Friday, October 10, 2008

Dogs fall before hot Javilina offense

Jeff Manship

W: J. Jeffress (1-0, 3.00); L: J. Manship (0-1, 6.00)
HR: None.

Former Miracle hurler Jeff Manship (Minnesota) gave up 3 runs on four hits over three innings while fanning 3, putting the Desert Dogs in an early hole that they never recovered from. He'd take the loss, his first of the season for the defending Arizona Fall League champions.

The Dogs actually got on the board first, with Evan Frey (Arizona) taking a lead off walk. Eric Young (Colorado) would bunt into a force out, then stole 2nd. Following a ground out to J.P. Arencibia (Toronto), Sean Doolittle (Oakland) doubled to drive in Young.

Manship with drill former Sarasota Reds Drew Stubbs with a pitch to lead off, but got Carlos Triunfel (Seattle) to ground into a double play and Austin Jackson (NY Yankees) to fly out to get out of the inning. Juan Miranda (NY Yankees) singled to lead off the bottom of the second. Greg Halman (Seattle) singled, moving Miranda to 3rd. He'd then try to steal 2nd, and would have been caught, but an error Adrian Cardenas (Oakland) gave Halman the base. Manship would would get J.T. Hall (Tampa Bay) out on strikes, but then unleashed a wild pitch at scored Miranda, and put Halman on 3rd and Hall on first. Justin Turner (Cincinnati) would ground into a double play that served to plate Halman before Rob Johnson (Seattle) would go down on a foul tipped strike to end the inning.

Taylor Green (Milwaukee) doubled in the bottom of the 3rd before Manship could take Stubbs down on strikes. Triunfel then doubled as well, knocking in Green. Jackson would hit into a fielder's choice double play to end the inning.

Tony Barnette (Arizona) replaced Manship for the fourth, then gave way to Jeff Gray (Oakland) in the fifth.

Peoria struck again in the sixth with Zach Dials (Toronto) on the mound. Miranda tripled and was singled in by Halman. Hall singled as well before Turner and Johnson could be taken out on strikes. Mike McDonald (Oakland) would be summoned from the bullpen. Green would reach on a Josh Donaldson (Oakland) fielding error, which scored Halman as well, before Stubbs would be induced to hit into a ground out to end the inning.

McDonald returned to the mound for the bottom of the 7th, allowing a double to Truinfel to open things up. Jackson's ground out put Truinfel on 3rd, and Miranda would double him in, to make the score 6-1 in favor of the Javalinas.

The Dogs would finally get back onto the board in the 9th, with Doolittle singling off reliever Rob Manuel (Cincinnati), then moving to second on a wild pitch. Danny Valencia (Minnesota) singled to move Doolittle to 3rd, and a sac fly by Rusty Ryal (Arizona) would bring the South Dakota native home.

Chris Mason (Tampa Bay) would take over the pitching chores for Peoria in the ninth, getting Chris Nelson (Colorado) to ground out before giving up a walk to Ryan Patterson (Toronto). A fielding error by Stubbs allowed Scott Campbell (Toroto) to reach and Patterson to score. Eric Young's ground out would plate Campbell, but that was the all the Dogs would get despite a single to Young and walk to Doolittle.

Milwaukee's Jeremy Jeffress took the win for the Javelinas who remain unbeaten after three games.

Phoenix continues their string of night games, facing the Scottsdale Scorpions for a 7:05 PM MST contest Friday at Scottsdale Stadium.

Manny's Blog

Beloit Snappers' centerfielder Ben Revere was honored by Baseball America once again in their most recent issue after his impressive 2008 campaign. The speedy outfielder from Kentucky was rated as the 4th best prospect in the Midwest League, trailing Mike Moustakas (Burlington Bees), Neftali Feliz (Clinton LumberKings) and Jarrod Parker (South Bend Silver Hawks).

Revere had what may turn out to be the most successful season in Snappers’ history. The Twins’ 2007 first round draft pick ended up hitting .375 with 129 hits and 44 stolen bases while picking up the following awards:

- Midwest League MVP
- Midwest League Prospect of the Year
- Midwest League All-Star
- Midwest League Post-Season All-Star
- Best Batting Prospect (Baseball America)
- Best Strike Zone Judgment (Baseball America)
- Fastest Baserunner (Baseball America)
- Most Exciting Player (Baseball America)
- Topps Co-Midwest League Player of the Month (May)
- Minnesota Twins Minor League Player of the Month (May)
- Brodie Trophy Player of the Year

Miracle catcher Wilson Ramos as also honored by the magazine as the 8th best prospect in the Florida State League. Ramos batted .288 with 13 home runs and 23 doubles during the 2008 season for the FSL West Division Champions. Wilson also collected an impressive 130 hits in 452 at-bats.

Ramos was signed by the Twins as a non-drafted free agent on July 7th, 2004. In 73 games for the Snappers in 2007, Wilson hit .291 with eight homers, 17 doubles and 42 RBIs.

The honor often times leads to good things for the players chosen by the prestigious magazine. Five of the ten players listed in 2003 by Baseball America as the top prospects in the Midwest League are now playing at the major league level. Prince Fielder #1 (Beloit Snappers), Manny Parra #4 (Beloit Snappers), Joe Blanton #5 (Kane County Cougars), Joel Zumaya #6 (West Michigan Whitecaps) and Felix Pie #8 (Lansing Lugnuts) all called the Midwest League home at one time in their playing career.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dogs top Sox, 7-5

Dustin Martin

W: S. Lindsay (1-0, 0.00); L: T. Brummett (0-1, 6.75); SV: A. Carignan (1)
HR: PDD: J. Arencibia (1). MSS: L. Morrison (1).

Wednesday night the Phoenix Desert Dogs overcame the Mesa Solar Sox, 7-5. Both teams pounded out 10 hits each, but the Dogs made their hits count.

A throwing error in the first inning put lead off man Evan Frey (Arizona) on second base to start the game for the Dogs. Steve Tolleson (Minnesota) took a single off Mesa starter Jesse Estrada (Chi Cubs), driving in Frey. Following a J.P. Arencibia (Toronto) fly out to right, Sean Doolittle (Oakland) ground into a force out that nabbed Tolleson at second. Danny Valencia (Minnesota) smacked a ground rule which put Doolittle on 3rd, and Dustin Martin (Minnesota) doubled in the pair to make it 3-0 Dogs, before Josh Donaldson (Oakland) was taken out on strikes.

Mesa bounced back in the bottom of the inning. Matt Young would lead off with ground out, but Scott Cousins (Florida) drew a walk off Chad Roe (Colorado). Tyler Colvin (Chi Cubs) flew out but a wild pitch by Roe moved Cousins to second. Struggling with his control, Roe would then walk Jeff Larish (Detroit) and give up a home run to Logan Morrison (Florida) that tied up the game.

Nate Spears (Chi Cubs) singled in the bottom of the second with Young drawing a walk off Roe to move him to second. Cousins would go down on strikes before Colvin singled to score Spears putting the Solar Sox on top.

The Dogs responded in the top of the fourth, with Martin singling, then stealing 2nd. After Ryan Patterson (Toronto) was taken out on strikes, Tyson Brummett (Philadelphia) would be called out to the mound for the Sox. He'd give up a single to Adrian Cardenas (Oakland) which scored Martin to tie the game.

Colorado's Shane Lindsay would replace Roe for the third inning working 2. The top of the fifth would see Arencibia knock a Brummett pitch over the right field wall to make it 5-4 Dogs.

Andrew Bailey (Oakland) took over for Lindsay in the fifth allowing singled to Colvin and Morrison, but the Sox could not convert.

Donaldson would take a walk off reliever Donald Veal (Chi Cubs) in the top of the sixth. Following a fly out to Patterson, Cardenas would also walk. Frey's line drive to center plated Donaldson, making it 6-4 for the Dogs. A wild pitch and a walk to Tolleson would load the bags, but Sergio Escalona (Philadelphia) entered the contest for the Sox, getting Arencibia out on strikes to strand the Pheonix runners.

Reid Mahon (Arizona) worked the bottom of the sixth allowing a double to Darwin Barney (Chi Cubs), who would be taken out at 3rd when he tried to stretch the grounder to left for a triple.

with two outs on the board, Martin walked in the top of seventh. He'd be replaced by pinch runner Eric Young Jr. (Colorado), who then stole 2nd. Donaldson's line drive to left brought in Young, making it 7-4 Dogs.

Jaren Lansford (Oakland) worked the bottom of the 7th and was replace in the bottom of the 8th by Minnesota's Rob Delaney. The former Miracle closer would give up back-to-back doubles to Morrison and Slayer, which gave the Sox their fifth run, but would then settle down taking the next three batters he face out.

Martin, working as the designated hitter, finished up 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk, a run and 2 RBIs. Valencia would work 1-for-4 in the contest with a run, while Tolleson was 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and a RBI.

Phoenix takes on the Javelinas for a 7:05 PM MST time game at the Peoria Sports Complex.


The Peoria Javelinas defeated the Sunrise Surprise 8-7, while the Peoria Saguaros topped the Scottsdale Scorpions 10-7.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Solar Sox take AzFL opener

Danny Valencia

It took 10 innings, but the Mesa Solar Sox overcame the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 3-2 on the opening day of the 2008 Arizona Fall League Season.

Mesa got on the board first, taking two runs from Phoenix starter Max Scherzer (Arizona), who went on to work 7 innings. A fielding error by Desert Dog Rusty Ryal (Arizona) allowed John Raynor (Florida) to reach. He was awarded second when the ball went into the first base dugout. William Rhymes' (Detroit) ground out moved Raynor to 3rd. Casper Wells (Detroit) then went yard over the left field wall to put the Sox up two runs.

The Solar Sox hung onto the lead until the bottom of the sixth. With two outs on the board, Evan Frey (Arizona) singled out to left, and advanced to second on a passed ball by Mesa catcher Steve Clevenger (Chi Cubs). Eric Young (Colorado) would get plunked by a Kris Median (Atlanta) pitch, before Ryal redeemed himself for his earlier error by tripling out to right field, bringing in two.

Aussie Shane Lindsay (Colorado) worked the 8th for the Dogs before giving way to Daryl Harang (Toronto).

Arizona's Hector Ambriz would give up the game winning run in the 10th, walking Clevenger, who advanced to 2nd on a Darwin Barney (Chi Cubs) sac bunt. A wild pitch by Ambriz put Clevenger on 3rd, and Raynor singled him in.

Despite singles by Twins prospects Danny Valencia and Dustin Martin in the bottom of the 10th, the Dogs could not pull out the game, with Josh Donaldson (Oakland) popping out and pinch hitters Ryan Patterson (Toronto) and Michael McKenry (Colorado) going down on strikes.

Valencia would go 2-for-4 in the contest, Martin was 1-for-4. Former Miracle Steve Tolleson, who spelled Ryal at short, finished up 0-for-1 on the night.

The two teams rematch tonight at Mesa HoHoKam Park for a 7:05 PM (Mountain Time) game.

Game Story

In other AzFL action, the Peoria Javelinas downed the Sunrise Surprise 10-3, while the Peoria Saguaros topped the Scottsdale Scorpions, 9-3.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hicks, Morales recognized by Baseball America

GCL Twins

GCL Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks leads off the list of Baseball American's top 20 GCL Prospects. This is probably not surprising has Hicks enjoyed a great season with the GCL Twins, having a chance to focus on his fielding and his batting.

The list also included Michael Almanzar (3b), Casey Kelly (SS/rhp) and Derrik Gibson (3b) for the GCL Red Sox and Jarek Cunningham (3b/ss) for the GCL Pirates in the South Division.

Former GCLer Angel Morales picked up recognition as a top Appalachian League prospect, finishing up 8th on B.A.'s list. While the E-Twins enjoyed a great deal of success on the field, Elizabethton was largely snubbed by BA in the post season honors category.

BA will announce their top Midwest League prospects on September the 23, their top Florida State League prospects on the 29th, the Eastern League list on the 30th and the International League list will post on October 3rd.

BA also announced their first and second team All-stars. The Twins prospects were shut out of both except for the inclusion of closer Rob Delany as a post season All-star pitcher. Delaney is one of five former Beloit Snappers headed to the Arizona Fall league.

From a Beloit Snappers press release:

Five former Snappers will be participating in the upcoming Arizona Fall League next month for the Minnesota Twins. Rob Delaney, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama, Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia will all be members of the Phoenix Desert Dogs along with prospects from the following teams:

- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Colorado Rockies
- Oakland Athletics
- Toronto Blue Jays

The Arizona Fall League is considered by many to be final step before entering the Major League level. Six top prospects from each Major League team are chosen to compile six different teams split into two divisions. Each team will be made up of 30 players, totaling 180 with the league schedule running from October 7th to November 20th.

Rob Delaney was a member of the 2007 Beloit Snappers where he went 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA in 36 games. His 28 saves broke the all-time record for the Snappers and were good enough for second in the Midwest League, even after he was promoted to Fort Myers half way through the season. Delaney signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent on June 19, 2006.

Jeff Manship was a Snapper during the beginning of the '07 season. Manship went 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA in 13 starts, while compiling 77 strikeouts in 77.2 innings of work. He was a 14th round pick by the Twins in the 2006 First-Year Player draft.

Anthony Slama was another member of the '07 Snappers, taking over the closer role after Rob Delaney's promotion to Fort Myers. In 21 games for the Snappers, Slama saved 10 while posting a 1.48 ERA. Anthony also had an impressive 39 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched. Slama was a 39th round pick by the Twins in the 2006 First-Year Player draft.

Steve Tolleson played in Beloit for parts of the 2005 and '06 seasons, totaling 78 games. During the '06 campaign, Steve hit .287 with 49 hits, 23 runs and 16 RBIs. Tolleson was the Twins' 5th round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player draft.

Danny Valencia played for the Snappers during the 2007 season, hitting .302 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. Valencia also sported a .374 on-base percentage in 66 games. Danny was drafted by the Twins' in the 19th of the 2006 First-Year Player draft.

Delaney, Manship, Tolleson and Valencia all spent the majority of the 2008 season with the Twins' Double-A Affiliate New Britain Rock Cats, while Slama spent the entire season with the High-A Affiliate Fort Myers Miracle.

Joining the five for the AzFL are Dustin Martin, who was acquired in a 2007 trade with the Mets and pitcher Tim Lahey, a catcher converted to pitcher. Neither wore a Snappers uniform during their Twins minor league careers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Miracle, Twins extended affiliation

Scott Baker

The Fort Myers Miracle and the Minnesota Twins announced Friday that they have expended their affiliation agreement for an additional four year, running through 2012.

"We are delighted to extend our affiliation with Fort Myers," said Twins Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz. "[Fort Myers president] Linda McNabb and her staff have created a great environment for Minor League Baseball and give our players top-notch facilities and treatment.”

The Twins value their farm system and currently bost a number of former Fort Myers Miracle players on their Roster including the M&M boys Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, outfielder Jason Kubul, center fielder Denard Span, and the entire Twins starting rotations of Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Glenn Perkins, Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano.

Former Twin prospect and Naples resident Jeff Smith took the Miracle to the FSL championship game in 2008, and the team has reached the post season twice in the last three years.

Aside from reliever Pat Neshek, who is currently on the DL, a look at the Twins roster reveals names like Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert and Mike Cuddyer, all of which spent developmental time with the Fort Myers Miracle during their career.

Additionally the Twins have been active in the Fort Myers Community, sponsoring free youth baseball camps which start in January and run through the beginning of spring training, plus winter caravan visits to Fort Myers local hospitals and retirement homes. The Twins have an lease with the Lee County Sportsplex that runs through 2020 with two five-year extensions that could see the Twins in Fort Myers for spring training through the year 2030.

The Miracle are a member of the Goldklang Group, which provides Operational consulting and Management services in all areas relating to sports franchise and event acquisition, promotion and operation.

USA Today announced their minor league player of the year and it should come as no surprise to the informed minor league fan that they chose Tampa Bay prospect David Price for the honor. Price posted an 11-0 record with a 1.87 era in 15 starts at High-A Vero Beach (FSL) and AA Montgomery before earning a promotion to the AAA Durham Bulls. He was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in the regular season for Durham and 1-0 with a 3.27 era in the Governors' Cup playoffs. The first overall selection of the Rays in the 2007 amateur draft received 57% of the over 23,000 online votes cast by fans at the USA Today and Sports Weekly website.

The same organization named pitcher Mike McCardell as the Twins Minor League Player of the year. McCardell posted a 9-4 record with a 2.86 ERA in 22 games with the Low-A Beloit Snappers in 2008. He walked 25, and struck out 139 in 135.1 innings pitched. The 23 year old native of West Chester, Pa, will be one of the players that will fill in the Miracle starting rotation in 2009, but don't expect the big right hander to stay around long if he continues to pitch the way he did for the Snappers.

Cole Devries, Alex Burnett, Deolis Guerra and Matt Fox will all likely start the 2009 season in AA. Players like McCardell, David Bromberg and Steve Hirschfield will be critical to the Miracle's success in the upcoming season.

While some have questioned how Twins phenom Ben Revere could have been bypassed for this honor, both players certainly deserve the recognition, and it is good to see McCardell getting his fair of the limelight.

McCardell was named the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the month for June of 2008, as he went 4-0 in five starts while posting a 2.45 era and .87 WHIP during that period.

Rather unfortunately, McCardell will not be at this year's Fall Instructional League, having attended the camp last season. You will have to wait until Spring Training to get a look a the next Miracle ace.