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Yesterday, we looked at some of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system in April and named Danny Ortiz of the Beloit Snappers as the hitter of the month. He had hit .377/.429/.768 with seven doubles, a triple, six home runs and 15 RBI. The choice for #2 hitter was his teammate Oswaldo Arcia, who was put on the disabled list on Sunday.
Today, I want to share with you some of the top pitchers in the Twins minor league system in the month of April. I'll name the top 3 relievers and the top 5 pitchers, but I'll start with a few honorable mentions:
Let's start with the Top 3 Relief Pitchers:
Number 3 - Beloit - Blayne Weller - 7 G, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 12 K
The Twins drafted the 6-5 right-hander with their 14th round pick in 2008 and signed him on the deadline date. After primarily starting the last two years in the rookie leagues, Weller is working out of the Snappers bullpen and may get more opportunities to start especially if he pitches this well. His peripherals don't look as good as that snazzy 0.00 ERA, but Weller does have terrific upside.
Number 2 - Rochester - Chuck James - 9 G, 0-1, 3.14 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 20 K
The 29 year-old southpaw signed with the Twins before spring training. He went 11-4 for the Braves in 2006, and won another 11 games in 2007. Things didn't go well for him in 2008, and it was then that he had arm surgery and missed all of 2009. Last year, the Nationals gave him a shot and he went 10-1 between AA and AAA. He appears to be back, posting very good numbers in April. In fact, don't be too surprised if you see him in a Twins uniform in the not-so-distant-future.
And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
New Britain - Cole DeVries - 7 G, 0-0, 4 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.27 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 21 K
In the bullpen, a 0.00 ERA can be misleading, but that is not the case for the former Eden Prairie High School and Minnesota Gophers star. Not only is he not giving up runs this year, he's hardly allowing any base runners. His saves have typically been the three inning variety so far. Just take another look up at that WHIP, the walks and the hits per inning. And then he's averaging nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings. Just a remarkable start to DeVries season after a frustrating 2010 season that saw him struggle with the Rock Cats and with the Triple-A Red Wings.
With that, let's jump to the starting pitchers. Here are the Top 5 Starting Pitchers for April:
Number 5 - Ft. Myers - Kane Holbrooks - 5 GS, 0-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 27 H, 6 BB, 9 K
Win-Loss record sometimes can be indicative of how a pitcher is pitching, but not always. Holbrooks has been terrific so far this year for the Miracle, yet due to lack of run support, he is 0-4. He is eating innings. He isn't allowing many runs or base runners. Holbrooks broke out with a tremendous 2010 season, his first full-season with the organization. Despite a lack of strikeouts, he had a very good first month.
Number 4 - Beloit - Logan Darnell - 4 GS, 1-1, 2.78 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 16 K
The Snappers had a winning record in April despite a struggling offense that got runs from basically just two hitters. How did they win? Because of pitching, and Logan Darnell has been the best. You saw the Honorable Mention included several Snappers, but Darnell was the best in April. The lefty was the Twins 6th round pick a year ago out of the University of Kentucky. He hasn't allowed base runners, and his stuff is touted as nasty. May be a dominant lefty reliever over time, but for now, he is pitching really well.
Number 3 - New Britain - Liam Hendriks - 5 G, 4 GS, 2-1, 3.43 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 21 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 20 K
I was a little surprised when, with all of the veterans brought in, Hendriks started this season with the Rock Cats after spending just over half of 2010 in Ft. Myers. But Hendriks is a Top 5 prospect for the Twins, and he has it all. He has really good stuff. He is very smart. He is very competitive. Hendriks has had just one start this April that has not been affected by the weather conditions and yet he put up sparkling numbers again. In fact, he has given up runs in just three of those 21 innings (and five runs came in just one inning). The 22 year old Australian right-hander missed all of 2008 with a neck/spine injury, but he has made up for lost time very quickly.
Number 2 - Rochester - Kyle Gibson - 4 GS, 0-1, 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 20 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 21 K
While Twins fans are clamoring for Gibson to be promoted to the Twins, Gibson is quietly and humbly going about his business with the Red Wings. In fact, he made the start for the Red Wings on Sunday (May 1, so not included in the above stats), and picked up his first Rochester Win. He went six innings and gave up three runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out six. All three runs (and four of the hits) came in the second inning. Consider now that he has four walks and 27 strikeouts in 26 innings. Yet, he is the first to admit that he is still working on things, still trying to figure things out. That said, it has to be tempting for Bill Smith to add Mr. Gibson to the 40 man roster and get him in to the Twins rotation.
And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:
Number 1 - New Britain - Steve Hirschfeld - 4 GS, 1-0, 2.05 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 22 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 18 K
2009 was a great season for Hirschfeld at Ft. Myers. He went to the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately 2010 was a lost year for the 6-5 right-hander. He fought injuries and made just three starts all season. The 25-year-old is back and healthy now, and pitching great for the Rock Cats. He is a big, strong guy who can carry the Rock Cats this season, although it is also possible that he sneaks up to Rochester at some point.
Congratulations to the three choices for players of the month, Danny Ortiz of the Beloit Snappers, Cole DeVries of the New Britain Rock Cats and Steve Hirschfeld of the New Britain Rock Cats. But Congratulations to all of those players mentioned in these two articles on a great start to their 2011 seasons.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.
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