Minnesota Twins Minor League Month in Review, June Edition

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IJuly 1, 2009

FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Anthony Swarzak #51 of the Minnesota Twins poses during photo day at the Twins spring training complex on February 23, 2008 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)


The month of June was full of promotions and demotions throughout the Minnesota Twins' minor league organization. A handful of top-10 prospects were promoted this past month, as well as other key minor leaguers.

As a whole, the Minnesota affiliates went 50-56 in the month of June; not poor enough to statistically boot any team from its respective playoff races, but not good enough for any team to pull away, either.

Here is a team-by-team breakdown of the top four minor league affiliates of the Twins.

Rochester Red Wings, Fifth in the International League (Triple A)
(13-16), 7.5 games back

The Red Wings have certainly seen better months, but they owe most of their poor performance to their major-league affiliate, who tore the team apart with many transactions. The first move, however, was a promotion of reliever Rob Delaney, who many felt was long overdue.

In his first 10 games at the Triple-A level, Delaney has posted an ERA of 5.28 in 15.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 11 while walking just six. Clearly,  not the start that was expected of him, considering his absolute dominance of the Double-A level, but most assume that he will settle down and possibly be in a Twins' uniform in 2010.

Alexi Casilla, currently in the back of manager Ron Gardenhire's doghouse, was optioned to Rochester early this past month as well. Casilla has succeeded against other International League pitchers, batting .333/.378/.419 with an OPS of 797.

He has hit just five extra-base hits in his 30 games with Rochester this year, and has struck out 17 times. Although he is bursting with talent, Casilla has been involved with numerous trade rumors and may never sport a Twins' uniform again.

Jeff Manship was also promoted recently, but has just one start under his belt. He gave up four runs on 10 hits during six innings, walking two while striking out six. Say it together, "Small sample size!"

Perhaps the most documented promotion the Red Wings made was calling Danny Valencia up from Double-A. Valencia is a top-10 Twins prospect and regarded by many as Minnesota's third baseman of the future.

In just eight games so far this year Valencia is hitting .355/.375/.613 while making contact in all but three of his plate appearances—resulting in two strikeouts and one walk. The 24-year-old is estimated to be promoted to the Twins anytime next year.

The Twins stole both Jose Mijares and Bobby Keppel from the Red Wings this month, but replaced them with the erratic Jesse Crain. Jason Pridie enjoyed a brief stint in Minnesota as Denard Span recovered from his inner ear infection.

Hitter of the Month

Steven Tolleson earns this award because of a very solid month at the plate. He posted a triple-slash line .320/.385/.443 and an OPS of .828. Power is a rare commodity in Rochester, but Tolleson is among team leaders in the slugging department.

The 25-year- old has proven that he is ready for the next level and many Twins fans would like to see him in Minnesota as soon as possible.

Pitcher of the Month

Anthony Swarzak was the best pitcher for the Rochester Red Wings this past month, and now has an ERA of 2.34 through 65.1 innings. He has a great strikeout-to-walk ratio of 43:16, but a lack of offensive support have only given him a 4-4 record. 

Swarzak has made a few appearances for the Twins this year while Glen Perkins was on the disabled list. At the big-league level Swarzak was 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and 10 walks.

As a whole, the Red Wings are struggling both at the plate and on the mound. Rochester has just one batter in double-digits in home runs; Justin Huber. 

Anthony Swarzak and Bobby Keppel have been great anchors in both the rotation and the bullpen, but holes in other places are preventing the Red Wings from pulling ahead. The team is full of individual talent, but a postseason run from this group is unlikely.

New Britain Rock Cats, Second in the Northern League (Double-A)
(13-12), 4.5 games back

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the Rock Cats are a team after the Twins' own heart; having many solid pieces but finishing just over the .500 mark. As mentioned above, the Rock Cats lost a few key players this past month, not the least of whom were Delaney and Valencia.

Twenty-two-year old Carlos Gutierrez was promoted to New  Britain this past month, and has compiled an ERA of 6.26 in his first five starts. He has struck out 10 and walked nine, but has a 1-2 record.

Barring an incredible turnaround, Gutierrez will start next season with the Rock Cats and most likely finish it with the Red Wings. Assuming all goes according to plan he could be in the Minnesota rotation in 2011.

Kyle Waldrop was promoted from High-A, and has just four games under his belt so far. He hasn't surrendered a run to date, striking out one while walking two.

Hitter of the Month

Twenty-two-year old Rene Tosoni remains the best batter on the Rock Cats roster, now with a triple-slash line of .279/.388/.498 and an OPS of 886. In 71 games, Tosoni has belted 10 home runs and a total of 28 extra-base hits.

Pitcher of the Month

Delaney left behind another great reliever in Anthony Slama, who the Twins felt needed a little extra grooming before moving up a level. Slama is out to prove them wrong, with an ERA of 2.53, a 4-2 record, and 15 saves through 35 games. He has struck out 59 batters while walking just 21.

At the midpoint in the season the Rock Cats are still in the thick of the playoff race, but another mediocre month like they suffered in June won't help them at all.

Fort Myers Miracle, First in the Florida State League South (High-A)
(13-13), 6.5 lead

The Florida State League is known as a pitcher's league, and the same is true on this squad. The Miracle are sitting comfortably atop their division thanks to their stellar pitching. 

Tyler Robertson has continued to be his dominant self, putting up pretty numbers while waiting for the ever-protective and cautious Twins to promote him to the next level. Robertson has a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 3.48 in 14 starts this year. He has 50 strikeouts and 30 walks.

Twenty-one-year old David Bromberg has done an outstanding job as well from the Miracle rotation. He has an ERA of 2.57 to go with his 6-0 record through his 14 starts this year. He has 72 strikeouts to go along with 35 walks. Also worth mentioning are starting pitchers Gutierrez, who was promoted this month, and Michael McCardell.

The bullpen has remained one of the best in the league, with pitchers like Santos Arias, Alex Burnett, Steven Hirschfeld, and Ludovicus VanMil, who all have ERAs under 3.00.

From the plate, Ben Revere continues to display his awesome potential. Listed by some as the No. 2 prospect in the entire Twins' system, Revere is hitting .319/.388/.381 with an OPS of 770, 23 strikeouts and 22 walks through 72 games. His incredible speed has also been put on display, with 28 successful steals.

Hitter of the Month

I had originally intended to give Joe Benson this award, but a broken hand really prohibits any swinging. Instead, Chris Parmelee and his batting line of .271/.355/.458 and OPS of 812 take home the title of Hitter of the Month. He leads the team in home runs, RBI, and walks taken. The 21-year old has done a great job at the plate during his first year with the Miracle.

Pitcher of the Month

Spencer Steedley has been unbelievable so far this year. His 0.95 ERA through twenty-eight games is the best on the team, and he has four saves, a 4-0 record, and a 37:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At 24, he is one of the oldest on the team, and could be in Minnesota in a few years.

The Miracle won the first half of the season over the Charlotte Stone Crabs, guaranteeing them a place in the postseason in a few months. Assuming their rotation and bullpen stay in tact, they will have another great chance to bring home a championship.

Beloit Snappers, Eighth in the Midwest League West (Single-A)
(11-15), 15 games back

The best known storyline coming out of the Snappers' camp was when Aaron Hicks was promoted. For the longest time Hicks had gone Missing In Action; either still in extended spring training or lost on a highway between  Wisconsin and Florida.

Whatever reason the Twins had for holding back the nearly undisputed top prospect is unknown. What is known is that Hicks is now in the Beloit outfield. He has played a total of eight games and is batting .222/.371/.259 with an OPS of .631. He has one double so far as well as one stolen base.

One of the major reasons the Snappers are so far back in the Midwest League standings is because they don't have good pitchers. Joe Testa was nabbed by the Miracle a few weeks ago, but Michael Tarsi has done a fine job in his stead, with an ERA of 1.95 and a 38:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Hitter of the Month

Twenty-three-year old Ramon Santana is spending his second consecutive year in Beloit, but seems to understand Midwest League pitchers. Through the first 54 games Santana is batting .308/.399/.472 with an OPS of .871. His  strikeout-to-walk ratio is a poor 47:28, but Santana has five home runs and a total of 25 extra-base hits.


Pitcher of the Month

Bradley Tippett has had a very good season in the Beloit starting rotation. Through 12 starts he has an ERA of 2.89 and a record of 5-3. He has 71.2 innings under his belt this year, and an incredible 60 strikeouts to just 15 walks. This is his second straight year with the Snappers as well, but he should be moving up very soon.

The Snappers, quite frankly, don't have a shot at any postseason glory this year simply because of a lack of talent; mostly from the pitching rubber. That should change assuming most of Minnesota's top pitching prospects in the 2009 draft pan out and advance from the short-season leagues. In short, a few bright spots glow on this Beloit roster.