Over the weekend, seven members of the Twins farm system were part of a championship in the Arizona Fall League. Their team, the Peoria Javelinas, took the title in a championship contest that saw no runs scored in the final six innings. By the end of the game, the Javelinas were able to celebrate on the field and prospects for the Twins were right in the middle of all of the excitement.
The only member of the Twins to start in the game was Nate Roberts, the 2012 AFL batting champion. He was penciled into the number two spot and he served as the designated hitter. Roberts would finish the game by going 3-for-4 with a run scored which raised his average to .446 in the fall league.
Evan Bigley would be the only other Twins player to make an appearance in the game. He entered the contest after star Reds prospect Billy Hamilton crashed into the outfield wall during the bottom of the eighth inning. Since Hamilton was the last out in the top of the frame, Bigley wouldn't record an at-bat in the contest.
During the multiple week season of the AFL, there were some good performances from this batch of future Twins. Here is look at the ranking of the top 2012 AFL performances from the Twins:
1. Nate Roberts, OF: In the course of his 19 games with Peoria, Roberts seemed like he could do no wrong at the plate. He batted almost .500 and his on-base percentage was creeping closer to .600. He hit three home runs in the AFL after only hitting four during the regular season. The AFL is considered a hitter's league so it's a good thing anytime a prospect from your favorite organization can finish at the top of the batting leader board.
2. Logan Darnell, LHP: After being a starter for the entire year with the Rock Cats, Darnell split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen in the AFL. Out of the two games he started, he only allowed one earned run and he struck out seven. In fact, he never surrendered more than one run in appearance. He pitched less innings than Kyle Gibson but put together a very good 2.45 ERA. This has to be a confidence boost for Darnell as he looks towards next season with Rochester.
3. Kyle Gibson, RHP: Gibson started off on a tear in the AFL but he was tamed in his last handful of outings. In his first three trips to the mound, Gibson would pick up the win for Peoria. His first two outings were very strong as he pitched five innings in each outing and struck out eight batters per start. He would surrender 13 runs over 10.1 innings in his last three starts. He was even selected to start the AFL Rising Stars Game. Overall, the Twins were happy with his results and he made it healthy through the AFL.
4. Michael Tonkin, RHP: Tonkin had never pitched over the High-A level in the Twins system so there could have been some difficulties with the jump to the AFL. This wasn't the case as Tonkin was able to hold his own as a relief arm. Through his first eight appearances, he didn't give up a run. In his second to last outing, he gave up a home run and then his last appearance he gave up three runs. He still didn't give up more than one hit in any of his trips to the mound.
5. Evan Bigley, OF: Bigley was up and down during his time in the AFL. He hit a couple triples and four doubles but he wasn't able to get a home run. Unfortunately, he struck out at a rate of almost once a game but he did manage to knock in nine runs. Down the stretch, he put together a three game span where he went 7-for-15 with two triples, four runs scored, and four RBI.
6. Dan Rohlfing, C: Rohfling was sent to the AFL after Chris Herrmann was injured earlier in the fall season. This meant Rohlfing didn't get the entire AFL experience but he was still able to make his presence felt. He appeared in five games and hit .333 with five RBI and he started the AFL with a four game hit streak. He didn't rack up any extra-base hits but it was a small sample size and he really isn't known for his power stroke.
7. Caleb Thielbar, LHP: Thielbar was coming off quite the season where he pitched at three different levels in the Twins system. He finished the year in Rochester before being asked to head to the AFL. It was a rough time for Thielbar in Arizona. He pitched in 11 games and surrendered multiple runs in five of those appearances. His walk rate went up a little but he did strikeout batters at close to the same rate as the regular season. The AFL is supposed to be a tough environment for pitchers and this idea held true for Thielbar.