Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/21): Rosario Keeps Rolling

Photo Credit: Derek Tellinghuisen (@DTelling1010 on Twitter)
For the second time this week, one of the Twins affiliates was hosting their league's All-Star Game festivities. The Fort Myers Miracle hosted the 2016 FSL All-Star Game on Sunday night. Tonight it was the Kernels turn to host the Midwest League All-Star Game in Cedar Rapids.

This wasn't the only All-Star Game on the docket for Tuesday night. The Southern League was also holding their own mid-season classic. With plenty of Twins players on both rosters, there's a chance that one or two of them could play a vital role in deciding the outcomes of these exhibition games.

Found out below what transpired in the All-Star contests and through out the rest of the Twins farms system.

Rochester 8, Columbus 4
Rochester found themselves in a pitching duel in the early innings. Jason Wheeler gave up a first inning run but settled in nicely and he was eventually backed up by plenty of run support. Wheeler scattered seven hits and four earned runs over six frames. He struck out three and walked one.

Eddie Rosario is making it very clear that he doesn't want to be playing at Rochester anymore. Tonight was a clear indication of that as he went 4-for-4 at the plate with a three-run home run and two doubles. Jorge Polanco might want to follow Rosario to Minnesota as he reached base three times including his 11th double on the season. Kennys Vargas and Adam Brett Walker both added home runs as the Red Wings pounded out 13 hits.

Sean Burnett and JT Chargois put up zeros in their innings of work. Chargois has his ERA down to 0.54 with a 37 to 9 strikeout to walk ratio over 28.1 innings. Alex Wimmers struck out two but allowed a run on three hits in the final inning. With the win, Rochester has won nine of their last ten games and moves to 44-28 on the season. In fact, the team has only lost five games the entire month of June.

North All-Stars 1, South All-Stars 5
Box Score
After a hot hitting start to the season, Daniel Palka struggled in this exhibition game. Across four plate appearances, he didn't collect a hit and he struck out twice. Mitch Garver started at catcher and he struck out in both of his at-bats. Travis Harrison was a late inning replacement but he managed to go 1-2 with a single.

Former Twins prospect Chih-Wei Hu started for the North and allowed one hit in his inning of work. DJ Baxendale pitched two-thirds of an inning and didn't allow a base runner. Trevor Hildenberger made a brief appearance at the end of the game. He came in with two outs in the eighth and was only asked to get the final out for the North.

Overall, the North couldn't find enough offense to make-up for the five run inning allowed by Brad Markey, a Chicago Cubs pitching prospect.

Ft. Myers 2, Charlotte 1
Roster Move: Brian Gilbert was placed on the DL and in a corresponding move relief pitcher Michael Theofanopoulos was added from Cedar Rapids. 

Randy LeBlanc fell into an early 1-0 hole as he allowed a solo home run in the second inning. However, he was able to settle down from there. He lasted six innings while giving up one run on three hits. LeBlanc struck out one and walked three for his first win in the Florida State League. Brandon Peterson kept the game close with two shutout frames as he struck out three. Yorman Landa earned his fourth save with a perfect ninth.

On the offensive side of the ball, Max Murphy provided the big hit on the night. Edgar Corcino started the inning by reaching on a bunt single. He advanced to second on a ground out by Chris Paul but he was left standing in scoring position when Joe Maloney was hit by a 1-2 pitch. Much like Maloney, Murphy fell behind 1-2 before drilling a ball over the left fielders head for a double. The Miracle took a 2-1 lead and never gave it back.

Fort Myers moves to 33-35 with the victory and they will look to complete a sweep of the Stone Crabs on Wednesday night. The Miracle have won three of their last four games and they have yet to lose since this weekend's All-Star break.

East All-Stars 11, West All-Stars 10
The Kernels felt right at home in their home park. Players from the Cedar Rapids squad filled up the box score as both team's pounded out runs in the early innings.

Luis Arraez led off for the West Division All-Stars and finished the night 2-for-3 with a run scored. LaMonte Wade followed Arraez in the batting order and had one of the biggest hits for the West squad, a two-run single. AJ Murray didn't want to get out shined by the other All-Stars on the team. He competed in the Home Run Derby before the game and didn't win but smacked a two-run shot during the seventh inning.

In a game where runs were being scored in bunches, it was tough to find pitchers with clean innings. Sam Clay started for the West All-Stars and pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. Clay was the lone Kernels pitcher to be selected to the contest and he represented the team well.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Randy LeBlanc, Fort Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Eddie Rosario, Rochester Red Wings

Rochester @ Columbus (6:05 CST)- LHP Pat Dean (1-3, 3.00 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. Charlotte (6:05 CST)- RHP Randy LeBlanc (0-2, 7.20 ERA)

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Tuesday games.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Miguel Sano's Defensive Future

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
Miguel Sano is six-feet four-inches tall and weighs 260 pounds (or more). To the casual fan, the idea of him rumbling around the outfield seemed like a bad idea from the start. There were balls that were misplayed and routes ran in the wrong direction as the young slugger tried to find himself in a foreign defensive position.

Twins Territory might be able sleep a little easier tonight as it is sounding more like the Sano outfield experiment might be reaching it's conclusion.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan was a little cryptic when talking to the local media before Saturday's game. When asked about Sano returning to the outfield, Ryan said,"I'm not sure exactly how it's going to play itself out here quite yet."

This is a much different tune than the Twins had during the offseason. Twins manager Paul Molitor was pretty clear that Sano wasn't expected to see any time at third base this season unless Trevor Plouffe was injured and the team needed to shuffle around some players. Of course this situation did occur as Sano started his first game at third when Plouffe and Danny Santana were both on the disabled list. 

So far this season, Sano has played 38 games in right field, seven at designated hitter, and five at third base. In his limited time at third base, Sano has been worth one defensive run saved. The outfield has been a different story as his -9 defensive run saved is tied for third worst total among American League outfielders. SABR's Defensive Index, one of the databases used for selecting the Gold Glove winners, has Sano as the second worst right fielder in the American League.

Minnesota's 2016 roster was created with Sano set to be in the outfield. Byung Ho Park has struggled as the team's regular DH. When healthy, Trevor Plouffe has played at third base even with some offensive struggles. Now Max Kepler looks like he has settled into right field nicely in the absence of Sano. Park and Plouffe seem like the likely candidates to lose playing time when Sano returns since he won't be playing outfield.
Another option for the team might be trading Trevor Plouffe. There is some value in him since he is still under team control for the 2017 season but he has struggled at the plate so far this year. His OPS is down over 100 points compared to last season and he's getting on base less than 27% of the time. Minnesota won't rush into a trade but a contending team could be looking for some help at third base. 

Sano is never going to be known for his defensive prowess and there won't be any Gold Gloves in his future. He's in the Twins line-up for one reason... to hit the ball as far as he can. It doesn't matter what defensive position Sano plays as long as he finds a way to make his offensive numbers exceed what he costs the team on the defensive side of the ball. 

With a man of Sano's size, tracking down balls in the outfield was only going to lead to more injuries. By shifting back to a more natural position, the hope is to keep Sano in the line-up and off the disable list. Twins fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Sano won't be heading back to the outfield... at least for right now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/18): FSL All-Star Game

Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons
Fort Myers, Florida and the Minnesota Twins spring training complex played host to the 2016 Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday night. This will be the first of two All-Star Games hosted by Twins minor league affiliates this season as the Cedar Rapids Kernels will host the Midwest League All-Star Game.

It was a low scoring affair as the FSL North used 11 pitchers to combine for a 1-0 shutout of the South squad. Miracle relief pitcher Yorman Landa gave up the lone run in the game. The first batter he faced cracked a double. He struck out the next two batters and the Hammond Stadium radar gun had him hitting 102 miles per hour and 100 miles per hour three more times. However a two-out ground ball single scored the run that would be the difference in the game.

To see the full box score of the FSL All-Star Game, click here and read on to see how the other Twins affiliates did on Saturday.

Rochester 5, Toledo 1
Logan Darnell has been one of the most consistent starters for Rochester this season as he helped the club to their 41st win on Saturday night. He pitched seven strong innings by allowing one run on four hits while striking out six and walking two. The six strikeouts were a season high for him.It was his eighth victory on the season which is the most wins by any pitcher in the International League.

Marcus Walden and JT Chargois both put up zeros on the board to seal the victory. Walden allowed one hit and struck out two. Chargois had a couple batters reach against him but he didn't walk anyone and he lowered his season ERA to 0.57.

Rochester's two biggest hits came off the bats of Jorge Polanco and John Ryan Murphy. Polanco gave the Red Wings an early 2-0 when he drove in a pair of runs on a two-out double. Murphy went 2-for-3 and knocked in two runs of his own. Adam Brett Walker reached base twice and didn't strikeout.

Chattanooga 4, Montgomery 2
The top four batters in the Lookouts line-up lead the offensive attack on Saturday night. This group combined for 10 of the team's 11 hits with each player having multiple hit nights. Daniel Palka continued his impressive season by going 3-for-5 with a triple and a double. Engelb Vielma scored three runs and collected three hits including his third double. Travis Harrison reached base three times and drove in a pair of runs. 

With the top end of the line-up supporting him, Aaron Slegers was able to earn his fifth victory. He scattered three hits over 6.1 innings to limit the Biscuits offense to two runs. He struck out four and walked three. Jake Reed earned his ninth hold by pitching 1.2 perfect innings. Trevor Hildenberger collected his 11th save with a perfect ninth inning. 

Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 3
Box Score
With their first half playoff hopes on the line, the Kernels rallied late to tie this game but they ended up falling by one run. The team was official knocked out of the playoff race with the loss.

Dereck Rodriguez posted his best start of the season. Across six innings, he struck out eight and walked one as he allowed two runs (one earned run) on five hits. Cam Booser took the loss, his second, as he allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Booser pitched two innings without giving up a hit but walked two and struck out three.

Cedar Rapids was held to four hits and the team left eight men on base. Overall, the team went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring positions so the team couldn't find that big hit. Sean Miller drew two walks and scored two runs. J.J Fernandez drove in both of the team's runs as part of a 1-for-4 day.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Logan Darnell, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Daniel Palka, Chattanooga Lookouts

Rochester @ Toledo (5:05 CST)- LHP Nick Greenwood (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (6:35 CST)- RHP Kohl Stewart (1-1, 3.14 ERA)
Cedar Rapids@ Quad Cities (6:00 CST)- LHP Sam Clay  (4-2, 2.64 ERA)

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Saturday games.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/17): Red Hot Rosario

Photo Credit: Seth Stohs (Eduardo Del Rosario, Daniel Palka)
Bullpens can be fickle creatures. These pitchers can't really have a set routine because each player doesn't know when they will be used in a game. It takes a special type of player to be ready at the tip of a hat to jump into the middle of a game that could have playoff implications for a club.

Minor league players aren't playing for big money. They are playing for the team, they are playing for themselves, and they are playing to move up the ladder. The dream is to make it to the big leagues but that won't come true for all of the players mentioned below.

One team's bullpen was vital for a Friday night victory. Who was able to shine under the Friday night lights? Read on to find out.

Rochester 0, Toledo 2
The Red Wings couldn't get anything going on the offensive side of the ball against Mud Hens pitcher Daniel Norris. Only four Rochester players had hits and three of the team's six hits were off the bat of Eddie Rosario. Jorge Polanco and John Ryan Murphy managed both hit doubles and they stood up as the team's only extra-base knocks. Logan Schafer and Adam Brett Walker both struck out three times.

Jose Berrios did his best to keep the game close. The first run scored against Berrios came after a two-out error by shortstop Wilfredo Tovar. Toledo used a pinch hitter in the sixth, Tyler Bortnick, who hit his first home run of the season to put the team up 2-0. Berrios ended up pitching six innings and allowed one earned run on two hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Dan Runzler, David Martinez, and Ryan O'Rourke put up zeros the rest of the way but it still wasn't enough to spur a Rochester comeback.

The loss drops Rochester to 40-28 on the season as they sit a game and a half up in the International League North. Over their last 10 games, the club is 7-3 and this was their first loss since last Friday. The Red Wings continue their three-game series with Toledo tomorrow night.

Chattanooga 8, Montgomery 5
Even though the Lookouts were out hit in this game, the club used some clutch hitting (4-for-8 with RISP) to come out on top. Daniel Palka helped lead the charge for the Lookouts with a 2-for-3 night along with scoring a pair of runs. Zach Granite continues to be a threat on the bases as he stole his 30th base and scored twice. Mitch Garver drove in four runs and went 2-for-3 with his 12th double. 

David Hurlbut started the the Lookouts and put together a solid effort. He scattered seven hits over six innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Mike Strong allowed two runs in his inning of work. Luke Westphal struggled with control as he walked three and allowed a run while only collecting one out. Omar Bencomo allowed a pair of runs to score in the bottom of the ninth but he still was able to strikeout the side to preserve the victory.

With the win, the Lookouts have won nine of their last 12 games and are currently two games over .500.

Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 (14 Innings)
Box Score
This game would stretch long into the night as both team's bullpens continued to put zeros on the board. Cedar Rapids finally broke through in the 14th frame. Brad Hartong started the two out rally by being hit by a pitch. Luis Arraez followed with a double and an errant allowed Hartong to come all away around to score the winning run.

Eduardo Del Rosario hadn't made it out of the fifth inning in either of his starts in Cedar Rapids before this night. After tossing six innings and only allowing one earned run, he lowered his season ERA from 8.64 to 5.65. He gave up three hits (one home run) while striking out five and walking two.

The bullpen deserves a lot of the credit for this victory as they didn't allow a run in seven innings of work. Michael Cederoth didn't allow a hit and all five of the outs he collected were by strikeout but he walked three. William Ramirez struck out three over 2.1 innings. Michael Theofanopoulos improved to 3-0 after he pitched three innings and struck out four. Anthony McIver earned his second save with a perfect final frame.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Cedar Rapids Bullpen
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Mitch Garver, Chattanooga Lookouts

Rochester @ Toledo (6:05 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (7-5, 3.25 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (6:35 CST)- TBD
Cedar Rapids@ Quad Cities (6:00 CST)- RHP Dereck Rodriguez  (1-8, 7.33 ERA)

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Friday games.

How Often Do Pitchers Recover From Labrum Injuries?

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
It has been called "The Career Ender," "Baseball's Toughest Injury," and "A Pitchers Death Sentence." When a major league pitcher finds out they will need labrum surgery, he knows the road to recovery will be a challenge.

Word came out of the Twin Cities on Monday that All-Star closer Glen Perkins is done for the season. In the next week, he will undergo surgery on a torn labrum and rotator cuff issues. This is a devastating blow to a back-end of the bullpen that has been a disaster at this point in the season.

The initial diagnoses was for Perkins only to miss a short amount of time. There were a few set-backs along the way before his most recent MRI showed the labrum and rotator cuff issues. Shoulder injuries can spell the end of a pitchers career as the body tries to recover so a player can throw over 90 miles per hour.

Most of Twins Territory pondered a similar question when the news broke, "How often do pitchers recover from labrum injuries?"

Many fans have become accustom to pitchers needing a surgery at some point in their career. Tommy John surgery has become common place in the baseball world because so many pitchers have the procedure. Also, the success rate is so high that it becomes an afterthought to fans. Labrum surgery is an entirely different animal.

There have been a few different studies about pitchers who were able to return from this type of surgery. Will Carroll, a baseball medical expert, wrote about labrum surgery back in the early 2000s. His results showed, "Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level." One out of 36 is not very good odds

Baseball Prospectus updated Carroll's study in a 2012 article. For the piece, Jay Jaffe found 67 players that had undergone some kind of labrum surgery include names like Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Mark Mulder, and Mark Prior. There are obviously different degrees of this kind of injury but only nine of the players returned to a level of success similar to before their surgery.

Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda is one of the biggest names in recent years to have a labrum procedure. He's worked his way back to the big leagues with a 4.84 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over the last two seasons. When Pineda was diagnosed the Yankees team doctor said, "When the rotator cuff is damaged as part of the injury problem, that has a much worse prognosis and influences velocity and ability to pitch."

Unfortunately for Perkins, the rotator cuff is part of his diagnosis and it might spell bad news for his future. He's in his 30s and has a lot of miles on his arm. Doctors and the medical field are continuing to improve and a labrum surgery isn't the death sentence it once was for pitchers. This could give fans hope to see Perkins running out of the bullpen again but the odds don't seem to be in his favor.

Will Glen Perkins beat the odds and come back from this surgery? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.