(Also, here's the boxscore on Kyle Gibson's outing for Class AA New Britain today. He allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings, two of them by Jacoby Ellsbury, who's doing a minor-league rehab assignment. More on Gibson below.)
Outfielder Joe Benson is supposed to be one of the Twins better prospects, a second-round pick in 2006, Benson is one of those toolsy high school outfielders that the Twins have jumped on over the years.
He began the season at Class AA New Britain but, in an eye-opening move on Monday, Benson was sent back to Class A Fort Myers after batting .219 with homers and 9 RBI in 33 games.
The batting average looks bad. And people who have seen him play have suggested that he wasn't ready to Class AA.
But after batting .161 in April, Benson was batting .283 in May with four homers. His plate discipline didn't suffer, as he led New Britain with 18 walks at the time of the demotion for a respectable .354 on base percentage.
The Twins don't mind plate discipline. But they also want their players be become as complete hitters as possible. Benson had 35 strikeouts in 33 games at New Britain. That's on pace for...a lot of strikeouts. The Twins also feel that Benson has the potential to hit for average and some power, so they felt a step back right now will help him in the long run.\
``We just need to get these kids going,'' said Jim Rantz, the Twins' director of minor leagues, ``if only for a month to get straightened out.''
Rantz also had Brandon Roberts at Class A Fort Myers, who had recovered from an injury and has played at New Britain before.
With Jeff Manship with the major league team for awhile, lefthander Tyler Robertston has been called up from Class AA New Britain to start on Thursday.
Class A Fort Myers Bruce Pugh is on the disabled list with a sore elbow. Righthander Adrian Salcedo, 19, made his Class A debut on Wednesday. There are a lot of Salcedo fans in the organization, mainly because of his control. But he was tagged for five runs in four innings on six hits - two of them homers.
Carlos Gutierrez has a 1.88 ERA in four starts this month at New Britain - but has walked 10 in 24 innings. Still, it looks like he's starting to figure some things out. Gutierrez and the recent arrival of righthander Kyle Gibson will be interesting to watch.
Gibson, who will be in my updated top ten prospects list at the end of the month, struck out 10 in his double-A debut over the weekend. For comparison's sake, Francisco Liriano struck out 10 in his first game at New Britain in 2004 and Matt Garza struck out 13 in his first game there in 2006.
It might not be far-fetched to think that Gibson could pitch himself into September callup the way he's going right now.
Potentially bad news for righthander Ben Tootle, the Twins' third-round pick last year. He's headed to the Twin Cities this week to have his elbow examined by Twins physician Dr. Dan Buss. The Twins are worried that he has a torn ulnar ligament.
The Twins have 11 minor league pitchers on the disabled list. It has forced pitchers to be moved up to fill in holes. Righthander B.J. Hermsen is at Beloit instead of waiting for one of the short season leagues to start. He gave up one earned run in five innings last Friday in his debut. He has a chance to stick around as long as he keeps pitching well.
Here are the moves the Twins made on Monday;
Joe Benson from NB to FTM
Chris Cates from FTM to NB
Estarlin De Los Santos from NB to FTM
Toby Gardenhire from NB to ROC
Chris Parmelee from NB to FTM
Brandon Roberts from FTM to NB
Loek Van Mil from FTM to NB