This is really late. Typically, I post my choices for the monthly minor league award winners within days of the end of the month. Because of a trip to Cedar Rapids and a bum computer, the Hitter of the Month for June is a little tardy. But, better later than never, I guess. The players listed below performed well and deserve to be recognized. It was another good month for the hitters. We have a repeat winner and a few of the top prospects in this month’s report. In fact, there were enough who warranted recognition that I included a Top 6 and some Honorable Mentions.
Let’s get to it. Here are my selections for the Top 6 Minnesota Twins Minor League hitters in June:
Number 6 – Rochester – Doug Bernier
- (35-100) .350/.416/.540 (.956) with ten doubles, three triples, one home run and 15 RBI.
Bernier signed a minor league contract with the Twins before spring training this year. The middle infielder played his college ball at Oral Roberts and then spent 2002 through 2008 with the Colorado Rockies. He played two games for the Rockies in 2008. He then spent 2009 with the Yankees AAA team. He spent 2010 with the Pirates AAA team. He had spent 2011 and 2012 with the Yankees AAA squad. Overall with the Red Wings, he is hitting .297/.368/.398 (.766) with 13 doubles, three triples and three homers. He was very good in June.
Number 5 – Ft. Myers – Kennys Vargas
- (28-79) .354/.420/.544 (.965) with nine doubles, two home runs and 17 RBI.
Vargas is still just 22 years old, but many forget how little baseball he has played over the last couple years. In 2011, he played in just 44 games. In 2012, he played in only 41 games. The Twins had him stick around Ft. Myers much of last offseason, and he remains with the Miracle, having now played 78 games in Ft. Myers. On the season, he is hitting .298/.373/.528 (.902) with 24 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs while driving in 63 RBI. Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano have moved up, yet Vargas hit well in June without them around. I suspect he will move up at some point this season.
Number 4 – Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers – Byron Buxton
- (33-93) .354/.412/.548 (.960) with five doubles, five triples, 1 home run and 19 RBI.
After a tremendous April, Buxton had a more pedestrian May. He even went through a mini-slump. However, in June, Buxton did exactly what you would hope a top prospect would do; he made some adjustments and had a strong month. In 72 at-bats with the Kernels, he hit .361/.420/.597 (1.017) with ten extra base hits; he then got the promotion that fans had been clamoring for. Despite starting out his tenure with the Miracle going 2-13, he then proceeded to have five straight multi-hit games and ended the month strong. He was also named to represent the Twins in the Futures Game.
Number 3 – Cedar Rapids – Dalton Hicks
- (36-108) .333/.372/.620 (.992) with ten doubles, seven home runs and 33 RBI.
The 23-year-old first baseman was the Twins 17th round pick out of Central Florida. He split time in Elizabethton last year, but this year he has been the Kernels every day first baseman. Overall this year he has hit .298/.359/.498 with 26 doubles and 13 home runs. His 77 RBI lead the Midwest League (by a large margin). Listed at 6-5 and 228 pounds, Hicks has a long, but very powerful swing. He was tremendous in June and is a leader on the Kernels roster. I believe that if (or when) Kennys Vargas gets a promotion to New Britain, Hicks will move up to Ft. Myers.
Number 2 – Ft. Myers/New Britain – Miguel Sano
- (19-82) .232/.336/.646 (.982) with three doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 22 RBI.
Sano was named to the Florida League All-Star team in early June. However, the day after the Miracle clinched the first half title and a playoff spot, he (and Eddie Rosario and Angel Morales) were promoted to the New Britain Rock Cats. Let’s not pretend that the lack of batting average for Sano is not a big deal, especially when it comes with many strikeouts, but he’s still so early in his New Britain tenure that it’s not worth worrying about quite yet. Despite a lack of singles, Sano’s power has been tremendous in New Britain. In June with the Rock Cats, he had ten extra base hits in 62 at bats, with just four singles. His power potential is immense, and fans are rightfully excited about what he can become. He will just need to work on his K-Rate to help avoid a case of BrandonWood-itis.
The June Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is...
Rochester Red Wings 1B Chris Colabello
(34-94) .362/.451/.660 (1.111) with four doubles, no triples, eight home runs and 26 RBI.
I am certain I sound like a broken record, but the Chris Colabello story should be talked about more, and he should be getting even more attention. He debuted with the Twins in May and still was the choice for minor league hitter of that month. This month, he spent the entire time with the Red Wings and still was incredible. He hits for average, takes walks and hits for power. He is the force in the middle of the Red Wings lineup that has helped them get back over .500 again. Overall, in 77 games with the Red Wings this year, he has hit .358/.436/.653 with 22 doubles, 21 homers and 67 RBI. He was recently named to the International League All-Star team, and frankly, he’s been one of the best handful of players at any level of minor league baseball.
There were several strong performances in June that weren’t included in the Top 6. Here are six Honorable Mentions:
- Josmil Pinto (Rock Cats) – (25-89) .281/.407/.449 (.856) with six doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI.
- Nate Hanson (Rock Cats) – (29-93) .312/.350/.516 (.866) with 11 doubles, one triple, two homers and 18 RBI.
- Matt Koch (Miracle) – (23-70) .329/.382/.586 (.967) with six doubles, four homers and 14 RBI.
- Travis Harrison (Kernels) – (23-90) .256/.382/.489 (.871) with nine doubles, four home runs and 17 RBI.
- Jorge Polanco (Kernels) – (31-96) .322/.377/.469 (.846) with seven doubles, two triples, one home run and 23 RBI.
- JD Williams (Kernels) – (29-91) .319/.404/.440 (.844) with two doubles, three triples, one home run, and 14 RBI.
It was another very solid month for Twins minor league hitting prospects which is always fun to see. We hope that can continue into July
Feel free to comment and discuss.