Your place for Minnesota Twins and New Britain Rock Cats coverage, analysis and opinion.

Friday, August 24, 2012

3 Rock Cats Selected as Season-Ending All-Stars

Chris Colabello: 28, journeyman ballplayer.
Now, Eastern League All-Star
Congratulations to Deibinson Romero, Aaron Hicks and Chris Colabello of the Rock Cats for being selected as Eastern League Season-Ending All-Stars! Over this season, I've written rather extensively about Colabello and Hicks, and have talked a little about Romero. It's nice to see all three get recognized for solid seasons.

It's no secret that I think that Colabello's journey to AA baseball is probably the best Twins-related story this season. The fact that he has received independent recognition for his accomplishments is very impressive. With a solid .286 batting average, 18 home runs and 92, RBIs, Colabello is closing in on an impressive 20 HR and 100 RBI season.

Romero, too, has hit for a lot of power. He also has 18 home runs, 74 RBIs, and a .261 batting average. I haven't been overly impressed with Romero's defense, which I would describe as not great. It's worth noting, however (according to the press release), that Romero leads Eastern League third basemen with a .946 fielding percentage.

Finally, Hicks. This has been the breakout season we all have been waiting for. He's hitting .283, and leads the Eastern League in runs scored (88), is second in triples (8), second in walks (77), fifth in stolen bases (29), fifth in outfield assists (10), and seventh in on-base percentage (.380). Hicks, at 22, has made a solid case for a September call-up.

Congratulations to these three players. Here's the link for the press release.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday's Twins Minor League Daily

Time for my weekly update of all that happened in the Twins' farm system last night. I was at the Rock Cats game last. It wasn't a great game for New Britain -- not nearly enough offense, and our pitchers had some trouble keeping the ball down. Terry Ryan was in attendance. I spoke to him for a few minutes, and it sounds like he plans to follow the team through its upcoming weekend series in New Hampshire, as we get closer to the date when a few players on this team might get a call-up to Minnesota (or, if the Rock Cats make the playoffs, after their playoff stint ends). Ryan was scoring the game and taking furious notes, but he was very nice in person and willing to chat between innings. Here's a rundown of tonight's minor league action:

Nick Blackburn (hey, remember him?) started for Rochester tonight, and went 7 innings. He gave up 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2. Anthony Slama had a solid performance, going 2 scoreless innings, striking out 3 and walking 1.
The Red Wings mustered only 4 hits all night. Evan Bigley had 2 singles in 3 at-bats, and Chris Parmelee and Wilkin Ramirez also singled.

Here's the link to the box score.

I went to tonight's game. The Rock Cats didn't look very good. Lucas French started, and gave up 4 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings. He struck out 2 and walked 1. He didn't miss many bats tonight. Blake Martin tossed 1 inning, and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits. He struck out 1 and walked 1. Aaron Thompson was effective, tossing 2 scoreless innings and allowing 3 hits.

In addition to the shaky starting pitching, New Britain didn't get nearly enough offense. I liked what I saw from Josmil Pinto -- he hit a no-doubt homer to left field in the 4th inning, after walking in his first AA plate appearance. Oswaldo Arcia had a nice line drive double down the right field line, and also struck out and walked. Chris Colabello, Deibinson Romero and Rene Tosoni also singled.

Here's the link to the box score.

Tom Stuifbergen took a tough, tough loss tonight. He tossed a complete game, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 3.

As with the Rock Cats, there wasn't enough Mircale offense to get the job done tonight. Daniel Ortiz was 2-for-3 with a double, Daniel Santana had 2 singles, and Daniel Rams and Kyle Knudson each singled.

Here's the link to the box score.

This game went 12 innings, until Peoria scored 3 runs in the top half to take what proved to be the final lead of the game. Tyler Jones went 5 innings in his start, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, but he did strike out 8. Corey Kimes tossed 2 and 1/3 innings, and also gave up 3 runs on 3 hits. Kimes walked 3 and struck out 1. Taylor Rogers was very effective in relief, going 2 and 2/3 innings and allowing 2 hits, striking out 2. Tim Atherton worked 1 and 2/3 innings out of the pen, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. Corey Williams worked a scoreless 1/3 of an inning, walking 1 and striking out 1. Snappers pitchers walked 10 hitters this evening.

Wang-Wei Lin was 2-for-7, JaDamion Williams was 2-for-5 with a walk and 3 Ks, Eddie Rosario had a single and 3 Ks in 6 at-bats, Kennys Vargas was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a K, and Drew Leachman, Matthew Koch, and TwinsDaily's own Adam Pettersen all singled. Rosario, Pettersen, and Stephen Wickens all stole bases tonight, as well.

Here's the link to the box score.

Angel Mata went 4 and 1/3 innings in his start today, giving up 4 runs on 3 hits. He struck out 3, walked 5, and allowed 2 home runs. Joshua Burris went 2 and 2/3 innings, and allowed only 1 hit while striking out 5. Great performance from him. Tyler Herr tossed 2 scoreless frames, striking out 3 and walking 1.

Byron Buxton had a great day, going 3-for-5 with a triple and a stolen base. Candido Pimentel and Max Kepler each doubled (Kepler with an RBI), and DJ Hicks, Romy Jimenez and Travis Harrison all singled.

Here's the link to the box score.

Andre Martin got the start, and went 4 innings. He allowed only 3 hits, struck out 5 and walked 1. Sam Gibbons also tossed 4 innings, giving up only 1 hit, striking out 1 and walking 1. Felix Jorge tossed the final frame, striking out 1, as well.

Joel Licon had the big hit today, a 2-run homer that accounted for all of the Twins' runs. John Murphy doubled, and Aderlin Mejia and Bryan Harr both singled.

Here's the link to the box score.
Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 22

Pitcher of the Day: Tom Stuifbergen

Hitter of the Day: Byron Buxton

Schedule for Thursday, August 23

Rochester vs. Lehigh Valley --- RHP Shairon Martis
New Britain @ New Hampshire --- RHP Steven Hirschfeld
Ft. Myers vs. Bradenton --- LHP Pat Dean
Beliot vs. Peoria --- ???
Elizabethton @ Pulaski --- RHP Jose Berrios
GCL Twins vs. GCL Orioles --- ???

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fans: Would You Give up Memories from the 2010 Season in Exchange for Bryce Harper?

Twins fans, can you picture
Bryce Harper wearing the TC logo?

**Full disclosure: this post is full of hypotheticals, and is not grounded in reality**

The 2010 season produced some great memories for Twins fans. Jim Thome proved that you could be old (in baseball terms) and still destroy a baseball. Joe Mauer had a solid season. Justin Morneau played the first half of the season at an MVP pace. Even Delmon Young had a career-best season and, honestly, led the Twins in offense down the stretch. The Twins cruised to an easy AL Central title, and it almost felt like 2010 was going to be different than all the other seasons. Yes, we were playing the Yankees again, but this team was better than the 2009 version -- it had more confidence, better talent, and was playing in a brand new, shiny stadium. Yea, it almost felt different (cut to graphic of Charlie Brown believing that, this time, Lucy is indeed going to hold the football in place while he kicks it).

Of course, that's not how it played out. The Twins lost 3 in a row to the Yankees, the first 2 at Target Field, and that was it for the playoffs. The Twins haven't been remotely close to a .500 team since then, and there is very little to indicate that next year will be considerably better, unless major moves are made to acquire starting pitching.

But let's imagine, just for a second, that 2010 didn't go nearly as well. We'll say, for instance, that it basically went like 2011 did: Mauer injured, half the Rochester Red Wings on daily shuttles to the MSP airport; Jim Thome not as impressive; and a rash of other injuries that made the Twins simply awful. Let's say, in fact, that the Twins finished with the worst record in baseball in 2010. That would have given them the #1 pick in MLB's 2011 amateur draft. The Nationals, of course, selected Bryce Harper, and he has been a mainstay in their major league lineup for a few months now. Yes, he has struggled recently, but there is every indication to believe that Harper -- who could have a 20-year career -- will live up to his potential.

So here is my question for the day: What's "just another" division title worth to you? What if, instead of having a great 2010 and fading yet again in the playoffs, the Twins could have drafted Harper in 2011 by absolutely tanking the 2010 season? Or, perhaps, Stephen Strasburg in 2009? Would you, as a fan, rather have that extra pennant hanging at Target Field, or would you be willing to exchange all those great 2010 memories for a Harper or Strasburg level of talent?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oswaldo Arcia and RBIs

I do understand that RBIs are, to a large extent, a team statistic. Mark Teixeira, for instance, always racks up tons of RBIs for the Yankees, even though he is not a fantastic hitter. He has the benefit of batting in a stacked lineup with tons of guys in scoring position, over the course of the year, when he comes to the plate. So yes, RBIs are a very imperfect statistic. That being said . . .

Twins fans should take note of this statistic (that I tweeted last night): Chris Colabello of the Rock Cats leads the entire Eastern League in RBIs with 87. He has driven in those runs in 416 at-bats. Oswaldo Arcia, owner of an impressive .330/.404/.551 AA slash line, has racked up 47 RBIs . . . and he's done it in 176 at-bats. In other words, he has just over half the RBIs of the league leader, and he as accumulated those RBIs in only 42 percent of the at-bats that Colabello has. Though RBIs are an imperfect measure of production, the fact that Arcia has been so good (.414 average) with runners in scoring position is noteworthy.

This afternoon, the Rock Cats go for a big series win over the Reading Phillies, hoping to expand their lead for the last playoff spot to 2.5 games. Hopefully, Arcia will continue to show Twins fans that he deserves a September call-up!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rock Cats Lose Tough One, Fall Out of Playoff Picture (For the Moment)

This picture will accompany all Rock Cats
posts until the team reclaims the second
playoff spot.
After a tough 6-4 loss to the Reading Phillies last night, the Rock Cats fell 1/2 of a game behind Reading for the second, and final, playoff spot in their division. The good news for New Britain is that the teams play Saturday and Sunday, so if the Rock Cats can win the final two games of the series, they will regain possession of that second playoff spot. The other good news is that, in the coming weeks, the Rock Cats play 10 consecutive games against the Portland Sea Dogs and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who have the worst records in the Eastern League Eastern division. That stretch of games -- August 17 through August 26 -- will be a good opportunity, hopefully, to expand a lead for that final playoff spot.

A note about last night's game. Top prospect Oswaldo Arcia was 1-for-2 last night with a double (13 of the season), a walk, and an RBI (43rd of the season). His AA batting average is an impressive .320. If there was one knock on Arcia (which is almost ridiculous, considering his young age and quick ascension through the Twins' system thus far), it was that he walks to little and strikes out too much. His AA numbers -- 17 walks and 42 strikeouts -- do suggest that there's work to be done in that area. In the last 10 games, though, Arcia has drawn 6 walks and struck out 7 times, so there's at least some recent data to suggest that he's beginning to be more selective at the plate.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wednesday's Twins Minor League Update

At least 2, possibly 3, Rock Cats
players deserve a Sept. call-up
to Minnesota
As you probably are aware, every Wednesday night I write an update for TwinsDaily on all the happenings in the minor league system. Before I get to that, I've been getting some questions on Twitter lately about the Rock Cats and September call-ups to Minnesota. There are at least two deserving players from the Rock Cats to whom the Twins should give consideration: Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia (I would also throw Chris Herrmann in that mix just to see what he can do against major league pitching). Arcia, especially, has been absolutely impressive in his couple months in Connecticut, posting a .317/.386/.521 line with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs and 42 RBIs in only 167 AA at-bats. If the Twins were going to give a call-up to either Hicks or Arcia, my vote would be for Arcia. Hicks has had an excellent season, as well, but I like the PR message of having the confidence to send a guy who is only 21 years and 3 months old to the big leagues, at least for a month (not to imply that Hicks is old by any means). For the second year now, the Twins are awful, but demonstrating to the fan base that there is indeed very young talent on the way could, perhaps, alleviate a little of the pain caused by the past couple seasons. In fact, Arcia has been so impressive that, if he keeps his pace, I think a compelling argument can be made for him to rank as the second best Twins prospect.

One more note before the update. Chris Colabello, arguably the best human interest story for the Twins, continues to crush Eastern League pitching. His .286/.349/.502 line is solid; his 18 home runs are good for 4th in the Eastern League; his 32 doubles are tied for first; and his 84 RBIs are first in the league by a wide margin -- 12. Most impressive to me, though, is that he has increased his batting average in each month from June to August. So what should the Twins do with him? Justin Morneau is blocking Chris Parmelee at first base, relegating Parmelee to AAA. Correspondingly, it would seem that Parmelee is blocking Colabello, who in my opinion is deserving of a promotion. Colabello is 28, so if the Twins have any plans for him beyond minor league depth, they might want to act sooner than later. Now, the update.

Yesterday's Twins game was disappointing on several fronts. The Twins lost a chance for a sweep, Ben Revere failed to extend his impressive hit streak, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka continued to look ... confused at second base. Oh well. Let's take a look at the action down on the farm.

Shairon Martis turned in a quality start, tossing 7 innings and giving up 2 runs on 5 hits. He struck out 4 and walked 2, but did allow 2 home runs. Deolis Guerra had a tough outing. In 1 inning of work he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 1. Kyle Waldrop lasted only 2/3 of an inning, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk. Lucas French threw the remaining 1/3 of an inning.
Chris Parmelee was 2-for-4 with a double, and is batting .354 at AAA. Matt Carson (12) and Clete Thomas (11) both homered for the Red Wings. Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dinkelman singled.

Here's the link to the box score.

It seems like most of the quality arms have left New Britain. Tonight, Aaron Thompson got the nod, and lasted 5 and 2/3 innings. He gave up 6 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks, and struck out 3. Marty Popham allowed 2 runs in 1 and 1/3 innings on 3 hits. Finally, Edgar Ibarra tossed a scoreless frame, striking out 2.

Chris Colabello continues to impress. He was 2-for-4 tonight with his 18th home run and his 84th RBI. Oswaldo Arcia was 1-for-2 with his 12th double. He also struck out, walked, and had a sac fly. Aaron Hicks hit his 7th triple and walked. Chris Herrmann and Nathan Hanson also had singles.

Here's the link to the box score.

In this rain-shortened game (7 innings), Pat Dean picked up his 7th win of the season tonight, going 6 solid innings. He allowed 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out 3 and walking 2. Clint Dempster threw a scoreless 7th inning, allowing 2 hits.

Daniel Santana was 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, Daniel Rams had 2 singles in 4 at-bats, and 2 RBIs. Lance Ray was 2-for-3 with a triple, and Levi Michael, Josmil Pinto, Michael Gonzales, Andy Leer and Angel Morales all singled. Leer's single drove in 2 runs, as well.

Here's the link to the box score.

Matt Tomshaw picked up his 4th win of the season, turning in a great start. He went 7 and 2/3 innings and gave up 1 unearned run, allowing 6 hits and striking out 4. No free passes. Dallas Gallant earned the save, throwing 1 and 1/3 innings, allowing no hits and striking out 1.

JaDamion Williams hit his 5th home run of the season tonight, a solo shot. Jairo Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a double. Drew Leachman had 2 singles and a walk in 3 at-bats, and Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano and Stephen Wickens all singled. Sano (38) and Rosario (14) also had errors this evening.

Here's the link to the box score.

Brett Lee got the start and went 4 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 7! Kaleb Merck tossed a scoreless 5th, allowing 2 hits and striking out 1. Tyler Duffey threw 2 scoreless innings, striking out 2. J.T. Chargois allowed 1 run on 2 hits in an inning of work, striking out 1. Luke Bard tossed a perfect 9th.

Max Kepler had a huge day. He was 4-for-4 with 2 singles, a double (10) and a home run (8). He drove in 2 runs, as well. Adam Walker hit 2 solo home runs in 4 at-bats, giving him 11 on the season. Byron Buxton was 2-for-4 in his E-Town debut, and Candido Pimentel and Niko Goodrum both singled.

Here's the link to the box score.

GCL Twins 6, GCL Orioles 7
Felix Jorge started for the Twins today, and went 4 innings, giving up 1 unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 4 and walking 1. Gerardo Ramirez worked 1 inning and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk. Thereafter, Trent Higginbotham gave up 2 runs in 1 inning of work, surrendering 3 hits. Alexander Muren tossed 2 scoreless innings, striking out 1 and walking 1. Anthony Slama, rehabbing an injury, threw 1 perfect inning, and Hung Yi Chen allowed 2 runs in 1 inning of work on 2 hits.

Catcher Jorge Fernandez was 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a run. Great game for him. Joel Licon tripled and walked twice, and the following players all singled: Jeremias Pineda; Jose Ramirez; Dereck Rodriguez; Kelvin Ortiz; John Murphy; Javier Pimentel; and Logan Wade.

Here's the link to the box score.

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 8
Hitter of the Day: Max Kepler

Pitcher of the Day: Matt Tomshaw (This is how he would look if he showed up at your door to take your daughter to prom. Have her back by 11, Matt. No funny business.)

Schedule for Thursday, August 9

Rochester vs. Scranton/WB --- RHP P.J. Walters
New Britain @ Binghamton --- LHP Logan Darnell
Ft. Myers vs. Jupiter --- RHP Matthew Summers
Beloit @ Quad Cities --- LHP Jason Wheeler
Elizabethton @ Johnson City --- RHP Ricardo Arevalo
GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles --- ???

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Twins' 2014 Outfield

Oswaldo Arcia: Twins' right fielder as early as 2014??
For regular readers -- especially those that read for the Rock Cats content -- I should apologize. It's been a busy month of the real job, so I've had a tough time updating the blog. With that said, let's talk about the #futuretwins for a little while.

I've had the good fortune of watching a pretty exciting outfield lately in New Britain, consisting mainly of Aaron Hicks in center field and Oswaldo Arcia in right. Joe Benson has also played some left field -- though we know he's a center fielder, and even Chris Herrmann has done pretty well in left field. But today I want to focus on Arcia and Hicks, and their role in the future of this franchise. I'm certainly not ready to cast Benson off as washed up, but unquestionably, this is more or less a lost season for him in terms of development.

I'm here to tell you that, after watching Hicks progress this season, and after watching Arcia exceed expectations over the past couple months, I firmly believe that both have a legitimate chance to be starting for the Twins in 2014. I fully expect that the Twins will trade Josh Willingham, perhaps this off-season, or during the 2013 season, assuming his trade value is still very high then. I also expect that, one of these months, a team is going to overwhelm Terry Ryan with an offer for Denard Span. Denard is one of my favorite Twins, and Willingham certainly has been a fantastic signing, and by all accounts is a great guy.

That being said, it is -- or will be in the near future -- time for changes: my dream outfield for 2014 is Ben Revere in center field; Hicks in left field; and Arcia in right. We're talking about a lot of speed, and good arm strength in the corner positions. We're also talking about a right fielder that should have 25 HR power, a left fielder with explosive speed and good on-base skills, and a center fielder with phenomenal speed and the ability to reach base at a high rate. We're also talking about a very, very inexpensive outfield -- like under $3 million, total.

Yes, Hicks and Arcia have work to do. I'd still like to see Hicks hit the ball with more authority from the left side of the plate (although it's very, very encouraging that his splits have more or less evened out, at least with respect to batting average). And Arcia needs to strike out less and walk more, but he's only 21 years and 2 months old! What I'm suggesting is that, in just 2 years, we could have a young, and very exciting outfield. Revere has met my expectations -- and then some -- this season. Sure, he certainly can improve, and hopefully will. But if there's one are Twins fans should be excited about, it's the fact that the team could have an extremely talented outfield as early as September of 2013, that is well equipped to compete at the major league level. When we talking about signing expensive free agent pitchers that cost $15-$20 million per season, how great is it to think that our outfield, at least for a couple seasons, could be little more than 10 percent of Joe Mauer's annual contact?