Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (5/31): Jay Simply Dominates

Tuesday was a roster movement day in the Twins system. The move most of Twins Territory will focus on is top-prospect Byron Buxton being recalled by the big league club. Buxton had been destroying the baseball at Triple-A and a hamstring injury to Danny Santana opened a roster spot.

At Rochester, Buxton's roster space was filled by left-handed pitcher Dan Runzler who had been on the DL. One of the team's other top prospects, Kohl Stewart was also promoted from Fort Myers to Chattanooga. The Miracle also sent outfielder Austin Diemer to extended spring training.

Fort Myers filled their roster by adding right-handed pitcher Luke Bard from Chattanooga and right-handed pitcher Randy LeBlanc from Cedar Rapids. Left-handed reliever Cam Booser was also activated by Cedar Rapids

Would any of these new faces make an impact in their new places? You'll have to read on to find out.
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 3, Indianapolis 9
The suddenly Buxton-less Red Wings line-up had to search out other options to fill his offensive void. Eddie Rosario hit his first Triple-A home run of the season as part of a two-hit night. Buck Britton and Wilfredo Tovar joined Rosario in the multi-hit category and Tovar swiped a pair of bases. His 16 steals were tied with the league leaders in the International League as play started on Tuesday. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco both cracked their fourth double of the season.

Jose Berrios had dominated Triple-A all season so maybe it was time for a clunker. He pitched five innings and allowed seven runs on 10 hits. He struck out six and walked two. Out of his 86 pitches, 58 were for strikes and he surrendered two home runs. David Martinez finished out the last three innings by allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. 

The loss dropped the Red Wings to 29-23 as they sit a half game behind the Scranton/WB RailRiders for first place in the International League North. In the last week, Rochester has played Indianapolis five times and lost three of those games. 

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 10, Birmingham 6
Box Score
The Lookouts found themselves in the midst of back-and-forth contest where either squad could have come out on top. DJ Hicks had a solid night at the plate as he went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored. Travis Harrison and Leonardo Reginatto both collected triples as part of a multi-hit evening. Mitch Garver scored two runs and drove in another run and Stuart Turner finished 2-for-4. 

D.J. Baxendale started and allowed five runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts. Corey Williams kept the team in the game by only allowing one batter to reach base in 1.2 innings while striking out two. Mason Melotakis gave up a solo home run as the Lookout lead shrunk to one run. Trevor Hildenberger pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to close out the game.

With the win, Chattanooga improved to 23-28 as they have won four of their last six games. The Jackson Generals have jumped out to an 8.5 game lead in the Southern League North. The Lookouts currently sit 10 games out of first place. 

MIRACLE MATTERS
Ft. Myers 4, St. Lucie 0
Box Score
Tyler Jay was simply dominant on this night. For the second straight start, he set a career-high in strikeouts and he collected double digits in strikeouts for the first time. Jay threw 98 pitches (73 strikes) across eight shutout innings. He struck out 11 and walked one while limiting the Mets to two hits that were both singles. Yorman Landa finished out the ninth to complete the shutout as the two pitchers faced one batter over the minimum.

Fort Myers wasted little time jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning to support Jay. Most of the damage was done as Alex Real walked with two out to put runners on first and second. Edgar Corcino tripled to drive in the first two runs. Chris Paul followed this with a single to cap off the inning and put the Miracle up for good. 

Every hitter in the line-up reached base with the exception of Trey Vavra. Engelb Vielma and Tanner Witt both reached base three times. Witt drove in the team's fourth run and Vielma stole his first base. Paul finished the night 2-for-4. The win ended a three-game losing streak for Fort Myers. 

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 1, Beloit 2 (10 Innings)
Box Score
In his last start, Sam Clay got beat up and didn't make it out of the third inning. A very different pitcher took the mound on Tuesday night. Clay pitched seven shutout innings by allowing one hit and striking out eight. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and his seven scoreless innings were a career-high. In two of his last three starts, he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or less.

The rest of the Kernels pitching staff wouldn't be so lucky. Sam Gibbons had to wiggle out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning before leaving the tying run at second. Williams Ramirez wasn't as lucky as he allowed the tying run, his first earned run of the season, to score in the bottom of the ninth. In his first appearance with the club, Cam :Booser took the loss as he was only able to record one out in the tenth.

Cedar Rapids went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and the club couldn't manage a single extra-base hit. Sean Miller collected three of the team's eight hits and the only RBI. Nelson Molina went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Alex Perez reached base twice out of the lead-off spot.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Tyler Jay, Fort Myers Miracle 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- DJ Hicks, Chattanooga Lookouts
WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Indianapolis (12:35 CST)- LHP Logan Darnell (5-4, 3.74 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Birmingham (12:30 CST)- LHP Nick Greenwood (2-1, 4.50 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. St. Lucie (6:05 CST)- RHP Keaton Steele (1-4, 4.03 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (7:00 CST)- RHP Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.90 ERA)

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

Monday, May 30, 2016

David Ortiz: A Minnesota Retrospective

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
David Ortiz will always have a lasting place in Twins lore. He's the "one that got away for nothing" before becoming a legend in Boston. Ortiz is likely on his way to the Hall of Fame and the Twins released him. Even Terry Ryan has admitted that letting the slugger go was a "mistake."

Boston is making their lone 2016 trek to Target Field next week and Ortiz is planning on retiring at season's end. This means he will be making his final appearance in Minnesota, the place where he made his big league debut.

The Twins weren't the only team to give up on Ortiz before he reached his full potential. Around Thanksgiving in 1992, Ortiz was signed as an amateur free agent by the Seattle Mariners. He'd play three seasons in the Mariners system and he hit 18 home runs in the Midwest League as a 20-year old.

Minnesota liked what they saw in Ortiz and he was dealt from Seattle as a player to be named later in a trade for Dave Hollins. He would fly through Minnesota's three highest minor league levels during the next season and he even made his debut by season's end. In 140 minor league games, he cracked 31 home runs, drove in 124, and posted a .940 OPS. He's was only 21-years old and it looked like he might be one of the players to help turn around Minnesota's losing ways.

Prior to the 1998 season, Baseball America ranked him as the 84th best prospect in the game. It was the only time he would be featured on their prospect list. During that season, he was limited to 97 games but 86 of those games came at the big league level. He combined to hit .277/.371/.446 with 29 extra-base hits but he struck out in over a 25% of his at-bats.

Minnesota couldn't find a place for Ortiz in the 1999 line-up as he played all but 10 games at the Triple-A level. Keep in mind, the 1998 Twins were on their way to finishing with a 63-97 record and their leading home run hitter was Ron Coomer. Meanwhile at Triple-A, Ortiz slugged 30 home runs and 35 double while posting a .315/.412/.590 batting line.

As the calendar turned to a new century, Ortiz was given his first full season of MLB action. He posted a .810 OPS with 47 extra-base hits. He finished second on the team in doubles, third in OPS, and he was one of four Twins to hit double-digit home runs.

Things started changing in 2001. Ortiz was hurt again for a chunk of the season as he was limited to 89 games. Even with the limited number of games, he was able to hit 18 home runs and 17 doubles. However, the Twins were looking for Ortiz to have a breakout season and he hadn't been able to do that up to that point.

2002 would be the final season for Ortiz in Minnesota. He put up very respectable numbers as he collected 20 home runs for the first time in his career and hit .272/.339/.500. The Twins won 94 games and made it all the way to the ALCS before falling to the eventual World Series Champions, the Angels. Ortiz hit .313 in that ALCS with a pair of RBI but it wasn't enough.

Minnesota entered the off-season at an interesting point in their franchise. They were on the brink of a string of six division titles in nine seasons. Ortiz was eligible for arbitration and would likely get a bump in pay to around $2 million. Matt LeCroy, a former first round pick, was a much cheaper option at designated hitter. The club also had Doug Mientkiewicz at first base and budding first base prospect Justin Morneau. Oritz was getting pushed out by other options.

The Twins still needed to be contentious of how they were spending their money and Ortiz was getting expensive. He had yet to produce a breakout season at the big league level and there had been some injury concerns in the past. It was the cheap choice but that's where the Twins were at in the Metrodome era.

Boston would sign Ortiz for $1.25 million, a figure that was almost half of what he would have made in arbitration. The Red Sox took a flyer on him and it was a franchise altering move. He has gone on to win multiple World Series rings and was a vital reason the Red Sox were able to break their championship drought. After nine All-Star Game appearances and six Silver Slugger Awards, Ortiz is a legend.

It was a mistake and you'd be tough pressed to find anyone that didn't come to the same conclusion. Every team has skeletons in their closet but the Ortiz decision will live on in Twins Territory for years to come.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (5/24): Jay Sets Career Mark

Baseball's rich history is something that draws fans to the game. Records are meant to be set and records are meant to be broken. That's all part of the game.

There were a few records on the line as Tuesday's action got underway. Randy LeBlanc entered his start with the Kernels in the midst of an impressive scoreless streak. He hadn't allowed a run in 28 innings before taking the mound tonight. Tyler Jay has also been improving for Fort Myers and he would do something that he had never done before.

Would LeBlanc's streak continue? What kind of record could Jay set? Read on to find out.
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson-Captive Photons
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 3, Indianapolis 4
Roster Moves: Left-handed pitcher Sean Burnett was signed by Minnesota and assigned to Rochester. Infielder Jorge Polanco was optioned to Rochester. Outfielder Max Kepler and left-handed pitcher Dan Runzler were placed on the disabled list. Kepler has a left groin strain and Runzler has a right oblique strain.

Rochester tried to rally late in this game but they didn't have enough steam left to get it done. Byron Buxton had given the Wings an early 1-0 lead with his fourth home run of the season. Kennys Vargas walked twice in two appearances and also cranked his seventh home run. His 26 walks were tied with Richie Shaffer for the league lead coming into play on Tuesday. Jorge Polanco collected his fourth triple and trails Max Kepler by two for the league lead. 

Andrew Albers was tagged for three runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks. It was his first loss since rejoining the Red Wings. Marcus Walden allowed one earned run on two hits. Sean Burnett made his Rochester debut and allowed one base runner on a walk while striking out one. 

The Red Wings drop to 25-20 with the loss and it was only the team's second loss in their last seven contests. Rochester is a half game back in the International League North Division as Scranton/WB has played one more game than the Wings and got a win. 

MIRACLE MATTERS
Ft. Myers 1, Palm Beach 3
Fort Myers took an early 1-0 in the first inning and they managed to do this without getting a hit. Logan Wade started the frame with a walk before advancing to second on a deep fly-out. The next batter was Nick Gordon and he grounded to the shortstop who bobbled the ball and Wade was waved around to score the team's only run. Chris Paul went 3-for-5 and Wade reached base three times including the team's only extra-base hit, a double. 

Tyler Jay struck out a career-high eight batters as the Miracle combined to collect a season high 14 strikeouts. Jay went five frames and scattered six hits on his way to allowing a pair of earned runs. Brandon Peterson allowed one run but struck out four in two innings. Yorman Landa and Todd Van Steensel finished the final two frames by putting zeros on the board. 

The Miracle dropped to 24-22 after leaving 11 men on base and going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Fort Myers has struggled over the last week as they have lost six of their last eight games. Even with the recent struggles, the Florida State League South is a mess as every team is within three games of first place.  

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 4, Burlington 1 
Box Score
The streak was bound to end but Randy LeBlanc did his best to stretch it as far as the Bees would allow it to go. LeBlanc saw his scoreless streak stretched to 34 innings before the Bees pushed across a run. He finished the night by allowing one run in seven innings with three strikeouts. He's the first Midwest League pitcher to reach six wins. Anthony McIver earned his first save, a two inning version, with five strikeouts. 

Brian Olson and Nelson Molina both had multi-hit nights with each player collecting a double. The Kernels had five doubles on the night with Luis Arraez, Daniel Kihle, and Sean Miller collecting the other three. Monday's walk-off hero Zander Wiel went 1-for-3 while Jermaine Palacios hit his first triple of the season. 

Cedar Rapids improves to eight games above .500 with the win as they have a two game edge on the Clinton LumberKings for the top spot in the Midwest League Western Division. The Kernels have won six of their last seven games.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Randy LeBlanc, Cedar Rapids Kernels 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Kennys Vargas, Rochester Red Wings

WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Indianapolis (6:05 CST)- LHP Jason Wheeler (2-1, 1.65 ERA)
Chattanooga vs. Tenessee (6:15 CST)- RHP D.J. Baxendale (3-5, 3.11 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. Palm Beach (6:05 CST)- RHP Keaton Steele (1-4, 4.31 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Burlington (6:30 CST)- LHP Sam Clay (3-1, 1.10 ERA)

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Deterioration of Kevin Jepsen

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn- USA Today Sports
In the midst of a surprise playoff push last season, the Twins dealt two minor league players including one of the team's top-20 prospects for some relief help. Kevin Jepsen had playoff experience during his time in Los Angeles and he had been productive with Tampa Bay. There was an extra year of team control attached to Jepsen so Minnesota brought him into the fold.

His first 29 appearances with the Twins were very good. He posted a 1.61 ERA and a 25 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio while picking up 10 saves. It might have been the best stretch of pitching in his big league career. More importantly, he was doing this at a time when the Twins were fighting for the playoffs and Glen Perkins was trying to pitch through an injury before being shutdown for the year.

The 2016 season has seen a very different Jepsen in a Twins uniform. His ERA is north of 5.00 and he's never posted a season ERA that high in any season where he's thrown more than 15 innings. His already surrendered four home runs which is tied for the second most he has ever allowed in a season.

It's clear that something isn't clicking for Mr. Jepsen.

Over the last two seasons, Jepsen has been used a lot. From 2014 through 2015, the only AL pitcher with more than Jepsen's 149 appearances is Bryan Shaw (154 appearances). Jepsen lead AL pitchers in appearances in 2015. He will turn 32 later this summer so there could be a lethal combination of innings adding up with his age.

One of the biggest changes this season might be Jepsen's ability use his fastball effectively. Opponents are hitting .300/.338/.583 off his fastball after posting a measly .546 OPS in 2015. His fastball velocity has also been declining over the last three seasons. During the 2014 campaign, his average velocity stay at 95 mph or higher for nearly every appearance. This season he's been limited to two outings where the average velocity on his fastball was 95 mph.

Jepsen's curveball has been his most effective pitch for striking out batters throughout his career. However, this season there have been limited opportunities to use this pitch because he can't get ahead of batters early in the count. His SO/9 rate is 8.4 for his career and that number has dropped to 6.2 so far this year.

Minnesota's bullpen needs help and the struggles are not limited to Jepsen. The plan was for Trevor May, Jepsen, and Perkins to be a relief pitching trio that could bridge the gap from the starter to the end of the game. That plan hasn't worked yet and it isn't all Jepsen's fault.

Closers get a lot of focus because of the big leverage outs they are asked to get. Jepsen has not been the same pitcher this season and Twins Territory is frustrated with the way this season has started. In the end, Jepsen is going to need to find what life is left in his right arm to show he can continue to be a late inning pitcher.

Otherwise, he might become the fan's punching bag as the losses continue to mount.

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
RED WINGS REPORT
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 CHATTER
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.

MIRACLE MATTERS
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.

KERNELS NUGGETS
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 PLAYERS OF THE DAY
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

FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS
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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (5/17): Jay Keeps Rolling

Baseball is a game of streaks. Hitting streaks, winning streaks, and a pile of other streaks are all part of the game. After taking their last four games, the Lookouts entered play on Tuesday with their longest winning streak since last August. Tyler Jay was on the mound for Fort Myers and he hadn't given up a run in his last two appearances while lowering his ERA close to 3.00.

Would either of these streaks continue on Tuesday? You'll have to read on to find out.
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson- Captive Photons
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 9, Charlotte 3
Rochester's offense exploded for seven runs in the first four frames as the team collected 12 hits in the game. Every batter in the line-up had a hit with the exception of Max Kepler. Tommy Field led the way with a pair of home runs while finishing 3-for-4 with four RBI. Kennys Vargas belted his fifth home run of the season as part of a multi-hit effort. Stephen Wickens also joined the home run party with a solo-shot in the third.

Andrew Albers improved to 2-0 as he was able to pitch comfortably with a lead for six innings. He worked out of a few jams as he allowed 10 hits but limited the Knights to three earned runs. He struck out three and walked one. J.T Chargois was asked to get five outs and he did so by striking out five batters. Buddy Boshers and Dan Runzler each added zeros to the scoreboard during their appearances.

The Red Wings continue to hover around the .500 mark and now sit at 21-18 after winning three of their last four games. Few teams are gaining much separation in the International League North as Rochester is one of three teams tied for the top spot and no team is more than three games out of first.

Roster Moves: Outfielder Robbie Grossman was signed by Minnesota and assigned to Rochester. Right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios was optioned to Rochester. In a corresponding move, left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers was recalled by Minnesota

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 7, Biloxi 9
Box Score
The Lookouts tried their best to keep their winning streak alive but an early five-run deficit was too much to overcome. Aaron Slegers got hit around for seven runs on nine hits including two long balls. He struck out three and walked two on the way to his fourth loss. Luke Westphal was called on and allowed two earned runs in three frames. Mason Melotakis and Mike Strong finished the last two innings without allowing a run but they combined to walk three without a strikeout. 

Zach Granite's speed was on full display in this contest as he reached base three times including a triple and his 17th stolen base. Joe Maloney went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Travis Harrison didn't collect a hit but he did get walked three times. Daniel Palka was the only player on the team not to reach base in the game. 

The loss drops the Lookouts to 18-21 which is good enough for third place in the Southern League North. They are five games behind the Jackson Generals for the top spot. Chattanooga has still won seven of their last 11 and they have a quick turn-around with any early Wednesday game.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Ft. Myers 0, Dunedin 4
Fort Myers was held to three hits as the Blue Jays cruised to an easy 4-0 shutout. Tanner Witt and Edgar Corcino both went 1-for-4 with a double but neither man made it around to score. Austin Diemer had the team's other hit, a single. Overall, the team left four runners on base and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Tyler Jay suffered his third loss but he still pitched well. Over six innings of work, he allowed one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. In his last three starts, he has pitched 19.1 innings and only allowed one earned run while striking out 19. John Curtiss gave up three runs in his inning of work to add to the Dunedin lead. Luke Bard struck out two in the eighth frame.

With the loss, the Miracle dropped to 22-17 on the season. This was the team's third loss in the last five games but the club still sits atop the standings in the Florida State League South.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 3, Beloit 5
Box Score
The Kernels found themselves in an early 3-0 hole and they spent most of the game trying to dig their way out. Cody Stashak started for Cedar Rapids and was charged with three earned runs over six innings. He struck out two and walked none. It was the fourth straight start where he has pitched into the sixth frame while allowing two earned runs or less. Sam Gibbons surrendered two earned runs as he walked three across two innings. Michael Cederoth struck out two in a perfect ninth.

Cedar Rapids went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base. Daniel Kihle was the only batter with more than one hit. He finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs scored. J.J. Fernandez had the team's only extra base hit, a double, but he also struck out three times. LaMonte Wade reached base three times in four plate appearances.

Following the loss, the Kernels dropped to 20-17 and sit two games back of Clinton for the top spot in the Midwest League Western Division. The Snappers are only one game behind the Kernels so tomorrow's game is a big one and Cedar Rapids send Randy LeBlanc and his 0.90 ERA to the mound.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Tyler Jay, Fort Myers Miracle 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Tommy Field, Rochester Red Wings

WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Charlotte (6:05 CST)- RHP David Martinez (1-3, 5.14 ERA)
Chattanooga vs. Biloxi (10:15 am CST)- RHP Ryan Eades (2-2, 5.00 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Dunedin (5:30 CST)- RHP Keaton Steele (1-3, 4.01 ERA)
Cedar Rapids vs. Beloit (6:35 CST)- RHP Randy LeBlanc (4-2, 0.90 ERA)

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Torii Hunter Hangover

Photo Credit: Marilyn Indahl- USA Today Sports
When a team starts out as poorly as the Twins have this season, fans are going to be left searching for answers. Is this Terry Ryan's fault for not having a better roster? Are the minor league coaches to blame for not preparing the team's top prospects? Or is there a much simpler answer?

Over the last week, there has been plenty of discussion about Torii Hunter not being on the current Twins squad. Even national baseball writers have noticed and wondered if Hunter could make a difference in turning this team around. Hunter himself has said that the Twins' "are kind of going through the motions."

For years fans of this club have engaged in endless discussion about who the clubhouse leader is with Hunter not on the roster. Joe Mauer's quiet demeanor doesn't demand everyone's attention. Some players might react better to more subtle leadership compared to Hunter's boisterous attitude. Players like Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins have taken on leadership roles but it's not quite the same as with Hunter.

This isn't the first team to struggle a year after Hunter left. There's been an interesting trend in regards to team's Hunter has been on and the club's results in the season following his departure.

Los Angeles Angels Era (2008-2012)
The Angels were a playoff team the year before Hunter signed with them as a free agent but they were easily swept out of the first round by Boston. In Hunter's first LA season, the team improved from 94 wins to 100 wins, the only team in franchise history to reach the century mark. The Angeles lost to the Red Sox again in 2008 before making the ALCS in 2009 and losing to the Yankees. That was the last year Los Angeles won a playoff series. Hunter's last year in LA was 2012 when the club went 89-73 and finished five games out of first place. The season after he left was even worse as the club dropped to 78-84. The Angels finished 18 games out of first which was their worst mark since 2003.

Detroit Tigers Time (2013-2014)
Hunter moved on from Los Angeles and came back to the AL Central in 2013. The Tigers were coming off a World Series sweep the year prior to signing Hunter. Detroit jumped from 88 wins in 2012 to 93 wins with Hunter in the line-up. That club made it to the ALCS before falling to the Red Sox in six game. Detroit's 90 wins topped the AL Central again in 2014 but they were swept by Baltimore in the ALDS. The club took a big step backwards during their first year without Hunter and finished 74-87 (20.5 games behind Kansas City).

Minnesota Twins Homecoming (2015)
Minnesota brought Hunter back last year on the heels of four straight 90-loss seasons. Some questioned the move since it didn't seem like the Twins were in a position to start winning now. The Twins proved plenty of doubters wrong as the team wasn't eliminated from playoff contention until the final weekend of the season. Minnesota also improved from 70 wins in 2014 to 83 wins. His play on the field wasn't leading to wins but his off the field leadership might have kept moral a little higher. It's hard to argue with results as the Twins struggled to get to double-digits wins by the middle of May.

All three of Hunter's clubs have struggled in the year after he left. Los Angeles won 11 fewer games, Detroit fell by 16 games, and Minnesota seems destined for another 90 losses. Can one player make that much of a difference?

There's no way to quantify what a player's off-field contributions are to a team. A lot of this leadership happens behind closed doors and out of the earshot of local media members. From dance parties to firing guys up in the clubhouse, Hunter made his mark on this franchise but he certainly couldn't get the current squad into playoff contention by himself.

Hunter has been the heart and soul of this organization during his two Minnesota stints but there isn't a simple solution to fix the 2016 Twins because there are plenty of other things wrong with this team. Pitchers need to pitch better and batters need to break out of their slumps. Baseball is a game of adjustments and this club hasn't made the right adjustments yet.

No amount of dance parties is going to fix those issues.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What Could The Twins Trade For Trout?

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel- USA Today Sports
The craziest rumor has been swirling around the baseball world... What if the Angels considered trading Mike Trout?

By many accounts, Trout has been the best player in the baseball world since his rookie campaign. His first full season was 2012 and during that time he has the highest fWAR. It's not really all that close as Andrew McCutchen's 28.4 WAR is 11.5 point lower than Trout. He's used his five-tools to lead the league in a variety of categories and win multiple MVP awards but does it even make sense for Angels to part ways with a once-in-a-generation player.

To understand why this could be necessary, it's important to understand the current state of affairs in Los Angeles. The Angels are hurting with mounting injuries and they have a historically bad minor league system. Having the best player in the world doesn't help if a team isn't able to provide supporting pieces to make a postseason run. Los Angeles hasn't been in the playoffs since 2014 and they haven't won a playoff series since 2009. 

Minnesota's poor start to the season isn't exactly screaming that this club is ready to take a big step forward and make a playoff push. However, the Twins have one of the best farm systems in the game and this means they could put together quite the package to try and lure Los Angeles into at least considering a deal. 

Any deal for Trout would likely need to include many of the Twins best prospects. Coming into the 2016 season, Minnesota's top position player prospects included Byron Buxton, Nick Gordon, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. The team's best pitching prospects were Jose Berrios, Tyler Jay, Stephen Gonsalves, and Kohl Stewart. 

For the Twins to make this kind of move, it would likely take five, six, or even seven of these players. The club has a lot already invested in each of these men as they get closer to becoming big league regulars. This core of young talent is supposed to change a losing culture back into this organization's winning ways.

Trout is a superstar player and he can make a huge difference on the field but he can't play all nine positions at once. He is under contract through 2020 when he will be 28-years old. The scary thing could be that he might still be getting better as he gets closer to his prime and this would only add more value to his current contract. 

The Twins don't look like they are in a position to win this season. Trading away the organization's top prospects would be bargaining away the future with no guarantee that Trout would bring winning baseball back to Minnesota. In fact, Trout coming to Minnesota might be a worse situation for him than his current club unless the Twins were to overhaul their roster. That would be tough to do with a chunk of the farm system dealt for Trout. 

At this point, a deal for Trout might be a pipe dream as the Angels' GM came out and said that Trout isn't going anywhere. "We have not intent or desire to consider moving Mike Trout -- he's not moving," said Billy Eppler told Fox Sports. "He's an impact player, a huge piece in a championship core."

If you are sitting in Terry Ryan's chair, what kind of offer would you put on the table? Would it be worth betting the future for the best player in the game? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (5/10): Kepler, Buxton Rock Rochester

Byron Buxton and Max Kepler were demoted to Rochester while the organization hoped for them to play everyday and start to build some confidence on the offensive side of the ball. Buxton has been on quite the offensive stretch as he entered play on Tuesday hitting .352/.421/.676 so far in the month of May. This includes three home runs and a pair of doubles.

Kepler's time in Rochester hadn't been as bold as Buxton. Since leaving Minnesota, he has hit .196/.300/.333 with four extra-base hits and six strikeouts. He has coaxed eight walks but his other offensive numbers are a little lower than most would like to see.

Would Buxton continue his hot hitting? Could Kepler break out of his cold streak? Keep reading to find out.
Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 9, Gwinnett 3
Byron Buxton had multiple hits for the second consecutive game. It was his sixth time in the last nine game that he has more than one hit. Max Kepler had a three hit night and reached base in four of his five at-bats. Kennys Vargas walked four time including twice in the team's huge seven-run fourth inning. Stephen Wickens was the only Red Wings player that didn't reach base and he struck out three times.

Tommy Milone made his first appearance in Rochester after starting the season in the Twins rotation. He pitched into the sixth before running into a little bit of a jam and turning things over to the bullpen. Milone struck out five, walked none, and was charged with one earned run. J.T. Chargois made his Triple-A debut by striking out two and allowing a two-run double. Marcus Walden and Ryan O'Rourke didn't allow a base runner in the last 2.2 innings.

It was the fourth straight win for the Red Wings. James Beresford extended his on-base streak to 13 games. Rochester is now a game over .500 (17-16) and three games out of first in the International League North.
CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 9, Pensacola 10 (11 Innings)
Box Score
In a crazy, back-and-forth game, the Lookouts had to score seven runs in the final three frames to comeback and force extra-innings. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Walker singled to center. During the next at-bat, he stole second and the catcher threw the ball away. This allowed Walker to scamper all the way home and score the tying run. Walker had already scored an important run in the eighth inning after leading off the frame with a single.

Chattanooga outhit the Blue Wahoos 18-14 but Pensacola cracked five home runs. Travis Harrison went 4-for-5 with a walk but he failed to collect an extra-base hit. DJ Hick drove in two as part of a three hit night. Leonardo Reginatto went 3-for-6 with his seventh double.

Nick Greenwood started and allowed five earned runs on nine hits including two home runs. Corey Williams relieved Greenwood and didn't fare much better as he was charged with three earned runs. Jake Reed had a roller coaster ride as he struck out three and walked three in two inning of work but only allowed one hit and one run.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Ft. Myers 2, Bradenton 6
The score might make the game look closer than it was as the Miracle were outhit 13 to 3 in this one. Kohl Stewart surrendered seven of the 13 hits as he collected an out in the seventh inning for the first time this year. He was charged with three runs, two earned, while striking out four and walking none across 6.1 inning but he left the game with his team up 2-1. Raul Fernandez finished the seventh and eighth as he allowed a solo home run. Yorman Landa struck out one and walked one as he gave up multiple earned runs for the first time this season.

Trey Vavra picked up his sixth double of the season and scored a run. Alex Real doubled and was one of two Miracle players to reach base twice. Max Murphy was the other player to reach twice and he drove in one of the team's two runs. Overall, the club went 1-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base.

With the loss, the Miracle drop to four games over .500 at 18-14. Over the club's last seven games, they are 5-2. Tomorrow night's game will be the third in this back-and-forth home-and-home series with Bradenton. Fort Myers is tied with Charlotte at the top of the Florida State League South.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 0, Kane County 2 (7 Innings)
Box Score
Because of rain, the Kernels were forced to push back Monday's game and play it as part of a double-header on Tuesday evening. Cody Stashak pitched into the sixth inning for the fourth consecutive start and he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs at any point during that stretch. In this game, he pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts. His ERA dropped to 1.95 on the season but he still took the loss. Michael Cederoth allowed one one hit and struck out a pair during his inning of work.

Offensively, there wasn't much to talk about. The Kernels reached base three times in the entire game. Luis Arraez went 1-for-3 out of the lead-off spot. LaMonte Wade is hitting .352 for the season after a 1-for-3 game. Catcher Rafael Valera drew the team's only walk. It's hard for any team to score runs when they only get two chances to bat with runners in scoring position.

Cedar Rapids 3, Kane County 2 (7 Innings)
Box Score
Miles Nordgren hadn't allowed an earned run in almost a month (April 17) but that streak came to an end on Tuesday. He still compiled quite the effort as he struck out nine and didn't walk any in five innings pitched. Two runs were scored against him but only one was earned. Michael Theofanopoulos was outstanding in relief as he struck out the side in the sixth.

After struggling for any hits in the first game of the night, the Kernels had double-digit hits. A.J. Murray was 3-for-3 with a double and his first triple of the season. With two hits in this game, Luis Arraez finished the night 3-for-7 with a double and an RBI. Brian Olson scored a pair of runs and reached base twice.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Miles Nordgren, Cedar Rapids Kernels 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Max Kepler, Rochester Red Wings

WEDNESDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester vs. Gwinnett (6:05 CST)- LHP Andrew Albers (0-0, 5.56 ERA)
Chattanooga vs. Pensacola (6:15 CST)- LHP David Hurlbut (2-1, 6.59 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:30 CST)- LHP Tyler Jay (2-2, 3.86 ERA)
Cedar Rapids vs. Kane County (12:05 CST)- RHP Randy LeBlanc (3-2, 1.16 ERA)

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Behold, The Power Of Park

Photo Credit: Denny Medley- USA Today Sports
There's been a lot of negativity surrounding the 2016 Minnesota Twins. Poor play on the field and mounting losses make it tough for the fanbase to get too excited about a team that seems to be heading for 90 losses four the fifth time in the last six seasons.

However, mixed in with all that negativity have been a few bright spots. Joe Mauer seems to be back to hitting like Joe Mauer. Jose Berrios has come up and held his own through his first few starts. But the biggest surprise of the season might be the hot start by Minnesota's biggest offseason acquisition, Byung-Ho Park.

Park entered play this weekend in the midst of a six-game hitting streak. That streak came to an end on Saturday after he was plunked on the knee with a Chris Sale slider. He was forced to be removed from the game but it was an impressive week of hitting from the rookie slugger.

In his first 10 MLB games, Park spent some time adjusting to pitching at the big league level. He hit .167/.268/.389 with four extra-base hits and a 15 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio. Over the next 14 games, Park found his groove and hit .348/.404/.761 with eight extra-base hits (five home runs). He also reduced his strikeout to walk ratio to 12 to 4.

The most impressive thing might be the fact that Park is seeing many of these pitchers for the first time. He is already making adjustments to the best pitchers in the game and the results have been impressive to say the least.

Some questioned whether Park's power would translate from Korea to the United States. MLB Statcast ranks Park in the top three in the American League for home run distance as his longest home run went 451.2 feet. In fact, Park has two of the top 40 longest home runs hit in all of baseball this season.


Park's heat map up to this point in the season shows why he has been effective. He takes advantage of pitches in the zone. His swing trajectory also helps him to go after pitches that are low and away while still making solid contact.  By examining his spray chart, it's easy to see that he is already comfortable using all parts of the field and his home runs have gone to all parts of the park.

Even with his slow start, Parks batting line is up to .256/.337/.570 and he leads the Twins with seven home runs (through play on Sunday). He does have 29 strikeouts across 98 plate appearances but those numbers were on the decline with his recent hot streak. The strikeouts were expected with his transition to the big leagues but the other numbers have to be more than the Twins could have hoped for.

Park leads all AL rookies in home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS while ranking near the top in many other categories. Prospects like Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Max Kepler get a lot of the hype but Park could end up being the recipient of the American League Rookie of the Year award.

If Park keeps up this pace for the rest of the season, the Twins will have gotten quite the steal from Korea. Even if he can't keep the pace going, he has still shown Twins Territory "The Power of Park."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Minnesota's Misuse of Meyer

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina- USA Today Sports
One start...

That's all Minnesota wanted to see from Alex Meyer before he was returned to Rochester. After making his first start at the big league level, the Twins decided that Meyer's performance wasn't good enough for a team floundering at 11 games under .500.

If you are reading this article and a frequent visitor to Twins Daily, you are likely a fan of the Twins organization. For those that have read my work before, you know I am a fan of the team and I follow the minor leagues and Twins prospects with a passion. However, I feel the Twins are misusing Meyer at this point in his career.

To paint the full picture, let's go back to Meyer's Minnesota origin.

The Twins traded for Meyer in the winter of 2012 as they sent Denard Span to the Nationals. Meyer was a year removed from being a first round pick after a three year collegiate career at the University of Kentucky. He's been a top-100 prospect on all three national prospect rankings (Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus) from 2013-15. Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the 14th best prospect as recently as 2015.

There have been plenty of bumps and bruises for Meyer as he has gotten closer to the big leagues. After being considered one of the top starting pitching prospects in the game, Meyer struggled so much last season that he was sent to the bullpen to try and improve his performance. As part of the transition, things didn't go perfect but he lowered his ERA and his SO/9 rate increased.

2016 was a new season and the Twins decided to give Meyer another chance to be a starter. He made three Triple-A appearances, two as a starter, and posted a 1.04 ERA with 19 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio. Opponents hit .183/.234/.217 against him as he only allowed two earned runs. This was a very small sample size but it was a step in the right direction after a miserable 2015.

Minnesota promoted Meyer to the majors on April 25, 2016 but he wouldn't appear in a game until April 29 as a relief pitcher. In his first outing, he allowed two earned runs on five hits. During his start on Tuesday, he pitched into the third inning and allowed three earned runs with four strikeouts and three walks. After the game, he was informed that he would be going back to Rochester.

For the second year in a row, the Twins let Meyer pitch in two big league games before demoting him.

There are a lot of factors that go into a player being on a big league roster and it could be that Meyer is being subject to a roster crunch at this point to fit Ervin Santana back into the rotation. Minnesota wants Meyer to continue to start and there doesn't seem to be a spot for him at the big league level.

From the player's perspective, it must be hard to be in Meyer's shoes. He was on a path to be a regular in the big leagues at this point in his career but that hasn't come to fruition. The Twins have shifted Meyer from starter to reliever last season and now this season he has gone back to being a starter before being brought up to be a reliever and being sent back down so he can start again.

Meyer can't get settled in any specific role. He's moved between starting and relieving while also moving between Triple-A and the big leagues. There are different mindsets when it comes to starting and relieving and it can take a mental adjustment to prepare for these different roles.

If Minnesota wants to know what they have in Meyer, the team should allow him to pitch at the big league level. Decided on his role and let him sink or swim. This team is not winning games right now and Meyer was supposed to be a part of the long-term solution.

There has already been plenty of discussion in the forums about Meyer's demotion. I'm in the camp that Minnesota is misusing Meyer at this point in his career. He will get other opportunities but these brief tastes of the big leagues are not helping his long-term development.

What camp do you fall in? Should Meyer have been demoted or should he still be part of the Twins 25-man roster?

Leave a COMMENT and add to the discussion.

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's Next For Byron Buxton?

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu, USA Today Sports
Not all prospects pan out. That's just the nature of the game. Baseball can be a cruel and challenging journey but that's why so many people love this sport. The unknown is always around the game. On any given night, a player whose name you've never heard could make history and that history is deep rooted and transcends generations.

Byron Buxton was supposed to make his own history. He was a can't miss prospect with the potential to follow in the footsteps of current All-Stars like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Things haven't gone exactly to plan for Buxton and the idea starts to trickle in that the Twins might have been a little too aggressive with their budding star.

Minnesota's top prospect was demoted a little over a week ago. His Triple-A results have mirrored his big league results as he is striking out too often and not getting on base enough. There has been a little bit more power, three extra-base hits and a .608 OPS, but these numbers aren't going to make the Twins come calling in the immediate future.

Over the last two seasons at the big league level, Buxton has a total of 187 plate appearance and 174 at-bats with 15 extra-base hits. One of the most concerning issues has been his strikeout totals. He has 68 combined strikeouts so he struck out in 36.4% of his plate appearances. Speed is one of his biggest tools but he's only getting on base 23.9% of the time so it's hard to utilize this tool.

What's Next For Byron Buxton?

Buxton has plenty to prove in the minors before the Twins are  willing to give him another shot at baseball's highest level. Buxton doesn't even have 100 at-bats at the Triple-A level under his belt so there is still things for him to focus on as he prepares for another big league opportunity.

Strikeouts
Out of players with a minimum of 40 plate appearances in 2016, Buxton's 49.0 K% is the highest in the big leagues. Since he has been in Rochester, he has improved his K% slightly to 32.4% but it's still much too high. Seeing better pitching on a daily basis has been tough for Buxton. He is going to have to learn how to make the appropriate adjustments. When he was drafted, there were some that questioned the level of competition he was facing in rural Georgia. For now, he needs to do a better job of recognizing pitches and working counts in his favor.

On-Base Percentage
Besides strikeouts, one of the biggest areas of concern has been Buxton's inability to get on base at a consistent clip. If he wants to be able to showcase his blazing speed, he needs to find a way to make more consistent contact and get on base. During the 2015 season at Double-A and Triple-A, Buxton hit over .300 and got on base 36.7% of the time. Those numbers would be great but with each movement up the ladder there have been new struggles . He's still almost five years younger than the competition in the International League but it can be frustrating to think that some of the best young players in the game were already finding big league success in their age-22 season.

Steals
Buxton stole a remarkable 55 bases in 2013 while being caught 19 times between Low-A and High-A. In his injury plagued 2014 season (31 games), he swiped six bases and was caught twice. Last season, Buxton played over 100 games and was only caught stealing five times but he was also limited to 24 steals. At baseball's highest levels, the pitchers have better pick-off moves and the catchers have stronger arms. Stealing bases is an art form and it could be one of the most valuable pieces of Buxton's game if he can find the right balance on the base paths.

Is Buxton a bust as a prospect? Only time will tell at this point. There is plenty of baseball left in his career and he will have other opportunities at the MLB level. He will need to make a significant reduction in his strikeout percentage while making more consistent contact and using his speed as a weapon on the bases.

This might sound like a lot but he's a young man with all the tools in the world. It's his turn to prove to the organization that he can be the player that all of the baseball world claims he should be.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (5/1): Walker Powers Rochester

Mayday, Mayday!

Ok, maybe there isn't anything to panic about at this point. I mean it's still early in the minor league campaign but the calendar did turn to May on Sunday. Most of the Twins' affiliates are attempting to find themselves in this early part of the year. Sunday's games were a microcosm of the season so far; there was some good pitching and not much timely hitting.

Would that trend continue on Sunday or would there be a different story-line to follow?
Photo Credit: Seth Stohs (Adam Brett Walker, Trey Vavra)
RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 1, Scranton/WB 0
Old friend Anthony Swarzak made one mistake in his return to Rochester and Adam Brett Walker made him pay. In the midst of a scoreless pitchers duel, Walker stepped in against Swarzak and belted his third home run of the season. Walker would finish the day 2-for-3 with a home run and a double. Wilfredo Tovar followed up his strong performance from Saturday with a 1-for-4 day including his eighth steal.

David Martinez started for Rochester and pitched into the eighth frame. He struck out six and walked one while lowering his ERA to 2.84. Buddy Boshers was asked to get outs in parts of two innings for his first hold of the year. J.R. Graham earned his third save as he didn't allow a base runner to reach.

The Red Wings begin a seven-game road swing on Monday with a three-game series in Syracuse before heading to Pawtucket for four games. Rochester trails Syracuse, the current leaders of the International League North, by three games. The Chiefs are 11-4 at home this season and Rochester is 4-5 on the road.

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 1, Montgomery 0
Box Score
After being nearly no-hit on Saturday night, the Lookouts returned the favor with a shutout on Sunday afternoon. Aaron Slegers was masterful as he scattered five hits over eight shutout frames. He struck out five and walked one for his second win. It was the first time he made it through eight innings since July 13 of last season with the Miracle. J.T. Chargois walked two batters in the ninth but was still able to keep the shutout alive and earn his fifth save.

Zach Granite singled to start the bottom of the first and stole second for his tenth steal of the season. Following a Daniel Palka strikeout, Mitch Garver drove in Granite with a single to right. It was an early 1-0 lead and that's all the team would need. Granite finished the day 2-for-4 and Palka reached base two times. The team's five through nine hitters failed to collect a hit.

These same two clubs will finish off their five game series on Monday. Both teams have won a pair of games so far. The Lookouts are 4-2 over the last week and sit five games out of first place in the Southern League North.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Ft. Myers 1, Charlotte 2
For the second straight day, the Miracle offense couldn't get going against the Stone Crabs pitching staff. Trevor Plouffe continued his rehab and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Between his first two games, he has gone 1-for-8. Trey Vavra collected three hits before being removed for a pinch runner in the late innings. The team's only run was scored on a solo home run off the bat of Max Murphy. Fort Myers was limited to two at-bats with runners in scoring position and neither one resulted in a hit.

Randy Rosario was charged with his second loss of the season after surrendering two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks. In both of his losses this season, he has pitched into the sixth inning and allowed a total of four earned runs. Luke Bard and Brandon Peterson shutdown the Stone Crabs the rest of the way. Bard didn't allow a hit in 1.2 innings while Peterson hasn't allowed a run since moving from Chattanooga to Fort Myers.

The Miracle finish off their nine-game road trip with a three-game series at Palm Beach. The club has gone 3-3 so far on the trip and they have yet to play Palm Beach this season. It's a critical first-half series as the Miracle currently trail the Cardinals by one game in the Florida State League South standings.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids --, South Bend --
The finale of this three game series between the Kernels and the Cubs was cancelled on Sunday due to rain. This was the only scheduled series between these two teams so there will not be a make-up game. Each team won a game in the series so they will end the year with a 1-1 head-to-head record. Cedar Rapids starts a six-game road trip with a three-game series against Lansing. Cody Stashak, who was supposed to start Sunday's game, will get pushed to Monday night.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day- Aaron Slegers, Chattanooga Lookouts 
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day- Adam Brett Walker, Rochester Red Wings

MONDAYS'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Rochester @ Syracuse (5:35 CST)- LHP Jason Wheeler (0-0 1.29 ERA)
Chattanooga vs. Montgomery (1:15 CST)- RHP Ryan Eades (0-2, 8.00 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30 CST)- LHP Stephen Gonsalves (2-1, 1.44 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Lansing (6:05 CST)- RHP Cody Stashak (2-0, 1.13 ERA)

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