On Thursday of this past week all four of the Twins full-season affiliate teams were in action, and although the teams split the games with 2 wins and 2 losses, there were a lot of good things to take away from both opening day and the first few days of the 2012 MiLB schedule. As this will be my first season covering the minors with anything more than a casual glance to the big name prospects, I’m still figuring a few things out, including the format for my weekly Down on the Pond updates. It’s a daunting task to cover 4+ teams day in and day out, but I’m looking forward to getting to know the guys toiling down in the minors. I’ll start at the top of the organization and work my way down; let’s start by taking a look at what’s been going on with the Twins AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings.
Rochester Red Wings (2-1)
The Red Wings started off the season with two wins (Jeff Manship, Scott Diamond) against Syracuse before dropping the home opener to Buffalo. In the first game of the season P.J. Walters pitched 4.0 scoreless innings striking out 4 while giving up only 2 hits before Manship came into the game and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings to pick up the win. In the home opener Daryl Thompson pitched 5.0 innings giving up 3 runs (2 earned) and struck out 5, but the Buffalo pitching, lead by Chris Schwinden, held the Red Wings to 5 hits over the course of the game. The Red Wings Take on Buffalo this afternoon to close out opening weekend.
Studs: Matt Carson opened the season 4 for 5 and has hit safely in all three games going 7-13 with 3XBH (extra base hits, 2 doubles and a triple).
Brian Dozier, like Carson, has hit in all three games going 6 for 12 with 2 doubles.
Scott Diamond pitched 6.1 scoreless innings scattering 4 hits and striking out 3 en root to the Red Wings 2nd W of the season.
Duds: Tsuyoshi Nishioka opened the season 0 for 9 and was caught stealing in his only attempt. On the plus side he has drawn a free pass in each of the teams first three games.
Tyler Robertson has pitched only one inning for the Wings this season but managed to give up two runs on three hits before he was chased from the game. Luckily Rochester had put up 5 runs in the top half of the inning and were able to hang on for the W.
New Britain Rock Cats (3-1)
The Rock Cats opened the season with 3 wins before dropping the last game of the opening series to Richmond in the 12th inning. The pitching in New Britain has been phenomenal giving up only 8 runs in the first 30 innings of the season.
Studs: Rock Cats Starting Pitching. Starters for the Cats have been very impressive Luke French, Logan Darnell, Steve Hirschfeld and Jason Marquis have all gone at least 5.0 innings and have given up only a single run between them earning 3 W’s for the team. Marquis gave up the only run in a 3H first inning and then settled down to pitch 5 scoreless innings.
Pedro Florimon is 6 for 12 with only a single K and has reached base in each game for the Rock Cats.
Chris Hermann is 4 for 12 in three games of work with 4RBI.
Danny Lehmann is only 1 for 4 at the plate but has earned himself 4 walks in the last game of the series.
Andrew Albers. Albers has 2 relief appearances for 3.0 innings this season giving up no runs on 2 hits.
Duds: Aaron Hicks. HIcks is 1 for 12 with 4K’s, not a good start for one of the Twins top prospects.
Blake Martin. BM game into the 12th inning and gave up 3 hits, 2 runs and a walk giving the Rock Cats their only loss of the season. Blake gets the loss after a rough outing, but the real dud for the game was the Rock Cats offense that managed only 4 hits in 12 innings of work.
Fort Myers Miracle (0-3)
The Miracle started the season by getting swept in a three game series against Charlotte giving up 18 runs in the process. While the Miracle were able to score 11 runs of their own, the team ERA sits at 5.67 after 3 games and the Miracle find themselves winless after the first weekend of the season. Starting pitching, aside from Scott Baker who left in the first inning with soreness in his pitching elbow, has been solid for the Miracle with both B.J. Hermsen and Pat Dean going 5+ in their first starts of the season.
Studs: B.J. Hermsen pitched 5 scoreless innings only allowing 2 hits before giving way to the bullpen who would give up a couple runs and eventually the game.
Daniel Santana has started the season on a hot streak going 8 for 13 with a double, a homer and a stolen base.
Angel Morales has 5 hits in 11AB this season and has also walked twice and has 2 stolen bases.
Duds: The Miracle Bullpen. Only Edgar Ibarra and Caleb Thielbar have not yet surrendered a run in this young season. The bullpen has given up 14 runs in three games, but in their defense they were exposed in the season opener when Baker had to leave after only one out. The pen will need to pull things together for the Miracle to be successful in 2012.
Daniel Rams is 1 for 8 with 6K’s. Ouch.
Oswaldo Arcia is 2 for 8 with 5K’s. Fortunately for the Miracle he has also taken 5 walks for a .571 OBP.
Beloit Snappers (1-2)
The Snappers managed to snag one victory in their first series of the season on the shoulders of a grand slam by Twins top prospect Miguel Sano. Unfortunately that’s Sano’s only hit this season to go with 5K’s and only 1 walk. Starting pitching, aside from Steven Gruver who pitched 6.0 innings of 1 run ball, has put the Snappers in early holes.
Studs: The Snapper bullpen has been impressive this season giving up only 1 run and 6 hits in 13+ innings of work.
Eddie Rosario is 3 for 9 with a homer, a double 3 walks and 2 stolen bases.
Duds: Tim Shibuya gave up 5 runs (3 earned) in only 3.2 innings of work, walked 1 and struck on no one in his first start of the season.
Madison Boer pitched 2 quick innings in the season opener before giving up 4 straight singles to start the fourth.
Miguel Sano hit a monster grand slam to give the Miracle a game 2 victory, but that is the young sluggers only hit this year going 1 for 10 to start the season with 5K’s.
The Twins affiliates currently sit at 6-7 with one game remaining for opening weekend; hopefully Rochester can bounce back against Buffalo to earn a W and put the Twins minor league record up to .500. Check back later this week for more news from “Down on the Pond” and all of the Twins big league action.