September 18, 2007

Rochester Red Wings Season Recap

I'm posting a bit early tonight, I have a bunch of school work to do.

To continue with some of my recent posts, I will continue to do my "Season Recaps" series, this time focusing on the Rochester Red Wings. In case you missed some of the other season recaps, here they are:
Rochester Red Wings

Twins Triple-A Affiliate
Team Record: 77-67
(2nd Place in International League North)

The Rochester Red Wings post season dreams fell short by 7.5 games to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The Red Wings were close to the top for the majority of the season, but a 15-15 August put the Red Wings back and the Yankees ran away with it. A large reason for the August drop off was the dismantle of some of the Red Wings roster (due to injury's on the Twins) and (not to put all the fault on his shoulders, but...) a slump by their biggest run producer.

Garrett Jones had a fantastic season for the Red Wings. He hit .280/.334/.473 with 32 doubles, 3 triples, 13 Home Runs and 70 RBI. Unfortunately he was the batter I was referring to in the introduction. After a July where Jones hit .333 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI, Jones regressed in August and hit .228 with 2 home runs and 9 RBI. Although he was hot and cold for a big part of the season, he found himself on a roller coaster between AAA and the Big Leagues. He hasn't been given a fair shot of proving himself at the major league level, but if he can produce like he did in Rochester, he could prove to be a short-term answer at DH for the Twins.

Matt Tolbert also had a great year for the Red Wings. Besides filling in at second base, short stop, and third base, Tolbert also put up some great offensive numbers. The 24-year old infielder hit .293/.353/.427 with 24 doubles, 7 triples, 6 home runs and 53 RBI's. Tolbert primarily played second base but in June, the Twins wanted to see him move to 3rd as a possible replacement for the struggling Nick Punto. Unfortunately, the promotion of Brian Buscher derailed that scenario, but Tolbert definitely showed promise as being part of the Twins future plans. He will more than likely take on the role of a guy like Luis Rodriguez for the Twins, if he doesn't return.

Quite possibly the biggest surprise for the Red Wings came from behind the plate. The emergence of Jose Morales was instrumental to the Red Wings playoff hopes. The middle-infielder turned catcher finished just 7 points in batting average to Cleveland's Ben Francisco with a .311 batting average. Although he showed little power, he's a fairly good gap hitter which showed with his 25 doubles. He had 3 at bats with the Twins earlier this month and went 3-3 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. The Twins may keep him on their roster if he has a strong spring and in doing so could choose not to bring back Chris Heintz. Morales would be a more than capable 3rd catcher for the Twins and his bat had some people chattering about the possibility of moving Joe Mauer to another position in place of him. He has a bright future and I can't wait to see his stuff in '08.

Jose Morales

When almost everyone had a poor month of August, the one player that truly stood out was former 1st round pick, Denard Span. Span hit .324/.415/.412 in the 30 games. Span's season numbers can be deceiving though. Why? Because he hit .214 in April and .212 in May. But between June-September, Span hit .301 with 11 doubles, 5 triples, 3 home runs and 39 RBI's. Even with that, many don't feel that Span is a suitable replacement if the Twins end up losing Torii Hunter to free agency, but I think otherwise and believe that he would be alright.

The rotation was strong for the Red Wings again.

The rotation's ace was without a doubt Kevin Slowey. The 23-year old righty dominated the International League and finished the year with a 10-5 record and a 1.88 ERA. He also struck out 107 batters through the 20 games he pitched. The next closest ERA in the League was 3.16. Slowey also found himself between Minnesota and Rochester this season, but he hopes to stick with the Twins next year out of Spring Training.

Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn both made the jump from New Britain to Rochester this season. After both pitching well in the Eastern League, both made a great transition to the International League. Duensing went 11-5 with a 3.24 ERA in 19 starts for the Red Wings. Blackburn's transition was a little better, believe it or not. Blackburn had a period of 41 innings of scoreless pitching. He finished June with a 5-0 mark and pitched 2 complete game shutouts through 39 innings. He finished the season 7-3 with a 2.11 ERA and only gave up 12 walks through 110 innings. He also hopes to be a candidate to start in 2008 for the Twins.

Bobby Korecky shattered the Red Wings record of 23 Wings set by Travis Bowyer in 2005 with a new mark which will be hard to break of 35 saves. Although by the number of saves it looked like he was damn-near dominant he did so in a not-so dominate fashion. His 3.71 ERA fluctuated all season and he also gave up 81 hits and 34 walks in his 85 innings pitched. The Twins will need to make a decision on him this off season since he's a possible 6-year MiLB free agent.

The Red Wings will hope to be back in the playoffs in 2008 and hopefully the Twins can go a season without dismantling their roster midway through the season.

Team Batting Leaders
  • Average: .311, Jose Morales
  • SLG %: .473, Garrett Jones
  • OBP: .366, Jose Morales
  • Hits: 130, Denard Span
  • Doubles: 32, Garrett Jones
  • Triples: 7, Denard Span/Matt Tolbert
  • Home Runs: 13, Garrett Jones
  • Runs Batted In: 70, Garrett Jones
  • Stolen Bases: 25, Denard Span
Team Pitching Leaders
  • Wins: 12, Julio DePaula
  • Loses: 12, Dave Gassner
  • ERA: 1.89, Kevin Slowey
  • Innings Pitched: 149, Dave Gassner
  • Strikeouts: 107, Kevin Slowey
  • WHIP: 0.96, Kevin Slowey
  • Holds: 11, Julio DePaula
  • Saves: 35, Bobby Korecky