June 1, 2010

Twins Minor League Month in Review: Ft. Myers Miracle - May

Ft. Myers Miracle (21-29, 5th in the Florida State League - South)

             Team Leaders - Hitters                  Team Leaders - Pitchers    
             Hits: Evan Bigley - 40                  Wins: Michael Tarsi - 3
Avg: Chris Parmelee - .340 ERA: Bobby Lanigan - 2.67
OPS: Joe Benson - .925 IP: Michael Tarsi - 52
HR: Joe Benson - 4 K: Bruce Pugh - 47
RBI: Deibinson Romero - 40 Saves: Billy Bullock - 8
SB: Estarlin De Los Santos - 4 WHIP: Bobby Lanigan - 0.99

After winning just 38% of their games in April, the Ft. Myers Miracle improved in May to win 45% of their games. 7% isn't a lot, but it is improvement. What changed the most? The offense. After scoring just 2.9 runs per-game in April, the Miracle lineup scored 4.07 runs per-game in May. But while the lineup finally started to hit its stride, the starting pitching started to struggle.

Consensus top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson (#5) made just one May start for the Miracle before being promoted to Double-A New Britain. The Miracle replaced Gibson with Dan Osterbrock, which was thought to be a suitable replacement. Unfortunately, Osterbrock's success in the Midwest League hasn't been duplicated in the Florida State League, as he has had problems with consistency. Through five starts, three have been successful while two have not. He's struggled when runners have been on base, but hopefully he will turn it around in June.

But while Gibson's departure has hurt the Miracle, it wasn't the biggest blow the team suffered. Bobby Lanigan, who was arguably the best pitcher in the FSL in April, suffered an injury and hasn't pitched since May 6th. He's hoping to return in early June. But his injury allowed the Miracle to call up Beloit's ace, Liam Hendriks (#42). The right-handed Aussie has continued his 2010 campaign in Ft. Myers and is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts for the Miracle. With the exception of one start, Hendriks has been impeccable on the mound. If taking his one poor start out, Hendriks is 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA, a 19/2 K/BB ratio, a 21/14 GB/FB ratio and a .169 BAA. Hendriks has sky-rocketed up prospect charts and is someone Twins fans should become familiar with.

Bruce Pugh also went down with an elbow injury after making three May starts. He had a 1.89 ERA and 24/5 K/BB ratio in 19 innings. He will hopefully be back in early June.

Michael Tarsi, Adrian Salcedo (#10) and Blake Martin combine made 11 starts and the three accounted for six loses and a combined 6.11 ERA. Tarsi's stats are a little deceiving, considering that he's really only had two horrible starts out of his last seven. In those two starts, Tarsi has given up 12 earned runs in 10 innings, raising his season ERA to 4.85. Salcedo was promoted from Extended Spring Training to make a few spot starts before eventually heading to the Appalachian Rookie League or Midwest League. Martin has been placed back in the bullpen after giving up 12 runs in 12 1/3 innings of work.

While the starting rotation struggled, the bullpen has officially turned things around after a rough start to the season. The unit finished May with a 2.94 ERA in 104 innings. They converted 10 of 12 saves and allowed only 29% of their inherited runners to score.

Tony Davis, Andrei Lobanov (#31) and Billy Bullock (#20) were the stars of the bullpen in May. Davis gave up only four earned runs in 16 1/3 innings. After struggling with his control in April, he had a 16/7 K/BB ratio in May, giving him 19 strikeouts and 16 walks on the season. Lobanov continues to show impressive control and has walked only three batters in 11 1/3 innings. The Russian native was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 10 strikeouts in May. At this pace, I wouldn't be surprised to see Lobanov extend his stay in the Florida State League, despite being only 20-years-old. Between April and May, Bullock looked like a completely different pitcher. The 2009 2nd round pick gave up only one run in 16 May innings, striking out 23 and recording five saves over that same span. Bullock's turnaround caught the eye of the Florida State League and he was one of four Miracle players selected to the FSL All-Star Game.

As noted above, the offense also turned things around in May. The return of 2009 Miracle mashers Joe Benson (#11) and Chris Parmelee (#13) has helped the Miracle score an average of 4.29 runs per game since their return.

Benson's demotion to Ft. Myers caused an uproar throughout Twins Territory, but the 22-year-old Benson is not going to finish the season in the Florida State League, so Twins fans need to remain patient. Since his demotion, Benson is hitting .263/.364/.561 with four home runs and four stolen bases. Benson now has nine home runs on the season, which leads the Twins Minor League system.

Parmelee's demotion was more warranted (than Benson's), but he's making more of his demotion than his teammate is. A 1st round pick in 2006, Parmelee has always shown outstanding power with a lack of knowledge of the strikezone. But in his demotion, Parmelee has struck out as many times as he's walked, all while having a .491 slugging percentage. If Parmelee continues to hit the way he is, he'll be back in New Britain sooner rather than later.

Shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos (#40) joined Benson and Parmelee in Ft. Myers following his demotion, but got off to a very slow start. The defensively-gifted De Los Santos committed 10 errors in New Britain and has committed four in Ft. Myers. His glove has never been a question, however his arm has been subpar to say the least. He's continually bounced balls to first base and, which has resulted in three throwing errors for the Miracle.

Brian Dozier (#44) was called up after Ramon Santana (#39) landed on the disabled list, and he's handled the promotion well. Through 30 at-bats, Dozier has nine hits (two doubles) and a 9/5 BB/K ratio.

Chris Herrmann (#41) and Evan Bigley (#47) continue to struggle, but the two took part in 28% of the runs scored, by either being the runs scored or driving in the run. Both have potential to be solid players, so hopefully they'll turn things on in June.

What's Next?: Shooter Hunt (#48) made his first start of the season on May 30th. The Miracle have been trying to ease him back into a starting pitcher, but he may be best suited as a reliever right now... The Miracle have an extremely difficult schedule in June. They will play host to both division leaders, both of the second place teams and a third place team.... Aaron Hicks (#1) and Angel Morales (#2) aren't knocking the stuffing out of the ball in Beloit, but if Benson and Parmelee get promoted to New Britain, I'd expect both of Hicks and Morales to take their place in Ft. Myers....Twins reliever Pat Neshek will begin a rehab assignment in Ft. Myers beginning June 2nd.


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