Down on the Farm: High A Report
The Miracle played six games in the first week of action, and six different starters took the mound in those games. The most recognizable starter was, of course, Francisco Liriano, who made a one-start stop with the Miracle before moving to Rochester on what amounts to a rehab assignment (technically, he was optioned to the minors, so it isn't a "real" rehab assignment). While he struck out eight batters in that start, he allowed 4 earned runs and 6 hits in 5.1 innings. As for the guys who are actually part of the regular Miracle roster, the two best starts were from Deolis Guerra (5.0 innings, 1 earned run on 2 hits and a walk, 6 K's) and Cole Devries (6.0 innings, 1 earned run on 4 hits, and 3 K's). It was especially nice to see Devries pitch well in his start, since he got action in relief of Liriano and gave up 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in that outing.
The worst start of the week undoubtedly was put up by Alex Burnett, who gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on a whopping 12 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings of work in his lone start of the week. Yipes! Finally, I should mention that Jeff Manship and Tyler Robertson also got starts this week, with Manship getting a win in a game where he went 5.0 innings and gave up 3 earned, and Robertson taking a tough loss after going 5.0 innings and giving up 2 earned on 4 hits.
Closer Rob Delaney started off his season solidly, picking up 2 saves in 2 chances after allowing just 2 hits and picking up 2 K's in 4 innings of work (two 2-inning saves). Meanwhile, Danny Vais got into three games this week, pitching 2.2 innings and allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out two. A positive shout-out should also go to Anthony Slama, who went 2.0 innings and allowed just a hit and a walk with 2 K's in his Miracle debut. On the down side, Jose Lugo took the loss in his second game of the year after going just 0.1 innings and allowing 4 earned runs on 3 hits and a walk. That followed a much more successful season debut for Lugo, who went 1.1 innings and allowed just a hit in the Miracle opener. Incidentally, I would be remiss to not mention that Aaron Craig was added to the Miracle roster sometime this week, and had a rather rough debut -- he allowed an earned run on two hits without getting any outs, leaving him with the always entertaining "infinite ERA" for the season.
Wilson Ramos, one of the Twins top organizational catching prospects, was given a chance to play in every game the Miracle played this week making three starts behind the plate and three as the DH. After a great 3-5 start in which he belted a home run and picked up a couple of RBI's, Ramos had three straight 0-for's before getting a hit in each of his last two games of the week. He finished off with a 5-19 week. Spring Training invitee Allan de San Miguel, meanwhile, picked up two starts this week and went 2-6 with a double and a couple of RBI's. Don't expect him to maintain that .333 batting average for long. Finally, Rodolfo Palacios went 0-2 in his lone start of the week.
First base this week belonged to Johnny Woodard, who started three games at the position along with getting a start as the DH. You have to wonder how long he'll remain the usual starter, however, after he kicked off his season with an 0-11 slump in which he struck out 6 times. Backup Daniel Berg, meanwhile, went 2-6 with a dinger and three runs scored in two starts. One week does not a season make, but maybe Berg can put some pressure on Woodard for playing time. Whit Robbins picked up the other start at 1B, along with 2 starts as the DH. He went 1-8 with a couple of walks and a steal over the course of the week.
At second, Brian Dinkelman started the first five games of the week before finally getting a day off. His 6-19 performance provided a nice start to the season for Dinkelman, who doubled three times, scored four times, and picked up a couple of RBI's. The other start at second went to the most surprising player of the week -- the much maligned Toby Gardenhire, who also started two games at shortstop. Gardenhire put together a 5-8 week with a run scored and a couple of RBI's. I don't expect him to hit anywhere even approaching .250 over the course of the season, but I won't deny that this is a great start for Gardenhire and I would be delighted to see him finally put things together offensively.
The third baseman in each of the six games played by the Miracle this year was Danny Valencia, who had the weeks best offensive performance (other than Gardenhire) by going 7-19 with a homer and 7 RBI's and a stolen base. Considering how hot he was at the plate, it's not really a surprise that he was left in the lineup all week -- expect Toby Gardenhire to get a start here at some point to spell Valencia for a game.
Finally, the regular shortstop this week was Yancarlos Ortiz, who started four games at the position (the other two went to Gardenhire, as mentioned above). Ortiz went 2-8 with a couple of walks, three K's and a caught stealing on the week.
Juan Portes was the busiest outfielder on the team this week, starting five games in left and one in center while putting up a wretched 1-16 performance with 4 K's and an error. Undoubtedly not the way that he would have preferred to get his season underway. Edward Ovalle was also busy this week, getting 2 starts in center, 2 in right, and 1 in left while compiling a 1-12 week in which he struck out 5 times. Regular center fielder Danny Santiesteban also contributed to the offensive struggles that dogged the outfielders this week, going 0-7 in his three starts in center (he did walk three times and pick up a stolen base, so not all was bad). In fact, the only good week offensively for an outfielder was put up by Rene Tosoni, who started four games in right field and put up a 5-12 week.