six innings, he gave up only an unearned run on one hit and a walk. He struck out three. Armando Gabino and Brandon McConnell each threw a shutout inning. McConnell struck out the side. Aaron Craig gave up two runs on two hits and struck out two in his inning. Greg Yersich went 3-5 with his fourth double. Danny Santiesteban was 3-4 with his fourth double, a walk and three RBI. William Luque was 2-3 with his second double. Josh Land was 2-5 with his first homer. Richard Sojo was 2-5 with a triple.
Odds and Ends - There are two pitchers on this roster that I think have huge futures ahead of them. I will be following their starts more closely than most. First is Brian Kirwin who won his first game last night. He was taken by the Twins a year ago in the 11th round. The Twins signed him for around $500,000 well over what other 11th rounders would get. But Kirwin is a guy who after his junior year of high school was a 1st round talent. However, a knee injury cost him his senior season. He still had a scholarship to UCLA, but the Twins took a chance on his golden arm and will hope for no problems with his knee.
The other pitcher I am intrigued by is Alex Burnett. He was a 2005 draft pick as well, but he is young for his grade. He is still just 18 years old. So far in three starts this year, he is 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA. In 17.1 innings, he has 15 strikeouts and just three walks.
Matthew Fox is also worth watching, although he is quite old for the league. The Twins took Fox as a supplemental 1st round pick in the 2004 draft out of Central Florida. They gave him about $900,000 despite knowing he had had arm troubles. He pitched very little in 2004, and he missed all of 2005 with Tommy John surgery. He is working his way back slowly which is smart. He has a lot of talent, but he needs to stay healthy. The Twins also will have to decide after the season whether to add him to the 40 man roster or risk losing him to the Rule V draft.
Patrick Bryant was a Twins pick in 2004 as well. The Florida prep was the 71st ranked player in the country his senior year. He also was quite the QB in football. He had a dual scholarship for both sports to the University of Alabama. The Twins were able to sign him. He has thrown a total of 3.2 innings so far in four outings. He has given up eight hits and three walks, and seven runs. He has an ERA of 17.18 and a WHIP of three. That is all much better than Walter Patton who has recorded two outs in two appearances and has an ERA of 121.50 and a WHIP of 16.50. He has given up nine runs on five hits and six walks.
I know a lot of people thought that Danny Santiesteban would be pushed to Beloit this season. Before last night's game, he led the team with 49 at bats. However, he was hitting just .163/.241/.265. Last night, he was 3-4 to increase his average to .208. I'm sure he'll be fine, but it is important that the team not rush players or push them too much, too soon.
Henry Sanchez struggled mightily in Beloit, and he was sent back to E-Town. There, he is now hitting .220/.214/.390 with four doubles and a homer. His on-base percentage is less than his batting average because he has no walks and a sacrifice fly. At this point, the scouting report is simply that he can't hit a curveball. Hey Pedro Serrano, got another chicken?
GCL TWINS REPORT
Thursday - GCL Twins 6, GCL Pirates 3 – Tyler Robertson recorded his first professional win. The southpaw gave up three runs on six hits and two walks over five innings. Acosta then threw two shutout innings. Dan Leatherman threw two shutout innings for his second save. 2B Starling De Los Santos went 2-5. Rodolfo Palacios as 2-4 with a double and two RBI.
Odds and Ends - The first thing that you have to notice with this roster is that it is a collection of some really great names. Starling De Los Santos, Rodolfo Palacios, Ludovicus Van Mil, Bruno Sanchez, and Jakub Toufar are just a few.
Juan Delgado got into a couple of games for the Miracle last week when Trevor Plouffe missed a couple of games with injury. The SS is hitting .217, but he also has now committed seven errors in seven games.
Top draft pick Chris Parmalee went 0-3 last night to fall to 5-26 (.192) on the year. He does have two homers though.
Second round pick, Joe Benson, was a catcher in high school. However, he is quite athletic and has been playing CF for the Twins. He has started out very well hitting .320/.382/.480 with two doubles and three triples. An 0-2 last night dropped him to .308.
Of C Wilson Ramos's eleven hits, seven have gone for extra bases.
7-1 Loek Van Mil has a 2.03 ERA in his 13.1 innings of pitching. That's not too shabby. However, he has walked nine and struck out eight. That is not unusual for any pitcher this young and in the GCL. However, it is not at all surprising for such a tall pitcher. Finding the proper release point is especially difficult for someone that long. Remember that it took Randy Johnson quite awhile to get to the big leagues and he still struggled with his control for a couple of years.
Curtis Leavitt, a 2005 draft-and-follow has struck out 16 and walked just two in his eleven innings so far. Justin (real name Jon) Staatz has 12 strikeouts and no walks in his 7.1 innings so far. In 13 innings, Tyler Robertson now has four walks and 13 strikeouts.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today!|
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