Thursday, May 19, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (5/19): Walker, Kepler Put On A Show

Winning baseball might not be happening in Minnesota but plenty of the team's minor league affiliates are playing well. Entering play on Thursday night, the Chattanooga Lookouts were the lone affiliate without a winning record. All of the organization's other clubs are within a handful of games for the top spot in their division. That could mean clinching a first-half playoff spot for some of the teams if they continue their winning ways.

Who could inch closer to the top of the standings on Thursday night? Read on to find out.
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons
Rochester 6, Durham 3
Roster Moves: Outfielder Eddie Rosario was optioned from Minnesota and outfielder Robbie Grossman had his contract selected by Minnesota.

Adam Brett Walker hit two home runs and Max Kepler fell a single short of the cycle as the Red Wings powered their way past the Bulls. Kepler finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Both of Walker's home runs were solo shots as he has six home runs so far this season. Eddie Rosario had a double in his return to Rochester.

Jason Wheeler picked up the victory for the Red Wings. Across 6.2 innings of work, he scattered four hits and allowed no runs while striking out six and walking one. His season ERA is down to 1.65 and this was the third time he had pitched at least six innings without giving up a run. Dan Runzler struggled with his control and allowed three runs after giving up three walks. J.T. Chargois was asked to get a unique save as he came in to finish out the eighth before closing in the ninth. It was his first save with Rochester.

The Red Wings have won three straight games and are one game behind the Scranton/WB RailRiders for first place in the International League North.

Chattanooga 2, Jackson 3
Box Score
The Lookouts jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but that lead would disappear in the second half of this game. Chattanooga scored a first inning run after a Leonardo Reginatto single and Daniel Palka walk was followed by a DJ Hicks single. The team's only other run came in the fourth inning as Joe Maloney knocked a one-out double and would later score on a wild pitch. Hicks finished the game 2-for-4 while Reginatto was the only other player to reach base twice in the game.

D.J. Baxendale was cruising through the first four frames before running into three-run onslaught in the fifth. He would be pulled after the frame as he allowed three runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Omar Bencomo and Corey Williams combined for three scoreless frames to keep the game close but the Lookouts couldn't manage any more runs.

Chattanooga drops to five games under .500 with the loss. After winning four straight over the weekend, the Lookouts have lost three in a row.

Ft. Myers 5, Dunedin 4 (12 Innings)
Fort Myers found themselves training by two runs after three innings but they slowly picked away at the Blue Jays lead. The first big hit of the night was a Alex Real solo-home run to tie the game in the eighth inning. He would finish the night with three hits. Trey Vavra came up with the other big hit of the evening after being held hitless up until that point. To lead off the top of the 12th frame, he launched his fifth home run of the season. Nick Gordon drove in a pair of runs and Chris Paul reached base five times including two doubles.

Felix Jorge started for the Miracle and took the no decision after allowing four runs, two earned, in five innings. He struck out four and walked one and it was the first time all season that he didn't pitch six innings or more. The Miracle bullpen was outstanding. Brian Gilbert, Todd Van Steensel, and Raul Fernandez all pitched two scoreless innings. Brandon Peterson picked up his second save by striking out the side in the bottom of the 12th.

With the win, Fort Myers improves to 23-18 on the year as they have won three of their last five games. They currently sit atop the standings in the Florida State League South Division.

Cedar Rapids 2, Beloit 1 (11 Innings)
Box Score
Sam Clay did his best to put the Kernels in position to win but he wouldn't be around to see how this one ended. He tossed seven innings while allowing one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Clay hasn't allowed more than one run in any of his starts this year and this was his third straight game with at least seven strikeouts. Michael Theofanopoulos collected strikeouts for four of the six outs he was asked to get. Nick Anderson improved to 3-0 with his third win out of the bullpen.

There wasn't much offense on the Cedar Rapids side of the ball so the ending of this game was fitting. A.J. Murray walked to lead-off the 11th inning. Zander Wiel tried to move Murray over with a bunt but the pitcher threw the ball away and both runners were safe. Luis Arraez grounded out to second and the runners advanced. J.J. Fernandez hit the ball to second and Murray was thrown out at the plate while trying to score the winning run. To end the game, Wiel scored from third on a wild pitch.

With the win, the Kernels took the final two games of their series with Beloit before playing Quad Cities this weekend. Cedar Rapids finds themselves a half game out of first place in the Midwest League Western Division. 

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Jason Wheeler, Rochester Red Wings 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Adam Brett Walker, Rochester Red Wings

Rochester @ Durham (6:05 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (4-3, 4.17 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Jackson (7:05 CST)- LHP Nick Greenwood (1-0, 4.15 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. Tampa (6:05 CST)- LHP Randy Rosario (2-3, 3.48 ERA)
Cedar Rapids vs. Quad Cities (6:35 CST)- TBD

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

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