Relief pitchers often are taken for granted as they are not really noticed unless they have a bad game. So, it's only fair that we recognize them when they do pitch well. Let's start with the Honorable Mentions.
- Aaron Thompson - Rochester - 11 G, 10.0 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 11 K, 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .171 OBA.
- Mason Melotakis - Ft. Myers - 8 G, 12.2 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 14 K, 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .200 OBA.
- Brandon Peterson - Ft. Myers- 9 G, 12.2 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 20 K, 1-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .234 OBA.
Let's get to the Top 5:
#5 - Todd Van Steensel - Cedar Rapids - 10 G, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 15 K, 0-0, 4 Saves, 1.54 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, .175 OBA.
In my mind, the return of Van Steensel is one of the better stories in the organization this year. He was a starter for Elizabethton just a few seasons ago, but he was let go. He's been playing in Australia and other places, but he re-signed with the Twins before spring training this year. He has been a different pitcher. He is now a reliever. He has the funky, high leg-kick, the goggles and he throws harder. He had a terrific month in Cedar Rapids and has now been promoted to Ft. Myers.
#4 - Ryan O'Rourke - New Britain - 9 G, 5.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, .111 OBA.
I remember seeing O'Rourke starting for Beloit back in 2011. He was animated and intense, but my overriding thought was "This guy could be a LOOGY (left-handed one-out guy) in the big leagues right now!" Well, it hasn't happened in the big leagues yet for him, but it is the role he has for New Britain. Consider this... from May 24 through June 27, he pitched six innings over 11 games. He faced 19 batters. He gave up one hit and struck out 15. His slider is legit and he throws hard enough that he can pitch to lefties in the big leagues now, I'm convinced.
#3 - Lester Oliveros - New Britain/Rochester - 9 G, 10.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 1-0, 5 Saves, 0.87 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, .135 OBA.
Oliveros has been on this list in previous months and finally was promoted to Rochester. The hard-thrower came to the organization from Detroit in the Delmon Young trade. He missed most of 2013 with Tommy John surgery after debuting with the Twins in 2012. He's back, and he's throwing hard. He's missing bats and opponents are not hitting him hard. He's not on the 40 man roster, but if he succeeds in Rochester, he'll get another opportunity.
#2 - Edgar Ibarra - Rochester - 8 G, 14.1 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .157 OBA.
The left-hander was tremendous in 2013, splitting the season between New Britain and Rochester. It was an easy decision, I'd think, to add him to the Twins 40 man roster after the season. The left-hander throws hard (touching 95) with a nasty slider. He can fight control issues at times, but he has a chance to contribute to the Twins at some point yet this year.
Some very good performances, but this month's Minnesota Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month, like this month's other winners, was a fairly easy choice and one you've read about before.
#1 - AJ Achter - Rochester - 7 G, 14.0 IP, 4 H, 8 BB, 14 K, 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .091 OBA.
Seriously, I am thinking that this award should just be the AJ Achter award. He was my choice for Twins minor league reliever of the year in 2012. In 2013, he was terrific in New Britain and Rochester. This year, he has been tremendous. He was recognized last week as the Red Wings lone All Star this year. He actually had back-to-back games earlier in the month in which he walked most of his hitters. Generally, he has great control, works fast, has four pitches and yet isn't hit very hard. He doesn't sit at 95. He sits 90-92 and can touch 94, but he has other pitches that have worked. He is not on the 40 man roster, but like others above, he has earned an opportunity.
Hard to believe that we are more than three months into the minor league season. There are two months to go. We will continue to dive into the minor leagues here at Twins Daily. Please feel free to share your thoughts on anything.