Thursday, July 22, 2010
Please recall that I will be making my weekly appearance with Paul Allen on KFAN, its affiliates and KFAN.com at about 9:15 on Thursday morning.
It has been a difficult season in the Twins minor league system. There have been some injuries to key hitters and pitchers. And frankly, the Twins affiliates have played really poorly. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of players still worth watching and mentioning. Today, I am going to provide the organization’s leaders in two categories that I believe indicate future power potential. . Obviously home runs are a strong indicator for future ability to hit home runs. But I also really like to look at doubles. Hitters that are driving the ball and getting doubles could (and that’s a big could) develop home run hitting power over time. As the player gets more comfortable facing pitching, or gets stronger, or better strike zone judgment. These are all skills that have to be developed.
First, the Twins minor league leaders in Home Runs through Wednesday:
1. Joe Benson 19 (15 – New Britain, 4 – Ft. Myers)
2. Brock Peterson 14 (Rochester)
3. Trevor Plouffe 14 (Rochester)
4. Danny Rams 10 (Beloit)
5. Michael Gonzales 10 (Beloit)
6. Erik Lis 8 (2 – Rochester, 6 – New Britain)
7. Steve Liddle 8 (Beloit)
8. Oswaldo Arcia 8 (Elizabethton)
9. Chris Parmelee 7 (5 – New Britain, 2 – Ft. Myers)
10. Nathan Hanson 7 (Ft. Myers)
Summary – Joe Benson’s tools are certainly become skills in 2010, at least the power tool as he leads the organization with 19 home runs. Plouffe’s career high in home runs had been 13 in 2005 at Beloit. He had 10 in Rochester in 2009. The burly Peterson still has a ways to go to reach his career high. In 2006 in Ft. Myers, Peterson hit 21 home runs. In 2006, he had 14 homers in New Britain before adding two more with the Red Wings. So his power is legitimate. Yet, despite solid production in Rochester, he has not received an opportunity from the Twins, even with the Justin Morneau injury. Danny Rams is still so young, and he has as much or more power as any player in the farm system. Like Benson, he just has to cut down the strikeouts. Michael Gonzales is a powerful left-handed bat with a long, strong swing. He too is prone to the strikeout. Lis is back in New Britain for the third straight season after starting the season in Rochester. Liddle is the nephew of the Twins bench coach, and as a product of Vanderbilt University, it is no surprise to see him on this list. The most impressive performance after Benson has to be that of Elizabethton’s Oswaldo Arcia who has eight home runs in 124 plate appearances. Chris Parmelee has been solid since his return to New Britain after a brief demotion. Hanson was born in Chanhassen, went to Eden Prairie High School and the University of Minnesota before being drafted by his home town team.
Here are the Twins minor league leaders in Doubles through Wednesday:
1. Steve Singleton 30 (New Britain)
2. Joe Benson 25 (14 – New Britain, 11 – Ft. Myers)
3. Anderson Hidalgo 24 (Beloit)
4. Brian Dinkelman 22 (Rochester)
5. Aaron Hicks 21 (Beloit)
6. Evan Bigley 21 (Ft. Myers)
7. Dustin Martin 20 (Rochester)
8. Danny Rams 19 (18 – Beloit, 1 – New Britain)
9. Jacque Jones 19 (Rochester)
10. Brock Peterson 18 (Rochester)
Summary – Several are asking what should be done with Orlando Hudson in the offseason. Should he be brought back? What Steve Singleton does over the next two months could also factor into that decision. Benson is high on this list as well, which again says that when he puts the ball in play, he hits that ball hard. Anderson Hidalgo has easily been the best and most consistent hitter in the Snappers lineup all season. Dinkelman just continues to produce. An outfielder now, I am convinced that he could be a solid big league contributor if only given an opportunity. Hicks has certainly had an up and down season. It will be fun to watch Hicks and his tools develop. As they were with Benson, the Twins (and us, fans) need to be patient with the ultra-talented Hicks. Evan Bigley got off to a very slow start with the Miracle, but he certainly has shown that he can hit. Martin is having a very good comeback season in Rochester. Again, as much as Rams is ‘known’ for the strikeouts, when he makes contact, he hits the ball really, really hard and has tremendous power to right field as well. Jones has been solid when healthy this year. And Peterson has again been very good all-around with the bat in AAA.
Obviously stats alone are not the lone indicator of future performance, but it never hurts to put up numbers. When you couple some raw numbers with scouting reports on some of these guys’ athleticism, it’s easy to explain why I can be excited about the potential of certain players. Consider a talent like Joe Benson, who is as impressive of an athlete as anyone I’ve met (he could have been a Big 10 running back!). It is easy to see the improvements he has made while continuing to show a very patient approach at the plate, and now you look at the numbers starting to rack up, it’s hard not to be excited about such a player. Remember also that the Twins minor leaguers tend to play in pitcher-friendly leagues and home parks, and in some cases, that can make some of these numbers look even more impressive.
First of all, take these numbers for what they are. The main thing is that it is meant as recognition for some good numbers by several players who really deserve to be noticed. Who knows? We could see some of these guys in Twins uniforms in 2010, or sometime down the road. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Leave Comments here.
After losing to Cleveland in one of the ugliest baseball games ever (Monday night) and in a close 4-3 decision (Tuesday), the Twins, behind another impressive performance by Francisco Liriano avoided the sweep with a 6-0 win on Wednesday afternoon. The lefty improved to 8-7 and reduced his ERA to 3.54 with seven shutout innings. He gave up six hits. He walked four and struck out eight. He also got nine outs on ground balls to four on fly outs. Jesse Crain pitched another scoreless inning.
And then came the much-anticipated debut of Anthony Slama. After a leadoff single to Matt Laporta, Slama struck out Shelley Duncan and Trevor Crowe before getting Jason Donald to ground out to 3B. A very impressive debut. Now, with Jon Rauch seemingly unable to pitch in the game, it would have been very interesting to see what would have happened had the Twins held a 3-0 lead going into the 9th inning instead of a 6-0 lead. Would Slama have been brought into a save situation? Is there any chance that Slama was brought up to replace Rauch as the Twins’ closer? I highly doubt it, even with the Rauch’s struggles since the All Star break. That said, I do not believe that it would take long for that change to take place.
The Bunt. Alright, I wrote about it yesterday a little bit. It was the talker around the Twin Cities on Wednesday. For me, my final thought is that it was dumb, but we are making way, way too much out of it. The Baby Jesus does not deserve to be crucified for it. It was a mistake. No need to dwell on it.
That said, it was a microcosm of the Twins season. Expectations for the Twins and for Mauer were incredibly high coming into the season, and although many fans have been disappointed with their performances, both are still very good. The Twins are good. Joe Mauer is good.
Mauer was given the day off on Wednesday afternoon. It was the standard day game after a night game reason, and I fully support it. But I also fully believe that Drew Butera has earned his roster spot to this point. In all honesty, his defense is terrific. His fundamentals are far and away better behind the plate than Mauer’s. He catches the ball well, frames pitches, and he blocks the balls in the dirt perfectly. He has a strong and accurate arm. No, he can’t hit. No question about that. There has been talk of Butera being Carl Pavano’s personal catcher (something the Twins have been hesitant to do). Based on the work he did with Francisco Liriano as well, maybe he should be Liriano’s personal catcher. Who knows? Maybe he should be the personal catcher for Scott Baker… and Kevin Slowey… and Brian Duensing too? (just in case it didn’t come across, there was a bit of sarcasm in that last sentence or two.)
It’s not terribly often that a player has the line score that Jim Thome had on Wednesday afternoon. He was 0-0 with four walks.
Delmon Young had three more hits and three more RBI on Wednesday. He is now hitting .314 with 67 RBI. In his last eight games, he is 14-34 (.412) with two doubles, a homer and nine RBI.
After the game, the Twins took Alexi Casilla off of the Disabled List and sent Jeff Manship back to AAA Rochester.
The team also announced that Brian Duensing will be making a start on Friday in place of Nick Blackburn. It was probably an easy decision, but I also believe that Twins fans need to curb their enthusiasm and expectations for Duensing. Although he was terrific for the Twins in the final month of the season last year, his AAA track record indicate that he won’t have an ERA much under 5. But hopefully whatever other moves happen in the pitching staff, it will give the Twins a better chance to win.
Here is a quick glance at what happened on Wednesday in the Twins minor league system:
SethSpeaks Wednesday Minor League Hitter of the Day – Brian Dinkelman – Rochester Red Wings
SethSpeaks Wednesday Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Miguel Munoz – Beloit Snappers
Red Wings Report
Wednesday – Rochester 9, Buffalo 2 – Glen Perkins won for the third time in July. The lefty went seven innings and gave up two runs (1 earned) on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out just one. Kyle Waldrop threw two scoreless innings in relief, striking out three. The offense provided plenty of support. Brian Dinkelman went 3-3 with two walks. Wilson Ramos was 3-4 with his 13th double. Brendan Harris went 2-5 with a double and his second home run. D’Angelo Jimenez went 2-5 with his sixth double and first triple. Jacque Jones went 2-5 with his 19th double. Trevor Plouffe hit his 14th home run.
· In July, Glen Perkins went 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 24.2 innings.
· In his last five games, Wilson Ramos has gone 9-18 (.500).
New Britain Notes
Wednesday – New Britain 0, Harrisburg 2 – Mike McCardell fell to 0-11, but he pitched a little better. He gave up two runs on six hits and four walks in 5.2 innings. Carlos Gutierrez went 2.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Jair Fernandez went 2-4. Steve Singleton hit his 30th double. Chris Parmelee hit his 12th with the Rockcats.
Wednesday – Ft. Myers 13, Lakeland 4 – A day after he drove in the winning run in the 11th inning, Nate Hanson went 3-4 with two doubles in this win. Nick Romero went 3-4 with a walk and two doubles. Chris Herrmann went 2-4 with his third triple. Brian Dozier and Allan de San Miguel each had two hits. Kane Holbrooks made his first start with the Miracle. He gave up four runs on three hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out six. Shooter Hunt walked three and struck out one in 0.2 innings. He was replaced by Steve Blevins who worked 3.1 scoreless innings of work. He gave up just two hits and a walk.
Wednesday – Beloit 4, South Bend 2 – Miguel Munoz gave up just one run on five hits over seven innings. He struck out seven without allowing a walk. Peter Kennelly walked two and got just one out. He was replaced by Matt Hauser who recorded his first MWL Save by getting the final five outs. Aaron Hicks was 3-5 with his fourth triple and 13th stolen base. Tobias Streich and James Beresford each had two hits.
· Hauser was the Twins 7th round pick in 2010 out of the University of San Diego. In 2010, he went 4-3 with eight saves and a 3.67 ERA. In 41.2 innings, he walked nine and struck out 37. He seems to be this year’s draft pick who is quickly moving. Last year, it was Billy Bullock who started in E-Town and progressed to Beloit after putting up terrific numbers in the Appalachian League. In nine innings, he gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out 13. The Twins, of course, have another reliever from the University of San Diego in the system who turned out pretty good; Anthony Slama.
Wednesday – Elizabethton 8, Johnson City 9 – Oswaldo Arcia continued his power barrage on the Appalachian League. He went 2-5 with his eighth home run. Andy Leer went 2-5 with his tenth double. Danny Ortiz hit his third and fourth triples. Daniel Santana went 2-5 with his fifth double. Jhonatan Arias went 1-2 with his second double and two walks. Sam Spangler started and gave up two runs on four hits in three innings. He struck out four. David Gutierrez then went the next three innings. He also gave up two runs on four hits. Ryan O’ Rourke came in and in 1.1 innings gave up five runs (3 earned) on four hits and a walk. Logan Darnell got the final two outs but not before giving up a hit that scored the winning run.
· It was the professional debut of Logan Darnell, the Twins 6th round pick out of the University of Kentucky. The lefty went 5-3 with a 5.62 ERA in 14 games. In 73.2 innings, he walked 28 and struck out 55. Certainly not the type of numbers that would warrant waiting so long to sign. He made 11 starts (and three bullpen appearances) in 2010. In his first two years at Kentucky, he pitched in 43 games, all out of the bullpen.
GCL Twins Topics
Wednesday – GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 7 – JaDamion Williams went 2-4 with his first career home run. After three doubles on Tuesday, Kennys Vargas hit his eighth double in this game. Cesar Ciurcina started and gave up six runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings. Brett Carroll threw two shutout innings. Eddie Ahorrio gave up a run on two hits and a walk in two innings.
Any thoughts of the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.