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...

RED WINGS REPORT
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.

ROCK CATS REVIEW
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. 

MIRACLE MATTERS
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.

KERNELS NUGGETS
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.

E-TWINS E-NOTES
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 PLAYERS OF THE DAY
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

MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
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.

RED WINGS REPORT
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. 

ROCK CATS REVIEW
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. 

MIRACLE MATTERS
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.

KERNELS NUGGETS
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.

E-TWINS E-NOTES
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 TAKES
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 PLAYERS OF THE DAY
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


WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

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.

RED WINGS REPORT
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.

ROCK CATS REVIEW
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. 

MIRACLE MATTERS
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.

KERNELS NUGGETS
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.

E-TWINS E-NOTES
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 PLAYERS OF THE DAY
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


MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Episode 96: Rob Neyer and Eric's Potty Mouth

This week on the podcast we are joined by the great Rob Neyer (https://twitter.com/robneyer(@robneyer), http://robneyer.com/, http://www.foxsports...-a-bit-outside) a real baseball writing celebrity. Also on this episode is Eric's potty mouth. You've been warned.You can download the new Talk to Contact ( @TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.


We discuss why we hate the teams we hate and then jump into all of the Twins news from the last week. Most of it involves pitchers, and most of those pitchers have been bad. But not Joe Mauer. Joe Mauer has been vintage Joe Mauer.

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review our show on iTunes. iTunes ratings and reviews help Trevor May not to walk batters.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (8/19): Stewart Pulled As a Precaution

The big story of the night was star pitching prospect Kohl Stewart being pulled very early in his start by the Cedar Rapids training staff. His fastball usually sits in the mid-90s but he was topping out anywhere from 88-90 mph. The Twins have come out and said they removed him for precautionary reasons. With not many games left in the minor league season, it would be surprising to see Stewart on the mound again in 2014.

With Stewart out of the game early, would the Kernels be able to continue their recent winning streak? Read on to find out.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 7, Buffalo 2
Box Score
Rochester was up six runs before Buffalo was able to crack onto the scoreboard. Pedro Florimon drove in three runs with a pair of doubles. Wilkin Ramirez hit his fourth home home run as part of a two-hit night. Chris Colabello hit his third home run in his last nine games and he leads the team with nine home runs.

Tyler Duffy made his second career Triple-A start and he earned his second victory. In this game, he went six innings and allowed two earned runs as he struck out six. He has gone at least six innings in both outings. Lester Oliveros replaced Duffey and did well by striking out four in two innings. The last time he didn't strike out more than one batter in an appearance was all the way back on July 7th. 

With the win, the Red Wings stay two games back in the Wild Card race with 13 games remaining in the season.

ROCK CATS REVIEW
New Britain 3, Richmond 5 (Game 1-Completion from 8/18)
Box Score
In a game that was started on Monday night, the Rock Cats didn't have enough in the tank to mount a comeback. Virgil Vasquez has started before the rain got in the way. He didn't allow a run over two innings. Cole Johnson took over when the game resumed. He allowed four earned runs over three innings and was served his second loss. Adrian Salcedo did well to strike out five in three innings.

On the offensive side of things, Levi Michael and Kyle Knudson both had two hits including a double each. Knudson drove in two runs and it was Michael's first double since being promoted. Tony Thomas knocked in a run with his ninth double of the season.

New Britain 5, Richmond 0 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
Box Score
After having two hits in the first game of the night, Michael continued his hot hitting with three more hits in game two. Nate Hanson knocked in a run as part of a two hit game. Tony Thomas and Matt Koch both went 2-for-3 with a run scored to help the Rock Cats avoid the double header sweep.

Jason Adam threw four shutout innings to start the game. He struck out two and walked one. Daniel Turpen earned his fourth victory by pitching 1.1 innings and striking out three. Edgar Ibarra got into a little trouble in the seventh inning as he couldn't protect the shutout. Three straight one-out singles scored a run but he was able to leave two runners on base and finish the game.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 3, Bradenton 2
Box Score
The Miracle were out hit in this game but they squeaked across one more run to end up victorious. Aderlin Mejia got things started at the top of the line-up. He went 3-for-5, his second straight multi-hit game. Niko Goodrum and Travis Harrison both drove in a run to help the cause.

Brett Lee joined teammate Matt Tomshaw in the double digit win club. Over seven innings, he gave up 11 hits but he was helped out by three double plays turned behind him. Nick Burdi made his second appearance with the Miracle and he struck out one in an inning. Zack Jones earned his first save by pitching a perfect ninth.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 5, Quad Cities 3
Box Score
The Kernels had to scramble a little after starter Kohl Stewart was pulled early (see above). A big three-run eighth inning powered the club to their eighth straight victory. Mat Batts had to do some tremendous work out of the bullpen. He pitched five shutout innings by striking out six and walking none. It was his second victory of the season.

Engelb Vielma and Tanner Vavra were hot at the back end of the Kernels line-up. They combined to go 7-for-8 in the game with three RBI and three runs scored. Vielma collected his first home run of the season and his first professional home run after being in the Twins organization since 2012.  Chad Christensen went 3-for-5 with a double.

E-TWINS E-NOTES
Elizabethton 7, Princeton 8
Box Score
Elizabethton took a one run lead into the ninth but Princeton would strike for a couple runs to take the lead. Dereck Rodriguez took the loss and the blown save but only one of the runs he gave up was earned. Third baseman Blake Schmit had two throwing errors in the ninth. Michael Cederoth started and gave up four earned runs over four innings. He struck out five and walked two. C.K. Irby struck out five in two innings of relief work.

Tanner English and Alex Real both hit homers to pace the E-Twins offense. For Real, his home run was his first of the season and he smacked his fifth double. Austin Diemer went 2-for-4 and scored a run. Will Hurt had three hits for the first time this season.  

GCL TWINS TAKES
GCL Twins 5, GCL Orioles 6
Box Score
The Twins scored five runs over the course of two innings but the Orioles came charging back with four runs in the next two frames. Rainis Silva had two doubles as part of a three hit day and he drove in three runs. It was his eighth double of the season. No players had more than one hit. Rafael Valera scored two runs without recording a hit.

Brandon Easton started and didn't allow an earned run. The only runs scored against him came after a fielding error by Ruar Verkerk. Zach Tillery was charged with his third loss after surrendering four runs on six hits in three innings. Eduardo Del Rosario pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts to end the game.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mat Batts, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Engelb Vielma, Cedar Rapids Kernels


WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Rochester @ Buffalo (6:05 CST) – Alex Meyer (Listen)
New Britain @ Richmond (6:05 CST) – TBD (Listen
Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (5:30 CST) – Steven Gruver (Listen)
Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - Stephen Gonsalves (Listen)
Elizabethton- Scheduled Off Day
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00am CST) – TBD 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wake Me Up When September Ends: Starting Rotation

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

August is slowly winding down and this points towards another Twins season coming to an end. Many fans can tune out at this time of year. The NFL football season is ramping up, students are heading back to school, and there's just less time to fit baseball into people's crazy schedules.

There hasn't been much of a reason to watch the Twins during the last couple of Septembers. The team was trotting out a starting rotation composed of a combination of non-prospects and aging veterans, which can be a lethal combination. Things might be shaping up to be a little better this September but the jury is still out on how this year's crop of starters will fare.

2014: Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco, Trevor May
This could very well be the same five men who start will compose the 2015 Opening Day rotation. Hughes and Gibson have had some up and down moments in the second half but they have been the most consistent starters this season. Milone had the worst start of his career during this weekend's typhoon at Target Field. The Twins are still going to want to see more of him in the last month since he just joined the organization. Nolasco is coming off a month on the DL and he's got a lot to prove to the Twins fan base. May has been a little wild so far but the Twins need him to show that he can pitch at the big league level.

2013: Scott Diamond, Kevin Correia, Andrew Albers, Cole De Vries, Mike Pelfrey
8-20 team record in September
The Twins failed to reach double digits in wins during two months last season and one of those months happened to be September. The team's leaders in wins for the month were Anthony Swarzak and Casey Fien. None of the starters had more than one win. Pelfrey is the only member of the list to still be with the Twins and he has been injured for most of this season. Diamond is now part of the Reds organization but his ERA is north of 5.00 since joining their Triple-A squad. Correia was leading the AL in losses before the Twins dealt him to the Dodgers. De Vries has since retired and started flipping houses (sound like something the Hulk would do). Albers has played this season over in Korea and it's been a rough year to say the least.

2012: Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, Liam Hendriks, PJ Walters, Esmerling Vasquez
13-18 team record in Sept/Oct
Five games under .500 is not such a bad record when considering the fearsome five-some the Twins showcased a couple years ago. Diamond was in the middle of a breakout season but he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.79 ERA in six starts over the last month. Deduno was getting his first longer look with the Twins and he got roughed up losing three of his last five starts. He didn't make it past the fourth inning in his final three outings. Hendriks finally earned his first big league win and he's only won two other big league games since that first victory. Walters and Vasquez didn't earn a win in the month and both had ERA's of over 5.50.

The Twins might not be on their way to a 20-win month to close out the year but the rotation looks improved over the past couple of years. If May can iron out some of his kinks and Nolasco can look like the pitcher he was before coming to Minnesota, there could be some good things happening in September.

Make sure to stay awake for it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Episode 95: May Day and a New Commish

We made a new podcast just for your ears. I know, you're excited too. Thanks for stopping by. You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.


The podcast returns, a day late, but a dollar better, and with a full suite of podcast hosts. We discuss Trevor May's debut, the departure of Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia and what those moves mean for the organization and the youth movement happening in Minnesota.

We're joined by Brad Swanson (@Bridman77) from the Twins blog Kevin Slowey was Framed (http://smartpitcher.blogspot.com/) to talk about Eduardo Escobar and Twins players heads photo-shopped onto animal bodies (WHAT?! YES!).
We finally get around to answering the expansion draft question submitted last week by former listener of the week, John. Which 15 players would you protect? Send us your list to talktocontact@gmail.com.

We wrap things up by going around the league to talk about the 1st place Royals, everyone being injured, and what the 1994 season might have given us had it not been for the strike.

Enjoy the show.

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!


If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review our show on iTunes. iTunes ratings and reviews help Trevor May not to walk batters.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

1994 Twins: What Could Have Been

On August 12, 1994 baseball went away. 

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the end of that season, a season that could have included many historical events. ESPN wrote earlier this week about Tony Gwynn's chase for .400, Matt Williams hunting down Roger Maris' home run record, and the Montreal Expos possible trip to the World Series. All of these events didn't take place because of the 1994 strike.

The 1994 Twins also missed out on what could have been some important moments. Minnesota wasn't on their way to a World Series because the team was 14 games out of first place and seven games under .500 when play was halted. There were still other memorable moments taken away.

Kent Hrbek's Farewell Season
The Twins last game before the strike was on August 10th and this turned out to be the final game in Kent Hrbek's career. The slugging first baseman surprised a lot of fans by retiring as a 34-year old but he had accomplished all that he wanted to in the game. He had two World Series rings and he got to play his entire career in his home state. There had been some injuries over his last couple of seasons and he was ready to spend more time with his family. The strike took away the opportunity for fans to acknowledge all he had done in a Twins uniform. The Metrodome faithful would get this opportunity in 1995 when his number was retired but it would have been nice to salute him while he was still wearing a Twins uniform.

Kirby Puckett's Shortened Career
Puckett would play his last game in 1995 and he was in the midst of a very good offensive season just one year earlier. His 112 RBI were tops in the American League and only four behind Jeff Bagwell for the highest total in baseball. He was also near the top of the league in a variety of other offensive categories. He was in the top 10 in extra base hits (5th), doubles (5th), total bases (6th), and hits (7th). His defensive game wasn't too bad either as he led the leagues in assists as an outfielder. He would finish seventh in the MVP voting and won his sixth and final Silver Slugger award. No one could foresee the end of his career being a little over a year away and it would have been nice to have Puck on the field for a few more games.

Shane Mack's Leaderboard Numbers
Following the 1994 season, Shane Mack wouldn't put on a big league uniform until the 1997 season as he would be playing professionally in Japan. This takes nothing away from the kind of numbers he was producing for the Twins in 1994. The slugging outfielder was in his last year in Minnesota and he sat in the American League's top 10 in a variety of categories when the strike hit. He ranked seventh in batting average (.333), seventh in slugging percentage (.564), and eighth in OPS (.966). He did all of this while being limited to 81 games There was plenty of season left to play after August and it would have been interesting to see where Mack would have finished by the year's end.

What else would you have liked to see from the 1994 Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (8/12): Wheeler of Fortune

A day after being part of a no-hitter that he started three weeks ago, Trevor May did something else that was a little strange; he pitched in relief for the Twins game. This was something he hadn't done since 2010 at the High-A level. After a rough big league debut, it was probably nice for May to get back on the mound and prove he belongs at the big league level.

It was a strange day in the minor leagues. Two Twins' affiliates had weather interfere with their game and one team had to finish a game they started at the end of June. Let's see how things shook out after all of the weather issues.
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 1, Lehigh Valley 1 (3rd Inning- Suspended)
Box Score
These two teams couldn't get their game completed as rain interrupted things after two innings of play. A double-header is scheduled for tomorrow with the first game being a nine inning contest and the second game being a shortened seven inning game. Look for a full report on this game as part of tomorrow's minor league report at Twins Daily.

ROCK CATS REVIEW
New Britain 2, Bowie 0
Box Score
For the first time since the beginning of July, Jason Wheeler was credited with a victory. He tossed 7.1 shutout innings by striking out five and walking none. He limited the Baysox to four hits with only two of the hits being for extra-bases. Ryan O'Rourke and Daniel Turpen collected the final five outs to keep the shutout intact. It was the second save for Turpen and the tenth hold for O'Rourke.

Mike Gonzalez provided the big hit for the Rock Cats. He cranked his third home run of the season, a two-run shot, in the fourth inning. After two quick outs to start the inning, Tony Thomas singled. He advanced to second on a balk ahead of the Gonzalez home run. Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco both went 1-for-3 with each reaching base a second time with a walk.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 6, St. Lucie 8 (Game 1- 9 Innings)
Box Score
The post Byron Buxton era in Fort Myers didn't go as planned as the team would drop a pair of games. The first game was a resumed game that had been rained out in the top of the fifth with the Miracle leading 3-2.

The team held the lead for most of the game before the bullpen allowed five runs over the last two frames. Tyler Jones was the man on the mound for all of the late inning damage. The five runs were scored on five hits including a home run. Tim Shibuya had started the game on June 26th and limited the Mets to two runs, one earned, on six hits in a little over four innings.

Fort Myers used a balance offensive attack to build up their early lead. Six different players drove in a run. Anderlin Mejia and Niko Goodrum did a good job at the top of the order. They combined to go 4-for-9 with two doubles and three runs scored. Dalton Hicks added a double of his own and he came around to score a run.

Fort Myers 6, St. Lucie 5 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
Box Score
Aderlin Mejia kept his hot hitting going in the second game recording another two-hit performance. In his last six games he has four multi-hit games so he's in the middle of quite an offensive run. Tyler Grimes knocked in three with a home run as part of a two hit night. Jairo Rodriguez only had one hit but he scored two of the team's runs. Adam Brett Walker added his 88th RBI of the season.

Ethan Mildren got knocked around for seven hits and he allowed six runs. Only four of the runs were earned following a couple of defensive miscues by Mejia and Bryan Haar. It was the first time in his last three starts that Mildren hadn't pitched six innings. Madison Boer struck out the side in the sixth and DJ Johnson pitched a perfect seventh.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 12, Beloit 5
Box Score
The Kernels used a small ball approach to rack up 12 runs in this game. Cedar Rapids didn't have an extra-base hit but they used a balance attack with every batter besides Ryan Walker, the lead-off man, getting at least one hit. Chad Christensen plated three runs including two of them with two outs in an inning. The bottom three men in the order (JD Williams, Engelb Vielma, and Tanner Vavra) all drove in two runs. The Kernels went 9-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Ryan Eades was able to coast to his second straight win and he hasn't been charged with a loss since July 20th. He scattered nine hits and allowed two earned runs for his eighth victory. Josue Montanez got into a little bit of trouble as he allowed three runs in an inning of work. Hudson Boyd limited the Snappers to two base runners over the last two frames.

E-TWINS E-NOTES
Elizabethton --, Bristol --
Rain got in the way of this contest between the E-Twins and the Pirates. It was the second time in the tree game series that weather postponed due to rain. The game will be made-up as part of a double header on August 24th when the E-Twins return to Bristol.

GCL TWINS TAKES
GCL Twins 1, GCL Rays 5
Box Score
The GCL Twins were only out hit 11 to 10 but the team struggled to get runners across the plate. Overall the team went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left nine runners on base. Joel Polanco and Zack Larson each had a double as part of a two-hit day. Amaurys Minier reached base three different times but his teammates couldn't move him in to score.

Zach Tillery took his second loss of the season after throwing three innings and allowing one earned run on four hits. He struck out two and walked one. Josh Burris relieved Tillery and four runs were scored against him but they were all unearned because of a couple defensive errors. Jhon Silva, Callan Pearce, and Miles Nordgren shut out the Rays offense the rest of the way.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jason Wheeler, New Britain Rock Cats
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Aderlin Mejia, Fort Myers Miracle


WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Durham @ Rochester (4:05 CST)- Completion of 8/12 Game
Durham @ Rochester (30 minutes after Game 1) – Mark Hamburger (Listen)
New Britain @ Trenton (6:05 CST) – Tyler Duffey (Listen
St. Lucie @ Ft. Myers (4:05 CST) – TBA (Listen)
St. Lucie @ Ft. Myers (30 minutes after Game 1)- TBA
Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (7:00 CST) - Chih-Wei Hu (Listen)
Greeneville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) -  John Curtiss
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00am CST) – TBD 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Reflecting on Chris Colabello's Career

The biggest Twins story of the weekend was the call-up and debut on right-handed pitching prospect Trevor May. Fans have been clamoring for months to see May or his Rochester counterpart Alex Meyer. This new version of the M&M boys is supposed to provide some stability to a lack-lust Twins rotation but only time will tell.

One of the stories lost in the hype of May's debut was the demotion of Chris Colabello. The 30-year old former independent league standout is heading back to Triple-A for the second time this season. In 114 games over the last two seasons, he's hit .214/.284/.364 with 13 home runs and 16 doubles. These aren't exactly the power numbers a team likes to see from a first baseman that will turn 31 before the start of next year.

It took quite the fairy tale to imagine how Colabello made it to the big leagues. He went undrafted out of college and spent six seasons toiling in the Canadian-American Association as he waited for his chance. The Twins finally gave him an opportunity after Baseball America named him the Independent Leagues Player of the Year. Colabello certainly made the most of his opportunity over the next couple of seasons.

His career in affiliated baseball would start in Double-A where he was over 3.5 years older than the average age of the other hitters in the league.  Even with the age difference, he would go on to have a monster year for New Britain in 2012 by leading the Eastern League in doubles and ranking second in RBI. Colabello seemed better than advertised and it was hard not to wonder what he could do as he moved up the ladder.

The 2013 season turned out to be even better as he jumped to Rochester in the International League. He led the league and the minors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He would be handed plenty of accolades at the end of the season as he was named the MVP and the Rookie of the Year in the International League.

Even the start of the 2014 season looked like Colabello had turned over a new leaf. During the first week of year, he hit .391 (9-for-23) with four doubles, one home run, 11 RBI and four runs scored. He lead all AL players in RBI and he ranked second in doubles. He would be named co-recipient of the American League's Player of the Week Award.

Things would slowly unravel for Colabello as the league made adjustments to him. After his hot start, he would hit .264/.321/.417 for the rest of the month of April. Out of his 19 hits, seven of them were for extra-bases and his strikeout to walk rate was 20 to six. He was leading the team in RBI but by the end of May he would be back in the minors.

Colabello was recalled by the Twins near the start of July but his latest audition didn't go much better. In 19 games he hit .222/.288/.389 with five extra-base hits and 16 strikeouts. This could leave Colabello's roster spot in jeopardy. Kennys Vargas has shown some good signs in his first handful of games and Joe Mauer is scheduled to return from injury. The Twins might also need Colabello's 40-man roster spot for a player like Alex Meyer.

If this is the end of Colabello's time with the Twins, his story will always be one to remember. From independent baseball to minor league All-Star, he had to fight to live out his dream of becoming a big league player. The Twins gave him the opportunity to live his dream and I for one am glad they did...