Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Twins Minor League Report
It's Garza Time...
or it should be!!!
Good morning! Wow! This Twins/White Sox series has been a lot of fun to watch. Sure, I'm a Twins fan so the fact that they have now won the first two games is part of it, but really, both games have been good. I have a few Twins Thoughts down below, along with the Minor League recaps, but today, I would like to talk about a Twins minor leaguer... who I think should shortly become a Twins major leaguer.
I am going to start today with the topic of the Twins top prospect and 2005 #1 pick Matt Garza. Last night, he beat the White Sox with a 1-0 complete game shutout! OK, he actually beat the Charlotte Knights, the AAA Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. In nine innings, he gave up just three hits and three walks, and he struck out eight. One of the three hits was a first inning bunt single. The win makes him 2-1 in AAA. The shutout drops his ERA to 2.05. It is just the latest highlight in a season full of highlights for the flame-throwing righty.
The question has been mentioned here and several other players in the last few weeks. Will the Twins decide to call up Matt Garza? And, equally important, should the Twins call up Matt Garza. The answer is not as simple as you would think though. Actually, if you were to ask a dozen Twins fans if Matt Garza should be called up to the Twins, you may have six say he should and six say he shouldn't. But if you asked the twelve to explain their answers, you may hear twelve different reasons for it. Today, I will give a little bit of background on Garza's season, and in the end, I will explain why I believe that the Twins should call up Matt Garza.
And no, it isn't just because of the Q&A with Matt Garza that was run for this site in May!
In high school, Matt Garza was a great pitcher. However, he was an incredible quarterback on his high school football team. Garza was drafted in the 40th round in 2002 by the Colorado Rockies, but he decided to go to college. It was the right decision for him. After three years of college, the Twins drafted Garza with their first round pick in the 2005 draft (25th overall) out of Fresno State University. He signed quickly with the Twins and reported to Elizabethton where he made four starts before advancing to Beloit. With the Snappers, he went 3-3 with a 3.54. His numbers were solid, but unspectacular. As a matter of fact, when I ranked the Twins prospects after the season, I had him ranked #18. A second look at his number did show very nice peripheral numbers like K/9.
THE 2006 SEASON
And then came the 2006 season. He started the year with the Ft. Myers Miracle. He made eight starts and threw 44.1 innings there. He struck out 53 and walked just 11. He was 5-1 with a 1.42 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.86. He was called up to AA New Britain despite the fact that Kevin Slowey had even better numbers than he did. Some commented that he was only called up first because of the signing bonus that he signed a year earlier was so much bigger than Slowey's. Of course, that probably plays a role in any organization. However, to say that (and I'm sure I may have) was really unfair to what Garza had done. He had been terrific and deserved the call. Slowey was called up later. In my June 1st Top 50 Twins Prospects, Matt Garza was already up to #1!
Double-A is generally the first place that a top pitcher drafted out of college struggles. Twins fans have seen that with Glen Perkins among others. However, Garza made ten starts and pitched 57.1 innings for the Rockcats. He struck out 68 and walked just 14. He went 6-2 with a 2.51 ERA. His WHIP was just 0.94. New Britain entered the season with five highly thought of pitching prospects in their rotation yet it was Matt Garza who was the first pitcher promoted from New Britain to Rochester earlier this month. The other prospects struggled with the Eastern League, and Garza just breezed through it. (Ironically, about a week after Kevin Slowey was promoted to New Britain, Garza moved up to Rochester.)
With last night's complete game shutout against Charlotte, Garza has now made three starts for the Red Wings. He is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA. In 22 innings, he has six walks and 21 strikeouts. His WHIP is 0.82.
I think that has to be considered an absolutely remarkable season for any pitcher. Two years ago, Scott Baker moved from Ft. Myers to Rochester quickly, but not with this kind of dominance. Last year, Francisco Liriano dominated AAA after being solid but unspectacular in New Britain. I don't know if there has been another pitcher in the Twins organization, at least in recent years, that Garza can be compared to. Maybe someone out there will remember a name?
So, why not call up Matt Garza and put him in the Twins starting rotation? I mean, with the struggles of both Carlos Silva and Scott Baker, they certainly could be replaced, but there are reasons to keep Garza in Rochester.
The Adam Johnson Factor is the reason that I think most Twins fans will bring up. Adam Johnson was the Twins first round draft pick in 2000. He was taken second overall because he was willing to sign what the Twins were willing to offer. He moved up the system pretty quickly starting in Ft. Myers right after the draft. In his second season, he started at New Britain before moving up to Rochester and then making seven appearances with the Twins. He failed. He was 1-2 with an 8.28 ERA in those games. He spent all of 2003 in AAA, and in 2004, he was 0-1 with a 47.25 ERA in two games with the Twins. That was all we saw from Adam Johnson.
Although the Twins quickly called him up to their roster a year after he was drafted, a deeper look tells us that Garza and Johnson are not even comparable. When Adam Johnson was promoted from New Britain to Rochester, he was 5-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He averaged about a strikeout an inning, and 3 strikeouts per walk with a WHIP of 1.27. Those numbers were all very solid, but not even in the same neighborhood as Garza's. When Johnson was promoted from Rochester to the Twins, he was 1-1 with a 5.70 ERA in just four starts. He did have 25 strikeouts in 23.2 innings, however, he also had ten walks.
Of course there is concern about bringing up any 22 year old to the big leagues, particularly in a pennant race. The fear is that they will be brought up, put in a tough situation, crack and fail, and never be able to get over it. Remember in 1993 when the Giants had a double-digit lead over the Braves with just weeks to play. The Braves caught up and tied it forcing a one-game playoff. The Giants started a rookie named Salomon Torres, and he got lit up. He went 8-20 over the next three years and was out of baseball in 1997. (he made a comeback in 2002 and has been a solid reliever since then) To me though, that is an individual thing. I would not advocate starting a 22 year old rookie in a one-game playoff. Or would I? Don't forget that the Twins Francisco Liriano is just 22 as well! Mental toughness is very important in baseball. From all we've seen and heard about regarding Garza, he seems to have a pretty solid make up.
It is not without precedence. Even this year, several rookie pitchers have been brought up to playoff-chasing teams. The Mets promoted their 2005 top pick Mike Pelfrey from AA, and he has gone 2-1 for them. The Twins have Francisco Liriano. The Indians have Jeremy Sowers. The Phillies have Cole Hamels. You may have noticed that the Atlanta Braves are back in playoff contention. Part of their rise has been better starting pitching, and some of that credit has to go to rookie Chuck James' insertion into the rotation. The Los Angeles Angels called up Jered Weaver and all he has done is got 7-0 with a 1.15 ERA in seven starts.
My theory is that if they think that he should be called up and play a vital role in the 2006 pennant race, he needs to be brought up now, in late July or early August. To bring him up any later would really add additional pressure for him. I would want him to get a few starts under his belt before the games become must-win.
In recent days, we have read that Ron Gardenhire will soon talk to Terry Ryan and when he does, Matt Garza's name will be mentioned. Garza had a nice showing in spring training, and his numbers indicate that he is about ready to help the Twins. Terry Ryan will probably talk about some of these concerns, and more, but in the end, he will two what is best for the Twins, but also for the long-term benefit of Matt Garza.
Carlos Silva pitches today's game against the Chicago White Sox. As he is getting rocked, just keep whispering Matt Garza's name in your head. Think about the three hit, complete game shutout that he threw last night in AAA. Think about the fact that, like Francisco Liriano, he is 22 years old. Remember that he has hit 97 mph on a radar gun. And then hope like crazy that Garza is not used as a trading chip at the trade deadline next week!
What are your thoughts on Matt Garza and whether or not the Twins should move him up to the big club? If you were the GM, what would you do? When would you make the move? I think it is a very interesting topic for discussion, so please send me an e-mail, or leave some Comments below.
BIG SERIES - Game 2 - Twins 4, White Sox 3
The Twins are now within ONE games of the White Sox in the AL Wild Card race. They have made up eight games in thirteen days since the All Star break! They are also now just 8.5 behind the Detroit Tigers!
I am so completely in awe of what this team has done in the last two months. They have now won 33 of their last 41 games. They are truly fun to watch again. They are playing hard. They're coming up with big hits, hitting for power, getting two out hits, making great defensive plays and making the routine plays. They are getting dominating starting pitching from just 3/5ths of their rotation, and getting enough offense to make up for the other 40% of the staff. Their bullpen has to be the best in baseball. Joe Nathan is the best closer in baseball. Juan Rincon is as good as any 8th inning guy. Pat Neshek and Jesse Crain are both doing well as 7th inning guys. Dennys Reyes and Kyle Lohse are doing well. And Matt Guerrier appears to be very close to a return.
Twins fans like to talk about how they do the little things, play small ball. That really isn't the case. Remember last year when the White Sox talked about playing 'smart ball'? The fact is that every once in awhile it is nice to be able to get three runs on one swing of the bat. In both games of the series so far, the Twins have had a big three run homer to give them a cushion. On Monday night, it was Joe Mauer's three-run shot that gave the Twins a four run lead. Last night, it was a 7th inning three run homer by Jason Bartlett that gave the Twins a 4-1 lead. Jason Kubel provided the other run with a solo home run early in the game. Sure, small ball has its place, but the long ball is just another way to win a ball game!
Johan Santana pitched well again. In seven innings, he gave up three runs on seven hits. He walked none and struck out six. It seems of late that the only runs Santana allows are on home runs. Jim Thome got one in the first, a solo shot. Joe Crede hit a two-run blast in the 7th inning to cut the lead to one. But aside from those two pitches, Santana was very good. Juan Rincon had a 1-2-3 eighth inning. It started with a remarkable diving play in the hole by Jason Bartlett. He got up quickly and threw a laser to Justin Morneau to barely get the speedy Scott Podsednik.
In the ninth inning, Joe Nathan got one out. Then he gave up a walk to Jermaine Dye and a single to left by Joe Crede. AJ Peirzynski was jammed on a pitch and flew out to right. The announcers credited Michael Cuddyer with a 'great diving catch.' If you watched the play, particularly the slower-motion replay, it appeared that Cuddyer was actually almost tripping and didn't exactly catch it cleanly. Fortunately, he stayed with it and made the catch so we can laugh about it. And for the final out, Alex Cintron grounded out to Jason Bartlett. Nathan had his 20th save of the year.
Just a couple of other quick notes from the game:
If I'm going to 'tease' Cuddyer on his tripping/diving catch, I have to give him major kudos and bring up the rocket he threw from right field getting a runner trying to get from 1st to 3rd on a single. When he was a 3B last year, no one could question his throwing arm!
Nick Punto had a first inning single to extend his hitting streak to 17 games.
A night after both had three hits, the eight and nine hitters, Jason Tyner and Jason Bartlett each had two hits in this game. Combined, the two have gone 10-14 in the series. Not bad bottom-of-the-order production!
This afternoon, it will be Carlos Silva (5-9, 6.91, 1.65, .347) taking on the struggling Mark Buehrle (9-8, 4.53, 1.36, .286) in the final game of the series. In Buehrle's last four starts, he is 0-4 with a 11.39 ERA. That, of course, means nothing as I am sure he will be ready for the Twins.
The Twins might as well try to win the game today. They have already won the series, so if they lose today, they will have still made up a game on the Sox. But, now they might as well go for the sweep!
Do you have anything to add about Tuesday's game or the rest of this series in Chicago? What were your thoughts while watching the game? Send me an e-mail, or leave Comments below. Here are a couple more Twins articles to read.
Actually this one has nothing to do with the Twins. Harold Reynolds was fired yesterday by ESPN. After 11 years he will no longer be on Baseball Tonight. ESPN will not speak to the reason for his dismissal, but Deadspin lets us in on some inside info on the situation... and then that info is refuted by another 'inside' person. Now, Reynolds is the King of Cliches and doesn't say much of value, but that is the standard for Baseball Tonight. John Kruk is not good either, and Jeff Brantley is not only horrible but annoying. The baseball writers such as Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian are the best part of that show.
As the Twins win more and more, Stick & Ball Guy's Game Comments are getting more and more Comments. Be sure to check them out! He also gave several examples of why he loves watching this team right now, and it has a lot to do with the team's young nucleus.
Check out these Twins Stats from the last 40 games for some of the key contributors to the Twins success.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Garrett Olson, Elizabethton Twins
SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Matt Garza, Rochester Red Wings
Here are last night's updates. If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Tuesday - Red Wings 1, Charlotte 0 - Matt Garza was the lead story for this site today, and last night, he was the story for the Red Wings as he threw a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win. He gave up just three hits and three walks while striking out eight. Glenn Williams was 2-3, and Tommy Watkins drove in the lone run.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Tuesday - Rockcats 1, Trenton 9 – Kevin Slowey started this game with five shutout innings, but the sixth inning was not so good. Randy Ruiz and Eric Duncan started that inning with back-to-back homers. They were followed by two singles, a sacrifice bunt and a double before Nick Blackburn came in to get out of the inning. All told, Slowey went 5.1 innings and gave up four earned runs on nine hits and a walk. He struck out seven. Nick Blackburn then gave up two unearned runs in the 7th before Tristan Crawford gave up three in the final two innings. Garrett Guzman led the offense by going 2-3 with two doubles. Alexi Casilla also had a double. The Rockcats had just four hits.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Tuesday - Miracle 7, Palm Beach 8 – It was pitcher-by-committee last night for the Miracle. Ryan Callahan started and gave up two runs on six hits in three innings. Danny Powers gave up a run on a hit and three walks in two innings. Colby Miller gave up two in his inning. Tim Lahey did the same. JP Martinez gave up a run in two innings to take the loss. Brandon Roberts went 2-3 with two walks and his 36th stolen base. Sam Taylor and Deacon Burns each went 2-4 with a walk. Trevor Plouffe was 2-4 with a walk and his 17th double. Steven Tolleson went 2-5.
Tuesday - Snappers 2, Burlington 3 – Alexander Smit started again and gave up two runs on four hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out eight. Danny Vais threw two shutout innings. David Shinskie pitched a scoreless eight, but he gave up a run with one out in the 9th to end the game. The Snappers had eight players with one hit a piece. Erik Lis and Edward Ovalle each had a double. Toby Gardenhire hit a triple.
Tuesday - E-Twins 7, Johnson City 5 – Garrett Olson started out slow, but after a 3-5 game last night, he is now hitting .297. Josh Land was 2-5 with two RBI. Alex Burnett started and gave up four runs on three hits and a walk in five innings. Dan Leatherman gave up a run in three innings. Danny Hernandez recorded Save #10 with a perfect, two strikeout inning.
GCL TWINS REPORT
Tuesday - GCL Twins 7, GCL Reds 6 (11) – David Bromberg started and gave up three unearned runs on four hits and three walks in five innings. Thomas Wright got six straight out. Luis Carreras gave up three runs (1 earned) on five hits in two innings. Brad Tippett got his third win with two shutout innings. Wilson Ramos went 2-2 with a walk. Juan Delgado was 2-3. Mark Dolenc was 2-4 with two RBI. Joe Benson and Thomas Cowgill were each 2-5.
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