September 13, 2007

Ft. Myers Miracle Season Review

Twins Advanced-A Affiliate
Team Record: 70-70 (30-40 in 1st half, 40-30 in 2nd half)

The Miracle finished in 4th place in the Florida State League West Division. They were 4 games behind the 1st place Clearwater Threshers (who won the FSL Championship on Tuesday). With 4 teams within 4 games of the leader, it was obviously a very tough division. Unfortunately, the Miracle got the low end of the stick after getting off to a slow start.

Although the team struggled on offense for the majority of the first half, they improved immensely in the second half.

One of the reasons was the promotion of Danny Valencia.Valencia, a 19th round draft choice in the 2006 draft started the season in Beloit, and after a quick start, he was promoted to Ft. Myers and picked up where he left off in Beloit. He finished the season hitting .297/.354/.462 with 23 doubles, 17 home runs, and 66 RBI’s in 127 games between Beloit and Ft. Myers. He emerged as one of the top hitters in the Twins MiLB system. He will more than likely start next year in New Britain and may be promoted to Rochester by the end of the season if all goes well.

Another key contributor to the Miracle’s late season offensive surge was the emergence of Erik Lis. Lis had a pretty bad May and June after getting off to a hot start in April. He hit .274/.334/.470 with 34 doubles, 4 triples, 18 home runs and 97 RBI’s in 132 games all for the Miracle. 7 of his home runs came in August which made people remember his potent bat as being a possible contributor to the Twins down the road. He played the majority of the games in Left Field and 1st Base while he also DH’d a bit as well.

Erik Lis

Brian Dinkelman was having a career year until August came around. After hitting .351 with 3 home runs from the leadoff spot in July, he then hit .180 in August to finish the season with a .255 avg.

Dustin Martin was another player who helped the Miracle late in the season. Martin who came over in the Luis Castillo trade hit .294/.366/.437 with 3 home runs and 19 RBI in just 32 games with the Miracle. He finished the season hitting .290/.361/.426 with 30 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs and 71 RBI. Many fans were very critical of the Luis Castillo trade, I have to admit that I was too, but Martin may make us all forget about Castillo in just a short time. He will be 23 years old next year and will likely start the season in New Britain where he will be right behind Denard Span and Brandon Roberts as far as top center field prospects are concerned.

Opposed the hitters, the pitching staff were strong from beginning to end. The team had a collective .329 ERA and gave up a league low 59 home runs on (also a league low) 442 earned runs.

Jeff Manship lead the Miracle in the second half of the season after he was promoted from Beloit on June 25th, and continued to progress at Ft. Myers after dominating Midwest League Batters. He was 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA and 77 K’s in 77.2 IP (13 starts) in Beloit and went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 59 K’s in 71.1 IP (13 starts). In his interview with me, he mentioned that he wanted to learn to pitch for more “contact more often rather than trying to strike everyone out.” It looks like he was trying to do that in Ft. Myers and will likely continue to try to do that in AA next season.

The workhorse and ace of the club wasn’t necessarily the most dominate pitcher. It was the Jay Rainville. Yes the same Jay Rainville that missed the entire 2006 season after having surgery to repair a nerve problem in his shoulder. The 21-year-old righty was on the fast track to be with the Twins around the time he was 22-24 but after a derailment, he really impressed many with his fantastic 2007 season. He finished 9-11 with a 3.29 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 142.1 innings (27 games). He will be in New Britain as a 22 year old and everyone can only hope he continues to pitch well.

Oswaldo Sosa and Yohan Pino were both promoted to New Britain on July 19th, and they definitely deserved it. Sosa was 5-5 with a 2.23 ERA and 82 K’s in 105 IP. Pino was baffling hitters with a 4-3 record to go along with a 1.73 ERA and 64 K’s in 67.2 IP. He also pitched a no-hitter on June 30th against the St. Lucie Mets.

Eduardo Morlan and Robert Delaney provided most of the closing for the Miracle. Morlan had 18 saves with a 3.15 ERA and also struck out 92 batters in just 65.2 innings. After his promotion to New Britain, Rob Delaney took the reigns as closer and was every bit as dominate. He had 7 saves to go along with a 1.54 ERA and 27 K’s in 23.1 innings. But Ft. Myers wasn’t the only place that Delaney was dominating as a closer in 2007, he also dominated the Midwest League with Beloit. He picked up a record 28 saves with a 0.77 ERA and 56 K’s in 46.2 innings. He and Morlan are giving the Twins a lot of options as far as the club’s future closer is concerned. Morlan has experience and success as a starter, if it comes down to the two, the Twins may consider moving him back to starter. But either way, both look to have a very bright future in the Twins system.

Team Batting Leaders
  • Average: .288, Dustin Martin
  • SLG %: .470, Erik Lis
  • OBP: .388, Steven Tolleson
  • Hits: 139, Steven Tolleson/Dustin Martin
  • Doubles: 34, Erik Lis
  • Triples: 6, Ed Ovalle
  • Home Runs: 18, Erik Lis
  • Runs Batted In: 97, Erik Lis
  • Stolen Bases: 27, Steven Tolleson

Team Pitching Stats

  • Wins: 15, Jeff Manship
  • Loses: 17, Zach Ward
  • ERA: 2.30, Jeff Manship
  • Innings Pitched: 149.0, Jeff Manship
  • Strikeouts: 136, Jeff Manship
  • WHIP: 0.95, Yohan Pino
  • Holds: 5, Kyle Aselton/Armando Gabino/Danny Powers
  • Saves: 18, Eddie Morlan