Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (9/2): Kanzler Crushes

Three of the Twins affiliates are in the midst of a run for their respective league titles. This is a growing trend over the last couple of seasons in the Twins system as the organization stockpiles younger players. Hopefully these winning ways will start to translate to the major league level over the next couple of seasons but for now the focus is on the task at hand.

The Miracle kicked off their Florida State League playoff series on Tuesday night. Fort Myers has been strong the last two years but they were swept out of the first round last season. This year their eyes are on a higher prize.

The E-Twins suffered a one-run loss on Monday that would have put them into the Appalachian League Championship. This meant they will hand the ball to Felix Jorge, one of the Twins best pitching prospects, in a decisive third game. They are looking to win the Apply League crown for the second time in three years.

Fort Myers 8, Bradenton 7
Box Score
Pre-Game Notes: On Tuesday it was announced that a pair of Miracle players had been given awards. The Florida State League awarded Stuart Turner was named the Hitter of the Week and Ethan Mildren was named the Pitcher of the Week. Turner went 8-for-18 in during the week with two homers and eight RBI. Mildren pitched a complete game shutout pitching seven innings and only allowing three hits.

Game Recap: After two innings in Tuesday night's game, the Miracle found themselves in a hole. Anderlin Mejia had a fielding error when there were already two outs in the frame. Bradenton took advantage of this extra out by scoring seven unearned runs to be scored against Miracle starter Brett Lee. By the end of the inning, Fort Myers was down 7-3.

In the top of the fourth inning, the first three batters of the inning reached base via walk. This brought Jason Kanzler to the plate to face a new pitcher out of the bullpen. He crushed a grand slam to right field to tie the game. It was his second extra-base hit of the night and he drove in six runs. Max Kepler had the only other extra-base hit with a double that drove in a run.

The second biggest hit of the night came in the sixth inning after a rain delay. Following a Niko Goodrum strikeout, Travis Harrison got things started with a double to left. Dalton Hicks wasted little time and drove a single to right field that scored Harrison from second as the Miracle took the lead.

The Miracle bullpen was outstanding as they shutout the Marauders over the last 7.1 frames. During that stretch, there were only four base runners that reached base. Todd Van Steensel earned the win after he threw one inning and struck out one. Nick Burdi needed a helpful double play to get out of the eighth but he earned a hold. Zack Jones saved the game with a perfect ninth including two strikeouts.

Elizabethton 4, Johnson City 5
Pre-game Notes: There was some unfortunate news that came out in relation to the E-Twins. Nick Gordon, the Twins first round pick this year, is out for the season after breaking a bone in his left index finger. He is done for the season and will miss all of the Instructional League with the injury. 

Game Recap: The E-Twins took an early lead in this one after a two-run home run by Tyler Kuresa. Tanner English had started the bottom of the first with a single. The next two batters were retired but Kuresa made sure Elizabethton wouldn't leave the frame empty-handed. Johnson City responded quickly with three runs of their own in the top of the second to take the lead for the first time.

In the bottom of the third, the Twins used a trio of singles and a throwing error to push across two runs and retake the lead. Blake Schmit, Trey Vavra, and Tyler Kuresa all collected hits with one out in the inning. The Johnson City shortstop tried to turn a quick double play to end the inning but the ball got by the first baseman and Vavra was able to score all the way from second. 

Johnson City scored a run in the sixth off of starter Felix Jorge to tie the game. Jorge finished with 5.2 innings pitched as he gave up four earned runs on eight hits. He struck out six and walked none. C.K. Irby gave up the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh. 

There was a lengthy rain delay before the bottom of the ninth inning but the E-Twins didn't have enough in the tank to continue their season. They lose by one run for the second straight night to be eliminated.

Pitcher of the Day: Zack Jones, Fort Myers Miracle
Hitter of the Day: Jason Kanzler, Fort Myers Miracle

Bradenton @ Fort Myers (6:05 CST)- TBA (Listen) Miracle lead 1-0
Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST)- TBA (Listen) Game 1

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