May 1, 2010

Minor League Month in Review: Rochester Red Wings - April

Rochester Red Wings (9-13, tied for last in the Florida State League - North)

             Team Leaders - Hitters                  Team Leaders - Pitchers    
             Hits: Brian Dinkelman - 24              Wins: Rob Delaney - 3
Avg: Jason Repko - .345 ERA: Jeff Manship - 3.48
OPS: Dustin Martin - 1.004 IP: Ryan Mullins - 26.33
HR: Dustin Martin - 4 K: Ryan Mullins/Anthony Slama - 19
RBI: Dustin Martin - 17 Saves: Anthony Slama - 5
SB: 3 - tied with 2 WHIP: Ryan Mullins - 1.18

A lot of excitement surrounded the Rochester Red Wings, but like in past years, the potential and the production haven't matched. The Red Wings have seven players that appeared in my top 50 prospect list including two players in the top seven. Unfortunately, a mixture of poor pitching and a lack of offensive production have the Red Wings at the bottom of the division.

The rotation was supposed to be anchored by a fleet of pitchers with Major League experience including Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Mike Maroth and Jeff Manship (#21). Swarzak made only two starts before breaking his foot and Perkins has managed to lose the little value he had left by struggling in each of his four starts. Together, Swarzak and Perkins have an ERA of 8.25. Maroth looked okay in his three starts, but he too was hit by the injury bug with an inflamed left elbow. Manship has been left to lead the rotation and has a 3.48 ERA in four starts.

Thankfully, other players have stepped up in the absence of these guys and have managed to keep the Red Wings in games. Ryan Mullins hasn't seen the International League since he was destroyed in four starts there in 2007. He's back and has been great since joining the rotation. He is 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts. He gave up six runs in three innings as a reliever, which is why he isn't leading the Red Wings in ERA. The Red Wings signed Charlie Zink who took Maroth's place on the roster. Zink, a knuckleball pitcher, made one start for Rochester. He only gave up two runs over five innings, but his six walks are very alarming and it's something to keep an eye on. Cuban-native Yoslan Herrerra has been fairly consistent over his first four starts for the Red Wings, but he hasn't pitched into the sixth inning yet.

The bullpen consists of four highly thought-after pitchers in Matt Fox, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Slama (#17) and Rob Delaney (#26). Together, these four have combined for a very good, reliable bullpen. This quad has combined for a 2.28 ERA in 44 appearances. They also have a 58/22 K/BB ratio. Slama continues to show that he's ready for the Major Leagues, but he's not on the 40-man roster and the Twins aren't prepared to clear room for him yet, which has caused a lot of Twins fans to become frustrated.

Granted these guys are young, but the offense was relying on the success of Wilson Ramos (#2) and Danny Valencia (#7), who have both struggled. Many criticized the front office for not bringing Ramos to Minnesota, but he is hitting below the "Mendoza Line" through 67 at-bats. Valencia might be "clicking" after getting off to a poor start. He is hitting .406 with five doubles and five RBI in his last seven contests.

But the Red Wings have a good mix of veteran players as well, lead by Jason Repko, Jacque Jones and Dustin Martin have all played well in April. Perhaps the best option the Twins have at center field (besides Denard Span, of course) is Repko. The Red Wings signed him two days before the season started, and he's rewarded them by hitting .345/.448/.527 at the top of the Red Wings lineup. Jones has been slowed by a strained left quad, has hit .300/.382/.500 in 30 at-bats.

Martin struggled in 2009, but he's off to a great stat in 2010. Through 65 at-bats, Martin is hitting .338/.419/.585 with seven extra-base hits and 17 RBI. He has been more patient at the plate and is driving the ball as well as he has throughout his career.

Brian Dinkelman (#36) is getting his first taste of Triple-A and is off to a great start. He's played all over the field, but his offense has remained consistent with his career numbers. On the other hand, Trevor Plouffe (#24) is in his third season with the Red Wings but is finally looking better at the plate. Plouffe, who is three years younger than Dinkelman, is hitting .280/.362/.463 with eight extra-base hits and eight walks in 82 at-bats. I mention his eight walks because it is one more than the times he's struck out, which for Plouffe is a big thing. As his career 459/237 K/BB ratio shows, Plouffe has had a hard time with his plate discipline, which means we might finally see the Plouffe play to his potential. That is something that hasn't happened since he was drafted in the 1st round in 2004.

What's Next?: The Nationals have promoted phenom Stephen Strasburg to Triple-A Syracuse, which is a relief for the New Britain Rock Cats, but now a problem for the Rochester Red Wings. Rochester plays host to the Syracus Chiefs from May 18-21. The Red Wings face the Durham Bulls and Syracus Chiefs (division leaders) 12 times. But they also play the Norfolk Tides and Louisville Bats (last place teams) 13 times.


Jim Roland Fan said...

I was a Terry Ryan fan,but I'm not so sure anymore. I see a big black hole in our minors system with talent just starting to appear now that Terry is gone. It looks like he picked up some good ones but overall the talent was pretty thin. What do you think, Josh? Hang in there Rochester.

Josh Johnson said...

When Ryan left, the Twins and their Minor League affiliates were in turmoil. The Twins had the contract talk going on with Johan, Hunter, etc. And the Minor Leagues were pretty weak. And it does seem now that the Twins Minor League affiliates are stronger after Ryan has left.

However, Ryan did make several great moves and guys like Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, etc. were all here in large part because of him. How many other GM's have had two MVP's and a two-time Cy Young Award winner in one decade (actually, in the span of about six years)? Not too many. It's one thing to get the guys through free agency, but Ryan did a great job of building a team from within.

Remember, the purse strings haven't been so tight for Bill Smith, which has allowed him to draft players like Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson or sign guys like Miguel Sano or Max Kepler.

Ryan's last draft pick (as GM), Ben Revere, who we all know was taken because of finances. Thankfully he worked out, which is kind of a trend under Ryan. Things just worked out.

Hang in there Rochester, but I wouldn't put all the blame on Terry Ryan.