Friday, July 31, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (7/30): The Power of Kepler

Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
On the eve of the trade deadline, there have already been a lot of top prospects that have changed organizations over the last few days. The Twins have been holding steady with their young core of players but that could change at some point in the next handful of hours.

Some of the Twins minor leaguers were doing their best to show off their talents in what could be their last appearance in a Twins affiliated jersey. Check out all of the action below.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 3, Pensacola 0
Box Score
Max Kepler cranked two solo-home runs and that was more than enough to back a solid outing by Jason Wheeler. Kepler finished the game going 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair a runs and RBI. Wheeler pitched eight shutout innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

JT Chargois finished off the shutout with a scoreless ninth frame. He walked one and allowed a hit but he used a pair of timely strikeouts to finish with his eighth save. Shannon Wilkerson collected a pair of his out of the lead-off spot. Kennys Vargas and Levi Michael both went 1-for-3 and Michael stole his 11th base.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 4, Daytona 0
Box Score
The Miracle pitching staff had a no hitter into the seventh inning and they finished the game with one hit allowed. Steven Gonsalves earned his fifth victory and lowered his ERA to 2.11 after five hitless frames. He struck out eight and walked three. Of his eight strikeouts, six were swinging. Trevor Hildenberger allowed the lone hit but he did strikeout three in two innings of work. Brian Gilbert and Nick Burdi struck out five of the six batters they faced to finish the game.

Much like Chattanooga, Fort Myers didn't need a ton of run support but they got a pair of solo home runs off the bats of Mitch Garver and Logan Wade. For both players it was their third home run of the year with the Miracle. Tannner Vavra reached base three times and Zach Granite and Chad Christensen both had multi-hit nights.

Over the last 20 innings, the Miracle have held opponents without a run. The last time an opposing team scored was the seventh inning on July 28.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 9, Clinton 5
Box Score
Cedar Rapids used a four-run fourth inning to help pace themselves to the win. It was the team's third straight series win and every Kernels hitter except one recorded at least one hit in the series finale.

Ethan Mildren was credited with the victory even though he allowed three runs on five hits in less than two innings out of the bullpen. Jared Wilson had an unconventional save as he pitched almost three innings. Zack Tillery got a no-decision after not allowing a hit in the first three innings and finishing with two runs allowed on two hits.

Nick Gordon scored a couple runs and hit his 16th double. Alex Real and Austin Diemer both hit two-run home runs. Brett Doe drove in three runs as part of a two hit night. Rafael Valera was the lone starter that didn't collect a hit. He went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins 13, Johnson City 4
Box Score
Elizabethton jumped out to a 7-0 lead by the end of the second inning on their way to a 16-hit effort. Every player in the line-up had at least one hit and six of the nine hitters collected multiple hits. AJ Murray went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, and four RBI. Alex Perez drove in three runs and scored three runs. LaMonte Wade only had one hit but it was his fifth home run of the season.

Samuel Clay pitched five shutout innings for his first win of the season. He struck out seven and walked none. Nate Gercken got into a little trouble and allowed three runs to score in three innings. Jose Abreu allowed one run in the ninth on a pair of hits.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 5 (7 Innings)
Box Score
All the other Twins affiliates seemed to be on fire but the GCL Twins must not have gotten the memo from the rest of the organization. They were swept in as part of a regularly scheduled game and a postponed game from earlier in the month.

In the regularly scheduled game, the Twins held a 1-0 lead going into the final innings. However, Callan Pearce allowed three runs on three hits to take the loss. Miguel Gonzalez started and pitched three shutout innings before turning it over to the bullpen.

The Twins combined for five doubles but the team was only 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Kolton Kendrick reached base three times including a double and a run scored. Luis Arraez went 2-for-4 with a double. Lewin Diaz knocked his sixth double of the season.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 2, GCL Rays 7 (7 Innings)
Box Score
The Twins left nine runners on base and eight of those runners were in scoring position. Rowan Ebersohn and Roni Tapia each went 2-for-3. Ebersohn's double was the lone extra-base hit for the club. Luis Arraez finished 1-for-3 with a steal.

Jovani Moran started but didn't make it out of the first inning. He allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and a strikeout. Moises Gomez finished off the first frame and pitched another three scoreless innings to keep the game close. Rich Condeelis took the loss after allowing five runs in 0.1 innings. Matz Schutte collected the last five outs and limited the Rays to two hits.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jason Wheler, Chattanooga Lookouts
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Max Kepler, Chattanooga Lookouts

FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Syracuse (6:05 CST) – LHP Taylor Rogers
Chattanooga vs. Pensacola (6:15 CST) – LHP David Hurlbut
Ft. Myers @ Daytona (6:05 CST) – RHP Kohl Stewart
Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (6:30 CST) – LHP Randy Rosario
Elizabethton vs. Burlington (6:00 CST) – RHP Cody Stashak
GLC Twins vs. GCL Red Sox (10:00 am CST) – TBA
GLC Twins @ GCL Red Sox (Make-up of 7/24 PPD) – TBA

Monday, July 27, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (7/27): Super Slegers!

Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
Winning has been a trend through out the Twins system this season. Entering play on Monday night, the Twins had the third highest winning percentage for any farm system. Twins affiliates have won 54.29% of their games and only trail the Astros and Mets for the top spot.

Did Minnesota's affiliated teams continue their winning ways? There were multiple double headers scheduled for Monday so you'll have to read on to find out.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 1, Toledo 2
Box Score
Pat Dean pitching a complete game and limited the Mud Hens to two runs but he didn't get enough run support and was handed his ninth loss of the season. He scattered nine hits and walked two while striking out one. It was his third straight start of seven innings or more while allowing two earned runs or fewer. He's taken the loss in three of those three previous starts.

The lone Rochester run came courtesy of a Reynaldo Rodriguez solo home run. Eric Farris matched Rodriguez with a 2-for-4 night at the plate. Jorge Polanco and Chris Herrmann both reached base twice with a pair of walks. The team only had three at-bats with runners in scoring position but they were held hitless.

With the loss, the Red Wings have lost five straight games and sit three games over .500. The club currently sits three games behind the Scranton/WB RailRiders for first place in the International League North Division.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 5, Lakeland 1 (7 Innings)
Box Score
Aaron Slegers earned his eighth victory after pitching a seven inning complete game. He allowed one earned run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. It was his sixth straight start of pitching at least seven innings and allowing two earned runs or less. During that stretch, he has gone 4-1 while limiting opponents to one walk.

Michael Quesada drove in a pair of runs to help add to the Miracle lead. Engelb Vielma and DJ Hicks finished the game with two hits each including both having a double. TJ White went 2-for-3 with a run scored. The team had more than enough offense to back the stellar pitching performance by Slegers. 

Fort Myers 1, Lakeland 6 (7 Innings)
Box Score
After the strong pitching performance from Slegers in the first half of the double header, Chih-Wei Hu had a tough time on the mound. He allowed five earned runs on 10 hits while striking out six in less than five innings of work. Brian Gilbert, Tyler Jay, and Trevor Hildenberger put up zeros for the rest of the night but it was too big of a hole.

No Miracle batters had more than one hit and none of the team's hits were for extra-bases. Michael Quesada scored the lone run for the team. Engelb Vielma reached base two times and finished the double header 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, a run, and a walk.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins 0, Johnson City 4 (7 Innings)
Box Score
The E-Twins were held to three hits as no one on the team had more than one hit. Chris Paul reached base two times and cracked the team's lone extra-base hit, a double. AJ Murray, Alex Perez, and Manuel Guzman each reached base two times. The team went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

Alexis Tapia pitched into the sixth inning but took the loss after allowing four runs, three earned, while striking out nine and walking three. Tyler Stirewalt pitched 1.1 innings without allowing a run. He struck out one and didn't walk any. The loss dropped the E-Twins to four games under .500.

E-Twins 4, Johnson City 1 (7 Innings)
Box Score
The E-Twins struggled to get on the board in the first half of the double header but they found a way to scratch out some hits in the second half. LaMonte Wade had a pair of hits including a double to go along with two RBI. Alex Perez scored two runs and hit his fourth double of the season. The E-Twins two through seven hitters each had at least one hit and the team only left four men on base.

Onesimo Hernandez remained perfect on the season after throwing five innings of one run ball. He struck out four and walked one and the lone run was scored on a solo home run. CK Irby picked up his first save after pitching two scoreless innings to close out the contest.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 2, GCL Rays 1 (Suspended- 2 Innings)
Box Score
The GCL Twins were scheduled for a double header but they weren't able to get through two innings of work before rain interrupted play. Lewin Diaz and Jermaine Palacios each drove in a run before the rain came a tumbling down. Look for a full report on both of these games when the rain finally stops falling in Florida. 

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Aaron Slegers, Fort Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Engelb Vielma, Fort Myers Miracle

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Toldeo (6:00 CST) – RHP Jose Berrios
Chattanooga vs. Pensacola (6:15 CST) – LHP Brett Lee
Ft. Myers vs. Lakeland (6:05 CST) – RHP Ryan Eades
Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (6:30 CST) – RHP Keaton Steele
Elizabethton vs. Johnson City (6:00 CST) – TBA
GCL Twins vs. GCL Rays (11:00 am CST) – TBA
GCL Twins vs. GCL Rays (Completion of 7/27 Game)

Episode 140: Hot Stove and Cold Beers

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

The Hot Stove League is heating up. The Twins are connected to big names like Troy Tulowitzki and Jonathan Lucroy, but the Twins would need to give up a lot of your favorite prospects to land a player of that caliber. The Twins offense has struggled, but Joe Mauer has been red hot and Trevor Plouffe launched a 3-run dinger to help the Twins take a game in LA. 

After the regular Twins news, we go beer and all the news from around the league.
Enjoy the show!

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 Glen Perkins to stop blowing saves.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (7/19): Lots of Losing

Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
There wasn't too much to be happy about across Twins Territory on Sunday.  The big league club got destroyed out in Oakland and four of the team's five minor league affiliates were also unsuccessful in their attempt at victory. 

Even with not such positive outcomes in the win-loss column, there were still some strong performances at multiple levels. To see who fared well through all the losing, keep reading.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 6, Lehigh Valley 2
Box Score
Greg Peavey picked up his first win since being promoted from Double-A at the end of last month and the bottom half of the batting order provided enough offense for the club's 51st win. Peavey tossed six frames while allowing two earned runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked three. Michael Tonkin and Logan Darnell combined for three perfect innings to close out the win.

Rochester got off to a slow start in this one as they were being no-hit through four innings but they combined to go 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Eric Farris, Argenis Diaz, and Carlos Paulino all had two hits as they batted seven through nine in the order. Diaz drove in two runs and scored two runs while Paulino drove in three and threw out a runner from behind the plate.

With the win, Rochester improved to seven games over .500 as the club leads the International League North Division by one game over the Scranton/WB RailRiders. The Red Wings next opponent, the Gwinnett Braves is two games under .500 and seven games out of first in the IL South Division.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga --, Biloxi -- (Postponed- Rain)
Rain postponed this game before a pitch could be thrown. The two clubs will not meet again during the regular season so the game will not be made up. The Lookouts won three of the four games in the series before tonight's cancellation.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 2, Jupiter 3
Box Score
Jupiter pounded out 10 hits to slide by Fort Myers. Nick Burdi took the loss after allowing two runs in two innings of work. Stephen Gonsalves started the game and pitched five inning of one-run ball with two strikeouts and two walks. Brian Gilbert pitched two shutout innings to end the game.

TJ White was the lone Miracle batter with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4. Mitch Garver kept the team in the game with a solo home run , his seventh of the year. Alex Swim collected a pinch hit double but that runner would be one of nine runners left on base by the club.

Fort Myers has lost seven of their last nine game but the club is surprisingly only four games out of first place in the Florida State League South Division. The Miracle will look to get back on track as they start a new series against the last place Jupiter Hammerheads on Monday.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 5
Box Score
Luke Westphal took the loss but it wasn't because of his performance on the mound. He went six strong innings while allowing two runs, one earned run, with four strikeouts and two walks. At one point, the southpaw retired nine straight batters. Chris Mazza got beat around for three runs on four hits to see any chance of a comeback disappear.

Edgar Corcino reached base three times as part of a 2-for-3 effort. Tyler Kuresa scored the lone run of the game for the Kernels. The only extra-base hit came off the bat of Pat Kelly, his eighth double of the season. Nick Gordon saw his 17-game hitting streak come to an end after going 0-for-4. Overall, the team left five runners on base and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

The Kernels have lost six of their last eight and they sit 8 games behind Kane County for first place in the Midwest League Western Division.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins 3, Burlington 13
Box Score
The E-Twins found themselves in a very tight game before the B-Royals pounded out eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Tyler Stirewalt and Jose Abreu surrendered all eight runs in the inning with seven of the eight runs being earned. Cody Stashak started and finished with six innings, two earned runs, five strikeouts, and three walks.

It wasn't all bad for the E-Twins. Amaurys Minier went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Daniel Kihle reached base three times in four trips and hit his first triple. LaMonte Wade scored a run and knocked his third triple of the season. It wouldn't be nearly enough as the team was sent to a double-digit loss for the first time all season.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Greg Peavey, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Amaurys Minier, Elizabethton Twins

MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Gwinnett (6:05 CST) – LHP Taylor Rogers
Chattanooga vs. Montgomery (6:15 CST) – LHP David Hurlbut
Ft. Myers vs. Jupiter (6:05 CST) – TBA
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (1:00 CST) – TBA
Elizabethton @ Burlington (6:00 CST) – RHP Dereck Rodriguez
GLC Twins vs. GCL Orioles (11:00 am CST) – TBA

Friday, July 17, 2015

Episode 139: The All-Star Edition

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

This week's podcast features not a lot of new Twins news on account of major league baseball's All-Star break. An all-star break that saw Brian Dozier get added to the AL squad, hit a home run in his only at bat and Glen Perkins finish the game for the 2nd time in as many years. 

Paul and Cody discuss the current state of affairs in Minnesota, the merits of the AL's 2nd best team, and what, if any, upgrades the Twins should pursue down the stretch.

Thanks for hanging out!

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 Miguel Sano to hit home runs.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (7/13): Arcia, Batts Honored

Credit: Joe Territo, RedWingsBaseball.com
Oswaldo Arcia began the year as the Twins starting left fielder but things didn't work out exactly as planned. He finds himself down at Triple-A but he's making the most of the opportunity after a slow start. On Monday, Arcia was named the International League Hitter of the Week, the fifth honor for Rochester this season.

Arcia led the International League with four home runs, 10 RBI, six extra-base hits, and 22 total bases. In the month of July, he's knocked a league high seven long balls. Last Monday, he lead Rochester to a dramatic win with a three-run walk-off home run. He's already tied for the team lead with eight home runs.

Miracle left-hander Mat Batts was also honored on Monday with the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week. He made one start during the week and delivered seven scoreless innings in a no decision. Batts scattered five hits with two walks and struck out 10. He currently leads the Miracle with a 1.71 ERA.

Besides the awards being handed out, there was plenty of action down on the farm. Let's check out some of the top performances from Monday.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester (All-Star Break)
Much like their counterparts at the big league level, the Rochester Red Wings are in the midst of their All-Star Break. The Triple-A All-Star Game is scheduled to be played on July 15 in Omaha, NE. Pitchers AJ Achter and Taylor Rogers will join infielder James Beresford and coach Tim Doherty as the Rochester representatives.

Rochester enters the break with a 49-42 record, the top mark in the International League North Division. The team currently sits 1.5 games ahead of Scranton/W-B for first place in the division. The Red Wings won four of their last six game heading into the break.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 4, Mississippi 3
Box Score
Chattanooga jumped out to an early lead in this one and had to hold on for dear life at the end. David Hurlbut twirled seven shutout frames by allowing five hits and two walks. He didn't strikeout a batter but he seemed to need them on this night. Alex Muren made things interesting in the ninth by allowing two runs but he was still able to earn his first save.

Stephen Wickens and Heiker Meneses both picked up a pair of hits. Wickens cracked his 8th double and Meneses drove in his 22nd run. Niko Goodrum collected his first triple since being promoted to Double-A and he stole his 7th base. Travis Harrison drove in a run, his 40th of the season.

The win ended a four game losing skid and helped the Lookouts from being swept by Mississippi. Chattanooga has struggled in the second half with a 4-13 record. They are currently in last place in the Southern League North Division.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 2, Clearwater 3
Box Score
Aaron Slegers pitched into the ninth inning for the second time this season and he had retired 10 in a row before a throwing error by Tanner Vavra cost him a chance at a win. Slegers took his fifth loss after lasting 8.1 innings he struck out one and walked one. It was his fourth straight start pitching at least seven innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer.

Jason Kanzler had one of the biggest hits in the game, a run scoring triple. It was the only extra-base of the game and the club went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Ryan Walker reached based three times along with scoring a run. Mitch Garver finished the night 2-for-4.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 2, Kane County 4
Box Score
Luke Westphal made a strong start for the Kernels but it wasn't enough for Cedar Rapids to come out victorious. In six innings pitched, he allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk. He left the game with the lead but Rand LeBlanc allowed three runs (two earned) in the last two innings as he earned his second loss of the season.

Tanner English had a strong day at the plate with a 2-for-4 effort including his 13th double and his 27th stolen base. Nick Gordon cracked his 12th double and reached base in two of his four plate appearances. He now has a team best 13 game hitting streak and he has reached base in 16 straight games.

After an off day on Tuesday, the Kernels begin a three-game home series on Wednesday versus the Burlington Bees. The club has lost three of their last four games.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins --, Johnson City -- (Postponed- Rain)
The E-Twins were looking to get back to the .500 mark on Monday but Mother Nature didn't cooperate. Most of the minor league affiliates have a scheduled off day on Tuesday so the make-up of this game is still TBD.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 5, GCL Rays 3
Box Score
The GCL Twins found themselves with a five run lead entering the late innings and the club was able to hang on for a two-run win. Eduardo Del Rosario pitched five shutout frames by scattering five hits. Hecto Lujan allowed all three runs in less than an inning of work. Johan Quezada was asked to get four outs for his third save of the season.

Lewin Diaz and Luis Arraez paced the offense with three hits each. Both players knocked a double while Diaz had a pair of two-out RBI and Arraez scored two runs. Jermaine Palacios went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base. It was the second straight win for the GCL Twins.

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 – Lewin Diaz, GCL Twins

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester- Scheduled Off Day for All-Star Break
Chattanooga- Scheduled Off Day
Ft. Myers- Scheduled Off Day
Cedar Rapids- Scheduled Off Day
Elizabethton- Scheduled Off Day
GLC Twins @ GCL Rays (11:00 am CST) – TBA

Handing Out First Half Awards

The unofficial first half of the season is over and the Twins have the second best record in the American League. No one thought the Twins would be in this position and there are many members of the team that have performed at a high level to get them to this point. Let's hand out some awards to finish out the first half of the year.

Each of the awards below has been named after someone that optimizes that award for the Twins organization. There are legends from the past and all have had a significant place in Twins lore.

Harmon Killebrew MVP: Brian Dozier, 2B
Previous Winners: Brian Dozier (2014), Joe Mauer (2013), Josh Willingham (2012), Michael Cuddyer (2011), Joe Mauer (2010)
He's heading to his first All-Star Game and he's transformed himself into the best second baseman in the game. Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter are also having good campaigns but this award belongs to Dozier. Over the last couple years, he has become the leader on the field and in the clubhouse. Dozier is on pace to set career highs in almost every offensive category and his defense continues to improve. A year after winning his first Killebrew MVP, it seems likely that Dozier is well on his way to becoming the first player to win the award in consecutive years.

Johan Santana Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Gibson, RHP 
Previous Winners: Phil Hughes (2014), Kevin Correia (2013), Scott Diamond (2012), Carl Pavano (2011), Carl Pavano (2010)
Hughes seemed like the easy pick for this award at the beginning of the season but things don't always go as planned. For the first time since 2006, the Twins have two pitchers that end the first half with ERA's under 3.00. Kyle Gibson and Tommy Milone were unsure of their roles as the season began but both have thrived when given the opportunity. Trevor May has been moved to the bullpen but he's leading the team in fWAR. With the way Gibson has been pitching, it's hard to ignore what he did over the last few months. If the Twins had one game to win right now, Gibson is the guy I want on the mound. 

Rick Aguilera Relief Pitcher of the Year: Glen Perkins, LHP
Previous Winners: Glen Perkins (2014), Glen Perkins (2013), Jared Burton (2012), Glen Perkins (2011), Jesse Crain (2010)
With the way this award is shaping up, it might need to be renamed the Glen Perkins Relief Pitcher of the Year. Perkins has won the award in three of the last four seasons and he is well on his way to the award again this year. He's heading to his third straight All-Star Game and he set the team record for consecutive saves to start the year. After having to be shutdown early at the end of last season, there were some questions about what version of Perkins the Twins would see this year. Those questions have been put to rest and he's one of the best relief pitchers in the game. 

Rod Carew Rookie of the Year: Trevor May, RHP
Previous Winners: Danny Santana (2014), Oswaldo Arcia (2013), Scott Diamond (2012), Ben Revere (2011), Danny Valencia (2010)
There have been a lot of big name debuts for the Twins so far in 2015. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Alex Meyer have all made appearances and this is shaping up to be the most highly contested award on the list. Sano is off to a hot start but he didn't get enough at-bats to be in serious consideration. Buxton is on the disabled list and Meyer struggled a few appearances. Rosario has turned himself into a valuable everyday player. At this point, this seems to be a three horse race between May, Rosario, and Sano. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Brian Dozier Final Vote Memes

Today marks the last day of voting in MLB's 2015 All-Star Game Final Vote. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is on the ballot and he's been in second place during the first two updates from MLB.
Fans can vote online at twinsbaseball.com/vote or they can text A3 to 89269.

Since today is the last day of voting, MLB allows fans to use the hashtag #VoteDozier on Twitter from 9:00 am- 3:00 pm CST will be tabulated as part of that candidates overall Final Vote total. I thought these memes would help spread the word about Dozier's greatness

Enjoy!











Episode 138: Ervin Santana Returns


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

This week we have a full team of Talk to Contacters and we drive deep into the Twins roster moves from the past week. Aaron Hicks is back, Ervin Santana is PED free, Eric Fryer is playing catcher, and something called Ryan O'Rourke is a loogy. New players! 

Then we chat about trade targets or moves the Twins could make (spending way too long talking about Tulo), and we do the usual players of the week and around the league. Oh, and Paul is extra arrogant about his beer this week. Of course he is, what a west coast snob.


Thanks for hanging out!

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 Miguel Sano to hit home runs.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Brian Dozier: The All-Star Minnesota Deserves

As he approaches the batter's box, Brian Dozier uses his bat to knock the dirt off his cleats and gazes out towards the outfield. He's come along way since his 2012 rookie season. Dozier struggled to the point where the Twins sent him down in the middle of August and he wouldn't be back for the rest of the year.

Flash-forward to the present day and Dozier is in the midst of fighting for a spot on the American League All-Star roster. Since being nominated as a Final Vote candidate, Dozier has done nothing but impress. He hit a walk-off home run on the first night of voting and on Wednesday afternoon he smacked a two-run shot to give the Twins the lead.

Dozier has quietly become the best second baseman in the game and it feel like most of the nation is having a hard time realizing what they are witnessing. He leads all MLB second basemen in home runs, runs, and RBI while ranking second in walks and OPS. His defense also hasn't been too shabby as he has the highest WAR total among MLB second basemen since the beginning of last season.

Not only has Dozier been performing at the highest level on the field, he's also been doing great things off the field. As part of the Twins Hope Week, Dozier hosted a Miracle League clinic at Target Field. The Miracle League provides children with mental or physical challenges the opportunity to play baseball.

This offseason Dozier and his wife, Renee, celebrated their second wedding anniversary by taking part in a mission trip to Nicaragua. After traveling with a Georgia-based group called Amigos for Christ, Dozier called the adventure "by far the best experience of my life."

Dozier has also become a team leader inside the clubhouse as the Twins attempt to turn around after multiple years of futility. His teammates are rallying behind him by wearing #VoteDozier inspired t-shirts during batting practice, making humorous online videos, and tweeting out support for their second baseman.

With only a couple days remaining in the MLB Final Vote, Dozier was in second place behind Mike Moustakas and the powerhouse Royals voting contingent. It is going to be very tough for Dozier to make a comeback with the way Royals fans have been stuffing the ballot box this year but he is in a good place. Many baseball fans were sick of the way Kansas City was controlling the voting so maybe this will help more people vote for Dozier over another Royal.

After this season is done, it won't matter if Dozier was in uniform with other players in Cincinnati. It would be a great honor and something he'd remember for years to come but that's not the big picture. At 28-years old, he's become the best player at his position while playing at baseball's highest level. This is a far cry from the prospect he was moving through the Twins system.

If the Twins continue their winning ways, there will be other All-Star opportunities. For now, it might help to consider the paraphrased words of Jim Gordon at the end of The Dark Night...

He's the hero Minnesota deserves, but not the one the nation will recognize right now. So we'll vote for him, because he deserves it, because he's not a hero, he's a silent guardian, a watchful protector, our All-Star.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

2015 Twins Top 10 Prospects: Midseason Update

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, Eddie Rosario, and Miguel Sano 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 (Tyler Jay was in the top 5 at Twins Daily and he checks in a little lower in the rankings below). Last week I ran through my picks for prospects 11-20. Check out the following rankings and feel free to start a conversation about these players in the comment section.
1. Byron Buxton, CF
He turned the corner at Double-A and the Twins called him up for his debut before his finger injury. He's one of the top prospects in all of baseball and his future continues to look bright. There might be some offensive struggles to start his big league career but his defense and speed are well above average. Buxton has the potential to be a five-tool player. Minnesota needs him to turn into an All-Star caliber player and get the franchise back on track. No pressure or anything...

2. Miguel Sano, 3B
At the beginning of 2014 spring training, it seemed much more likely for Sano to be making his debut before Buxton. Flash-forward a year and a half and Sano has been shining during his first week at the big league level. Questions remain about his defensive abilities but his power swing is legitimate. Hopefully, he stays hot and he can continue to develop his power swing as his major league career begins.

3. Jose Berrios, RHP
Some talent evaluators question his size and if he will be able to stick in a rotation long-term. Berrios continues to put those doubters to rest with his performance in the higher levels of the minors. Over the last two seasons, he has emerged as the Twins top pitching prospect. With a Buxton/Berrios combo, the Twins might end up with quite the top of the draft from 2012. He's another player the Twins could promote before the season is done.

4. Nick Gordon, SS
The Twins are struggling to find a long-term solution at shortstop and last year's first round pick might be the long-term answer. Gordon has suffered through some ups and downs in his first full professional season but he continues to have huge up-side. It's going to take a few seasons but he will be the Twins starting shortstop in the next handful of years. Out of the players in the top 10, he is the furthest away from Target Field.

5. Jorge Polanco, SS
Danny Santana has struggled in his sophomore campaign and this might mean that Polanco has surpassed him in the eyes of the Twins. His offensive numbers continue to improve as he moves through the system and he's been younger than the competition at each stop. He recently got bumped up to Triple-A and he's had at least one hit in each game so far. If Gordon is the shortstop of the future, Polanco might be the stop-gap until Gordon is deemed to be ready.

6. Eddie Rosario, OF
In the midst of his rookie season, Rosario might slowly be moving up the team's outfield pecking order. Oswaldo Arcia is struggling mightily since being demoted to Triple-A and questions still remain about the long-term use of Aaron Hicks. This could leave the Twins with an outfield that includes Rosario, Buxton, and Torii Hunter for the remainder of the season. Other players in this top 10 have have a higher ceiling but Rosario has a lower floor.

7. Max Kepler, OF/1B
Kepler has been thought of highly since the Twins signed him out of Europe but he's taken some time to put it all together. The start of the 2015 season has been a good one for Kepler and he should rise on many prospect lists throughout the season. If his recent hot play continues, one would bet that he'll be moving to Triple-A in the second half. He's already on the Twins 40-man roster so he could make it to Target Field in the next couple seasons.

8. Kohl Stewart, RHP
There have been a variety of injury concerns with Stewart during his first three professional seasons. He's played all of 2015 at Fort Myers but his strikeout numbers have declined and his walk rate continues to rise. He has plenty of talent in his right arm but he will need more pitching experience as he moves closer to the big leagues. It's been tough for him to log innings with a few different injuries in 2014 and 2015.

9. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Out of all the players in the Twins system, Gonsalves might be in the midst of the biggest rise when it comes to prospect status. The left-handed hurler was dominant during his time at Cedar Rapids to start the season. His first handful of starts in Fort Myers didn't go perfectly but he hasn't allowed a run in his last two appearances. At 20-years old, he's over three years younger than the other pitchers in the Florida State League. This league is usually good for pitchers so expect Gonsalves to continue his recent trend of pitching well.

10. Tyler Jay, LHP
The Twins just took Jay with the sixth overall pick and the plan is to turn the college relief pitcher into a starter. He has all the pitches to make the transition but I'm not totally convinced that he will end up being a starter. A back-end of the bullpen relief pitcher is great but I will need to see more from Jay before I move him higher on my list.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (7/6): Arcia Slams, Gonsalves Great

A week after nearly pitching a no-hitter, Dereck Rodriguez was honored by the Appalachian League with their Pitcher of the Week Award. In that start, Rodriguez tossed seven scoreless frames while striking out seven and walking one. It was his first pitcher of the week award for the son of former big league catcher Ivan Rodriguez. 

The younger Rodriguez was back on the mound on Monday night in his first start since that remarkable outing. Keep reading to see how he fared along with all the other team's in the Minnesota farm system.
Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 10, Lehigh Valley 8
Box Score
Rochester seemed to have this game in hand as the club took a 6-4 lead into the top of the ninth inning. This wasn't the case as AJ Achter allowed three straight hits to start the inning and by the time the dust settled, Lehigh Valley had scored four runs to take a two run lead.

The Red Wings wouldn't go quietly as they started the bottom of the inning with three straight singles. Oswaldo Arcia hadn't had a hit all game and he had a fielding error but strode to the plate with a chance to play the hero. He'd find himself in an 0-2 hole after swinging of the first two pitches but he didn't miss the last one as he tattooed it to right field for a walk-off grand slam.

For the game Jose Martinez was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Reynaldo Rodriguez scored two runs and drove in a pair. After going 1-for-8 in his first two games since being called-up, Jorge Polanco went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Pat Dean started and allowed four earned runs in seven innings of work.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 3, Jacksonville 0 (Suspended- Completion 7/7)
Box Score
Rain suspended this game in the fifth inning with the Lookouts up 3-0. The game will be completed tomorrow as part of a double-header. Check out the box score to see how the team has done so far and look for a full report in tomorrow's minor league report.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 9, St. Lucie 0
Box Score
Stephen Gonsalves pitched seven shutout innings after failing to make it out of the sixth inning in any of his previous four starts since being promoted to High-A. He limited the Mets to three hits and struck out seven while walking one. Matt Summers completed the shutout by tossing two scoreless frames to end the game.

The Miracle used multi-run innings in the fifth and eighth frame to blow open what had been a close contest. Engelb Vielma went 4-for-5 while driving in a pair of runs. Marcus Knecht connected for a three-run home run and added his fifteenth double. Out of the lead-off spot, Zach Granite scored two runs and hit his seventh double.

After sweeping St. Lucie, Fort Myers improved to ten games over .500. The shutout was Fort Myers' seventh of the season and the Miracle have now won 11 consecutive home games. The team is 8-4 in the second half and trails the Bradenton Marauders by one game for the top of the Florida State League South Division.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 7, Beloit 5
Box Score
In a game with multiple lead changes, the Kernels scored the final three runs of the game to end up with their 49th victory of the season. Sam Gibbons wasn't perfect but he did enough to earn his third victory as he allowed five runs in six innings. The bullpen was strong as Jared Wilson pitched two scoreless innings and Trevor Hildenberger struck out the side in the ninth for his 10th save.

The top three hitters in the Kernels' line-up all collected multiple hits. Tanner English drove in three runs and scored a run along with an outfield assist. Nick Gordon hit his 11th double but also committed his 11th error. Edgar Corcino had two doubles and an RBI. Even though he wasn't near the top of the line-up, Brian Navarreto had two hits and scored two runs.

The Kernels are 5-1 since the calendar flipped to July and they sit 2.5 games behind Kane County for first place in the Midwest League Western Division.

E-Twins E-Notes
E-Twins 4, Bristol 5
Box Score
After plating four runs in the third frame, it looked like the E-Twins had the upper hand. However, Alex Robinson had a tough night on the mound as he allowed three earned runs in 1.1 innings. In his first start since his near no-hitter last week, Dereck Rodriguez was pulled after allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out two and walked two. Logan Lombana and CK Irby didn't allow a run over the last 2.2 innings.

Brad Hatong reached base four times and collected two RBI to help pace the offense. Sean Miller was the only other hitter with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4. LaMonte Wade got his first double and he plated a pair of runs. The team missed out on some opportunities as they went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position. In a one run game, that's a tough total to swallow.

GCL Twins Takes
GCL Twins 0, GCL Orioles 1
Box Score
Robert Molina's single in the second inning was the only thing that stopped the GCL Twins from being no-hit on Monday afternoon. His hit would be erased on a double play during the next at-bat. Even with the lack of hits, Rowan Ebersohn walked in the eighth frame and made it all the way to third. He advanced to second on a balk and then he stole third base. Ruar Verkerk and Tyree Davis struck out to end the frame and left Ebersohn on base.

Jose Martinez was charged with his second loss after allowing one earned run on five hits in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked none. He's allowed two runs or less in all three starts this season and he doesn't have a win to his name. Stephen Pryor had some control issues as he walked three in his inning of work but he escaped unscathed after a couple of strikeouts.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Stephen Gonsalves, Fort Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Oswaldo Arcia, Rochester Red Wings

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Buffalo (6:05 CST) – RHP Greg Peavey
Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (6:05 CST) – LHP David Hurlbut
Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (Completion of 7/6 game)
Ft. Myers @ Jupiter (5:35 CST) – TBA
Cedar Rapids vs. Beloit (12:05 CST) – LHP Luke Westphal
Elizabethton @ Princeton (6:00 CST) – RHP Alexis Tapia
GLC Twins vs. GCL Orioles (11:00 am CST) – TBA

Friday, July 3, 2015

Episode 137: Miguel Sano's MLB Debut

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


Miguel Sano makes his MLB debut and Cody and Eric lose their minds. The Twins are struggling lately, but these dudes cannot stop talking about the possibility of postseason baseball. The young kids (Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, Miguel Sano) are all here, and there is help on the way (Jose Berrios, Jorge Polanco, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe) and the Twins are winning!
Plus, you know, beer, baseball and the news. 

Thanks for hanging out!

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 best prospects to perform at the highest level.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2015 Former/Current Twins All-Star Team

Major League baseball will be announcing the All-Star Game rosters this weekend and that means there will be plenty of discussion about who should get in and who was snubbed. In Twins Territory, there has been a lot of negativity over the last handful of years as multiple former Twins players have made the All-Star Game.

Over on the Twitter machine, @TheBatShatters raised an interesting question:

The only rules were that it had to be active players. Here's the line-up I was able to construct with some tough spots to fill at multiple positions.

Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals
fWAR: 0.8 -- rWAR: 1.6
Ramos is finally healthy after suffering multiple injuries throughout the early portion of his career. He's hit seven home runs and tied his doubles output from last season with 12. He's getting on base close to 30% of the time and he's drove in 35 runs. Kurt Suzuki would be the next closest player but this spot easily goes to Ramos.

First Base: Chris Colabello, Toronto Blue Jays
fWAR 0.4 -- rWAR: 0.4
This might be stretching the rules a little bit but I didn't want to throw Chris Parmelee or Joe Mauer in this spot. Colabello has put together quite the first half and he's spent a little time playing first base which is his more natural position. He's slugging close to .500 and he has 18 extra-base hits in less than 50 games. If I picked someone that's played more first base, it would go to Mauer but that is more by default than because of his performance.

Second Base: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
fWAR: 3.0 -- rWAR: 2.9
Dozier arguably should be the starting second baseman for the American League in the All Star Game. Jason Kipnis is having a tremendous first half but over the last calendar year, Dozier has been the best second baseman in the game. Dozier likely won't be selected because of other players like Kipnis, Jose Altuve, and all the Royals love for Omar Infante. It still takes nothing away from what Dozier has done in the first half.

Shortstop: JJ Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
fWAR: 0.5 -- rWAR: 0.5
Shortstop has been a deep dark hole in the Twins organization for some time. The lone man with a pulse at the position was only in Minnesota for one year before being dealt to Baltimore. At age 32, he isn't having the best season of his career but there aren't a lot of other options. Danny Santana struggled to start the year and I'm not having an All-Star Team with Eduardo Nunez on it. Hardy gets the spot but more by default than anything else.

Third Base: Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins
fWAR: 3.0 -- rWAR: 2.7
Plouffe has been almost as valuable as Dozier as the season reaches the mid-way point. Plouffe's defense at third base is strong and he has become a more experienced batter at the plate. He doesn't try to pull the ball every time he steps in the box. He's only surpassed the 20 home run mark once in his career and he could be on pace to reach that marker with a strong second half.  Plouffe's transformed himself into a very valuable player that needs to be in the line-up.

Outfield:
Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins
fWAR: 1.5 -- rWAR: 0.4
Hunter's hot hitting to start the season has put him close to equaling his WAR output from 2014. His offensive output is pretty close to his career numbers. His defense has been tolerable with a few impressive diving catches mixed in to add a little spice. At 39-years old, he's proving that age might not be a barrier so it will be interesting to see if he can keep up this pace for the rest of the 2015 campaign.

Denard Span, Washington Nationals
fWAR: 1.1 -- rWAR: 0.6 WAR
Span missed a little time this season due to injury but he's back on the field and heading for another strong finish. He lead the National League in hits a year ago and he's improved across his entire slash line in 2015. His defense continues to be strong and he's a force at the top of one of the strongest line-ups in the National League. If the Nationals reach their potential this season, Span needs to be on the top of his game.

Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies
fWAR: 1.6 -- rWAR:1.7
Revere tied Span for the league lead in hits last season and finished near the top of the league in batting average. His batting average has dropped a little this season but he's leading all of baseball in triples. If he continues to pile up the triples, he's on pace for a career high slugging percentage. He's always a threat on the bases as he's averaged over 35 steals across the last four seasons. His defense is always exciting as he continues to play all out on the field.