Monday, June 4, 2012

A Few Thoughts From Beloit

This past weekend, me and Zach were able to take a trip on Territory Train, down to see the Beloit Snappers play two games. One game was played in the Quad Cities and the other was played at Pohlman Field in Beloit. The Snappers showed great offensive skills scoring a combined 20 runs in the two games. As we watched the games, I was able to collect the following thoughts on some of the Snappers notable prospects (But keep in mind the small sample size I saw them play):

Jason Wheeler-RHP:
In the 10 prior starts Wheeler made this year, he posted an impressive 6-1 mark with a 2.74 ERA while striking out 41 and only walking 11 in 59 innings pitched. Wheeler showed dominance early by blanking Quad Cities through two innings. But in the third the River Bandits took advantage of some control issues by Wheeler and put a three spot on the board. The Bandits also got a two run homer off of Wheeler in the fifth, and once the inning was over, Jason's night was done. He finished with 4 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 5 earned runs in his 5 innings.

This poor outing aside, Wheeler (A 8th round pick by the Twins in the 2011 draft), has been the best pitcher for Beloit so far this year. He fits the Twins bill and pitches more to contact, thus the low amount of walks, but has been able to show outstanding command, making it for hitters to put runs on the board against him. If he can continue to pitch like he has this year, he could advance through the ranks very quickly.

Eddie Rosario-2B: 
Rosario has been one of the hottest hitters in the Twins system in the past few weeks. Over his last 10, Rosario has hit .356 with 3 HR and 13 RBI while posting an OPS of 1.004. In the two games we saw, Rosario went 3-9 with a walk and two runs scored. Its safe to say, he is one of the better offensive threats the Twins have in their system.

Defensively, Rosario is not as dazzling as his offensive skills are. The Twins are in the midst of converting him to a second baseman from an outfielder (Solid second baseman the Twins system sorely needs). He didn't commit any errors in the two games, but he did boot a few groundballs and was able to recover to make outs. He is still a work in progress at second, but he did not look all that bad at fielding his position.

Miguel Sano-3B:
Sano has been in more of a slump in the past couple of weeks, just hitting .237 with 2 HR. He does have 13 HR and a .517 slugging percentage on the year so far, both of which are in the top 5 of the Midwest League. But, he has watched his average slip to .244 (.292 average last year with Elizabethton) on the year and has 65 strikeouts in 201 at bats on the season. In the two games, Sano went 2-7 with 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 3 runs scored. A few weeks ago, many fans were calling for Sano to be promoted as he was in the midst of a very hot streak, but it has been clear since that the Twins made the right call by keeping him in Beloit, and it would be foolish to promote him anytime this year. 

Sano, originally a shortstop, is now playing third for Beloit. He has been very shaky defensively, committing 20 errors on the season and posting a fielding percentage below the .900 mark. Sano booted a routine pop up in Saturday's game in which he simply just did not catch the ball behind the third base bag. He also booted a grounder in the two games that went past him into the outfield, but both times the scorer decided to award base hits, not errors (I'm convinced the official scorer was Santa Claus). So clearly, Sano has far to go defensively. 

Sano has a big body, which is one of the reasons he was moved from shortstop. But it also could be the same reason he gets moved from third, at some point in the future. I know the Twins want Sano to get every effort in to establishing himself as a third baseman. But, if that experiment continues to go at the rate he is playing at, that simply won't be in the question. 

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to chat with the legendary Twins blogger Seth Stohs from Twins Daily. And in one of our talks, we both talked about how likely it is that the Twins move Sano to first base if he can not pan out as a third baseman. And it would also make sense to move him to first, given the fact that by the time Sano gets up to the big leagues (late 2014, early 2015), there will be a vacant spot at first left by Justin Morneau (His contract is up after 2013). Again, that is something that could very well happen, but the Twins want to give him his chance at third. 

Also, on Saturday afternoon, we got to have lunch with some Snapper players (AJ Pettersen, Kyle Knudson, Tim Shibuya, Wang-Wei Lin, Ryan O'Rourke, and Drew Leachman) and former Twin and current Snapper hitting coach Tommy Watkins. I got to talk with Tommy for a bit and it was an awesome experience to listen to some of the baseball stories he had. (Below picture is me with Mr. Watkins)

Much thanks to Territory Train for putting this weekend on. We didn't really know what to expect from this weekend and it ended up being a blast. If you haven't checked out Territory Train before, I encourage you to do so now by clicking the link on the right side of the page or simply just click here. They have a few seats left for their trip to Kansas City in mid July so sign up today!

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