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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday's Rock Cats Report

Quietly, and with many, many singles,
Rock Cats infielder James Beresford is leading
the team in batting average
Last night, the Rock Cats lost to the Akron Aeros 6-2. Starter B.J. Hermsen took a tough loss, giving up 3 runs (only 1 earned) in 5 innings, but he wasn't aided much by his defense, which committed 2 errors while he was on the mound. Hermsen is 3-2 on the season with an ERA of 2.96. Very solid. He has walked 5 and struck out 25 in his 7 starts (48 and 2/3 innings) as a Rock Cat. Deibinson Romero and Evan Bigley provided the offense, both hitting solo home runs for New Britain. For more, here's a great summary of the game by Nodak Twins Fan.

The Rock Cats lost another player to promotion to AAA Rochester. Starting pitcher Steve Hirschfeld was promoted earlier this week. He was 4-4 on the season with a 3.2 ERA. In 64 and 2/3 innings this season for New Britain, he gave up 73 hits, walked 16 and struck out 44, for a WHIP of 1.38. Good luck, Steve! As noted in the Hartford Courant this week, Hirschfeld is the 8th player promoted from New Britain this season. Aside from Wilkin Ramirez, Darin Mastroianni and Pedro Florimon, the bulk of the promoted players have been pitchers, including Lucas French, Deolis Guerra, Lester Oliveros and David Bromberg (I guess you can also count Jason Marquis, but that hardly worked out well for anyone). This, as I have mentioned before, is the tough part about minor league baseball: your best talent rarely stays for too long. In return, New Britain has received players such as Hermsen, Caleb Thielbar and Bruce Pugh, who all saw success at A-level Ft. Myers. Hopefully, they can continue their success in the Eastern League.

Although they have lost 3 consecutive games, as of this morning, the Rock Cats are in a tie for first place in their division. Both the Trenton Thunder (suddenly very hot) and New Britain are 32-24, good for a .571 winning percentage. The Rock Cats continue their series against the Aeros tonight. Incidentally, I heard that it was a 10-hour bus ride to Akron.

Finally, as I try to do every week or so, I'll take a look at a few prospects and highlight how they are doing on the season, and in recent days.

Aaron Hicks: .246/.341/.396, 8 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 28 RBIs, 15 stolen bases (caught 4 times).
In his last 10 games, Hicks is hitting .233/.333/.410 with a home run, 3 RBIs and 9 walks. I have been getting a few questions lately about Hicks and a promotion. As Seth Stohs noted recently, Hicks needs to be added to the 40 man roster after this season. In my opinion, though, Hicks is playing this season where he needs to play. Defensively, he's ready for the majors, but significant work needs to be done at the plate, including a determination of whether he will continue to switch hit. Twins fans, Aaron Hicks is 22 years old -- still a young prospect who the Twins took out of high school. There's no point in sending him to AAA when he's not even batting .250 in the Eastern League. I have confidence that he will materialize, but it might take a little more time than some want.

Chris Herrmann: .250/.313/.401, 14 2B, 5 HR, 19 RBIs.
In his last 10 games, Herrmann is struggling, batting .125/.300/.219 with a home run, 3 RBIs and 8 walks. If you happened to miss it, I recently interviewed Herrmann. Take a look. My opinion is that, like Hicks, Herrmann is where he needs to be right now. Hicks and Herrmann are not similar prospects, though. Hicks, as a 22 year old first round outfield prospect drafted out of high school, needs to be developed slowly and carefully, especially considering that the Twins have good outfield talent in their system. Herrmann, a 24 year old catcher with D-1 college experience, is already second on my depth chart for catchers in the entire organization. If Herrmann can get that average up to around .270, and demonstrate more plate discipline, I'd like to see him promoted this season. The interesting question is should he go to Rochester or Minnesota? Ordinarily, you think about a guy working his way through the minors and going up the ladder one step at a time. What about a catcher, though? If the expectation in Minnesota is that Herrmann will be Joe Mauer's back-up sooner rather than later, does it make more sense to send him directly to Minnesota this September to learn how to catch the different pitchers on the Twins roster? Or, is it better for his development to catch AAA-level pitchers (many of which he already caught in New Britain) and work on hitting at that level? It's an interesting question.

James Beresford: .273/.346/.302., 2 2B, 1 3B, 11 RBIs.
In his last 10 games, the Australian Beresford is hitting .294/.333/.353. Very quietly, Beresford is leading the Rock Cats in batting average, and although he generally flies under the radar, it's important to give mention when it is due. The problem with Beresford's stats, though, is that they are barren when it comes to power. Of his 38 hits this season, 2 were doubles and 1 was a triple. And for a middle infielder, he apparently is not very fast (or is not a good base-stealer), going 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts. But perhaps just as importantly, the defense has been solid: he has only 1 error in 202 chances between second base and shortstop. I don't realistically think of Beresford as the Twins second baseman of the future, but he's only 23 years old, and there is still time for development.  

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