Sunday, August 31, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (8/31): Rochester Eliminated

The Rochester Red Wings are hanging on to every last shred of their playoff lives. They squeaked out a win on Saturday to remain within two games of the wild card lead. Entering play on Sunday, they have three games remaining but two of them are with the team ahead of them in the standings. This meant Sunday was a must win game.

Alex Meyer left Saturday's start early and this forced the Red Wings to have to do some shifting in their rotation. Jose Berrios was called up from New Britain to make his Triple-A debut in the middle of a hot pennant race. Rochester also called up Ryan O'Rouke to take the place of Aaron Thompson, who was called up to Minnesota.

One way or another there was bound to be drama on Sunday. Let's see what unfolded...

Rochester 4, Pawtucket 10
Box Score
After a season full of awards and honors, Jose Berrios struggled in his Triple-A debut. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits in three innings of work. He struck out three and walked three before being taken out. The last pitcher younger than Berrios to pitch for the Red Wings was back in 1997. Logan Darnell tried to relieve Berrios but he ended up giving up three unearned runs of his own. This left the Red Wings in a deep hole before the end of the fourth inning.

Rochester tried to stay in the game with a scoring spree in the third inning. A double from Aaron Hicks and Josmil Pinto helped to push three runs across the plate but this would be the only multiple run inning for the team. Eric Farris hit a home run for the second time in three days after going three months without one.

The loss eliminates the Red Wings from playoff contention as they were tried to earn a Wild Card birth for the second straight year.

New Britain 6, New Hampshire 3
Box Score
Eddie Rosario, Corey Wimberly, and Kyle Knudson all drove in two runs apiece to pace the Rock Cats offense. Rosario hit his eight home run of the season. Knudson had a double as part of a three hit effort. Mike Kvasnicka reached base three times and scored three runs. Even though the team left seven men on base, they went 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Adrian Salcedo picked up his third win of the season in only his sixth start. He lasted six innings and struck out six while allowing two earned runs. Madison Boer allowed a run on three hits but it was enough to keep the game in check. Cole Johnson earned his ninth save by striking out two in a little over an innings worth of work. 

Fort Myers 14, Jupiter 1
In their last tune-up before the playoffs, the Miracle exploded for 14 runs. This included three innings of scoring more than three runs. Max Kepler drove in three as part of a three hit day. Dalton Hicks went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Stuart Turner crushed his seventh home run of the year. Tyler Grimes hit his 14th double and plated three runs.

The Miracle used a variety of bullpen members to complete this game. Steven Gruver went two scoreless innings to start the game. Tyler Jones allowed a lead-off hit before retiring nine straight batters to earn his third win. Alex Muren allowed the only run of the game in a little under two innings of work. Todd Van Steensel closed out the last two plus innings without allowing a run.

The Miracle closed the regular season with an overall record of 82-57. The 82 wins is the second-most in team history since moving to Fort Myers in 1992. Fort Myers will travel to Bradenton to play the Marauders on Tuesday at 5:30 pm (CST) in game one of the FSL South Division Championship Series.

Cedar Rapids 0, Clinton 1
Box Score
There wasn't a lot of action in this game. The Kernels combined for five hits but it wasn't enough to keep the team from being shutout. Chad Christensen was the lone member of the team to have more than one hit. Engelb Vielma and J.D. Williams both went 1-for-4. The club didn't have a single extra-base hit and they left five men on base.

Lewis Thorpe started the game and pitched four shutout innings. He earned the no decision as he struck out four but he also walked four. Chris Mazza took his fourth loss of the year after allowing the only run of the game in his four innings on the mound. Dallas Gallant was perfect over the last two frames and struck out four. His ERA currently sits at 0.64 for the year with Cedar Rapids.

Elizabethton 7, Johnson City 6 (13 Innings)
Box Score
It took 13 innings but the E-Twins managed to win the first game of their playoff series. In a back and forth game that saw both teams have a four run inning, Elizabethton broke a four inning scoreless drought to push across the winning run.

Trey Vavra drove in four of the team's seven runs as part of a three hit day. Tanner English had three hits including a double and two runs scored. English set up the game winning run with a two-out double in the 13th inning. Vavra had the game winning single after Nick Gordon was intentionally walked. Tyler Kuresa and Tyler Mautner both went 3-for-6 with a double.

John Curtis pitched five strong innings of two-run ball to start the game. He struck out five and walked one. Dereck Rodriguez did a solid job in relief by striking out three in two shutout innings. Keaton Steele earned his first win with three hitless innings to end the game. 

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Adrian Salcedo, New Britain Rock Cats
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Trey Vavra, Elizabethton Twins

Rochester @ Pawtucket (12:05 CST) – Kris Johnson (Listen)
New Hampshire @ New Britain (12:35 CST) – Taylor Rogers (Listen
Ft. Myers- Start Playoffs on Wednesday night
Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (2:00 CST) - Ryan Eades (Listen)
Johnson City @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST)- TBA

Friday, August 29, 2014

Episode 97: Twins of the Future

 You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here, and if you want to add the show to your non-iTunes podcast player, this is the RSS Feed.
The Twins scored a whole bunch of runs in the last week, and have one of the top five offenses in the American League, if only they had a pitching staff to match. This week we swoon over the future of the Twins, talk a little bit about the young players on the Twins roster, and Jay tries to troll Eric into going on another Paul Molitor rant (and fails, sort of).
Then the regular beer, baseball, and the news.

Enjoy the show.
You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, and you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Jay Corn on twitter @Jay__Corn! If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes.  Ratings and reviews are the new Ice Bucket Challenge, tell your friends and GET A BUCKET!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (8/26): Turner Lifts Miracle

Byron Buxton is heading back to the Arizona Fall League. At least that is the hope of the Twins organization as rosters were announced for the AFL on Tuesday. Buxton will be looking to make up for lost time after a brutal outfield collision in his first Double-A game left him with a concussion. He will have to pass all MLB level concussion protocol before taking the field in the AFL.

Buxton is among a trio of prospects heading back to Arizona for a second year. Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler are set to rebound from various issues this year. Rosario was suspended for the first 50 games and Kepler struggled before coming on strong in recent weeks.

Four pitchers are expected to make the trip. Right-handed pitcher Jason Adam and left-handed pitchers Taylor Rogers and Mason Melotakis. Nick Burdi's name was listed on the AFL website for a brief time but it has sense been removed. A different arm will replace him in the coming days.

The Rochester Red Wings enjoyed their last official off day of the regular season. They will start a very much in the playoff race. The team has six games remaining on their schedule and they are 1.5 games out of a wild card spot. There are two games remaining with each of the team's ahead of them in the standings. This means the Red Wings fate is in their own hands over the next week. 

New Britain 5, Binghamton 1 (Game 1: 7 Innings)
Box Score
Jose Berrios was back to his strong pitching ways. He earned his third Double-A victory by throwing six innings of one-run ball. He struck out four and walked two while allowing four hits. Ryan O'Rourke finished off the game by only allowing one hit in an innings worth of work.

Tony Thomas provided all the offense New Britain would need. He smashed a three-run bomb in the second inning and the Rock Cats never looked back. For Thomas, it was his ninth long ball of the season. It was the only extra-base hit of the game. Nate Hanson and Reynaldo Rodriguez each drove in a run.

New Britain 2, Binghamton 3 (Game 2: 7 Innings)

The Rock Cats held two different leads but the team couldn't hold on. Adrian Salcedo made only his fifth start of the season but he took his ninth loss of the year. He allowed two earned runs off of five hits with three strikeouts and a walk. A catcher interference call on Matt Koch led to the unearned run scored against Salcedo. Daniel Turpen walked two and struck out two in his inning of work.

Nate Hanson was the only bright spot for the Rock Cat offense. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. He's up to 22 doubles for the season. Tony Thomas reached base twice in three trips to the plate. Levi Michael and Jorge Polanco scored one run each. Polanco also started two different double plays. 

Fort Myers 7. Charlotte 4
Box Score
It took 17 hits and three runs in the final two innings but the Miracle were able to pound out a win. Stuart Turner must have been upset about not making the AFL roster as he went 4-for-4 with THREE DOUBLES (that's not a typo) and four RBI. Adam Brett Walker continues to add to his RBI total as he drove in one as part of a two hit night.

Steven Gruver started the game but he wouldn't factor into the decision. He allowed two earned runs on five hits over five innings. Nick Burdi collected his first professional win and he has still not allowed a run at High-A. Zack Jones made things interesting in the ninth as two batters reached base but he got out of the jam for his third save.

It was announced earlier in the day that Walker and Berrios were both part of the 2014 FSL Postseason All-Star team. Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz was also named a coach for the team. The club is one win away from 80 for the season.

Cedar Rapids 6, Quad Cities 1
Box Score
Five runs in the first three innings paced the Kernels to an early lead. Three singles and a throwing error by the pitcher resulted in a three-run first inning. Mitch Garver got credit for two RBI as his diamond cutter capped the first innings scoring. Chad Christensen instigated the scoring in the third as he singled and then stole his 29th base of the season.

Lewis Thorpe saw his pitch count rise quickly in this one. He struck out eight batters in four innings but he also walked four batters. The only run that scored while he was on the mound was unearned. Chris Mazza kept things in check with two shutout innings. He had one strikeout and a walk.

Elizabethton 5, Bristol 6
Box Score
One big inning was all it took for the E-Twins to end up on the losing end of this one. Sam Gibbons couldn't get out of the fifth frame as he gave up six earned runs in one inning. Samuel Clay and Keaton Steel would shutout the Pirates the rest of the way but it wasn't enough.

Brian Navarreto went 2-for-4 with a double and a run batted in. Austin Diemer collected two hits after being hitless in his last three games. Pat Kelly reached base twice and knocked his seventh double. Trey Vavra added an RBI to his total as he tries to catch Tyler Kuresa for the team lead.

GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 3
Some strong work by the Twins bullpen helped the team to their 23rd victory of the season. Eduardo Del Rosario earned his fourth win after pitching three shutout innings of relief. Trevor Hildenberger earned his tenth save by striking out two in the final frame.

The team's four-five-six hitters (Joel Polanco, Jarrad Poteete, and Gabriel Ojeda) all had multi-hit games. Not to be out done, Ariel Montesino added two hits including a double. Amaurys Minier went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and his 11th double. Over his last 12 games, he is hitting over .400 with seven extra-base hits. 

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jose Berrios, New Britain Rock Cats
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Stuart Turner, Fort Myers Miracle


Rochester @ Syracuse (6:00 CST) – Kris Johnson  (Listen)
New Britain @ Binghamton (5:35 CST) – TBA (Listen
Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30 CST) – Matt Tomshaw (Listen)
Kane County @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - Ryan Eades (Listen)
Kingsport @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST)- TBA
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00am CST) – TBD 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (8/24): Kernels Clinch

Things are starting to wind down in the minor league season and this means plenty of very important games for Twins' affiliates. The Kernels entered Sunday with a chance to clinch and the Red Wings are right in the middle of the wild card hunt. This means every at-bat and every pitch are very important.

The same can't be said for the MLB version of the Twins. They are out of the playoff chase but they can still upset a few teams along the way. After pounding the Detroit Tigers in the first two games of the series, the Twins dropped the last two to end up with a split.

Let's see if the farm system offered up any more hope on Sunday.

Rochester 5, Scranton/WB 4
Box Score 
A lot of Rochester's future is in their own hands. They took that moto to heart on Sunday as they mounted a four run bottom of the eighth inning to crawl past the RailRiders. Doug Bernier went 1-for-3 in the game but his two-run double put the Wings on top for good. Daniel Ortiz cracked his eighth home run of the season, his first since July 27. 

Lester Oliveros continued his run of scoreless innings over the last 11 games. He hasn't given up a run in the last 19.2 frames. Tyler Duffey started and allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over four innings. It was the first time since June 4 that he didn't make it through five innings. 

With a week's worth of games left in the regular season, the Red Wings are 1.5 games back of the Wild Card leaders Buffalo and Pawtucket. They have two games remaining with both teams so they can forge their own destiny.

New Britain 12, Altoona 0
Box Score
Pat Dean was masterful in this game as he scattered three hits over eight shutout innings. He struck out three and walked two. It was his eighth victory of the season. He hadn't pitched more than seven innings in any start this season and he only earned the win in one of those three outings. Cole Johnson helped complete the shutout by striking out one in an inning of work. 

The Rock Cats offense gave Dean plenty of run support. Reynaldo Rodriguez crossed the 20 home run plateau with a two-run shot in the 6th inning. Corey Wimberly had three hits including his 11th double. Kyle Knudson scored twice and hit a couple of doubles. The only starters to remain hitless were Nate Hanson and Tony Thomas. 

Fort Myers 2. Charlotte 5
Box Score
D.J. Baxendale surrendered five earned runs on eight hits as he was charged with his third loss of the season. It was his third straight outing of less than five innings and he has won a game since he won three straight starts at the beginning of July. Nick Burdi made his fifth appearance for the Miracle and he has yet to allow a run. He has nine strikeouts over five innings pitched with one walk.

Adam Brett Walker continues to hit home runs. He reached base in three of his four plate appearances and hit his 25th home run of the season. He's also up to 93 RBI on the season. Dalton Hicks had the only other extra base hit for Fort Myers. His 24th double set-up one of the team's two runs.

Cedar Rapids 6, Quad Cities 8
Box Score
Even though the Kernels didn't win this game, a loss by Peoria meant the Kernels still clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season. Cedar Rapids will play either Burlington or Kane County in the opening round.

Cedar Rapids strung together three straight singles to take a late inning 5-4 lead but the River Bandits stole the lead back in the bottom of the frame. J.D. Williams was a perfect 3-for-3 and he reached base four times. Chad Christensen knocked in four runs with his 23rd and 24th doubles of the season. Engelb Vielma scored twice and added his 13th double of the year.

Hudson Boyd took the loss after giving up three earned runs on three hits. He struck out one and walked one. Mat Batts got the no decision after he pitched 4.2 innings by allowing three earned runs with four strikeouts. It was the first time since July 2 that he didn't make it through five innings.

Elizabethton 10, Bristol 4 (Game 1- 7 Innings)
Box Score
Seven runs in the last two innings helped to separate the E-Twins from the Pirates. Nick Gordon went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. He also got caught stealing once and got picked off once. Jorge Fernandez and Tyler Mautner collected three RBI apiece. Nautner had two extra-base hits, a double and a home run.

Keaton Steele earned his second victory after he replaced John Curtiss. Steele struck out two over two innings while allowing one run. Curtiss made it four innings and gave up three earned runs. Dereck Rodriguez struck out the side as part of a perfect final frame.

Elizabethton 1, Bristol 0 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
Box Score
After 14 total runs were scored in the first game of the doubleheader, this game took on quite a different feel. The teams found themselves in a pitchers duel with neither team being able to muster up much offense. Bristol out hit Elizabethton six to two but it wasn't enough. Trey Vavra hit a run scoring double to plate the lone run of the game.

Randy LeBlanc earned his first professional victory after throwing five shutout frames. He struck out seven and walked none. C.K. Irby struck out five over the final two frames to complete the shutout. It was his second save of the year.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Pat Dean, New Britain Rock Cats
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Chad Christensen, Cedar Rapids Kernels


Scranton/WB @ Rochester (6:05 CST) – Alex Meyer (Listen)
New Britain @ Binghamton (5:35 CST) – Taylor Rogers (Listen
Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30 CST) – Brett Lee (Listen)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (7:00 CST) - Stephen Gonsalves (Listen)
Elizabethton @ Bristol (6:00 CST)- Michael Cederoth
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00am CST) – TBD 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wake Me Up When September Ends: Prospect Promotions

This is the second in a series of posts looking at different parts of the Twins roster as the season winds down. Clearly, there have been some rough moments at the end of the last few seasons. The moto of those years might have been "Wake Me Up When September Ends" but the hope is that this year will be a little different. Overall, there seems to be a little hope on the horizon. That hope might mean you won't want to sleep through this September.

Earlier in the week, I looked at how this year's pitching staff seems to offer more hope than the last few Septembers. I'd rather see Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May on the mound over the likes of Cole De Vries, Andrew Albers, and PJ Walters. There might be some lumps with the new trio of starters but they could be part of the next winning team in Minnesota.

The key to any organizational improvement is the play of young cost-effective players. The last few Septembers haven't exactly produced a cornucopia of everyday players but this year's crew could be the key to getting the Twins back on the right track.

2014: Trevor May, Kennys Vargas, Danny Santana
There was a lot of fans calling for Trevor May to make his debut. He's struggled in his first handful of appearances but the Twins aren't fighting for a playoff spot. May can take his lumps this season and be better prepared for the beginning of next year. Kennys Vargas was considered a top 10 Twins prospect entering this season but he had one of his best minor league seasons at the Double-A level. Since getting called up, he's hit for a higher average than expected and there have still been some signs of power. Danny Santana might be the biggest surprise this season. He's turned into a spark plug for the Twins offense and he's been doing it while learning a new defense position.

2013: Oswaldo Arcia, Josmil Pinto, Kyle Gibson
Last year's trio of rookies have all played a significant role on the 2014 Twins team. Oswaldo Arcia is in the midst of quite the power surge over the last handful of games. He might be finally figuring out how to hit at the big league level and that's certainly a good thing for the Twins. Josmil Pinto made the Twins team out of spring training but he hasn't been heard from since the beginning of June. Minnesota signed Kurt Suzuki to a contract extension so Pinto is going to have to use his bat to get back to the big leagues. Kyle Gibson was rough at the end of last year but he has proven himself useful in 2014. Behind Phil Hughes, he's been the second best starter on the team and he could end up fitting into the middle of the rotation for the next handful of years.

2012: Chris Parmelee, Eduardo Escobar, Chris Herrmann
This was a down year for younger players being promoted and getting playing time. Brian Dozier had played a chunk of the season at shortstop but he didn't get called up for September. Chris Parmelee had been a hit the cover off the ball as a September call-up the previous season but that didn't last. He's collected over 200 at-bats for the third straight season but he doesn't seem to have a long-term place with the club. Eduardo Escobar was brought over from Chicago in the Francisco Liriano trade and he's had quite the season this year. He's fifth in the AL in doubles and fourth in range factor for shortstops. Chris Herrmann has played parts of the last three seasons in Minnesota but he's not really considered much of a prospect any more. He offers some defensive versatility but not much of an offensive punch.

Other prospects like Alex Meyer or Jorge Polanco could get a look this September but the trio of Santana, Vargas, and May are certainly enough to keep you from falling asleep.

Don't sleep through this September because the future might be playing right in front of you.