Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Twins Top Prospects Update: 11-20

Over at Twins Daily, we have been counting down the Twins system's top prospects as part of our midseason update. This allows for players like recent first round pick Tyler Jay to fit into the Twins overall prospect rankings. There is plenty of depth in the Twins system so there are some very good players outside the top 10 rankings. 

Some players like Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario will likely use up their rookie eligibility this season and graduate out of the rankings. This means other players just outside the top 10 will find themselves in the mix for a higher ranking spot during the coming off-season. 

These are my rankings so there are some differences from the Twins Daily compiled list (Alex Meyer was in the top 10 at Twins Daily and he checks in at number 12 below). Check out the rankings below and feel free to start a conversation about these players in the comment section.
11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
2015 Level(s): N/A (Tommy John surgery)
Thorpe had Tommy John surgery this spring and will miss all of the 2015 season. This still takes nothing away from the type of impact pitcher he could be. He's still a teenager so at this stage missing an entire season shouldn't impact his long-term potential. Thorpe was almost four years younger than the other pitchers in the Midwest League last season. He's a player to be excited about and he should be back in the Twins Top 10 Prospects by the end of the season.

12. Alex Meyer, RHP
2015 Level(s): AAA, MLB
It hasn't been the start to the 2015 season that Alex Meyer imagined. After struggling in the rotation to begin the year, Meyer has been moved to the bullpen to regain some confidence. Things have been going well for Meyer so it will be interesting to see if the Twins use him as a bullpen arm the rest of the season or if they will move him back into the rotation. The Twins are going to want him to be a starter but that might not be the role he is destined for at the big league level.

13. Chih-Wei Hu, RHP
2015 Level(s): High-A, AAA
Hu burst onto the scene last season by compiling some stellar numbers at Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He's pitched most of this season at Fort Myers with even better results. The Twins have so much confidence in him that they allowed him to make a spot start at Rochester. Hu was six years younger than the average age of the other pitchers in the International League. He's not going to blow people away but he could be a good middle of the rotation starter.

14. Adam Brett Walker, LF/RF
2015 Level(s): AA
Walker hits the ball and he hits it a long way. There are some issues with making consistent contact as his strikeout numbers continue to rise as he moves through the Twins system. On a team that includes Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, he's leading the minor leagues in home runs. There are some flaws with his game and that's one of the reasons he isn't ranked higher. Because of those flaws, it will also be interesting to see how the Twins approach his promotions for the rest of the season.

15. Tyler Duffey, RHP
2015 Level(s): AA, AAA
Duffey pitched his way from High-A to Triple-A in 2014. This left some high expectations for him entering the 2015 campaign. He pitched very well in the Southern League to start the season and has since gotten the bump up to Rochester. There have been a few hiccups since his promotion but he's still only 24 and he's seen his strikeout rate make a big jump this season. If that trend continues, he could get a chance to start with the Twins in the next couple years.

16. Nick Burdi, RHP
2015 Level(s): AA
Burdi opened the year in many Twins Top 10 lists. He's collegiate record and success last season made many think he'd be a fast riser in Minnesota's system after the team took him in the second round a year ago. Things have gone poorly this season as Burdi is walking a lot of batters and giving up hits by the bushel. The batters are more experienced at Double-A but Burdi's going to need a strong second half or he might drop out of the Twins Top 20.

17. Travis Harrison, RF/3B
2015 Level(s): AA
Harrison can get lost in the shuffle of some of the bigger named power prospects in the Twins system but he continues to compile some decent numbers. He's moved through the system consistently and his slugging percentage is over .400 again this season after being below that mark last year. Harrison's playing right field for the first time in his career and he's already matched his career high with three outfield assists. He could still surprise some people if he makes some subtle improvements.

18. Taylor Rogers, LHP
2015 Level(s): AAA
The 2014 season marked the first time in his career that Rogers didn't pitch at multiple levels in the Twins system. He still put up some strong numbers at Double-A and the team rewarded him with a trip to the Arizona Fall League to face some of the best prospects in the game. He pitched well in the AFL and some of that experience has helped him to be successful to start the 2015 campaign. Rogers might never make a Twins rotation but he's left handed and he continues to find success.

19. Stuart Turner, C
2015 Level(s): AA
Turner has struggled offensively to start 2015 but the Twins have a lot riding on some of the younger catchers in the organization. In fact, the Twins took three catchers in the first nine rounds of the 2013 draft. Turner's real claim to fame is his defensive skills and ability to call a game. Some of his offensive struggles could be from the Twins moving him aggressively. Time will tell if he can make the adjustments and turn himself into an everyday big league catcher.

20. Felix Jorge, RHP
2015 Level(s): Low-A
Jorge struggled so much during his stint with Cedar Rapids last season that the Twins sent him back to Elizabethton. This year has been much improved as Jorge has been a mainstay in the Kernels' rotation while showing better control and command of the strike zone. Minnesota might have to take the slow and steady approach with Jorge but there's enough upside to keep an eye on him.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (6/29): Rodriguez Flirts With No-Hitter

It was a busy day for the Rochester Red Wings. Not only did they have parts of two games to play but they also announced that right-handed pitcher Tyler Duffey was named the International League Player of the Week.

Duffey won both of his starts over the last seven days and he's in the midst of a 22.1 inning stretch without allowing an earned run. In 14.1 innings this week, he did not allow an earned run while walking two and tying for a league-best 10 strikeouts.

Miguel Sano was also honored on Monday with the Southern League Player of the Week. Sano led the league with seven runs, 10 hits, seven extra-base hits, 21 total bases, five doubles, and tied for the league-lead with seven RBI. He hit .588 last week with a pair of home runs, a .632 OBP and a .1235 slugging percentage.
Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 6, Pawtucket 0 (Completion of 6/5/15)
Box Score
Rain forced a game to be suspended between these two clubs earlier this month. Rochester held a 1-0 lead in the second inning before the rain came tumbling down. There were a lot of zeros put on the board before the Red Wings pushed across five runs between the sixth and seventh frames.

Reynaldo Rodriguez, Oswaldo Arcia, and Doug Bernier all finished the game with three hit efforts. Rodriguez scored three runs and fell a home run shy of the cycle. Arcia drove in a pair of runs and added his second double. Aaron Hicks went 1-for-2 with an RBI as part of his rehab stint.

Pat Dean had originally started the game back at the beginning of the month. He pitched two shutout innings before the rain interrupted things. Taylor Rogers picked up where Dean left off. Rogers earned his sixth victory by tossing seven scoreless frames with four strikeouts and two walks.

Rochester 3, Pawtucket 0 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
Box Score
A trio of Red Wings pitchers kept the shutout innings piling up. Logan Darnell started the game and took a no decision after lasting four innings and limiting the Red Sox to two hits. Caleb Thielbar earned his fifth win after pitching two innings with a pair of walks. AJ Achter collected his 13th save even after allowing a hit in the final frame.

Argenis Diaz, Jose Martinez, and Carlos Paulino each picked up two hits with Diaz scoring two of the team's three runs. Martinez hit his 9th double and drove in a run. Reynaldo Rodriguez continued his hot hitting from earlier in the day as he drove in a run and added his 17th double.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 3, Montgomery 5
Box Score
Adam Brett Walker homered for the third straight game and the fifth time in the last six games but it still wasn't enough for Chattanooga to scrape out a win. Niko Goodrum added a solo-blast, his first of the season, and Max Kepler went 1-for-4 with a double. Miguel Sano didn't see a lot of good pitches as he was walked in two of his five tripe to the plate. The team was a dreadful 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base.

Jason Wheeler was forced out of the game with two outs in the sixth after giving up five runs (four earned runs) on seven hits with seven strikeouts. Brandon Peterson and JT Chargois finished out the game without allowing another run to score and this left the Lookouts with a chance for a comeback.

It was the fourth loss in the last five games for the Lookouts after winning eight out of nine games.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 1, Dunedin 3
Box Score
After seeing their 10-game winning streak snapped on Sunday, Fort Myers finds themselves in the midst of a two-game losing streak. Kohl Stewart took the loss even though he put together quite the pitching performance. Over six innings, he allowed two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts. Alex Muren and DJ Johnson finished the game with two scoreless innings but it wasn't enough.

The Miracle lacked much offensive punch on Monday night. Alex Swim had the lone extra-base hit a double that drove in the lone run for his team. Mitch Garver went 2-for-4 while Engelb Vielma reached base two times and scored a run. The team went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 4, Wisconsin 0
Box Score
Sam Gibbons took the hill for the Kernels and last six frames. He had mixed results on the mound as he didn't allow an earned run and he struck out five but he did allow four walks and two hits. Luke Bard was good in relief as he didn't allow a run in two innings of work. Trevor Hildenberger finished off the shutout with a perfect ninth inning.

Jorge Fernandez was right in the middle of a lot of the offensive action for Cedar Rapids. He went 2-for-4 including a triple in the top of the ninth that lead to a big insurance run. Tanner English picked up a pair of hits but was very close to having a three hit night as he was thrown out on a close play. Nick Gordon drove in a run and he made multiple tough defensive plays at shortstop.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins 6, Bristol 0
Box Score
Like their counterparts at Triple-A, the E-Twins kept their opponents off the board with an impressive pitching performance. Dereck Rodriguez was superb as took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. He allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. CK Irby and Tyler Stirewalt finished off the shutout by allowing a combined three base runners.

It was only the fourth start of Rodriguez's career and he admitted he didn't realize he had a no-hitter going until it was too late. "To be honest... I didn't even think about it until the seventh inning, when I got that first out and everyone started cheering," he said. "And I made the mistake of looking at the scoreboard, and sure enough the next guy got a hit."

The E-Twins scored at least one run in each of the first four innings and that was more than enough for Mr. Rodriguez. Austin Diemer scored two runs and smacked his first double. Tyler Kuresa drove in a pair of runs. Kamran Young and Rainis Silva both went 2-for-3 and Young scored twice.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 3, GCL Rays 1
Box Score
The GCL Twins bounced back over the .500 mark with today's win against the GCL Rays who have one victory to their name. Randy Rosario picked up his first win after tossing five shutout innings. He scattered three hits and struck out four. Johan Quezada earned his second save by striking out two in 1.2 innings of work.

Luis Martinez lead the offensive charge. He finished the day 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Lewin Diaz had his first multi-hit game of the season, The team didn't have any extra-base hits and they left six men on base. Luis Arraez stole his second base of the season and Martinez and Diaz each collected their first stolen bag.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Dereck Rodriguez, Elizabethton Twins
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Reynaldo Rodriguez, Rochester Red Wings

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Pawtucket (6:05 CST) – RHP Ervin Santana
Chattanooga- Scheduled Off Day
Ft. Myers @ Dunedin (5:30 CST) – LHP Stephen Gonsalves
Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (12:05 CST) – LHP Luke Westphal
Elizabethton vs. Bristol (6:00 CST) – TBA
GLC Twins vs. GCL Rays (11:00 am CST) – TBA

2015 Topps Stadium Club Review: Minnesota Twins

Topps Stadium Club made it's big return in 2014 and Topps is bringing it back for 2015. Stadium Club was an important set to collectors in the 1990's and Topps stays true to those releases with stunning photography.

The base set includes 300 cards including parallels like White Foil (1:8 packs), Gold Foil (1:16 packs), hobby exclusive Black and White Foil (1:48), Foil Board (#/25) and Members Only (one per case). Packs will be available at retail stores this year after being a hobby exclusive last year.

49. Kurt Suzuki
61. Joe Mauer
131. Phil Hughes
159. Torii Hunter
277. Oswaldo Arcia
289. Danny Santana
293. Trevor May- RC

Minnesota is a little underrepresented in the base set with only seven cards available. It's disappointing to see the likes of Glen Perkins or Brian Dozier missing from another set. Young players like Arcia, Santana, and May continue to add to their collection of cards. Hunter gets his 2015 card in a Twins jersey that hasn't gone through Photoshop.

The Twins inserts in Stadium Club are few and far between but both Twins inserts come with autographed versions. The Kennys Vargas autograph market continues to be saturated. He seems to have an autograph card in almost every Topps release this season. The Base Card Autograph set has multiple versions including White (#/50), Gold (#/25), and Orange (1/1).

A Topps Twins set seems like it couldn't be complete without a Mauer inset for collectors to hunt. He's featured in the True Colors set which comes in refractors, gold refractors, electric refractors (#/25). There's also a very rare True Colors Autograph set with a Mauer autograph that is numbered out of five.

Overall, the photography and crisp look of Stadium Club offer something unique to trading card collectors. Mauer and Vargas continue to get the bulk of Topps attention but it would be nice to see players like Dozier and Perkins getting a little action. Twins fans will still like this product and they have a chance to find some very nice cards.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (6/27): Ten-Straight for Fort Myers

Credit: Lindwood Ferguson, Captive Photons (Ryan Eades, Fort Myers Miracle)
Rain impact more than one contest across the Twins system on Saturday night. The Red Wings and the E-Twins weren't able to take the field as the conditions were unplayable. There was plenty of other action on Saturday evening as the rest of the farm system tries to get the second half of their season's off to the right start. 

Let's take a look down on the pond to find out who did well and who's starting the second half on a good note. 

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester --, Charlotte -- (Postponed)
Rain snuffed out this contest between the Red Wings and the Knights. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday with two seven-inning contests beginning at 1:35 pm. Rochester has lost four of their last six game and the club will look to get back on the winning track with parts of four games in the next two days.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 2, Montgomery 7
Box Score
The Lookouts found themselves in an early hole as the Biscuits were up three runs by the end of the third frame. Chattanooga would claw their way back to tie the game in the sixth but it would be enough as Montgomery scored four in their last two plate appearances to win.

Adam Brett Walker accounted for most of Chattanooga's offense as he smacked his 21st home run, a two-run shot. He also struck out two times in the game so it was a fairly typical night for Mr. Walker. Miguel Sano reached in all four of his plate appearances with two walks, two singles, and two runs scored. Levi Michael had a rough night as he struck out four times out of the lead-off spot.

Brett Lee started and took a no decision after allowing three runs over five innings. He struck out one and walked three. Jake Reed was charged with the loss even though only one of the three runs he allowed was earned. Even JT Chargois, who has been very good this season, allowed a run in his inning of work.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 2, Dunedin 1
Box Score
Ryan Eades took no prisoners and left this game with his fifth victory on the mound. In seven inning pitched, he allowed one earned run and scattered five hits including six strikeouts and two walks. Corey Williams and D.J Johnson shut out the Blue Jays the rest of the way. It was the second hold of the season for Williams and the third save for Johnson.

On the offensive side of the ball, Marcus Knecht and Mitch Garver each went 2-for-4 with a double and Knecht drove in a pair of runs. Knecht used a two-out double, his 14th double, to drive in the winning runs. In nine chances, it was the club's only hit with runners in scoring position.

With the win, the Miracle stretched their winning streak to 10 games and they are a perfect 3-0 to start the second half of the season. Palm Beach is also 3-0 so the Miracle are tied for first place in the Florida State League South Division.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 6 (10th Inning)
Box Score
The Kernels offense took awhile to wake up in this game as the club was shutout until the sixth inning. Cedar Rapids pushed across four runs in the sixth to find themselves with the lead. However, Quad Cities would end up tying the game in the ninth and winning it in extra innings.

Rafael Valera started things for the Kernels by reaching on an error in the sixth. Tanner English and Nick Gordon followed with singles to score the first run. The team executed a double steal in front of a double from Edgar Corcino to score two runs. Alex Real capped the scoring with a single.

Keaton Steele got the start and didn't make it through five innings. He allowed three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and four walks. Jared Wilson was very good in relief as he tossed 3.1 scoreless frames with four strikeouts. Cameron Booser was charged with a blow save, his third, and the loss after allowing three runs on four hits with four walks.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins --, Pulaski -- (Postponed)
Like their counterparts at Triple-A, the E-Twins contest against the Pulaski Yankees was postponed due to rain. Elizabethton has started the season going 2-2 after winning the first game of their series with Pulaski on Friday evening. The teams will play a double header on Sunday to make-up for tonight's postponed game. 

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 2, GCL Red Sox 3
Box Score
The GCL Twins met up with the juggernaut of the GCL so far this season. The GCL Red Sox are undefeated to start the season and that streak continued on Saturday. Williams Ramirez started the contest for the Twins and he allowed one hit in four innings while striking out seven. Rich Condeelis took the loss as he gave up two earned runs in less than an inning of work.

Roberto Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a double to lead the offensive charge for the GCL Twins. Luis Arraez hit his third double of the season. Lewin Diaz knocked in a run and hit his first double. Overall, the team left six men on base and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Ryan Eades, Fort Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Marcus Knecht, Fort Myers Miracle

SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Charlotte (12:35 CST) – RHP Tyler Duffey
Rochester vs. Charlotte (Game 2)- RHP Greg Peavey
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (5:35 CST)- RHP Jose Berrios
Ft. Myers @ Dunedin (4:00 CST) – LHP Mat Batts
Cedar Rapids vs. Quad Cities (3:05 CST)- RHP Zach Tillery
Elizabethton vs. Pulaski (5:00 CST) - RHP Cody Stashak
Elizabethton vs. Pulaski (Game 2)- TBA

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

Twins Minor League Leader Board (through June 26)

All-Star Games are over and this means some changes will be coming within the Twins system. Alex Meyer was called-up and he made his MLB debut last night in Milwaukee. There will be other promotions throughout the system as team's start the second half and are looking for a boost. 

Here is a look at the updated Twins minor league standings and statistical leaders through Friday, June 26. Feel free to discuss.
Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
STANDINGS

Here is a quick look at where the teams rank in their divisions as the second half of the season kicks off for many of the full season affiliates and the rookie leagues are just getting started. 

Rochester is 37-36, 3-4 since last week. They dropped to  4.5 games behind Scranton/Wilkes Barre in the International League North Division. They are two games ahead of Pawtucket for second place and 4.5 games out of the wild card spot. 

Chattanooga is 0-2 to start the second half after ending the first half on a four game winning streak. They went 3-2 in the last week and have already clinched a playoff spot after winning their first division title in the first half of the year. 

Ft. Myers has gone a perfect 5-0 since last week. They are 2-0 to start the second half and tied with Palm Beach for first place in the Florida State League South. They finished the first half of the season seven games behind Charlotte so the Miracle need to win the second half in order to defend their FSL Championship.

Cedar Rapids is 1-1 as the second half begins, and they went 2-3 the last seven days. They are one games behind Burlington at this early juncture. They already were able to clinch a first half playoff berth as the runner up in the West Division of the Midwest League.


Elizabethton started the season going 2-2 and they are tied with four other teams atop the Appalachian League West Division. The E-Twins went 1-2 in their road series with Bluefield before returning home. Last night, the club defeated Pulaski in their home opener.

The GCL Twins are 3-2 as their season begins and they sit two games behind the GCL Red Sox in the GCL South Division. The Twins lost 6-1 to those Red Sox on Friday night. This came on the heels of the club winning three-of-four games from the GCL Orioles including two extra-inning thrillers.  

HITTERS

For batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and IsoP, we used a minimum of 190 plate appearances.

Plate Appearances: Zach Granite (301), Travis Harrison (281) , Adam Brett Walker (280), 
Nick Gordon (279), Jorge Polanco (278) 

Batting Average: 
Max Kepler (.332), James Beresford (.323), Alex Swim (.315), Jorge Polanco (.293), Dalton Hicks (.289)

On-Base Percentage: Max Kepler (.402), 
Zach Granite (.371), Travis Harrison (.367), Alex Swim (.360), James Beresford (.359)

Slugging Percentage: Adam Brett Walker (.586), Max Kepler (.531), Miguel Sano (.515), Byron Buxton (.489), Danny Ortiz (.441)

Isolated Power (IsoP): Adam Brett Walker (.321), Miguel Sano (.252), Max Kepler (.210), Byron Buxton (.207), Danny Ortiz (.184)

OPS: Max Kepler (.933), Adam Brett Walker (.911), Miguel Sano (.868), Byron Buxton (.840), Travis Harrison (.756)

Hits: Alex Swim (81), Jorge Polanco (76), 
James Beresford/Zach Granite/Max Kepler (75), Adam Brett Walker (69) 

2B: Max Kepler (20), Danny Ortiz (19), 
Travis Harrison (18),  Adam Brett Walker (17), Miguel Sano (16)

3B: Byron Buxton (12), Max Kepler (8), Max Murphy/Tanner English (6), Aaron Hicks/TJ White (4)

HR: Adam Brett Walker (20), Miguel Sano (14), Danny Ortiz/Reynaldo Rodriguez (7), Byron Buxton/Trey Vavra/Josmil Pinto (6)

Runs: Miguel Sano (50), 
Adam Brett Walker/Zach Granite (47), Byron Buxton (44), Max Kepler (41), Travis Harrison (40)

RBI: Adam Brett Walker (61), 
Miguel Sano (44), Danny Ortiz (43), Byron Buxton/Zach Larson (37), Reynaldo Rodriguez (36)

SB: Byron Buxton/Tanner English (20), Engelb Vielma (17), Nick Gordon (15), Jorge Polanco/Zach Granite (14).

STARTING PITCHERS (50 IP)

Innings: Taylor Rogers (96.1), Tyler Duffey (90.1), Pat Dean (85.1), JO Berrios (83.2), Greg Peavey (73.1)

ERA: Stephen Gonsalves (1.96)
, Mat Batts (2.02), Chih-Wei Hu (2.34), Felix Jorge (2.37), Ryan Eades (3.09)

WHIP: Felix Jorge (0.91), Stephen Gonsalves (0.97), Mat Batts (1.01), Chih-Wei Hu (1.10), 
Tyler Duffey (1.15), Aaron Slegers (1.16)

K/9: Stephen Gonsalves (10.8), Alex Meyer (9.7), JO Berrios (9.3), Tyler Duffey (9.2), 
Mat Batts (8.5), Alex Wimmers (8.4)

BB/9: Greg Peavey (1.6), Mat Batts/Tyler Duffey (1.8), 
Felix Jorge (1.9), Aaron Slegers/Pat Dean (2.0)

Strikeouts: 
Tyler Duffey (88), JO Berrios (86), Stephen Gonsalves (83), Mat Batts/Taylor Rogers (67), Alex Wimmers (65)

Wins: Stephen Gonsalves (7-1), JO Berrios (7-3), Jared Wilson (6-2), Greg Peavey (6-3), Taylor Rogers (6-4)RELIEF PITCHERS

Games: AJ Achter (30), Alex Muren/Todd Van Steensel (25), JT Chargois/Zack Jones/Brandon Peterson (24)

Innings: 
Alex Muren (44.0), Todd Van Steensel (43.1), Randy LeBlanc (42.1), Madison Boer (39.1), Mike Theofanopoulos (36.2)

ERA: Trevor Hildenberger (0.96), Brandon Peterson (0.72), Cameron Booser (1.57), 
Alex Muren (1.64), Randy LeBlanc (1.70) 

WHIP: 
AJ Achter (0.61), Trevor Hildenberger (0.70), Brandon Peterson (0.80), Alex Muren (1.04), Tim Shibuya/Todd Van Steensel (1.13)

K/9: Cameron Booser (13.8), 
Jose Velez (12.9), Brandon Peterson (12.8), Todd Van Steensel (12.5), Trevor Hildenberger (11.8), Lester Oliveros (11.5)

BB/9: Trevor Hildenberger (1.2), 
Tim Shibuya (1.5), AJ Achter (1.7), Randy LeBlanc (2.6), Alex Muren (2.7), Lester Oliveros (2.9)

Saves: AJ Achter (12), Zack Jones (10), JT Chargois (9), Trevor Hildenberger/Todd Van Steensel (8), Cameron Booser (7)

There you have it. The Twins Minor League Leader Board through Friday, June 26.

What are your thoughts? What surprised you?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Episode 136: Alex Meyer Gets the Call

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week on Talk to Contact Eric and Cody dive into the good, bad, and ugly from the past week of Minnesota Twins baseball. Alex Meyer's call-up is announced and they discuss his role on the 2015 team, and beyond. 

They look back on the recent success of Joe Mauer (two home runs last week), Phil Hughes, and Kennys Vargas. Plus, what the heck is the deal with Byron Buxton, and what will the Twins do when Aaron Hicks' rehab stint is complete?

As always, we end with beer, baseball, and the news from around the league.

If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to tell a friend (or two, or three, or four hundred) and give us a rating/review on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help the Twins to survive this important 10-game road trip.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

TD Midseason Top Prospects: #4 Jorge Polanco

The Twins have shuffled a lot of different men through their shortstop position in the last handful of years. Current regulars Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier both came up as shortstops before having to be moved off the position. There have been plenty of other names but the Twins are still searching and hoping for someone to be a long-term solution.

After a tremendous rookie campaign, Danny Santana was given the opportunity to run with the starting shortstop job. He struggled to start the year and this might have opened the door to some other prospects. Jorge Polanco might be the biggest beneficiary as he makes a big jump on the Twins Daily prospect rankings.
Photo: Marilyn Indahl, USA Today
Age: 21 (DOB: 7/5/93)
2015 Stats (MLB): .333/.500/.333 (1-for-3, 1B, BB)
(AA): .301/.347/.414, 12 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR
ETA: 2015
2014 Preseason Rank: 8, 2015 Preseason Rank: 7

What's To Like
Polanco just keeps getting better and he's been able to make those improvements while consistently moving through the Twins system. This didn't happen overnight as he struggled through two stints in the Gulf Coast League. Polanco emerged as an offensive threat in 2012 with Elizabethton where he hit .318/.388/.514 with 22 extra-base hits. Since that time he has been a vital part of some power packed line-ups in Cedar Rapids, Fort Myers, New Britain, and Chattanooga.

He's been called up to the big leagues multiple times in the last couple years and he became the first player since Kent Hrbek to make the jump from High-A to the MLB level. With current call-ups like Byron Buxton on the roster, the Twins have made it clear that they are only going to bring up young players that have the maturity and pose to handle the situation. Polanco demonstrates these qualities.

What's Left To Work On
Polanco has moved around the diamond on the defensive side of the ball. The Twins signed him as a shortstop but he played a lot of second base in the early part of his career. At the start of the 2014 season, the Twins organization decided to let Polanco play shortstop on a more consistent basis. That season was a little rough as he was charged with 35 errors in 540 chances (.935 fielding percentage). This season has gone marginally better as he committed 14 errors over 236 chances (.941 fielding percentage).

The Lookouts have consistently used Polanco near the top of the order so it would be nice to see him continue to refine his approach to accumulate more walks. He has a .350 OBP for his career but that number is a little over 60 points higher than his batting average. If he wants to be near the top of the order at baseball's highest level, he's going to need to continue to improve in the walk department.

What's Next
Twins fans have already seen Polanco at the big league level this year. It was a brief trip but it was still another glimpse of what's to come. There have been some good signs from Polanco this year at Double-A as well. With 14 steals already, he's well on his way to surpassing his career high of 17 steals from 2014.

Polanco seems very close to becoming a regular at the big league level. He's a multifaceted prospect with good defensive ability including a rocket arm. As he's moved through the system, he's shown the ability to improve offensively including a little pop in his bat. None of his tools are elite but he has the ability to be a major league starter for years to come.

As the Twins turn over the reigns to the youth movement, Polanco seems destined to be Brian Dozier's double-play partner for at least the next couple seasons. His stock is rising fast and the Twins might be close to cashing in on their investment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2015 Topps Series 2 Review: Minnesota Twins

In the middle of the baseball season, Topps continues to pump out new sets for card collectors. Topps Series 2 is a continuation of their Series 1 set from earlier in the spring. It adds 350 more base cards to the set to bring the total to 700 cards between Series 1 and Series 2.

Minnesota had 11 cards in Series 1 and the release of the club sees an expansion on that total. Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana get the Photoshop upgrades to add on their new Twins logos. There's also a photo variation of Joe Mauer that shows him walking up the steps of the Twins dugout. Santana gets a sparkle variation card that can be tough to see if you're not looking for it.

373. Kurt Suzuki
399. Josmil Pinto
415. Ervin Santana
426. Trevor Plouffe
457. Aaron Hicks
499. Eduardo Nunez
504. Twins Team Card
509. Danny Santana- Future Stars
590. Torii Hunter
604. Jordan Schafer
632. Kyle Gibson
643. Oswaldo Arcia
700. Joe Mauer

Kennys Vargas continues to get shown love by Topps with a variety of inserts and autographs. Vargas is featured in the Birth Year Coin and Stamp set. This set includes either a quarter, dime, nickel, or penny and a stamp from the player's birth year. Vargas also has a quarter version with an autograph. One of the cooler looking cards in the set are the Strata Signature Relics including a Vargas version. These are limited to 25 so it will be tough to pull.

Like Vargas, Joe Mauer has been featured regularly in insert sets this year. He has a Career High Relics card for collectors to find. He's also featured in the unique Commemorative Patch Pins set with a Twins 50th season in Minnesota logo (#/199). Mauer's final insert set is the 'Til It's Over variety. He is not only in the base insert set but he also has a relic and a relic autograph version.

Two other Twins have autographs available in the Career High set. Trevor May continues this year's trend of having autographs in multiple releases including Bowman and Topps Finest. Josh Willingham gets a surprise autograph as he sails off into retirement.

In the Series 1 set, Mauer was the lone Twins player in the First Home Run and First Home Run Medallion set. Series 2 has a couple other familiar faces to Twins fans. David Ortiz has gone on to quite the home run career after he left Minnesota but his first home run was in a Twins uniform. Harmon Killebrew is also in the set but he's wearing a Washington Senators uniform because the Twins had yet to move to Minnesota.

Overall, I'm still not a huge fan of the design of this year's cards. Topps has put a lot of stock into Kennys Vargas this season as he has been featured heavily in Series 1 and Series 2. It's nice to see more currently players make this set after three of the 11 cards in Series 1 were no longer with the club. There's plenty of cards for Twins fans to collect and that can make Series 2 a little more fun for the collector that doesn't have a ton of money to spend on the hobby.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Topps Archives Review: Minnesota Twins

In recent years Topps Archives has become a new favorite among card collectors for it's mix of current players with designs from the past. There are even former stars on new designs for a throwback feel that collectors love to get their hands on.

The 2015 Archives Baseball set, a 300-card base set, uses designs from 1957 Topps, 1976 Topps and 1983 Topps. Each design is broken into 100 card chunks with parallels that include Silver, Gold, Black and Printing Plates.

Compared to some of the other sets released earlier this year, Twins fans are going to have to spend some more time hunting down their favorite players. Let's dive into the set and see who is out there for Twins Territory to collect.

Archives Base Set
13. Joe Mauer
33. Oswaldo Arcia
55. Trevor May- RC
63. Rod Carew
87. Kennys Vargas
155. Brian Dozier
181. Harmon Killebrew
219. Kurt Suzuki
243. Phil Hughes
286. Danny Santana

The base set includes a good mix of young players, current regulars, and former stars. Trevor May is the lone rookie card in the set even though it's the first Archives cards for Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas. It's nice to have Brian Dozier in another set and hopefully his personal checklist will continue to grow over the next couple years.

May also gets included in the 1990 Topps All-Star Rookies insert set. This throwback design will bring Twins fans back to the World Series years in Minnesota. It's fun to see a current player on a design that had been previously reserved for the likes of Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek.

One of the best parts of this set is the inserts called Fan Favorites Autographs. In recent years, Twins fans have been able to hunt down the likes of Kent Hrbek and Gary Gaetti. This year's set includes autographs from 1987 World Series MVP Frank Viola. "Sweet Music" fans can hunt down his autograph in limited edition Silver (#/199), Gold (#/50), and Black (1/1)

Joe Mauer continues to get some insert love as he is included in the 1968 Topps Game Insert Set and the 1990 Topps #1 Draft Picks Set. Mauer continues to be the most recognized name on the Twins roster but one has to wonder if his card totals will decline in the coming years.

This set doesn't include a lot of inserts but collectors can go out and try to hunt down all of the Twins in the base set. Frank Viola is an integral part of Twins history so it nice to have him included in the Fan Favorites Autograph set. Archives might not be my favorite set but it offers so nice variety in the multitude of offerings from the Topps company.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (6/22): Miracle Barrage, Duffey Deals

Even without a scheduled game for Chattanooga, Max Kepler made headlines as he was named the Southern League player of the week. In the last week, he had consecutive four-hit games as well as a three-hit game and a two hit outing. He went 14-for-22 with four triples, six runs, four RBI and three steals

Kepler is now batting .342 with a .972 OPS including legging out 17 doubles and eight triples. He also has 12 stolen bases this season. He leads the league in batting and ranks second in triples behind former teammate Byron Buxton.

The Lookouts were off on Monday but there was other action down on the farm.
Photo: Marcus Knecht, Fort Myers Miracle (Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons)
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 3, Pawtuckett 2
Box Score
Tyler Duffey took the mound for the Red Wings and gave quite the performance. Both runs scored against him were unearned and he scattered five hits with six strikeouts and one walk. After collecting one out in the eighth, Duffey surrendered back to back hits to leave runners on the corners. He'd have to rely on the bullpen to get out of this jam.

Ryan O'Rourke and Mark Hamburger both were brought in for one batter and they each picked up huge strikeouts to keep the Red Wings lead at 3-2. AJ Achter made quick work in the ninth inning by striking out one for his 11th save.

Eric Farris lead the way offensively with two doubles and a run scored. Danny Santana continued his hot hitting ways with a double and an RBI. He's now hit safely in six straight games and nine of his last ten. Danny Ortiz and Reynaldo Rodriguez each drove in a run and Rodriguez stole his second base.

With the win, Rochester improved to three games over .500. The club has won four of their last six games and they sit two games back in the International League Wild Card Standings.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga- Scheduled Off Day
The Lookouts are in the midst of their mid-season All-Star break. Seven members of the Lookouts were named to the 2015 Southern League North Division All-Star Team. Pitchers DJ Baxendale, Jose Berrios and Zach Jones all made the squad. Outfielders Byron Buxton and Adam Brett Walker along with infielders Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano were scheduled to join them.

Buxton obviously won't be playing in the contest as he has been called up to the big leagues. One surprise name not on the list is Max Kepler who has been destroying the Southern League over the last few weeks. The game will be played in Montgomery, AL with a home run derby starting at 5 pm CST and the All-Star Game starting at 6:35 CST on Tuesday.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 10, Palm Beach 1
Box Score
Fort Myers had an offensive explosion on Monday night as they pounded out 10 runs in the first four frames. It was the first time in June that the club scored double-digits and the club went an eye-popping 10-for-19 with runners in scoring position. The Miracle won their last four games before the All-Star Break so this makes it five straight victories.

Marcus Knecht cracked three doubles with three RBI and three runs scored. Engelb Vielma collected three hits and Bryan Haar went 4-for-5. Mitch Garver, Zach Granite, and Logan Wade all had multi-hit efforts including two runs scored by Garver.

Boosted by the solid offensive output, Mat Batts was able to cruise to his second victory. He lasted seven innings and allowed one run on four hits. His eight strikeouts were the second most he's had all season. Matt Summers allowed a couple runs in the final frame but the Miracle had more than enough insurance runs.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids - Scheduled Off Day
Roster Move: Kernels pitcher Miles Nordgren was optioned to Elizabethton of the Gulf Coast League. Cedar Rapids currently has 23 players on the roster.

Like the Lookouts, most of the Kernels are enjoying a few off days as part of the Midwest League All-Star break. Cedar Rapids is sending five All-Stars to the game including four pitchers. The lone position player is first baseman Trey Vavra who is secong in the MWL in hitting (.346 BA). Jared Wilson, Cam Booser, Felix Jorge, and Trevor Hildenberger were all selected to the pitching staff.

The game is being hosted by the Peoria Chiefs in Peoria, Illinois. The events will start with a home run derby at 5:30 pm and the game will follow.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 0, GCL Orioles 2
Box Score
The GCL Twins got off to a slow start to the season as the team was limited to three hits in their first game of the season. Travis Blankenhorn went 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk. Roberto Gonzalez and Tyree Davis each went 1-for-3 and Davis was able to swipe two bases. Overall, the team went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Jose Martinez took the loss after tossing five frames and allowing two earned runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked one. Miguel Gonzalez allowed two base runners in two frames without allowing a run. Dallas Gallant and Yorman Landa each pitched a perfect frame with three combined strikeouts. 

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Tyler Duffey, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Marcus Knecht, Fort Myers Miracle

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Pawtucket (6:05 CST) – RHP Greg Peavey
Chattanooga- Southern League All-Star Game (6:35 CST)
Ft. Myers vs. Palm Beach (6:05 CST) – RHP Kohl Stewart
Cedar Rapids- Midwest League All-Star Game (7:00 CST)
Elizabethton @ Bluefield (6:05 CST) - TBA
GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles (11:00 am CST)- TBA

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

TD Midseason Top Prospects: #8 Eddie Rosario

While the Twins roster currently has first round picks like Byron Buxton, Joe Mauer, and Glen Perkins on it, there are also some picks from further back in the draft. Brian Dozier was an eighth round pick and Michael Tonkin was a 30th round pick.

Eddie Rosario might not have been found as late as Dozier or Tonkin but the Twins have still gotten value out of their 2010 fourth round pick. He's one of eight players from that fourth round to appear in the big leagues and he's accumulated the third highest WAR besides playing in fewer than 40 games.
Jesse Johnson, USA Today
Age: 23 (DOB: 9/28/91)
2015 Stats (MLB):  .283/.308/.424 (.732), 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR
(AAA) .242/.280/.379 (.659), 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR
ETA: 2015
2014 Preseason Ranking: 52015 Preseason Ranking: 8 

What's To Like
Rosario's best tool has always been his hitting ability. Throughout his younger years in the minors, he made consistent contact and saw brief power outputs including leading the Appalachian League in home runs during his second season.  For his minor league career, he's hit .291/.340/.480 while averaging 10 home runs and over 17 doubles per season.

After serving a 50-game suspension to start the 2014 season, Rosario struggled to hitting for the first time in his career (.237 in 316 AB). Minnesota sent him to the Arizona Fall League for the second consecutive year and he knocked the cover off the ball. Across 24 games, he batted .330/.345/.410 with four doubles, two triples, 18 RBI and 10 steals. This included going 4-for-5 with a home run and a double in the AFL title game.

Before the emergence of Brian Dozier and some other middle infield prospects, the Twins attempted to move Rosario to second base. He has since been moved back to the outfield where he has shown the ability to play all three outfield positions. His strong arm and defense flexibility should help him stick at the big league level.

What's Left To Work On
As Rosario got closer to the big leagues, his offense production declined. His on-base percentage dipped below .300 for the first time in his career and his OPS was under .675. With Byron Buxton penciled in as the center fielder, it likely means Rosario will be pushed to a corner outfield spot. This means he will need to hit for a high average and improve his power numbers from recent years.

Rosario wasn't exactly pounding down the door to the big leagues when the Twins called him up this season. In 95 at-bats, he was limited to a .242 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage. He had combined for six extra-base hits but this marks were well below his minor league average. Besides his AFL output, his time in the minors hadn't been great since returning from his drug suspension.

What's Next
Rosario made his big league debut at the beginning of May and he got off to a hot start by hitting .298/.317/.421 with 10 RBI in 18 games. Things have cooled off a little in June but his OBP has is still over .300 and his slugging percentage has gone up thanks to seven of his 18 hits being for extra bases. He's spent time in both left and right field and it seems like the Twins could go with an outfield that includes Rosario, Buxton, and Hunter for the rest of the season.

Rosario's stock has risen higher than some other players that were thought of more highly in recent years. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia have showcased their flaws over the last couple seasons and the Twins seem ready to turn things over to a different crop of young players. If Rosario can continue to produce and play solid defense, there's no reason to think he won't be in a corner outfield spot for the rest of the season.

He might never be an All-Star but he has the chance to be a solid everyday player and team's need those types of players to remain competitive.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Episode 135: Byron Buxton Debuts and Joe Mauer Rides Off Into the Future

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week on T2C, we're talking all about the good things the Twins did in the past week, despite their mediocre results. Byron Buxton debuts, Joe Mauer is falling to pieces, but still hitting homers, and what to do with some of the young struggling pieces (Kennys Vargas and company). Plus, the good news about Eddie Rosario, and the fun of a Rosario, Aaron Hicks, and Byron Buxton outfield.
Plus talk of Brian Dozier being one of the 10 best hitters in baseball, the success of Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson, and the excitement ERolf has about Glen Perkins.

As always, we end with beer, baseball, and the news from around the league.

If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to tell a friend (or two, or three, or four hundred) and give us a rating/review on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help the Twins to keep the dance party going.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'Tony Oliva' by Thom Henninger

For baseball fans across the Upper Midwest, Tony Oliva has become one of the most well known personalities. His infectious smile and broken English endeared him to any smiling face with a hand to shake and a baseball to sign. Tony O has become a legend but it's amazing to think of how close he was to never having a baseball career.

These trials and tribulations form the backdrop of the recent book release, Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend by Thom Henninger. Oliva, a Cuban native, left behind family and friends to pursue his baseball dreams. Shortly after arriving in the United States the pipeline of native Cuban players would be cutoff following Fidel Castro seizing control of the island and the ill-fated Bay of Pig invasion.

Oliva found himself stuck. The Twins released him after his first spring training because he wasn't experienced enough to make the big league squad and it was often dangerous to have African American players on minor league affiliates in the South. Without the political turmoil in his homeland, Oliva likely would have returned to Cuba and worked on the family farm.

His path took him in a different direction and this sacrifice meant he wouldn't see his family members until years later. Tony O's choice meant Twins fans were blessed to see one of the best hitters in the history of the game. He won three batting titles including back-to-back titles in his first two seasons. His hit total led the league five times, four times he lead the league in doubles, and he was a member of eight straight All-Star teams from 1964-71.

Even with all of the accolades he earned throughout his career, it's hard to imagine the life he chose for himself. Starting a life in a foreign country with few English skills and a dream of playing professional baseball had to be a daunting task that few can comprehend especially in the midst of turmoil in his homeland and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

One of the most emotional moments in the book happens at what should have been one of the happiest times for Oliva. In 1965, Minnesota clinched their first trip to the World Series. Through the fog of champagne in the locker room, Oliva sat quietly in the corner away from the group as he began to cry. Getting to the World Series was the high point of his major league career but Oliva couldn't help but long for his family and the life he left behind.

That's the kind of portrait painted of Oliva through the course of the book. He's a man that would do anything for his friends and family and Twins fans are lucky enough to be included in his closest circle. Tony O treats everyone like family even after every obstacle that he has overcome. 

Reflecting back on the career of Oliva inevitably comes back to his candidacy for enshrinement in Cooperstown. From 1964-71, Tony O was one of the best and most feared hitters in the game by combining power with average. Unfortunately, his career was sabotaged by a multitude of knee surgeries.

Some might argue that other players with less deserving resumes are already in the Hall of Fame and Oliva fell one vote short of enshrinement during the most recent Veteran's Committee vote. Is eight years of playing at the top of the game enough to earn a plaque? 

That's a debate for another day but it's clear from the pages of this book that Oliva is already a Hall of Fame player to everyone in Twins Territory... 

...even if he doesn't have a plaque to show for it. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (6/15): Sano Wants to Join Buxton

A day after watching Byron Buxton make his big league debut, Miguel Sano wanted to make sure that Twins fans didn't forget about him. Sano is one of baseball's best prospects remaining in the minor leagues after a ton of call-ups at the beginning of this season.

In his last ten games, Sano is hitting .312 with two home runs, two doubles, 10 runs scored, and five RBI. Entering play today, he was hitting .257/.358/.505 with 12 home runs and 12 doubles. It's interesting to see how much higher his OBP is than his batting average but that's been a trend for him throughout the minor leagues.

To see how Sano and the rest of the farm system fared on Monday, keep reading.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester (Schedule Off Day)
After ending a six game losing streak on Sunday, Rochester enjoyed a scheduled off day before starting a six-game home stand. In a weird schedule quirk, the Red Wings, who just finished a four game road series versus Scranton/WB, will play three more games versus the RailRiders. Rochester has gone 5-4 versus Scranton/WB this season.

Over the last 10 games, the Red Wings offense has struggled to score runs. They are averaging 2.7 runs per game and they've been outscored 27 to 50 during that stretch. The team entered play on Monday night trailing Scranton/WB by 3.5 games in the International League North. The team is also 2.5 games out of the Wild Card chase.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 4, Birmingham 1
Chattanooga pounded out 14 hits and that was more than enough for them to finish off Birmingham in the series finale. The Lookouts took four of five games in the series to improve their record to an impressive 15 games over .500. After losing the first four games of June, Chattanooga have won 10 of their last 11.

Miguel Sano cracked his 12th home run of the season and finished the day 1-for-4 with a walk. Adam Brett Walker and Max Kepler both went 4-for-5 and two of Walker's hits were doubles. Stephen Wickens only managed one hit but he collected three steals in the game including a steal of home.

Greg Peavey was impressive over eight innings by allowing one earned run on three hits. He struck out five and walked one to improve to 6-2 on the season. Zach Jones allowed a hit and a walk in the ninth but was still able to collect his ninth save.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 3, Daytona 2
Box Score
In their last eight games, Fort Myers has six wins but they suffered two one run losses to Bradenton over the weekend. The Miracle returned home on Monday night to face Daytona with a chance to get back to the .500 mark and start a new winning streak.

Fort Myers and starter Mat Batts found themselves in an early 2-0 hole after two innings but that's where Daytona's scoring ended. Batts finished with four strikeouts and no walks while lowering his ERA to 1.90. DJ Johnson and Alex Muren kept putting zeros up on the board to finish off the Tortugas. Muren earned his second save after pitching 1.2 innings and striking out four.

Zach Granite helped to get the offense moving a two-out bunt single in the third. A missed pickoff attempt moved Granite to second before a Engelb Vielma single cut the lead in half. Granite scored another two-out run in the bottom of the sixth on an Alex Swim single. Bryan Haar started the seventh with a hit by pitch before a Jason Kanzler single put the winning run in scoring position. Chad Christensen almost hit into a double play but a throwing error on the shortstop allowed the winning run to score.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 2, Lansing 8
Box Score
Cedar Rapids entered the day looking to sweep Lansing but the Lugnuts had other ideas. They pounded out 12 hits and capitalized on three Kernels errors for the win. Jared Wilson took his second loss of the season after allowing five earned runs on seven hits. In four innings, he allowed three walks and struck out one.

Jose Velez and Miles Nordgren pitch five innings without allowing an earned run but Lansing plated three unearned runs against Nordgren. Brett Doe had an error at first base on a pickoff throw and Rafael Valera had two throwing errors from second base.

One the offensive side of the ball, Alex Real reached base three times and hit his first home run. Brian Navarreto drew two walks, scored a run, and extended his hitting streak to six games. The team left six runners on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Greg Peavey, Chattanooga Lookouts
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Adam Brett Walker, Chattanooga Lookouts

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Scranton/WB (6:05 CST) – LHP Pat Dean
Chattanooga- Scheduled Off Day
Ft. Myers vs. Daytona (6:05 CST) – RHP Ryan Eades
Cedar Rapids vs. Burlington (6:35 CST) - RHP Felix Jorge

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

Santana's Struggle Is Polanco's Opportunity

Danny Santana was supposed to be the answer at shortstop.

He blew everyone out of the water with his performance throughout the 2014 season. However, the 2015 season has been an entirely different story. He's looked lost at the plate and struggled on the field to the point where the Twins demoted him to Triple-A.

Many fans of the Twins minor leagues might have expected this kind of regression from Santana in his sophomore season. During his minor league tenure, he hit .274/.317/.393 so he surprised with his big offensive jump at the big league level. A lot of this can be contributed to his .405 BABIP.

New manager Paul Molitor and the Twins front office were committed to Santana being the team's shortstop to start the 2015 campaign. To say he struggled, would be an understatement. His BABIP dropped to .300 and he hit .218/.235/.291 while looking over-matched. 

There were also more defensive struggles as he adjusted to playing shortstop regularly for the first time at the big league level. Last season, Santana got the majority of his playing time in center field as the Twins were looking to get outfield production. There have always been questions about Santana's ability to stick at shortstop as he has a career .933 fielding percentage in the minors.

Santana's struggles to start the year might have opened the door for another younger player. Jorge Polanco has seen very limited action over the last two season's in Minnesota including his first start at shortstop last week. Because of Eddie Rosario's paternity leave, it was a short call-up for Polanco but another learning experience under his belt. 

Polanco has spent this entire season with the Southern League's Chattanooga Lookouts. He's roughly three years younger than the other hitters in the league and that hasn't stopped him from putting up some career best numbers. Through 56 games, he hit .316/.361/.433 with 17 extra-base hits and 13 steals. His four home runs also put him three behind his career high from 2014.

While Santana tries to rediscover some of his rookie magic, Polanco might have surpassed him on the Twins shortstop totem pole. Polanco is regarded as a better defender and he's compiled better offensive numbers throughout his minor league career. If Polanco continues to play well this season, it seems likely he will be the one starting at shortstop for the Twins in the foreseeable future. 

It was fun to watch Santana's performance last season but his time might have already be run out in Minnesota. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (6/12): Buxton Stays Hot

Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa have already made their big league debuts this season so it's pretty easy to call Byron Buxton the best prospect left in the minor leagues. Buxton seems eager to join the other top prospects at baseball's highest level with his hot hitting over the last couple weeks.

One has to wonder if the Twins will be tempted to call-up their prized prospect to add a little punch to their lifeless offense in recent weeks. Buxton might still have some raw parts to his game but his speed might be enough to get him on base and let him wreak havoc.

The action on the farm included some crazy games so checkout all the results below.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 3, Scranton/WB 13 (Completed Early Rain)
Box Score
Things did not go well for Mr. Lester Oliveros in his fourth start of the season. He was lit up for five runs including two home runs without recording an out. The Red Wings were forced to turn to the bullpen in the first inning. Alex Meyer tossed three scoreless frames while striking out five and walking two.

While Meyer stopped the bleeding, Mark Hamburger reopened the wound by allowing seven runs on eight hits while only recording four outs. Caleb Thielbar and Ryan Wheeler allowed one run over the last 2.2 innings of work.

The Red Wings offense was going to need to show up in a big way and it just wasn't in the cards on this night. Eric Fryer collected a trio of hits and an RBI. Reynaldo Rodriguez scored two runs while Jose Martinez reached base three times. However, the team was limited to two hits with runners in scoring position and that makes it tough to recover from a double digit deficit.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 1, Birmingham 0
The Lookouts found themselves in the midst of quite the pitcher's duel on Friday evening. David Hurlbut pitched seven innings for the second consecutive game as he didn't allow a run or a walk. He struck out five and scattered four hits to lower his ERA to 5.14 on the season. Nick Burdi earned his fourth hold following a scoreless inning of work and J.T. Chargois earned his second save.

Byron Buxton continues his hot hitting ways by going 2-for-4 including a walk. He has now hit safely in eight straight contests. Jorge Polanco also picked up a pair of hits  and his 12th stolen base. Mike Gonzles had the lone extra-base hit and RBI while Max Kelper raised his average to .305 with a pair of hits.

With the win, the Lookouts are 12 games over .500 and tied for the league lead in wins. They have a 4.5 game advantage over the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League North.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 4, Bradenton 3
Box Score
Fort Myers pulled one game over .500 after their sixth consecutive victory. The Miracle never trailed in the game but they found themselves tied with the Marauders after the fourth and eighth inning before finally taking the lead for good in the top of the ninth.

Chih-Wei Hu made his third start since his spot start in Rochester. He pitched five frames and allowed two earned runs on four hits while striking out two and walking three. Hu was closing in on 90 pitches so the Miracle turned things over to Alex Murnen who earned his second victory. He pitched three innings and only allowing one unearned run on one hit. Todd Van Steensel picked up his seventh save with a perfect ninth.

Chad Christensen had a big night at the plate. He reached base four times including a double and three RBI. He also stole his ninth base of the season. Mitch Garver and Alex Swin each collected a double and Garver plated his 20 run of the year. The team left 14 runners on base but they scored enough for the win.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 3, Great Lakes 4 (Game 1- 13 Innings)
The Kernels were planning on playing a couple of seven inning games on Friday evening but that plan quickly went to the wayside. Their first contest versus the Great Lake Loons stretched to 13 frames and the clubs combined to use nine pitchers.

Dereck Rodriguez made the start for Cedar Rapids and allowed three earned runs in four innings of work. He struck out a pair and walked two. Luke Bard and Randy LeBlanc pitched seven scoreless frames to keep the Kernels in the game. Jose Velez took the loss after a bad Max Murphy throw allowed a run to get into scoring position in extra innings.

Brett Doe was the lone Kernels hitter with multiple hits. He went 2-for-4 and walked twice. Murphy drove in a couple runs with a triple in the second inning but Cedar Rapids wouldn't score again.

Cedar Rapids 1, Great Lakes 2 (Game 2- 8 Innings)
Box Score
Game two went well into the night with both teams shying away from scoring runs. Keaton Steele ran off quite the impressive streak on the mound in this one as he retired 11 straight and yielded just one run on three hits while striking out a season high eight batters.

There wasn't much offense to write home about. Rafael Valera made his first start of the season and collected a double. Zack Larson went 1-for-3 and scored a run. Pat Kelly had the lone RBI heading into the seventh but this game was also destined for extra-innings and a Kernels loss.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – David Hurlbut, Chattanooga Lookouts
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Chad Christensen, Fort Myers Miracle

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Scranton/WB (6:05 CST) – LHP Jason Wheeler
Chattanooga @ Birmingham (6:30 CST)- RHP Alex Wimmers
Ft. Myers vs. Bradenton (5:05 CST) – RHP Aaron Slegers
Cedar Rapids vs. Lansing (6:35 CST) - RHP Zach Tillery

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