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There have already been a lot of stories in the Twins minor league system this spring. The Twins have called down to Rochester seven times already. There have been weather postponements frequently with the Red Wings, the New Britain Rock Cats and the Beloit Snappers. There were guys who got off to a fast start who have slowed. There are guys who got off to slow starts that are doing much better.
For instance, last year's minor league hitter of the year, Joe Benson, was hitting .385 with 11 extra base hits one week ago. Since, he is 2-23 and has no hits in his last 16 at bats. He is still an honorable mention for player of the month, but his numbers are now down to .295/.365/.500 with eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 12 RBI. He is also 4-4 in steal attempts.
On the flip-side, early in the week, Ben Revere's batting average had fallen to .203. Some were asking how long until he would be demoted to Double-A. He then had nine hits in his next 11 at bats and is now over .280.
So, we have to be careful with April numbers, but is fun to recognize some guys who are off to a very good start. Today, I will post my top 5 choices for Twins minor league hitter of the month. Tomorrow, I will point out the top 5 Twins starting pitchers for April as well as highlight a couple of relievers that deserve recognition.
Before getting to the Top 5, here are some guys who just missed the admittedly subjective list:
Number 5 - Ft. Myers - Danny Rams - Catcher (23-68) .338/.392/.500 with four doubles, two triples, a home run and ten RBI.
Rams came to big league campe for the second straight year as a non-roster invitee. He has spent the past two years at Beloit where he has always shown tremendous power, but making contact has been a huge issue. He made a very good impression in big league camp and advanced to Hi-A Ft. Myers to start this season. He does have 21 strikeouts in about 75 plate appearances, so that is something he will need to continue to work on, but it is an improvement. The Florida native is much improved behind the plate as well.
Number 4 - Ft. Myers - Chris Herrmann - C/OF (27-81) .333/.417/.457 with five doubles, a triple, a home run and 16 RBI.
Herrmann was also invited to Twins big league camp as a non-roster invite. The Twins drafted him as a catcher, but he has been primarily used in the outfield where he is tremendous with the glove and has a strong arm. He is still mainly playing in the outfield this year, but he catches when Rams plays 1B or DH. He has already had a 12 game hitting streak this season. He has a tremendous eye at the plate. Herrmann was a 6th round pick in 2009 out of The U, and he was one of few hitting prospects that the Twins have had skip the Midwest League. He struggled last year in Ft. Myers, but he has a fluid swing, a great eye, and I'm sure it's great to see him get off to such a strong start.
Number 3 - New Britain - Yangervis Solarte - IF/OF (28-78) .359/.367/.577 with nine doubles, a triple, two home runs and 12 RBI.
The last couple of years, there is little question that Solarte can hit. He has hit for average and shown glimpses of some power. He was Ft. Myers' best hitter while with them in 2010, and he did well when he moved up to New Britain. However, it wasn't long before he was hurt and went back to Ft. Myers when he was healthy. Injuries have been one problem, and as you can see from his numbers above, walking is also a problem. Solarte definitely likes to swing the bat. The lack of walks makes his value dependent upon his batting average, but for April, he had a great month.
Number 2 - Beloit - Oswaldo Arcia - DH (25-71) .352/.420/.704 with eight doubles, a triple, five home runs and 18 RBI.
Lots of Twins prospects had good to really good months, but the choice for player of the month really came down to two Beloit Snappers. Last year, Arcia was the Appalachian League MVP when he hit .375 with 21 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs for Elizabethton. He will turn 20 next week, but he has had no problem adjusting to the Midwest League, even with its crazy weather. In fact, his strikeout rate and walk rates have improved, and he continues to show power. When I saw him in spring training, he would put on a display in the batting cage, and then come out and grab hold of his elbow. Clearly something wasn't right, and he has only DHd this month. He is experiencing soreness in his throwing shoulder and elbow. He is a tremendous prospect because he is also a very good defensive outfielder with a good arm and enough speed to play CF if needed. Arcia is a big, strong kid with immense talent.
The April Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is...
Beloit Snappers OF Daniel Ortiz (26-69) .377/.429/.768 with seven doubles, a triple, six home runs and 15 RBI.
The Twins drafted Ortiz in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. He had a solid debut, but a knee injury cost him the entire 2009 season. So, last year, he returned to Extended Spring Training and played for Elizabethton. As expected, he started slowly, but his eight home runs in August are why I dubbed him the Twins Breakout Player of the Year for 2011. So far, so good. While Arcia is 6-0 and 210, Ortiz is maybe 5-11 and listed at just 166 pounds. Reports in previous years told me that the ball just jumped off his bats. Teammates were amazed at his power because of how small he is. I must admit that when I saw him in Ft. Myers this spring, I was in awe. I had big hopes but no one could have convinced me that the Puerto Rico native would put up these kinds of numbers in April in Beloit! He is also a very good outfielder who can play all three positions.
Again, there have been some real positives in the Twins minor league system in April, but what Daniel Ortiz and Oswaldo Arcia did was incredible. Again, I'll discuss the pitchers of the month of April tomorrow, so be sure to check back.
Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.
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