• Twins Minor League Report (8/14): Atherton Sparkles

    The Twins bullpen had been solid in recent weeks before laying an egg at the hands of the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon. Casey Fien gave up three runs and later in the game Glen Perkins and Ryan Pressly allowed some late inning runs. Joe Mauer had five hits and came within one hit of tying Kirby Puckett's team record of six in a game.

    There was some exciting action this evening as multiple teams were part of walk-off wins. Not all of those walk-offs were in favor of the Twins farm system so you will have to find out what happened down on the farm.

    Rochester Red Wings 3, Buffalo Bisons 8
    Box Score
    The Red Wings are in the last leg of their season long 11-game road trip. Entering tonight's game the club had been 5-3 on the road trip and the club had won 14 of their last 20 games. The club will return to Rochester on Saturday and play 14 of their last 16 regular season games at home. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough magic on Wednesday evening.

    Rochester scored early to take a 3-1 lead through five innings but the Bisons would score seven runs over the last three innings. After making a spot start at the major league level last week, Liam Hendriks was back in the Red Wings rotation. Through six innings, he gave up three runs on six hits. Aaron Thompson took the loss after giving up three runs in less than two innings on the mound.

    Jeff Clement got the scoring started for Rochester by cracking his first triple of the year. The scored Chris Parmelee who had just notched his eighth double. Deibinson Romero would cap the first inning scoring with a double of his own. Clement was the lone batter to have a multi-hit game as the club was limited to five hits.

    Originally posted at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com

    New Britain Rock Cats 2, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 7
    Box Score
    BJ Hermsen hasn't been used too much as a starter this season after winning the club's minor league pitcher of the year award last season. Today marked his 12th start of the year and it might have been one of his most effective. He pitched five innings and gave up two earned runs. It was his ninth loss of the season and three of those losses have come in his last four starts.

    Danny Santana continued his good offensive season with his fifth multi-hit game out of the last ten games he has played. He ended the night 2-for-4 with his 24th stolen base. Dan Rohlfing also added two hits including the team's only extra-base hit, his first home run of the year at Double-A. Evan Bigley and Reynaldo Rodriguez each had a hit.

    Fort Myers Miracle 3, St. Lucie Mets 4
    Box Score
    The Miracle looked well on their way to their 71st win of the season but the Mets staged a 2-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to steal the victory. Fort Myers had gained the lead back in the eighth inning after a pitch plunked Stephen Wickens. DJ Hicks followed the hit by pitch with a double to score Wickens and the Miracle had a one run lead.

    Byron Buxton helped to get things going in the early portion of the game. He drew a walk in the first inning, stole second, and Wickens slashed a single to score Buxton from second. Buxton also helped with the second run of the game by advancing the base runner, JD Williams, ahead of a Levi Michael sac-fly. Buxton stole three bases in the game and extended his hit streak to eight games.

    Taylor Rogers did very well on the mound. He tossed seven inning and scattered six hits while giving up two runs. It was the third straight game where Rogers struck out five batters or more. Tyler Jones was saddled with the loss after coughing up the lead in the ninth. It was his second blow save of the year.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels 3, Beloit Snappers 2
    Box Score
    A Tyler Grimes single in the bottom of the ninth made the the Kernels walk-off winners. Cedar Rapids has won six of their last seven games to push their lead in the Midwest League Western division to two games.

    After falling behind earlier in the game, the Kernels got their offense going in the bottom of the third. Joel Licon started the inning with a single and he extended his hitting streak to 12 games in the process. Jeremias Pineda scored Licon with a double later in the frame. Jonathan Murphy singled in Pineda to tie the game at two.

    Tim Atherton was fantastic on the mound as he went eight innings and struck out 11, the most by a Kernels pitcher in 2013. Both of the runs scored against him were unearned and he only gave up two hits. At one point in the game he retired 16 men in a row. The inning and strikeout totals were career highs for him.



    GCL Twins 1, GCL Rays 7
    Box Score
    There have been some struggles for the GCL version of the Twins. The team has lost six of their last seven games while barely averaging two runs per game. This theme played itself out on Wednesday afternoon as the team came up short against the GCL Rays.

    On the offensive side of things, three members of the Twins were able to record hits. Alex Swim led the way with a 2-for-3 effort including his fifth double of the season. His extra-base hit set-up the only run the Twins would score. Jason Kanzler and Ryan Tufts had the other hits with Kanzler recording a double and an RBI.

    Pedro Hernandez made his second rehab appearance and the results were much better than his first outing. He tossed four shutout innings on two hits with four strikeouts. Seth Wagner ran into the most trouble on the mound as he allowed three earned runs in less than an inning of work. His control was a problem as he walked four men and struck out one.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Minor League Report (8/14): Atherton Sparkles started by Cody Christie
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Atherton really was impressive. He threw fastballs in the low 90s and a big old slow curve at about 66 and he threw both for strikes, as well as a cutter and changeup somewhere in between. 72 out of his 87 pitches were strikes.

      Then just for good measure, Mason Melotakis came in to pitch the 9th and struck out the top 3 hitters in the Snappers' order.

      Between the two guys, they retired the last 19 batters Beloit sent to the plate.
    1. josecordoba's Avatar
      josecordoba -
      Buxton going forward since he's begin to own the Florida State League.

      -Arizona Fall League in 2013?
      -Start Double A in 2014?
      -Majors in 2015?
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Hey SD, what does a (presumably) tired-armed Melotakis look like out of the bullpen? Does he show increased velocity? -Thanks!
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Melotakis was sitting at 90-91. But they way he handle the 3 Snapper hitters you'd think he was throw 98-99 MPH. The Twins are starting to collect a few good LHP's in the lower minors, by far the weak spot in the org. Atherton was awesome. I went to see Max Kepler, but Atherton was having a great game.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      I'd like to see Buxton in the AFL, but I know it's more important for Wimmer to get the innings. Otherwise a Buxton 2015 debut seems very possible.
    1. Supfin99's Avatar
      Supfin99 -
      I know some will think it's crazy but I really think Buxton will make his debut next season. He will start the 2014 season in New Britain and tear it up just like he has everywhere else. By midsummer our outfield will be Hicks/Buxton/Arcia with Sano at 3rd.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      I know some will think it's crazy but I really think Buxton will make his debut next season. He will start the 2014 season in New Britain and tear it up just like he has everywhere else. By midsummer our outfield will be Hicks/Buxton/Arcia with Sano at 3rd.
      Not crazy. Mid season might be a little ambitious but 2014 is a real possibility. He should start in AA and if he starts out doing well it shouldn't take long.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Sad to hear the Twins have beat the plus-plus fastball velocity out of Melotakis. But I guess that's what the Twins do to 95+ MPH college closers turning into starters.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      agreed with drjim....aggressive, but not impossible.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Sad to hear the Twins have beat the plus-plus fastball velocity out of Melotakis. But I guess that's what the Twins do to 95+ MPH college closers turning into starters.
      If you could believe college and high school radar gun readings there would be dozens of pitchers in the majors who throw 98MPH. It's a lot more difficult to throw that hard for 6 months as a professional than it is to throw that hard for one pitch in front of a scout.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Sad to hear the Twins have beat the plus-plus fastball velocity out of Melotakis. But I guess that's what the Twins do to 95+ MPH college closers turning into starters.
      This has happened with several of the guys viewed previously as power arms. Surely a move from the bullpen to the rotation will drop some velocity and a move up from Rookie League will lower the strikeouts, but I too am disappointed how significantly the strikeout numbers have dropped. From last year's draft Baxendale, Duffey, Rogers and Powell have all seen a huge drop in strikeouts, I would assume velocity is a factor.

      From the 2012 draft Boer, Boyd and Summers have also not lived up to their power arm hype. I won't pile on just yet and say the Twins are intentionally doing something that causes this to happen, but this is a trend, not a coincidence, I'd like to find out what the issue is.

      Considering that none of these guys are able to keep a reasonable strikeout rate and considering most were billed as power arms, one would have to think the Twins are either incorrectly evaluating pitchers that can sustain high strikeout numbers or they are changing the approach or technique of these young men.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      agreed with drjim....aggressive, but not impossible.
      Perhaps it's even likely if Hicks continues to fail to develop. Not too many other CF options.
    1. jsimssd72's Avatar
      jsimssd72 -
      Anyone know what Wimmers injury is? Is it his elbow again? he is listed as disabled.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      This has happened with several of the guys viewed previously as power arms. Surely a move from the bullpen to the rotation will drop some velocity and a move up from Rookie League will lower the strikeouts, but I too am disappointed how significantly the strikeout numbers have dropped. From last year's draft Baxendale, Duffey, Rogers and Powell have all seen a huge drop in strikeouts, I would assume velocity is a factor.

      From the 2012 draft Boer, Boyd and Summers have also not lived up to their power arm hype. I won't pile on just yet and say the Twins are intentionally doing something that causes this to happen, but this is a trend, not a coincidence, I'd like to find out what the issue is.

      Considering that none of these guys are able to keep a reasonable strikeout rate and considering most were billed as power arms, one would have to think the Twins are either incorrectly evaluating pitchers that can sustain high strikeout numbers or they are changing the approach or technique of these young men.
      To be fair, it's not on the pitchers to be something other than what they are, but people need to know that if Matt Summers, a terrific college pitcher, is pitching in E-Town after signing, the numbers mean nothing. Good or bad. Summers, Baxendale, those guys were dominant college guys pitching about every 5th day out of the bullpen for 1-2 innings when they can air it out. Once they go into the rotation, things are different. Likewise, Ryan Eades has not been very good at E-Town this fall, but making a big deal out of that isn't smart either.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      Hey SD, what does a (presumably) tired-armed Melotakis look like out of the bullpen? Does he show increased velocity? -Thanks!
      There's nothing tired about Melotakis' arm, in my view. He is simply approaching his designated inning limit, based on how many he threw last year.

      Keep in mind what we've pointed out before here, the CR stadium speed gun is 1 1/2 to 2 mph slow, so when you see him registering 91 or 92 on the board, which he did last night, he's actually throwing 93-94. The best thing about Melotakis might have been the nasty breaking balls he threw to get the last 2 Ks, both against RH hitters. He hasn't had that kind of breaking ball throughout the whole season.

      I think people get a little too caught up in what role pitchers are playing at Class A. No telling what Melotakis will be by the time he's considered Major League ready, but spending a season throwing over 100 innings while working on secondary pitches is only going to make him better at whatever his eventual role might be. It beats spending the whole season doing nothing but throwing a fastball out of the pen, which wouldn't really improve him at all IMO.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by DJL44 View Post
      If you could believe college and high school radar gun readings there would be dozens of pitchers in the majors who throw 98MPH. It's a lot more difficult to throw that hard for 6 months as a professional than it is to throw that hard for one pitch in front of a scout.
      This I know. But I'm not talking college and high school radar guns. I'm talking scout guns.

      I'd fully expect any guy who is starting a game to not utilize quite a few ticks on his fastball that he'll throw as a reliever. Perkins and Duensing are perfect examples of that on the Twins.

      But, to me, if you've got a guy like Melotakis who is throwing with plus-plus velocity as a reliever, and as a starter he can only throw above average, I think you're vastly wasting his best abilities - even if you subscribe to the "he'd be worth more as a starter" mantra. My answer to that is maybe - if he ever makes it as one.
    1. 60ft6in's Avatar
      60ft6in -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      This I know. But I'm not talking college and high school radar guns. I'm talking scout guns.I'd fully expect any guy who is starting a game to not utilize quite a few ticks on his fastball that he'll throw as a reliever. Perkins and Duensing are perfect examples of that on the Twins.But, to me, if you've got a guy like Melotakis who is throwing with plus-plus velocity as a reliever, and as a starter he can only throw above average, I think you're vastly wasting his best abilities - even if you subscribe to the "he'd be worth more as a starter" mantra. My answer to that is maybe - if he ever makes it as one.
      I have no idea if the Twins view him as a starter or reliever long term.... What I do know is at the beginning of the year his off speed pitches were just ok and he generally used his fastball when in need of a strike. Watching him several times this season his strike out pitch became something off speed alot of the time. That to me is learning how to pitch to hitters that can hit your fastball. That is what is needed from starters going more innings. A plus/plus fastball is a great pitch! But if you don't have something off speed, your chance of success in pro ball at any level by relying on throwing fastballs past hitters sitting fastball is not good!If making him a starter and throwing 100+ innings helped him find those pitches and use them with confidence then great! If it had nothing to do with it and it was CR coaching then great! Either way what role he becomes as he moves up isn't effected by this season.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      ^ And I agree with all of that too.
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