Down on the Pond: Arizona Fall League Final Report
By Paul Pleiss
A hearty congratulations are due to the Peoria Javolinas, the 2012 Arizona Fall League Champions. The Javolinas snatched the championship victory 4-3 over the Salt River Rafters on Saturday. Twins prospect Nate Roberts was 3-for-4 on the day with a walk and a run scored. Mariners prospect Mike Zunino had two RBI for the Javolinas. Tim Crabbe (Cincinnati prospect) got the W, he pitched 2.2 innings and gave up all 3 of the Rafters runs, but the Javolinas scored 4 early off of Ryan Perry and the bullpen came into the game and pitched 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball to preserve the victory. Let’s take a look back on how the Twins players did during their time in Arizona
Twins related news and notes from the minor leagues
Chris Herrmann played only 3 games before he was taken off the roster after suffering a minor injury. In his 3 games Herrmann was 5-for-10 with 2 walks, a double and only 1 strikeout.
Dan Rohlfing replaced Herrmann on the roster and saw action in 5 games in Arizona and went 6-for-18, knocking in 5 RBI during his limited playing time.
Kyle Gibson made 6 starts in Arizona and finished the short season with a 5.40 ERA, 28 strikeouts, and only 8 walks in 23.1 innings. Gibson started the AFL with very impressive numbers through his first 3 starts, giving up only 1 run in 13 innings, but struggled as the season wore on giving up 6, 4, and 3, runs in his last three starts. For Kyle Gibson the main objective of going down to Arizona was to log some innings on his surgically repaired arm and by that measure it was a huge success. Gibson will likely compete for a starting spot in the Twins rotation in spring training and could be up with the Twins very early in the season, especially if Terry Ryan and the front office do not bring in any starting pitching talent this off-season.
Evan Bigley played 16 games for the Javolinas and scraped out 15 hits (including 4 doubles and 2 triples) and 7 walks, but he also struckout 16 times. Bigley hit only .242/.319/.371 while in Arizona, but the AFL is an offense heavy league. Bigley hit .268 in AA last season before getting a promotion to AAA where he struggled, hitting .207/.235/.321 in 39 games. It will be interesting to see what happens to Bigley going forward; the Twins organization is staked with OF depth and it will be difficult to find playing time for Bigley if he can’t make things happen with the bat.
Michael Tonkin posted a 2.45 ERA to match Bigley, making 10 appearances out of the Javolinas bullpen and 14.2 total innings. Tonkin gave up 4 runs, all of them earned. Tonkin had not given up a single run until his last 2 appearances of the year, giving up 1 and then 3 runs to finish his time in the AFL. His line for Arizona includes 7 K’s and 3 walks and only 8 hits surrendered (including 1 HR). Tonkin started the season in low-A Beloit before moving up to Ft Myers in 2012. He posted a 1.38 ERA in Beloit and a 2.97 ERA in Ft Myers and struck out more than a batter an inning at both levels, ending the season with 97 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 69.1 innings of work.
Logan Darnell made 9 appearances, including 2 starts in 18.1 innings. He gave up only 5 runs and finished the short season with a 2.45 ERA, 5 walks and 17 K’s. Darnell pitched for AA New Britain in 2012 where he struggled a bit, giving up 22 HR in 28 games; he finished the 2012 season with a 5.08 ERA.
Caleb Thielbar was the only real blemish amongst the Twins players sent to Arizona. He pitched 13 innings and surrendered 21 hits (3 HR), walked 8, gave up, struck out 12 and gave up 16 runs (all earned), earning himself an 11.08 ERA. Woof.
Nate Roberts’ performance in the AFL was quite surprising, in 19 games he hit .446/.565/.662, and lead lead the league in all three of the slash categories (AVG/OBP/SLG)! He knocked in 15 RBI and hit 3 homeruns and 5 doubles; he struck out just 7 times and took 12 walks. And best of all, Nate grew a fantastic mustache, much better even than the caterpillar Delmon Young was sporting up in Detroit. Nate Roberts played for low-A Beloit last season where he hit .299/.433/.427 and had likely already earned himself a 2013 promotion to high-A. Roberts was old for the league and will be 24 when the 2013 season begins so he will need to continue to impress and move up through the system quickly.
Once again congratulations to the Peoria Javolinas and especially to members of the Twins organization lucky enough to spend a few weeks down in Arizona this winter.
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