The winning percentage obviously has a lot to do with the success of you pitching, which despite being a great organizational asset in years past, pitching has definitely seen it's ups and downs this season throughout the organization. In April, the teams combined to allow 4.8 runs per game, which is evident from the 45% win percentage despite averaging 4.5 runs scored per game. In May, the teams combined to allow 4.8 per game, which along with an average of 4.9 runs scored is a reason the winning percentage is 10% higher than it was the previous month. It doesn't seem like a lot, and obviously a couple teams have skewed the results, but a .1 runs more per game proved to be a huge upgrade.
So when looking at it, the offense has been just a bit better than the pitching thus fart this season. The total offensive production has been a combined 4.7 runs per game while the pitching staff has combined to allow 4.8 runs per game this season.
Rochester Red Wings (24-24, 3rd in International League North)The Red Wings went 17-14 in May, a big improvement after a 7-10 April. The Red Wings averaged 4.6 runs per game while allowing 4.5 runs per game. The Red Wings offense didn't have high expectations coming into the season, but while the pitching staff seems to be coming around, the offense doesn't. The offense scored just .1 runs per game more in May than they did in April while the pitching staff allowed a full run less between the two months.
Hitter of the Month
Luke Hughes was the Red Wings top hitter in May, hitting .266/.348/.468 with nine extra-base hits including three home runs. Although his defense has been sub par all season, his bat remains to be his best asset. He has primarily played third base with a fair share of games at second base as well. Unfortunately, he leads the Red Wings with nine errors on the season. His .831 OPS is tops on the team and 23rd in the league. Hughes ranked 11th on my pre-season top 50 Twins Prospect list.
David Winfree is also worth noting. His .500 SLG% is tops on the team while he also leads the team with 22 extra-base hits. Unfortunately, he struck out 27 times this month while drawing just two walks. On the season, he has a ridiculous 41/3 K/BB ratio which is a main factor in his .278 OBP. For that reason alone, I cannot fathom 'awarding' him "Hitter of the Month." Winfree ranked 30th on my pre-season Top 50 Twins Prospect list.
Pitcher of the Month
After struggling in two April starts, Brian Duensing slowly started to improve throughout the month of May. Despite having a 5.39 ERA in his first three starts in May, he had a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts which gave him a 3.25 ERA on the month. While he remained very hittable throughout May, he only surrendered five walks through 36 innings. His 18/5 K/BB ratio (or 3.6 K/BB) was best amongst starters in the Red Wings rotation. Duensing ranked 25th on my pre-season Top 50 Twins Prospect list.
The top reliever of the month would probably have to go to Armando Gabino. Gabino surrendered seven walks opposed to just 11 strikeouts, but did lead the pitching staff in a few categories. In May, he had a team-best 0.84 WHIP, .102 average, and 0.63 ERA. He really struggled in April but did a complete 180° turn in May and has given the Red Wings a great relief option.
New Britain Rock Cats (25-24, 3rd in Eastern League Northern)
The Rock Cats went 17-13 in May, which like the Red Wings, was an improvement from an 8-11 April. The offense averaged 5.5 runs per game in May, a huge improvement over just 4.0 runs per game in April. Meanwhile, the pitching staff continued to struggle, allowing 5.4 runs per game, .9 more from April. Thankfully, the offense picked it up to bring the Rock Cats back into contention in the Eastern League Northern division.
Hitter of the Month
There were plenty of deserving hitters for this 'award.' Everyone is aware of Danny Valencia, who by all accounts may be the Twins top prospect this year. Brian Dinkelman is another player many people are familiar with. He's had good success throughout his professional career and with a limited influx of quality middle infielders throughout the system, he could have a bright career with the Twins. Juan Portes is slowly regaining places on many top prospect lists, but he too didn't win the 'award' for "Hitter of the Month." Not even Rene Tosoni's .323/.422/.591 hitting line with five home runs even won.
No, instead, I'm going to be talking about Whit Robbins who is putting up monster numbers after falling off the radar. Robbins put up disappointing numbers throughout the month of April, but finally started showing flashes of potential that the Twins saw in him when drafting him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. Robbins hit .386/.458/.614 with eight doubles and five home runs in May. He also did so while showing off his great plate discipline, drawing the same numbers of walks as strikeouts with 15. He has primarily been the Rock Cats cleanup hitter and while really seems to feed off the success of his teammates. When Valencia and Dinkelman are getting on base around 42% of the time, it's given Robbins great RBI opportunities. Hopefully May was just a foreshadowing of what's still to come from Robbins. Robbins ranked 46th on my pre-season Top 50 Twins Prospect list.
Pitcher of the Month
The "Pitcher of the Month" certainly doesn't have as many candidates, but it's still a tough choice this month. Both Matt Fox and Cole Devries has given the Rock Cats two consistent starting options when the rest of the rotation has really struggled all season.
Devries continues to slide under the radar by many people, but hoists a 22-18 record with a 3.17 ERA in 332+ Minor League innings. In May, the Eden Prairie native went 2-3 with a 2.83 ERA But that number is inflatted by a 4 2/3 inning outing when he gave up five runs. Without that start, Devries would have been 2-2 with a 1.50 ERA in May. The former Golden Gopher also continued to turn a high number of ground balls with a 2.72 GB/FB ratio. Like many ground ball pitchers, he gives up hits, but he should continue to gain recognition if he continues at this rate. Devries ranked 34th on my pre-season Top 50 Twins Prospect list.
But Fox is my choice for "Pitcher of the Month." The former 39th overall pick has really shown a lot of promise after missing all of the 2005 season with labrum surgery. This season, he is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA. Like Devries, Fox's May stats were somewhat inflatted due to one poor start. Without 'that' start, Fox would have been 3-0 with a 1.58 ERA in May. Instead, he was 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA. He's struggling with his control a little more this season than he was in '08 with the Miracle, but I expect him to settle down a little more as the season goes on.
The top reliever for the Rock Cats was without a doubt Rob Delaney. Delaney continues to raise the question "WHY AM I STILL HERE?" with another great month in the Eastern League. The 24-year-old right-hander had a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 innings in May. He also had another 20 strikeout month, but did walk five. He now has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/6 K/BB ratio on the season. Meanwhile, Anthony Slama posted a 4.41 ERA in May but did record eight saves. Delaney ranked 16th on my pre-season Top 50 Twins prospect list.
Ft. Myers Miracle (32-16, First in Florida State League South)
The Miracle had another great month, winning 20 games while losing just eight. They now sit at 16 game over .500 and are 6.5 games ahead of the Jupiter Hammerheads. The offense scored 134 runs in the Month of May or an average of 4.8 runs per game. Meanwhile, the pitching staff continues to pitch well in the FSL, which is expected. The Miracle currently have the 2nd best ERA in the FSL at 2.86. On that note, they also give up the third fewest runs per game in the FSL at 3.4.
Hitter of the Month
Rene Leveret is probably a lot of people's "Hitter of the Month." The 23-year-old first baseman from Saint Maartin hit .395/.477/.553 with five extra-base hits including a home run in 38 May at-bats (the few number of AB's is the reason for choosing Revere over Leveret). Even Chris Parmelee's .303/.394/.438 May line deserves mention.
But Ben Revere is my choice. The 5'9'' outfielder continued to show that size isn't an issue and hit .388 with an OPS of .879 in 98 May at-bats. He is now hitting .346/.410/.408 with a 17/15 BB/K ratio and 21 stolen bases. He hit .400 over his last 10 games including three RBI in his last three games. Revere continues to slug over .400 despite an extreme lack of power. He's only been able to leg out one triple this season, which is why his SLG% is nearly .100 points lower than it was in 2008. But while he's not hitting as many triples, he is showing great discipline at the plate. Don't forget, the Florida State League favors pitchers and is known as one of the best pitching leagues. The fact that Revere continues to show oustanding abilities at the plate in a non-hitter friendly environment like the FSL is a great sign. Revere ranked 2nd on my pre-season Top 50 Twins Prospects list.
Pitcher of the Month
Carlos Gutierrez continued to dominate the Florida State League in May. He posted a 1.35 ERA in five May starts. Really, the only disappointing thing about Gutierrez thus far in his career has been his lack of control. The 22-year-old is still in the process of converting himself from a reliever into a starter. He's averaged 5 1/3 innings per start in May. He continues to induce ground balls at a very high rate and now has a 4.14 GB/FB ratio on the season. Like Revere, many questioned the Twins after they drafted him but (again, like Revere) he is proving all doubters wrong. He continues to sport a fantastic fastball while he improves his breaking pitches. Gutierrez ranked 18th on my pre-season Top 50 Twins Prospect List.
Both Michael McCardell and David Bromberg also deserve mention. The two combined to go 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA in 62 innings. They also combined for a 56/20 K/BB ratio.
The relief pitcher of the month is Spencer Steedley. Steedley is lighting up the FSL after struggling in the same venue in 2008. In 12 May innings, Steedley did not allow a run while striking out 14. He walked just one and had a WHIP of 0.67. He now sits at 3-0 with a 0.76 ERA, WHIP of 0.93, and K/BB ratio of 24/4. He'll likely move up to New Britain at some point in June.
Beloit Snappers (18-31, 8th in Midwest League Western)
While all the other teams in the organization saw success in May, the Snappers continued to skid at the bottom of the Midwest League. The offense continues to put up runs, but the pitchers continue to give up more. The offense scored an average of 4.9 runs per game in May. However the pitching staff gave up an average of 5.8 runs per game as well. At least both of those numbers are better than in May where the offense averaged 4.8 runs per game while the pitching staff averaged 6.4 runs allowed.
Hitter of the Month
A few hitters improved from April to May including Angel Morales and Nathan Hanson. And while Ramon Santana didn't put up nearly as good of numbers as he did in April, his .911 OPS still lead the team.
The "Hitter of the Month" to me is James Beresford. After a great World Baseball Classic, the Twins believed Beresford was ready for full-season action despite hitting just .246/.345/.285 in the Appalachian League in 2008. Beresford was slowed with shoulder tendonitis in April but hit .328/.405/.345 in 116 May at-bats. Although he's never hit a home run in his career and will probably see his SLG% below .400, he has been a great table-setter for the Snappers this season and has walked a team-high 17 times this season and has a second best .396 OBP. Beresford's slender frame will probably never generate much power, but if he can continue to get on base around 40% of the time, he should be a real asset throughout his career.
Pitcher of the Month
Brad Tippett improved to 5-1 on the season after a 4-1 May. The Aussie pitcher threw 35 innings in May and gave up just 5 runs. He also continued to show great control by walking only five batters opposed to striking out 28. The 21-year-old is finally making an impact in the Midwest League after having great success in the Appalachian Rookie League. Although he doesn't have as high of a ceiling as a few pitchers on the Snappers roster, he's making head way as the staff ace.
The Snappers' top reliever for the month of May was Joe Testa. The 23-year-old New Jersey native threw 22 innings in May and gave up just three runs. His 1.23 ERA wasn't as good as Matthew Williams', but I thought he was every bit as dominant as Williams was, if not more. Although the Twins would hate to rob the Snappers of one of their only reliable arms, Testa will probably be on his way to Ft. Myers at some point in June.