Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (4/27): Stewart Stifles, Wheeler Deals

This week's recent disable list fiasco at the big league level means the upper minors are pretty sparse in the starting pitching department. With Jose Berrios, Alex Meyer, and Tyler Duffey all on the big league roster, three-fifths of the Rochester rotation is no longer with the club. This left a clear need to add another starter.

Minnesota wasted little time scouring independent league rosters for some help. Former Twins pitcher Andrew Albers was signed to a minor league deal and assigned to Rochester. He had been pitching for an independent team in the Atlantic League.

With the continued roster movement down on the farm, how would the team's fare as they adjust to new faces in new places?
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons
Rochester 1, Buffalo 2 (10 Innings)
After being locked into an extra-innings battle on Tuesday, nine innings wasn't enough to decide this one between Rochester and Buffalo. Jason Wheeler was promoted from Double-A before today's game to make the start because of the trio of players mentioned above that were called up to the big leagues.

Wheeler pitched a very strong game against a very experienced Bisons roster. He lasted seven innings and allowed one run on six hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Buddy Boshers relieved Wheeler and went 1.2 shutout innings while limiting Buffalo to one hit. Brandon Kintzler took the loss, his first of the season, after three singles in the bottom of the tenth inning allowed the game-winning run to score.

Despite the loss, James Beresford recorded his third straight multi-hit game and finished the day 3-for-5 with an RBI. Byron Buxton notched his first multi-hit game since being demoted and he has now recorded a hit in all 15 games he has played in Rochester the last two years. Heiker Meneses recorded the team's lone extra-base hit, his first double of the season. Overall, the team left eight runners on base and went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Chattanooga (Scheduled Off Day)
After another strong performance from Daniel Palka (one of my breakout hitter picks), the Lookouts enjoyed an off-day on Wednesday. Chattanooga has won two straight games and they currently have a 8-12 record while sitting 4.5 games out of first place in the Southern League North. The club resumes action on Thursday with the start of a five-game home series against Montgomery. 

Roster Move: Right-handed pitcher Omar Bencomo was added to the Lookouts roster.  So far this season with Fort Myers, he had a 1-1 record with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP over 18.0 IP.

Ft. Myers 6, Jupiter 1 (10 Innings)
Kohl Stewart did his best to put the Miracle in position to win but he wouldn't figure into the decision as the offense didn't wake up until the late innings. For the second time in his last three appearances, Stewart pitched six shutout frames. When he was pulled, he has struck out five and walked three while lowering his ERA to 1.93. Miracle starting pitchers have now tossed 25 1/3 innings over their last three games without allowing a run. Yorman Landa allowed one run after giving up a lead-off double in the seventh inning and he was in line for the loss before Trey Vavra saved the day.

In the top of the ninth frame, Vavra stepped to the plate with his team down 1-0 and down to their last out. He connected on a 3-2 pitch and homered to left field to tie the game. It was just the spark the team needed as the team batted around and scored five runs in the next inning which included doubles from Edgar Corcino and Chris Paul. Alex Swim led the team with three hits and Vavra plated three runs.

Brandon Peterson earned his first victory of the season after tossing two scoreless frames with a strikeout. Todd Van Steensel closed things out in the bottom of the tenth as the only base runner he allowed was on a two-out walk. With the win, Fort Myers stretched their winning streak to four games.

Cedar Rapids 3, West Michigan 8
The Whitecaps were coming in strong on Wednesday as they plated runs in each of the first four innings including two multi-run innings. Andro Cutura took the brunt of the damage as he allowed a career high eight earned runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and a walk in four innings. Michael Theofanopoulos stopped some of the bleeding as he pitched three shutout frames with a pair of strikeouts. Zach Tillery struck out four in the final two innings.

Cedar Rapids struggled going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base. A.J. Murray went 2-for-4 with his fourth double and a run scored. Luis Arraez had two hits and  reached base four times. J.J. Fernandez hit his first home run, a solo-shot in the second inning to tie the game before West Michigan took back the lead.

These same two teams square off tomorrow in the rubber game of this three-game set. The Kernels have lost four of their last six games so a series win could help get things moving in the right direction.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Jason Wheeler, Rochester Red Wings 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Trey Vavra, Fort Myers Miracle

Rochester @ Buffalo (12:05 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (1-2, 4.58 ERA)
Chattanooga vs. Montgomery (6:15 CST)- RHP DJ Baxendale (1-2, 2.35 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Jupiter (9:30 am CST)- LHP Tyler Jay (1-1, 3.60 ERA)
Cedar Rapids vs. West Michigan (6:35 CST)- RHP Sam Gibbons (1-2, 5.74 ERA)

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

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