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  • Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - July

    In recent days, we posted the choices for Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitchers and Hitters for the month of July. Today, I present the top relief pitching performers for the month. There are a couple of guys at the top of this list that, if you argued the other should be #1, or vice versa, I wouldn’t have much of an argument. Two guys stand out on this list, but all five of them warrant recognition. Interestingly, the short-season teams played all July and they are represented on this list as well. A couple 2013 draft picks make an appearance.

    Here’s a look at the Top 5 relief pitching performers from July. Feel free to discuss below.

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    Number 5 – GCL Twins – LHP Stephen Gonsalves – 5 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 0.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 8 H, 7 BB, 18 K

    Gonsalves was the Twins 4th round draft pick in June out of high school in San Diego. Already 19, the lefty pitched very well in his professional debut with the GCL Twins in his first month. In fact, he pitched well enough that he was just promoted to Elizabethton. At 6-5 and just 190 pounds, the Twins should be patient and let him grow. The Twins had to go a little over slot to get him signed, but he should prove to be worth it in time.

    Number 4 – Ft. Myers – RHP Adrian Salcedo - 6 G, 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 7 K

    Salcedo was a Top 10 Twins prospect as recently as before the 2012 season. However, that season was lost because of both shoulder and elbow injuries. He spent most of the year, and the offseason, rehabbing. He has been brought back this year in the Ft. Myers bullpen. Overall, in 27 relief appearances this year, he is 5-1 with a 3.72 ERA. In 48.1 innings, he has given up 47 hits, walked just seven and struck out 48. Salcedo is 6-3 and 175 pounds. He is extremely athletic. It will be interesting to see if he gets another opportunity to start.

    Number 3 – Elizabethton – LHP Brandon Bixler - 6 G, 1-1, 0.73 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 18 K

    The 21-year-old Bixler was the Twins 16th round draft pick of the Twins this June out of Dunk City, Florida Gulf Coast University. This college season, he went 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA. He had 64 strikeouts in 50 innings. Over three college seasons, he struck out 156 batters over 128.2 innings. The left-hander is just 5-11 and 170 pounds, but he does throw hard. Bixler put up these terrific numbers in Elizabethton, and has now been promoted to Cedar Rapids where he has made one appearance in August.

    Number 2 – New Britain/Rochester – LHP Edgar Ibarra - 9 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 11 K

    I saw Ibarra make a start for Beloit in 2010 and came away incredibly impressed. I saw a very good fastball that he worked inside and outside. I saw a tremendous changeup that he was able to spot. He also had a very good breaking ball that he threw at various speeds. All of his pitches moved. Then again, he never really put up great numbers as a starter. The following year in Ft. Myers, he made 16 starts and 16 relief appearances. He has not made any starts since. Today (8/4) marks two months since he last gave up a run. That covers 20 appearances and 25.2 innings. The left-hander touches 95, and I believe he has a very good chance of helping the Twins. His control has been good so far with the Red Wings, but over his career walks have been the biggest issue. Ibarra could have become a 6-year minor league free agent, but he quickly re-signed with the Twins. Don’t be surprised if the Twins don’t let him become a free agent at the end of this season and add him to the 40 man roster, either in September, or days after the World Series is complete.

    And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:

    Photo by Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers – RHP Tyler Jones - 8 G, 0-0, 7 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 17 K

    Jones, a 23-year-old Milwaukee native, was the Twins 11th round pick in 2011 out of LSU where he spent just one year. In 2012, he began the season at Extended Spring Training because, as he said to me earlier in the season, he was completely out of shape. He did make 16 starts with Beloit and posted a 4.67 ERA, but he had 102 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. This year, he got himself into tremendous shape, and also moved into the bullpen at Cedar Rapids. In doing so, he can now air-out his fastball. When I saw him a month ago, he ended a game with a strikeout on a 96 mph fastball. His slider is also much improved from when I saw him in 2012. He was tremendous in July, starting in Cedar Rapids and earning that promotion to Ft. Myers. Not only did he not give up any runs in July, but look at the walks and strikeouts per inning. Astounding. Jones is definitely one to watch!


    What do you think? Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - July started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Nice group of arms, I'm hopeful the Twins start using their own guys out of the pen more as time goes on. There are some quality relief arms in the minors. I'd like to see them get more chances while the MLB team is bad like this.
    1. TwinsFanInPhilly's Avatar
      TwinsFanInPhilly -
      I assume Gonsalves will spend most of next season as a starter?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinsFanInPhilly View Post
      I assume Gonsalves will spend most of next season as a starter?
      I would agree with that. In fact, he may start now for Elizabethton the rest of the season.
    1. Miles's Avatar
      Miles -
      I saw Ibarra's numbers and thought, "How can you possibly top that?", and then saw Jones' numbers. Pretty impressive month by the top relievers.
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      Is there any chance that Ibarra or Jones get a shot at starting again? I'm not saying I want them to or think they should but it would be interesting.

      I personally believe Ibarra is better off as a reliever and should join the Twins pen if we lose some guys in August or as a September call-up.

      With Jones I think it would be worth moving him back to the rotation in Ft. Myers to start next season.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chance View Post
      Is there any chance that Ibarra or Jones get a shot at starting again? I'm not saying I want them to or think they should but it would be interesting.

      I personally believe Ibarra is better off as a reliever and should join the Twins pen if we lose some guys in August or as a September call-up.

      With Jones I think it would be worth moving him back to the rotation in Ft. Myers to start next season.

      Agreed. I think Ibarra is a bullpen guy at this point.

      Jones probably is a reliever long-term, but now that he's in shape and throwing more strikes, I would have no problem with them trying him as a starter again. I don't think it's likely.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      How old is Ibarra?
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      How old is Ibarra?
      He's 24.


      I don't think Ibarra is anything special. This is his first good minor league season since his age 20 season in Elizabethton. I'm not convinced that he suddenly became a really solid reliever, but then again I don't know much about him. 50 Innings really just doesn't do it for me. He allows too many baserunners and has questionable control. On the other hand, I think just about anyone is better than Duensing at this point. Although, I think Thielbar has won his role.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Are you kidding me?
      Top Hitter = Milwaukee born Adam Brett Walker
      Top Reliever = Milwaukee born Tyler Jones
      The Twins better start drafting more kids out of the Brew City
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      He's 24.


      I don't think Ibarra is anything special. This is his first good minor league season since his age 20 season in Elizabethton. I'm not convinced that he suddenly became a really solid reliever, but then again I don't know much about him. 50 Innings really just doesn't do it for me. He allows too many baserunners and has questionable control. On the other hand, I think just about anyone is better than Duensing at this point. Although, I think Thielbar has won his role.
      Seems like he's having a decent year this year in the high minors. The Twins look like they have a pretty nice core of relief prospects coming up through the pipeline to complement the guys they have now. All the more reason to consider trading off a guy like Perkins this offseason if they can get the right price for him.
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