Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Who Should Be The American League All-Star Starters?

Photo Credit: Frank Victores, USA Today Sports
There is always plenty of debate when it comes to the starters for each squad in the MLB All-Star Game. Fans get to vote for their favorite players and this can result in ballot stuffing by certain fan bases across the country.

For example, Chicago Cubs fans have been spending a lot of time voting and their team currently has five starters at the last voting update. Are these the best players in the National League at those positions? Maybe not but that's what happens when you leave the voting to the fans.

Since the Twins are in the American League, let's delve into that ballot before the official rosters are announced on Tuesday, July 5, at 7 p.m. Who are the starters going to be? Who should actually be the starters? There's plenty to discuss.

Leading: Salvador Perez, Royals
My Pick: Salvador Perez, Royals
Catching is in a rough spot in the American League especially with Joe Mauer no longer being an option behind the plate. Salvador Perez, the reigning World Series MVP, leads the league in fWAR during the last 365 days. Blake Swihart and Matt Wieters are tied for a distant second place. Perez is hitting close to .300 and getting on-base 33% of the time. He hit a career high 21 home runs last season and he already has 12 long balls so far this season. He's never posted a slugging percentage over .475 in his career and he's sitting at a .520 OPS in 2016.

First Base
Leading: Eric Hosmer, Royals
My Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
There are plenty of candidates for this spot but it has become a two-man battle. The voting block in Kansas City has Eric Hosmer out to a 550,000 vote lead at the last check-in but he doesn't get my vote. Sometimes it's about putting a player in who is one of the best players in the generation. Cabrera's average has dipped a little this year from his normal standards but he is still hitting .295/.368/.529 with 17 home runs after only hitting 18 home runs last season. I'd put Chris Davis ahead of Hosmer on my ballot as well so the player likely to start wouldn't be in my top-2 for voting purposes.

Second Base
Leading: Jose Altuve, Astros
My Pick: Jose Altuve, Astros
There are some bigger names on the ballot like Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia but Jose Altuve is in the midst of a historic season. Altuve has a career OPS of just over .780 and this season he is closing in on a 1.000 OPS. By the way, he's leading the American League in batting too. If the Astros keep playing well, Altuve will be in the discussion for the AL MVP and this would be his fourth All-Star Game in the last five seasons. Cano and Pedroia might be the big names but everyone needs to get familiar with Altuve because he might be in this position for years to come.

Third Base
Leading: Manny Machado, Orioles
My Pick: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
This two man battle features the defending AL MVP in Josh Donaldson versus the up-and-coming Manny Machado. Both players have been very good over the last calendar year. In fact, each of these players has been one of the top five players in the game this season. Look at the chart below to see how close the battle is between them even with Machado sliding over to play shortstop in the absence of JJ Hardy.
Donaldson has been slightly better so I will give him the nod but they should both be playing in San Diego.

Leading: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
My Pick: Francisco Lindor, Indians
We might be living in the "Golden Age of Shortstops" in the American League. Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa are all young and dominating at one of the toughest defensive positions in the field. Lindor has dominated on both sides of the ball being an offensive threat while playing some of the best defense in the game at shortstop. His 8.2 fWAR over the last calendar year is 1.5 points higher than Bogaerts and 3.6 points higher than Correa. Lindor plays in Cleveland where he isn't getting much attention but he is showing that he is one of the top overall players in the game. 

Leading: Mike Trout, Angels; Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox; Mookie Betts, Red Sox
My Picks: Mike Trout, Angels; Lorenzo Cain, Royals, Mookie Betts, Red Sox
Mike Trout is another easy pick as he has helped the AL win the last two All-Star Games on his way to earning back-to-back All-Star Game MVPs. Lorenzo Cain gets a big jump from his defensive numbers but he holds his own on the offensive side of the ball. He also helped the Royals to their first World Series Championship since the 1980s. The last spot is a toss up between Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. so I gave my vote to Betts. I like his ability to steal bases and that can be a handy addition to the roster of an All-Star squad. 

Designated Hitter
Leading: David Ortiz, Red Sox
My Pick: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Probably the easiest pick on the board. David Ortiz will retire at season's end and ride off into the sunset of what is likely a Hall-of-Fame career. It helps that Ortiz is also having a very strong season at the plate. This is nothing against Edwin Encarnacion and the season he is having but Ortiz is a legend. The 2016 All-Star Game might turn into an honoring for Ortiz much like the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota honored Derek Jeter. Ortiz will bow out and let other players take his place in the years to come. 

So there's my ballot with a few picks that were tough to make. Who would make your AL All-Star team? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/28): Berrios Nearly No-Nos

Photo Credit: Kim Klement, USA Today Sports (JT Chargois)
Minnesota has been well represented in recent years at MLB's annual Futures Game. In each of the last two seasons, Jose Berrios has been the Twins representative on the World Team. When the game was played at Target Field in 2014, Berrios was joined by Kennys Vargas and Alex Meyer. The year before that featured Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in front of the minor league's biggest audience.

Earlier today, the rosters for the 2016 Futures Game were announced. Relief pitcher JT Chargois will be the Twins lone representative in San Diego. Chargois made his debut earlier this season and it didn't exactly go to plan. Minnesota promptly sent him back to Rochester and he has continued to dominate at that level. Maybe this was his reward for being sent packing after a disastrous debut.

Rochester 3, Pawtucket 0
Box Score
Miguel Sano continues to shake the rust off with his rehab appearances in Rochester. For the second straight game, Sano hit a home run but he struck out multiple times. Fans will be happy to know that he was back at third base and he wasn't charged with any errors. John Ryan Murphy went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

Jose Berrios was dominant on the mound as he had a no hitter going into the seventh frame. In the end, he allowed one hit in seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and two walks. Marcus Walden took over for Berrios and earned his sixth hold. Like Sano, Trevor May is also on rehab assignment. He pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth with a pair of strikeouts for his first save. 

Rochester continues to clear a path through the International League. The win moved the Red Wings to 13 games over .500. Even with the great record, the club trails Scranton/WB for the top spot in the International League North but the lead the Wild Card standings. 

Ft. Myers 3, Palm Beach 2
Box Score
Fort Myers first baseman Trey Vavra was featured in an video where he talked about playing baseball in Australia and the connections he has to his baseball family. 

The Miracle have seen multiple starting pitchers move up to Chattanooga and that has resulted in opportunities for other starting pitchers. Fernando Romero was making his second Florida State League and he pitched much better than his first appearance. In 7.0 innings, he allowed two earned runs on four hits while striking out five. More importantly, he didn't allow a walk. Yorman Landa picked up his sixth save, a two inning outing, with two strikeouts. 

Joe Maloney collected four hits and Fort Myers needed both of the two runs he drove in. After his MiLB video appearance earlier in the day, Trey Vavra went 2-for-3 with the team's only extra-base hit, his ninth double. Chris Paul and Edgar Corcino both scored runs on the way to the Miracle victory. The win moves Fort Myers back to .500 on the season at 37-37 and the team is 3-2 since the second half started. 

Cedar Rapids 8, Quad Cities 5
Box Score

The Kernels popped off five runs in the second inning. Brian Olson drove in a run with a double to start the scoring. Luis Arraez knocked a two-out single to plate a couple more runs. Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Austin Diemer capped off the scoring with his first double. Every hitter in the Kernels line-up collected a hit with Daniel Kihle and Brad Hartong both having multi-hit nights at the plate.

Sam Clay made it into the sixth inning by allowing four runs on five hits. With seven strikeouts in this game, he struck out at least seven batters for the third time in his last five starts. Michael Cederoth finished off the sixth for Clay but walked two and allowed two inherited runners to score. Williams Ramirez stopped some of the bleeding as he pitching two innings and didn't allow a run. He struck out three and walked one. Tom Hackimer ran into a little bit of a mess in the ninth but only allowed one run.

Elizabethton 0, Johnson City 2 (Game 1- 7 Innings)
Box Score
The E-Twins got rained out on Monday night so they got to carry their perfect 4-0 record into Tuesday night's double-header. But all good things must come to an end as Elizabethton suffered its first loss of the season even though they out hit Johnson City four to two. 

No member of the E-Twins reached base more than once. The team was limited to one at-bat with a runner in scoring position and Shane Carrier couldn't come through with a hit. Amaurys Minier, Mitchell Kranson, and Bryant Hayman all went 1-for-3. Casey Scoggins collected one hit in his two plate appearances.  

Sean Poppen took the loss after allowing two earned runs on two hits. He struck out two and walked three in 3.1 innings. Andrew Vasquez finished the final 2.2 frames without allowing a run as he added two strikeouts. 

Elizabethton 1, Johnson City 3 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
Box Score

After waiting multiple games and a rain delay for their first loss, the E-Twins suffered two losses in a matter of hours. Elizabethton got out to an early lead on a first inning home run from Jaylin Davis but the offense would go cold from there. The team left five runners on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Bryant Hayman went 2-for-3 with his first double. 

Jose Martinez tried to make it through five innings but he ran into some trouble in the fifth. He'd be pulled after allowing three runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out three and walked a pair of batters. Johan Quezada finished off the game without allowing a hit as he walked two and struck out three. 

GCL Twins 4, GCL Orioles 2
Box Score
The GCL Twins pitching staff limited the GCL Orioles to four hits in this game. Taylor Clemensia started and went 3.2 innings by allowing one run with five walks and four strikeouts. Clemensia was relieved by Onas Farfan who struck out four in two shutout innings. Brady Anderson, C.K. Irby, and Patrick McGuff finished off the game by combining to allow three total base runners and striking out four. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Twins needed only five hits to push across four runs. Luis Martinez led the way with a 3-for-3 day including two doubles and two runs scored. Akil Baddoo drove in a pair of runs and Dane Hutcheon reached base twice.

With the win, the GCL Twins improved to 2-2 at this early juncture of their season. 

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jose Berrios, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Luis Martinez, GCL Twins

Rochester vs. Pawtucket (12:35 CST) - LHP Logan Darnell (8-5, 3.29 ERA)

Chattanooga @ Pensacola (6:30 CST) - LHP David Hurlbut (5-3, 3.61 ERA)
Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30 CST) - RHP Felix Jorge (7-3, 1.58 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (7:00 CST) - RHP Miles Nordgren (3-3, 2.73 ERA)
Elizabethton vs. Pulaski (6:00 CST) - TBD
GCL Orioles @ GCL Twins (11:00 am CST) - TBD

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Tuesday's games.

Monday, June 27, 2016

College World Series Journal

For baseball fans across the country, attending the College World Series is one of the events on almost everyone's bucket list. The NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament culminates in a multi-week, double-elimination tournament where there is drama and plenty of surprises.

I was lucky enough to head to Omaha at the end of last week to take in multiple games over a three day stretch. Here are some of my impressions as the Championship Series is underway on Monday night.

Omaha Overview
Omaha has got this event down to a science. The area around the stadium is set up perfectly for fans to enjoy pre-game festivities at local establishments. Fans can then head into the game and after the game there are multiple concerts, food offerings, and activities. If you can't find something to occupy your time, you aren't trying very hard.

Blatt Beer & Table was our gathering spot before the first game because it was right next to the stadium and it had a roof top patio to enjoy views of the downtown area. We ran into ESPN's Pedro Gomez at this bar as his son Rio Gomez is a sophomore left-handed pitcher for Arizona. Through out the trip we tried many of the establishments near the field and my group was impressed with the service, food, and overall atmosphere.

Omaha makes it easy to want to come back to this event again and again.

Stadium Experience
TD Ameritrade Park is beautiful with all the amenities fans need to enjoy the baseball experience. I spent most of my early time in the park exploring each part of this venue that opened in 2011. You can walk all the way around the concourse and have a pretty good sight lines. Even when I sat in the upper deck for part of a game, it felt like you were still right on top of the action. There were plenty of water stands available to counteract the 90 degree heat.

Some things I would like to see improved would be to add in some big fans like those used at Target Field. The lines for concessions were very long during the games that were sold out and this made took a little away from the experience.

Pace of Play
Thursday night's game between Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech was brutal to watch. The official game time is listed at three hours and 48 minutes but it seemed like an eternity. It was an elimination game for both teams so there were seven different pitchers used with no pitcher throwing more than 4.1 innings. Pitchers took a long time between pitches, batters took a long time getting into the box, and coaches visits to the mound lasted too long.

I didn't realize how much MLB's new pace of play rules were impacting the game until I had to watch a game where those rules aren't in place. One has to wonder how long it will be before the NCAA starts to implement some of the same rules.

Power Outage
It is really tough to hit home runs at TD Ameritrade Park. It was amazing to see the positioning of outfielders especially on Friday when the wind was blowing straight in from center field. I made a comment to one of my friends that it almost looked like they were playing at Little League depth. There was no reason to play any further back as the wind played a factor in all the games we attended.

Between the three games we attended on Thursday and Friday, we saw a grand total of one home run, a line drive down the third base line that snuck into the bullpen off the bat of TCU's Dane Steinhagen. Some of these team's rely a lot on the long ball during the regular season but it's almost impossible to hit it out in the most important games of the year.

Pitcher Usage
When it comes to watching a big league game, fans know that a pitcher getting close to 100 pitches is most likely near the end of his time on the mound. MLB organizations are very conscientious about the health of their pitchers and their future in the game. College teams and coaches don't have the same agenda as MLB teams. The incentive in college is to win and to win now, no matter what the cost.

On Friday night, I witnessed a pitcher throw 137 pitches on the way to a complete game.  Andrew Beckwith was an undrafted junior that throws with a side-arm action so there is less stress on his arm. This was his second straight complete game and now his team is in the College World Series Championship. Arizona has also been criticized for there use of pitchers and they might have seen the results of this on Friday afternoon as Nathan Bannister left the game with pain is his forearm. The Wildcats will face Coastal Carolina in the Championship but their pitcher usage might have cost them their ace.

Attending the College World Series was a dream come true and I'm excited to see who will come out victorious over the next few days. Part of me is rooting for Coastal Carolina since it is their first trip to the College World Series and who knows when they will be back.

Feel free to ask any questions in the COMMENTS section about the event and I will try and answer as many questions as I can.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/21): Rosario Keeps Rolling

Photo Credit: Derek Tellinghuisen (@DTelling1010 on Twitter)
For the second time this week, one of the Twins affiliates was hosting their league's All-Star Game festivities. The Fort Myers Miracle hosted the 2016 FSL All-Star Game on Sunday night. Tonight it was the Kernels turn to host the Midwest League All-Star Game in Cedar Rapids.

This wasn't the only All-Star Game on the docket for Tuesday night. The Southern League was also holding their own mid-season classic. With plenty of Twins players on both rosters, there's a chance that one or two of them could play a vital role in deciding the outcomes of these exhibition games.

Found out below what transpired in the All-Star contests and through out the rest of the Twins farms system.

Rochester 8, Columbus 4
Rochester found themselves in a pitching duel in the early innings. Jason Wheeler gave up a first inning run but settled in nicely and he was eventually backed up by plenty of run support. Wheeler scattered seven hits and four earned runs over six frames. He struck out three and walked one.

Eddie Rosario is making it very clear that he doesn't want to be playing at Rochester anymore. Tonight was a clear indication of that as he went 4-for-4 at the plate with a three-run home run and two doubles. Jorge Polanco might want to follow Rosario to Minnesota as he reached base three times including his 11th double on the season. Kennys Vargas and Adam Brett Walker both added home runs as the Red Wings pounded out 13 hits.

Sean Burnett and JT Chargois put up zeros in their innings of work. Chargois has his ERA down to 0.54 with a 37 to 9 strikeout to walk ratio over 28.1 innings. Alex Wimmers struck out two but allowed a run on three hits in the final inning. With the win, Rochester has won nine of their last ten games and moves to 44-28 on the season. In fact, the team has only lost five games the entire month of June.

North All-Stars 1, South All-Stars 5
Box Score
After a hot hitting start to the season, Daniel Palka struggled in this exhibition game. Across four plate appearances, he didn't collect a hit and he struck out twice. Mitch Garver started at catcher and he struck out in both of his at-bats. Travis Harrison was a late inning replacement but he managed to go 1-2 with a single.

Former Twins prospect Chih-Wei Hu started for the North and allowed one hit in his inning of work. DJ Baxendale pitched two-thirds of an inning and didn't allow a base runner. Trevor Hildenberger made a brief appearance at the end of the game. He came in with two outs in the eighth and was only asked to get the final out for the North.

Overall, the North couldn't find enough offense to make-up for the five run inning allowed by Brad Markey, a Chicago Cubs pitching prospect.

Ft. Myers 2, Charlotte 1
Roster Move: Brian Gilbert was placed on the DL and in a corresponding move relief pitcher Michael Theofanopoulos was added from Cedar Rapids. 

Randy LeBlanc fell into an early 1-0 hole as he allowed a solo home run in the second inning. However, he was able to settle down from there. He lasted six innings while giving up one run on three hits. LeBlanc struck out one and walked three for his first win in the Florida State League. Brandon Peterson kept the game close with two shutout frames as he struck out three. Yorman Landa earned his fourth save with a perfect ninth.

On the offensive side of the ball, Max Murphy provided the big hit on the night. Edgar Corcino started the inning by reaching on a bunt single. He advanced to second on a ground out by Chris Paul but he was left standing in scoring position when Joe Maloney was hit by a 1-2 pitch. Much like Maloney, Murphy fell behind 1-2 before drilling a ball over the left fielders head for a double. The Miracle took a 2-1 lead and never gave it back.

Fort Myers moves to 33-35 with the victory and they will look to complete a sweep of the Stone Crabs on Wednesday night. The Miracle have won three of their last four games and they have yet to lose since this weekend's All-Star break.

East All-Stars 11, West All-Stars 10
The Kernels felt right at home in their home park. Players from the Cedar Rapids squad filled up the box score as both team's pounded out runs in the early innings.

Luis Arraez led off for the West Division All-Stars and finished the night 2-for-3 with a run scored. LaMonte Wade followed Arraez in the batting order and had one of the biggest hits for the West squad, a two-run single. AJ Murray didn't want to get out shined by the other All-Stars on the team. He competed in the Home Run Derby before the game and didn't win but smacked a two-run shot during the seventh inning.

In a game where runs were being scored in bunches, it was tough to find pitchers with clean innings. Sam Clay started for the West All-Stars and pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. Clay was the lone Kernels pitcher to be selected to the contest and he represented the team well.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Randy LeBlanc, Fort Myers Miracle
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Eddie Rosario, Rochester Red Wings

Rochester @ Columbus (6:05 CST)- LHP Pat Dean (1-3, 3.00 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. Charlotte (6:05 CST)- RHP Randy LeBlanc (0-2, 7.20 ERA)

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Miguel Sano's Defensive Future

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
Miguel Sano is six-feet four-inches tall and weighs 260 pounds (or more). To the casual fan, the idea of him rumbling around the outfield seemed like a bad idea from the start. There were balls that were misplayed and routes ran in the wrong direction as the young slugger tried to find himself in a foreign defensive position.

Twins Territory might be able sleep a little easier tonight as it is sounding more like the Sano outfield experiment might be reaching it's conclusion.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan was a little cryptic when talking to the local media before Saturday's game. When asked about Sano returning to the outfield, Ryan said,"I'm not sure exactly how it's going to play itself out here quite yet."

This is a much different tune than the Twins had during the offseason. Twins manager Paul Molitor was pretty clear that Sano wasn't expected to see any time at third base this season unless Trevor Plouffe was injured and the team needed to shuffle around some players. Of course this situation did occur as Sano started his first game at third when Plouffe and Danny Santana were both on the disabled list. 

So far this season, Sano has played 38 games in right field, seven at designated hitter, and five at third base. In his limited time at third base, Sano has been worth one defensive run saved. The outfield has been a different story as his -9 defensive run saved is tied for third worst total among American League outfielders. SABR's Defensive Index, one of the databases used for selecting the Gold Glove winners, has Sano as the second worst right fielder in the American League.

Minnesota's 2016 roster was created with Sano set to be in the outfield. Byung Ho Park has struggled as the team's regular DH. When healthy, Trevor Plouffe has played at third base even with some offensive struggles. Now Max Kepler looks like he has settled into right field nicely in the absence of Sano. Park and Plouffe seem like the likely candidates to lose playing time when Sano returns since he won't be playing outfield.
Another option for the team might be trading Trevor Plouffe. There is some value in him since he is still under team control for the 2017 season but he has struggled at the plate so far this year. His OPS is down over 100 points compared to last season and he's getting on base less than 27% of the time. Minnesota won't rush into a trade but a contending team could be looking for some help at third base. 

Sano is never going to be known for his defensive prowess and there won't be any Gold Gloves in his future. He's in the Twins line-up for one reason... to hit the ball as far as he can. It doesn't matter what defensive position Sano plays as long as he finds a way to make his offensive numbers exceed what he costs the team on the defensive side of the ball. 

With a man of Sano's size, tracking down balls in the outfield was only going to lead to more injuries. By shifting back to a more natural position, the hope is to keep Sano in the line-up and off the disable list. Twins fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Sano won't be heading back to the outfield... at least for right now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/18): FSL All-Star Game

Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons
Fort Myers, Florida and the Minnesota Twins spring training complex played host to the 2016 Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday night. This will be the first of two All-Star Games hosted by Twins minor league affiliates this season as the Cedar Rapids Kernels will host the Midwest League All-Star Game.

It was a low scoring affair as the FSL North used 11 pitchers to combine for a 1-0 shutout of the South squad. Miracle relief pitcher Yorman Landa gave up the lone run in the game. The first batter he faced cracked a double. He struck out the next two batters and the Hammond Stadium radar gun had him hitting 102 miles per hour and 100 miles per hour three more times. However a two-out ground ball single scored the run that would be the difference in the game.

To see the full box score of the FSL All-Star Game, click here and read on to see how the other Twins affiliates did on Saturday.

Rochester 5, Toledo 1
Logan Darnell has been one of the most consistent starters for Rochester this season as he helped the club to their 41st win on Saturday night. He pitched seven strong innings by allowing one run on four hits while striking out six and walking two. The six strikeouts were a season high for him.It was his eighth victory on the season which is the most wins by any pitcher in the International League.

Marcus Walden and JT Chargois both put up zeros on the board to seal the victory. Walden allowed one hit and struck out two. Chargois had a couple batters reach against him but he didn't walk anyone and he lowered his season ERA to 0.57.

Rochester's two biggest hits came off the bats of Jorge Polanco and John Ryan Murphy. Polanco gave the Red Wings an early 2-0 when he drove in a pair of runs on a two-out double. Murphy went 2-for-3 and knocked in two runs of his own. Adam Brett Walker reached base twice and didn't strikeout.

Chattanooga 4, Montgomery 2
The top four batters in the Lookouts line-up lead the offensive attack on Saturday night. This group combined for 10 of the team's 11 hits with each player having multiple hit nights. Daniel Palka continued his impressive season by going 3-for-5 with a triple and a double. Engelb Vielma scored three runs and collected three hits including his third double. Travis Harrison reached base three times and drove in a pair of runs. 

With the top end of the line-up supporting him, Aaron Slegers was able to earn his fifth victory. He scattered three hits over 6.1 innings to limit the Biscuits offense to two runs. He struck out four and walked three. Jake Reed earned his ninth hold by pitching 1.2 perfect innings. Trevor Hildenberger collected his 11th save with a perfect ninth inning. 

Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 3
Box Score
With their first half playoff hopes on the line, the Kernels rallied late to tie this game but they ended up falling by one run. The team was official knocked out of the playoff race with the loss.

Dereck Rodriguez posted his best start of the season. Across six innings, he struck out eight and walked one as he allowed two runs (one earned run) on five hits. Cam Booser took the loss, his second, as he allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Booser pitched two innings without giving up a hit but walked two and struck out three.

Cedar Rapids was held to four hits and the team left eight men on base. Overall, the team went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring positions so the team couldn't find that big hit. Sean Miller drew two walks and scored two runs. J.J Fernandez drove in both of the team's runs as part of a 1-for-4 day.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Logan Darnell, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Daniel Palka, Chattanooga Lookouts

Rochester @ Toledo (5:05 CST)- LHP Nick Greenwood (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (6:35 CST)- RHP Kohl Stewart (1-1, 3.14 ERA)
Cedar Rapids@ Quad Cities (6:00 CST)- LHP Sam Clay  (4-2, 2.64 ERA)

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/17): Red Hot Rosario

Photo Credit: Seth Stohs (Eduardo Del Rosario, Daniel Palka)
Bullpens can be fickle creatures. These pitchers can't really have a set routine because each player doesn't know when they will be used in a game. It takes a special type of player to be ready at the tip of a hat to jump into the middle of a game that could have playoff implications for a club.

Minor league players aren't playing for big money. They are playing for the team, they are playing for themselves, and they are playing to move up the ladder. The dream is to make it to the big leagues but that won't come true for all of the players mentioned below.

One team's bullpen was vital for a Friday night victory. Who was able to shine under the Friday night lights? Read on to find out.

Rochester 0, Toledo 2
The Red Wings couldn't get anything going on the offensive side of the ball against Mud Hens pitcher Daniel Norris. Only four Rochester players had hits and three of the team's six hits were off the bat of Eddie Rosario. Jorge Polanco and John Ryan Murphy managed both hit doubles and they stood up as the team's only extra-base knocks. Logan Schafer and Adam Brett Walker both struck out three times.

Jose Berrios did his best to keep the game close. The first run scored against Berrios came after a two-out error by shortstop Wilfredo Tovar. Toledo used a pinch hitter in the sixth, Tyler Bortnick, who hit his first home run of the season to put the team up 2-0. Berrios ended up pitching six innings and allowed one earned run on two hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Dan Runzler, David Martinez, and Ryan O'Rourke put up zeros the rest of the way but it still wasn't enough to spur a Rochester comeback.

The loss drops Rochester to 40-28 on the season as they sit a game and a half up in the International League North. Over their last 10 games, the club is 7-3 and this was their first loss since last Friday. The Red Wings continue their three-game series with Toledo tomorrow night.

Chattanooga 8, Montgomery 5
Even though the Lookouts were out hit in this game, the club used some clutch hitting (4-for-8 with RISP) to come out on top. Daniel Palka helped lead the charge for the Lookouts with a 2-for-3 night along with scoring a pair of runs. Zach Granite continues to be a threat on the bases as he stole his 30th base and scored twice. Mitch Garver drove in four runs and went 2-for-3 with his 12th double. 

David Hurlbut started the the Lookouts and put together a solid effort. He scattered seven hits over six innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Mike Strong allowed two runs in his inning of work. Luke Westphal struggled with control as he walked three and allowed a run while only collecting one out. Omar Bencomo allowed a pair of runs to score in the bottom of the ninth but he still was able to strikeout the side to preserve the victory.

With the win, the Lookouts have won nine of their last 12 games and are currently two games over .500.

Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 (14 Innings)
Box Score
This game would stretch long into the night as both team's bullpens continued to put zeros on the board. Cedar Rapids finally broke through in the 14th frame. Brad Hartong started the two out rally by being hit by a pitch. Luis Arraez followed with a double and an errant allowed Hartong to come all away around to score the winning run.

Eduardo Del Rosario hadn't made it out of the fifth inning in either of his starts in Cedar Rapids before this night. After tossing six innings and only allowing one earned run, he lowered his season ERA from 8.64 to 5.65. He gave up three hits (one home run) while striking out five and walking two.

The bullpen deserves a lot of the credit for this victory as they didn't allow a run in seven innings of work. Michael Cederoth didn't allow a hit and all five of the outs he collected were by strikeout but he walked three. William Ramirez struck out three over 2.1 innings. Michael Theofanopoulos improved to 3-0 after he pitched three innings and struck out four. Anthony McIver earned his second save with a perfect final frame.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Cedar Rapids Bullpen
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Mitch Garver, Chattanooga Lookouts

Rochester @ Toledo (6:05 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (7-5, 3.25 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (6:35 CST)- TBD
Cedar Rapids@ Quad Cities (6:00 CST)- RHP Dereck Rodriguez  (1-8, 7.33 ERA)

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

How Often Do Pitchers Recover From Labrum Injuries?

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
It has been called "The Career Ender," "Baseball's Toughest Injury," and "A Pitchers Death Sentence." When a major league pitcher finds out they will need labrum surgery, he knows the road to recovery will be a challenge.

Word came out of the Twin Cities on Monday that All-Star closer Glen Perkins is done for the season. In the next week, he will undergo surgery on a torn labrum and rotator cuff issues. This is a devastating blow to a back-end of the bullpen that has been a disaster at this point in the season.

The initial diagnoses was for Perkins only to miss a short amount of time. There were a few set-backs along the way before his most recent MRI showed the labrum and rotator cuff issues. Shoulder injuries can spell the end of a pitchers career as the body tries to recover so a player can throw over 90 miles per hour.

Most of Twins Territory pondered a similar question when the news broke, "How often do pitchers recover from labrum injuries?"

Many fans have become accustom to pitchers needing a surgery at some point in their career. Tommy John surgery has become common place in the baseball world because so many pitchers have the procedure. Also, the success rate is so high that it becomes an afterthought to fans. Labrum surgery is an entirely different animal.

There have been a few different studies about pitchers who were able to return from this type of surgery. Will Carroll, a baseball medical expert, wrote about labrum surgery back in the early 2000s. His results showed, "Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level." One out of 36 is not very good odds

Baseball Prospectus updated Carroll's study in a 2012 article. For the piece, Jay Jaffe found 67 players that had undergone some kind of labrum surgery include names like Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Mark Mulder, and Mark Prior. There are obviously different degrees of this kind of injury but only nine of the players returned to a level of success similar to before their surgery.

Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda is one of the biggest names in recent years to have a labrum procedure. He's worked his way back to the big leagues with a 4.84 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over the last two seasons. When Pineda was diagnosed the Yankees team doctor said, "When the rotator cuff is damaged as part of the injury problem, that has a much worse prognosis and influences velocity and ability to pitch."

Unfortunately for Perkins, the rotator cuff is part of his diagnosis and it might spell bad news for his future. He's in his 30s and has a lot of miles on his arm. Doctors and the medical field are continuing to improve and a labrum surgery isn't the death sentence it once was for pitchers. This could give fans hope to see Perkins running out of the bullpen again but the odds don't seem to be in his favor.

Will Glen Perkins beat the odds and come back from this surgery? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/14): Raucous Rochester Ending

Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons (Nick Gordon)
Minnesota will be adding a lot of talent to their minor league system in the coming weeks as draft picks from last week's draft are signed and assigned to start their professional careers. With the draft in the rear-view mirror, I posted my updated Twins Top-10 Prospect list including the Twins new first round draft pick. 

Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart, and Fernando Romero (three of the pitchers on my top-10 list) were on the mound tonight for different affiliates. Jay is in the midst of a fantastic season, Stewart has already been promoted from High-A to Double-A, and Romero has come back strong from Tommy John surgery.

What could each pitcher do on Tuesday? Read on to find out...

Rochester 1, Columbus 0
Roster Moves: JT Chargois was optioned to Rochester from Minnesota. Danny Santana was also added to the roster as he begins his MLB rehab assignment. 

Tommy Milone continued his impressive run at Rochester as posted seven scoreless inning to drop his ERA to 1.66 across seven games. He struck out eight, walked one, and scattered three hits. The bullpen would take over from there. Marcus Walden struck out the side in the eighth inning. J.T Chargois got back into game action after his disastrous big league debut. All he allowed was a two-out single and that set-up a dramatic bottom of the ninth. 

Eddie Rosario lead-off the inning with an impressive at-bat. He worked the count full before coaxing a walk. With Rosario on first, Logan Schafer popped out to third. Wilfredo Tovar grounded out to third for the second out but Rosario was now in scoring position. With a 2-2 count, Adam Brett Walker would line a single to right field for a walk-off winner as Rosario just barely beat the throw home.

It was the first win of the season for Chargois. Danny Santana went 1-for-3 in his first rehab start before being pinch hit for late in the game. Buck Britton would make the most of his pinch hit appearance as he lashed his 10th double. Rochester improves to an impressive 11 games over .500 with the victory. 

Chattanooga 1, Tennessee 4
Box Score
After leading off Monday's game with a home run, Zach Granite had to settle for a lead-off triple to start today's contest and was driven in by an Engelb Vielma sacrifice fly. The Lookouts had an early 1-0 lead but it wouldn't last as the three through nine hitters in the line-up were held to two total hits. Granite ended the day 2-for-4 while Vielma was 2-for-3 with a double. D.J. Hicks cracked his 15th double as part of the losing effort.

Kohl Stewart took the loss but he only allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings. Two unearned runs were scored off of him due to a throwing error by second baseman Ryan Walker. After allowing four earned runs in his first Double-A start, Stewart has lowered his ERA from 21.60 to 3.14 after allowing one earned run in his last two outings.

Corey Williams took over for Stewart and allowed one run on three hits in just over an inning of work. The last run wouldn't matter as the Lookouts left five runners on base and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Chattanooga had won eight of their last ten games coming into the day and they are still a game over .500 (33-32)

Ft. Myers 3, Lakeland 8
For Tyler Jay it just wasn't his day as he allowed six earned runs on eight hits including three home runs. He struck out two and walked two but couldn't make it through more than three innings. Brian Gilbert replaced Jay and promptly allowed four walks and two earned runs while only recording one out. Todd Van Steensel, Luke Bard, and Nick Anderson combined for 4.2 shutout frames the rest of the way but the damage was already done.

Nick Gordon raced around for his fourth triple of the season and he also drove in a run. Logan Wade went 2-for-4 and Brian Olson reached base twice with an RBI. Tanner Witt scored a run and added a double but he also struck out three times. The team only managed one walk and they struck out 13 times with each player having at least one K.

Fort Myers has lost the first three games of this four-game series with Lakeland. With five losses in a row, the Miracle have dropped from one game over .500 to four games under .500. The team isn't official eliminated from the first half title but they are five games back and their elimination number is two.

Cedar Rapids 2, Burlington 3 (7 Innings-Rain)
Box Score
Fernando Romero struggled in the early innings as he threw 60 pitches in the first two innings and allowed three earned runs. He'd settle down a little to make it through five frames. He finished by allowing eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk. It was his first loss of the season. Anthony McIver pitched 2.2 scoreless innings by striking out five and only allowing one hit.

Nelson Molina had the Kernels big hit as he drove in both of the team's runs with one swing of the bat. Luis Arraez and Daniel Kihle both went 1-for-3 and each player scored a run. No Cedar Rapids players got on base more than once and the team was limited to four at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Cedar Rapids is really scuffling at this point as tonight's loss was the team's sixth straight defeat. With a 33-31 record, the team can still finish the first half with an above .500 record. The first step will be winning tomorrow's series finale with Burlington if the field isn't too wet to play.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Tommy Milone, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Zach Granite, Chattanooga Lookouts

Rochester vs. Columbus (6:05 CST)- LHP Andrew Albers (4-1, 3.65 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (7:05 CST)- RHP D.J. Baxendale (6-6, 3.23 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:00 CST)-RHP Felix Jorge (5-3, 1.64 ERA)
Cedar Rapids vs. Burlington (12:05 CST)- RHP Miles Nordgren (2-3, 3.26 ERA)

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cody's Post-Draft Top 10 Prospects

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina- USA Today Sports
In the aftermath this year's MLB Draft, it can be fun to reevaluate where an organization stacks up in the prospect department.  For better or worse, franchises can make it or break it with their selections in the draft. It's also important for teams to be able to build from within to help manage the bottom line.

Minnesota's top prospect list is littered with players drafted highly over the last handful of years. Players like Jose Berrios, Nick Gordon, Tyler Jay, and Kohl Stewart have all been taken with first round picks. Ideally, these players will form the nucleus of Minnesota's next championship winning club.

There were a few graduations off this list since my last list in the 2016 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (which is on sale for 10% off). At the end of last season, Byron Buxton barely missed the rookie eligibility cut-off. Byung-Ho Park was also on my pre-season list and he has surpassed 130 at-bats. A few more of these players will likely graduated before the end of the year but here's where the list stands in the days following the draft.

10. Fernando Romero, Cedar Rapids Kernels (21 years old)
Romero has been lights out since his return from Tommy John surgery. Since he didn't pitch in a professional game for over two years, this year will be crucial for his development. He needs to continue to rack up innings and show the kind of pitcher he can be. Romero has impress so far this year and he could be a top-five Twins prospect before the conclusion of the season.

Ceiling: Mid-Rotation Starter
Since he missed so much game action, it is going to be crucial for him to work on his breaking ball and his command. His fastball can hit in the upper 90's but a pitcher needs more than heat to get out big league batters.

9. Alex Kiriloff, OF- TBD (18 years old)
It could be a long time before Kiriloff, a 2016 first round pick, to make it to the big leagues. Minnesota will likely start him off with the GCL Twins and he could make it as high as the Elizabethton Twins this season. This was the lowest first round pick the Twins have had in awhile and this draft wasn't as deep as other years. For this reason, fans will have to be patient as they wait to see what kind of player Kiriloff can be.

Ceiling: All-Star corner outfielder
He hasn't spent much time playing in the outfield but he has the arm to handle a corner outfield position. There are a lot of tools in his tool box. It will be interesting to see what kind of power he can develop as he moves up the ladder and his body starts to mature.

8. J.T. Chargois, RHP- Chattanooga Lookouts, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (25 years old)
Chargois is looking more and more like he could be the Twins closer of the future. His MLB debut was an unmitigated disaster and the Twins did him no favors by sending him right back to Rochester. Despite this chain of events, he will be back before the end of the year and I would guess that he is pitching in some high leverage situations as soon as the 2017 season.

Ceiling: Shutdown back-end of the bullpen pitcher
Chargois has the stuff to be a very good relief pitcher. His biggest issue at this point his control and that was evident in his debut. The hope would be that he returns to Rochester and continues to dominate at that level. This will give the Twins no option but to give him another look.

7. Kohl Stewart, RHP- Fort Myers Miracle, Chattanooga Lookouts (21 years old)
The Twins were aggressive with Stewart as he was promoted to Chattanooga as a 21-year old. His first Double-A start was a little rough but this takes nothing away from his overall potential. Last season was the first season where he compiled more than 100 innings on the mound. It would be nice for his strikeout rate to continue to rise as he moves through the ranks and that could come with more innings on the mound.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
Stewart is still learning the art of pitching and he bounced back nicely in his second Double-A outing. His place on this list is more of a result of the talent in front of him than his lack of talent. If he puts it all together, he could be very good and the Twins have a lot of confidence in him.

6. Stephen Gonsalves, RHP- Fort Myers Miracle (21 years old)
Gonsalves just keeps getting better and that might be a scary proposition to other hitters in the minor leagues. He ended last season in Fort Myers and he has made some improvements there this year. His fastball has more life and he has been working to improve his off-speed pitches. He hasn't garnered a lot of national attention but that could change if he continues to pitch well.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
It seems like Gonsalves is a veteran of the minors even though he is only 21-years old. He comes off like that because of his professionalism and his demeanor on the mound. This is the first time I've ranked Gonsalves higher than Stewart and he will be a top five prospect for the Twins entering next year.

5. Jorge Polanco, IF- Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (23 years old)
Polanco has been settling into his role with Rochester nicely as he is posting some of his best offensive numbers in years. The Twins have utilized Polanco's skill-set at various points over the last three years and it will be interesting to see where he fits into the team's long-term plans. He's been playing more second base this year and the Twins have Dozier blocking Polanco at that position.

Ceiling: All-Star second baseman
Minnesota needs to find a spot for Polanco for next season. This could mean in a utility type role or it could mean trading away a current starter so he can get regular at-bats. If the Twins continue to play poorly this season, it would be nice to see more of Polanco at the big league level.

4. Nick Gordon, SS- Fort Myers Miracle (20 years old)
Gordon is almost three years younger than the competition in the Florida State League but he's still putting up some strong numbers. He's been able to get on base over 33% of the time and he's hitting for more power this season as his OPS has jumped over 35 points. One concern this season might be his defensive miscues. He has 13 errors at shortstop this season after setting a career high with 18 errors last year.

Ceiling: All-star shortstop
I still believe he can stick at shortstop and he will add more power as he continues to mature. This could make him a rarity for the Twins, a shortstop produced through their farm system. He's only been moving up one level a season so he likely won't debut for another couple of seasons.

3. Tyler Jay, LHP- Fort Myers Miracle (22 years old)
It was tough to know what to expect from Jay this season as he was used a relief pitcher in college. He's quieted a lot of doubters with his performance so far. At the High-A level, he has been a dominant pitcher and he should make his way to Double-A at some point in the second half. Besides Romero, Jay made the biggest jump of any player on my top prospect list but most of this was because of the unknown surrounding him at the season's start.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
Drafting a college relief pitcher and turning him into a starter is no easy feat. There is plenty for Jay still to prove but he's on the right path and trending upwards. He could and should be the team's top overall prospect heading into next season with Kepler and Berrios likely graduating off this list.

2. Max Kepler, OF- Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (23 years old)
Kepler has been in the big leagues twice this season but he has yet to find his groove. After being named the MVP of the Southern League last season, Kepler made a lot of people notice his talent. He's combined to play around 50 games at levels higher than Double-A so there is still time for him to develop. Even though those numbers haven't been there yet at the big league level, he takes good at-bats and is a mature hitter. There's a good chance that he can be an above average player for years to come.

Ceiling: All-Star outfielder
Kepler continues to improve at the big league level and most fans probably took notice of him with his walk-off home run on Sunday afternoon. He takes very good at-bats and his walk rate is very impressive for a rookie. Last week, Seth named Kepler as his top prospect in his Midseason Top 40 list but it's about preference at this point.

1. Jose Berrios, RHP- Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins (22 years old)
His first taste of the big leagues was a little rough but he's getting back on track for Rochester. Berrios should be a Twins rotation staple for the better part of the next decade. Control had been his calling card in recent years but he's struggled with control this season. If he can find his command, he will likely spend the second half of this season with the big league club.

Ceiling: Frontline starter
Minnesota's starters have been bad so it seems like only a matter of time before Berrios gets another opportunity. He's the first of a core of young pitchers that should debut in the coming years. The Twins organization is desperate for a pitcher to join the rotation and take the league by storm. Berrios has the opportunity to do this.

Who would you put at the top of prospect list? Should Kiriloff be ranked higher, lower, or stay right about where he is? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Redrafting Five First Round Picks

Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski- USA Today Sports
What if?...

This one question can spur endless conversation among sports fans. What if the Timberwolves had drafted Steph Curry? What if Gary Anderson didn't miss the game winning kick? What if the Twins had made different draft picks in the last decade?

Major League Baseball's drafting process is a very different animal compared to other major sports leagues like the NFL and the NBA. In the other leagues, the players being drafted can be playing the very next season and making a major contribution. In the baseball world, this isn't the case as it can take years for talent from a specific draft pool to make their big league debuts.

Here are a few ground rules for this post:
  • I was limited to taking players selected after the Twins drafted their player.
  • This was assuming every pick before the Twins followed the same order.
  • I start with the 2011 Draft because most players from the 2012 Draft, like Byron Buxton, are just beginning their MLB careers.
  • In a true redraft, the players on this list would obviously be gone long before the Twins made their pick
In hindsight, there would have been plenty of changes to the draft but here's who the Twins should have taken each year.

Minnesota's Pick: Levi Michael, SS (30th overall)
Redraft Pick: Jackie Bradley, Boston Red Sox (40th overall)
The Twins hoped Michael's college success could translate to a strong professional career but he has developed into an organizational depth player. He might get a cup of coffee at the big league level but that would probably be the end of it. Bradley is developing into a core member of a young Red Sox squad that is trending upwards. Minnesota has other young prospects playing in the outfield like Max Kepler and Miguel Sano but Bradley would be another piece to add to the mix.

Minnesota's Pick: Alex Wimmers, RHP (21st overall)
Redraft Pick: Noah Syndergaard, Toronto Blue Jays (38th overall)
Minnesota missed out in this draft as the team took a college starter for the second straight year. Wimmers has never panned out in the minors and there were some other strong names left on the board. Christian Yelich was taken by the Marlins two picks after Wimmers. Taijuan Walker was selected at the end of the first round by the Mariners. However, the player the Twins missed out on was Noah Syndergaard as he dropped all the way to the Blue Jays with the 38th overall pick. Syndergaard looks more and more like he will develop into a very strong piece of the Mets rotation. Young pitching is valuable and Minnesota swung and missed like most players do on a Syndergaard fastball.

Minnesota's Pick: Kyle Gibson, RHP (22nd overall)
Redraft Pick: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (25th overall)
Almost every MLB team wishes they had a shot to redraft this first round. Mike Trout, one of the top players in the game, fell to the Angels with the 25th pick. Stephen Strasburg was a solid number one pick but any team would give up a lot to have Trout in the line-up on a daily basis. Gibson fell to the Twins after an injury late in college scared some team's away. He was also on the fast track to the big leagues before Tommy John surgery put him on the sidelines. Gibson could end up being a middle of the rotation starter but he definitely wouldn't be worth a Trout trade.

Minnesota's Pick: Aaron Hicks, OF (14th overall)
Redraft Pick: Jake Odorizzi, Milwaukee Brewers (32nd overall)
At the time, Hicks was a strong pick with plenty of upside. However, his flaws as a player have come to the surface during his big league career. His defense can be amazing but it doesn't look like he will be a consistent hitter at baseball's highest level. Minnesota took three players (Hicks, Carlos Gutierrez, and Shooter Hunter) before Jake Odorizzi came off the board at pick number 32. Odorizzi has turned into a solid starter for the Rays and he would be a welcome addition in the Twins current rotation. Overall, the 2008 first round has been rough with Buster Posey being the lone star.

Minnesota's Pick: Ben Revere, OF (28th overall)
Redraft Pick: Josh Donaldson, Chicago Cubs (48th overall)
The Twins liked Revere's athleticism and speed so they took him one pick after the Tigers selected Rick Porcello. Todd Frazier was taken five picks after Revere but the biggest miss might have been passing on last year's American League MVP. Donaldson's career WAR only trails David Price, Madison Bumgarner, and Jason Heyward from the 2007 first round. There are plenty of other team's that passed on Donaldson but he could be a difference maker at third base for the Twins.

Here's how Minnesota's line-up could look with the moves made above:
1. Jackie Bradley Jr.- LF
2. Joe Mauer- 1B
3. Mike Trout- CF
4. Josh Donaldson- 3B
5. Miguel Sano- RF
6. Eduardo Nunez- SS
7. Brian Dozier- 2B
8. Byung Ho Park- DH
9. Kurt Suzuki- C

Starting Rotation
1. Noah Syndergaard
2. Jake Odorizzi
3. Ervin Santana
4. Tyler Duffey
5. Pat Dean

What are your thoughts? Who would you have taken? How could Byron Buxton fit into this crowded line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (6/7): Hurlbut Hurls Gem

The Lookouts are under .500 this season but that hasn't stopped the club from having some strong individual performances. The Southern League announced the 2016 All-Star Team and the initial roster features five Lookouts players including starting pitcher DJ Baxendale, relief pitcher Trevor Hildenberger, catcher Mitch Garver, outfielder Travis Harrison, and designated hitter Daniel Palka.

Cedar Rapids is hosting the Midwest League All-Star Game and both squad's initial rosters were also released on Tuesday. The Kernels have three players on the roster including starting pitcher Sam Clay, second baseman Luis Arraez, and outfielder LaMonte Wade.

Would any of these newly named All-Stars play a role in Tuesday night's contests? Read on to find out.

Rochester 5, Buffalo 2
The Red Wings were out hit 12 to 8 but two big home runs put Rochester on top. Both of the team's home runs came from the bottom of the order. Adam Brett Walker smacked his 12th home run of the season and scored two of the team's runs. John Ryan Murphy went 1-for-3 with his first home run since being demoted to Rochester. Eddie Rosario collected his ninth double and Jorge Polanco went 2-for-4. 

Rochester faced a familiar foe on Tuesday as Scott Diamond started for Buffalo and allowed five runs including two home runs mentioned above. Logan Darnell matched Diamond with 6.1 innings but he was able to get out of multiple jams. He allowed 10 hits but held the Bison to two runs. Marcus Walden and Sean Burnett put up zeros across the last 2.2 innings. It was the first save for Burnett since joining Rochester. 

With the win, the Red Wings improved to 9 games over .500 at 34-25. That record is good enough for first place in the International League North by two games over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. This marked the fifth win in the team's last six games.

Chattanooga 6, Jacksonville 1
Box Score
The Lookouts found themselves 1-1 barn-burner before plating multiple runs in two of the team's last three trips to the plate. Four players had multi-hit efforts including recently named All-Stars Daniel Palka and Mitch Garver as both went 2-for-4 with each batter scoring a pair of runs. Palka hustled around for his second triple of the year. DJ Hicks had three hits including a double and Engelb Vielma drove in a run to join the multi-hit parade. 

David Hurlbut improved to 4-3 after pitching seven strong innings. He allowed one earned run on six hits while striking out five with no walks. It was the first time he made it through seven frames since the middle of last month (5/16/2016). Omar Bencomo earned an unconventional save as he tossed two frames but walked three and struck out four.

Chattanooga is now two games under .500 with a 28-30 record. This puts them 9.5 games behind the Jackson Generals for first place in the Southern League North. Their first half elimination number is now four so they might need to focus on making a playoff push in the second half.

Cedar Rapids 11, Kane County 5
Box Score
On the day he was named to the Midwest League All-Star Game, Sam Clay took the mound for the Kernels. He wouldn't need to be perfect on this night to pick up the win. He tossed five innings and allowed three runs on five hits while striking out three and walking three. It was his first win since 5/13/2016 but it was only he second start all season where he allowed more than one earned run.

The Kernels offense provided plenty of support of Clay. Sean Miller went 4-for-5 with his eighth double while driving in a pair of runs. Jermaine Palacios scored two runs and collected two RBI as part of a multi-hit night. Every batter in the Kernels' line-up reached base at least once as the team had 17 chances to bat with runners in scoring position. The team was pretty successful as only five runners were left on base.

Williams Ramirez did great in relief as he pitched two scoreless frames and struck out four. Michael Theofanopoulos struck out the side in the eighth but gave up a solo home run. Sam Gibbons pitched a perfect ninth while striking out two. Out of the 13 pitches thrown by Gibbons, nine were for strikes.

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- David Hurlbut, Chattanooga Lookouts
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Sean Miller, Cedar Rapids Kernels

Rochester @ Buffalo (6:05 CST)- LHP Tommy Milone (3-0, 2.08 ERA)
Chattanooga vs. Jacksonville (6:15 CST)- RHP Aaron Slegers (2-4, 3.84 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Brevard County (5:35 CST)- LHP Tyler Jay (4-4, 2.44 ERA)
Cedar Rapids vs. Kane County (6:35 CST)- RHP Fernando Romero (3-0, 1.69 ERA)

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