Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Monday, April 28, 2008

Down on the Farm: AAA Report

Just FYI -- I've adopted the Star Tribune convention of bolding a player's name the first time I use it in the story (or, I should say, when I start to talk about that player's performance for the week). I think it makes things a little easier to follow with these posts.

Rochester Red Wings (12-12)

Starting Pitchers
This week belonged to Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing, with Kevin Mulvey also continuing to put up solid numbers. Glen Perkins was the real story, though -- after struggling through the first few weeks of the season with an ERA above 5.00, Perkins made two starts this week that were much better than what he has been putting together, even though he took a loss in one of them. In his first start, Perkins went 5.0 innings and gave up just 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks. That's not bad, but his second start was gold -- a complete game shutout in which he struck out 7 and allowed just 2 hits and a walk. That nearly halved his ERA, which fell all the way to 2.89. Amazing how early in the season, two solid starts can completely change the perception of how things are going.

Brian Duensing, meanwhile, continued to impress this week. He went 7.0 strong in getting the win in his only start, giving up a run on 3 hits while striking out 5. His ERA fell from 2.74 to 2.40 on the season. Kevin Mulvey also continued to impress, going 5.2 innings in his only start and allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and 4 walks with 5 K's. His ERA rose (from 1.02 to 1.16) and those 4 walks were a bit high, but the fact remains that Mulvey continues to impress.

Unfortunately, the same has not been true of fellow former Met Philip Humber, who continued to struggle this week. In a losing effort, Humber went 4.2 innings and allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on an awfully high 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out a couple of batters. That performance raised Humber's already high ERA from 5.09 to 5.24.

The final start of the week went to Heath Totten, whose days as a starter are probably over now that Francisco Liriano is back in Rochester, giving the Red Wings five solid starters. Not that Totten has been primarily a starter anyway -- he made 2 relief appearances this week in addition to his 3.0 inning, 3 hit, 2 K start. Totten did allow an earned run during one of his relief appearances, but his 2.87 ERA still is evidence that Totten has pitched pretty well this season.

Relief Pitchers
Tim Lahey joined the Red Wings this week after rejoining the Twins and pitching briefly with the Ft. Myers Miracle. In two games, Lahey picked up a win and a save, going 3.1 innings and striking out 3 batters without allowing a baserunner. The bullpen Lahey joined has been pretty solid overall this year, and this week was no different. Casey Daigle made one 1.1 inning, 1 K appearance to drop his season ERA to 3.38. Ricky Barrett went 5.0 innings in 3 games, giving up 1 run on 1 hit and 3 walks while striking out 7 batters in that span, bringing his ERA to 2.45.

While nobody had terrible weeks, the other relievers weren't quite as good.
Carmen Calipitched in just one game, giving up a run in 1.0 inning on 1 hit and a K, bringing his season ERA to 2.79. Julio DePaula pitched in 2 games, going 2.2 innings and giving up 2 runs on 4 hits with 3 K's, bringing his ERA to 3.52. Finally, Mariano Gomez went 3.0 innings in 3 games, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits to bring his season ERA to 1.84. Like I said, none of them was terrible, but they weren't quite as good as the guys up top.

Finally! After struggling mightily to start the season, Jose Morales put together a great week, going 8-for-16 (1 double and 7 singles) and drove in 3 runs to bring his season average to .231. While .231 is nothing to write home about, it's a dramatic improvement from the .143 he was hitting as of last week. Backup Eli Whiteside also picked it up in limited action this week, going 2-for-6 with a homerun to bring his average to .150 from .071.

First base was all about Randy Ruiz this week, as he started all 6 games. He went 8-for-22 on the week with a homer, 4 doubles, and a triple while driving in 8 runs and raising his average up to .273. Somehow, everyone who was struggling a bit seems to have figured out how to hit. I'm not as high on Ruiz as I was during spring training, but I still think there's a chance that he could see big league action at some point this year if the Twins decide they want to have a power bat off the bench.

Second base still belongs to Howie Clark, the veteran minor league free agent picked up in the off-season. He went 4-for-16 on the week to bring his season average to .246 -- and that included a surprising homerun and a double.

At third, Matt Macri and Chris Basak both started three games for the Red Wings. Macri also picked up 2 starts at SS and one at 2B, going 5-for-21 with 3 doubles to bring his season average to .263 (a drop from .271). Basak, meanwhile, went 4-for-14 with a homer and a double (and 6 K's) while starting a game at SS in addition to his starts at 3B.

Shortstop primarily belonged to Alexi Casilla, and unfortunately he was the exception to the major improvements seen by many of the struggling hitters on the team. Casilla started 3 games at SS and one at 2B, going 3-for-13 with a double to raise his season average to .176. As Jose Morales showed, it's possible to turn things around pretty quickly -- hopefully Casilla can do that right soon.

Jon Knott went 3-for-10 this week in 3 starts in left field, hitting a homerun in a 2-for-3 performance during his first start of the week and generally struggling thereafter. Knott may have a hard time finding playing time from here on out, though -- with Denard Span back in center, Jason Pridie started the last two games of the week in left, going 8-for-28 overall in those two starts and 4 more in CF. Pridie struck out an awful lot this week -- 10 times, in fact -- but at least he was generally hitting the ball. His season average now sits at .278 on the season.

Denard Span returned to the Red Wings this week and started two games in center, going 2-for-8 with 3 walks and a steal (along with 1 caught stealing) in those two starts. His average in Rochester is now .294 -- we'll see this week how he settles back into his job in AAA.

Darnell McDonald, meanwhile, got all 6 starts in right field this week, going 5-for-24 with a double and a triple, dropping his season average to .292. McDonald could find himself splitting some playing time this week, with Jon Knott out of a regular job in left. Garrett Jones didn't start any games in RF this week, but he did start all six as the DH, so I'm sticking him here. Jones went 4-for-23 this week (all singles), dropping his average to .208.

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