Monday, October 1, 2007

Minnesota prospects pick up 9-5 FIL Win

Rene Tosoni

The fourth game of the 2007 Minnesota Twins Fall Instructional League was played Saturday at the Lee County Sportsplex, with the Twins taking a 9-5 victory over the cross-city rivals the Boston Red Sox.

One of the most notable things for those fans who turned up for the game was the new pavilions that are being put up in the Twins training area to offer shade to spectators. Unlike the Boston Complex, these are not canvas structures, but more solid aluminum structures going up. Additional bleacher seating is also being installed, especially behind the plate which was being utilized by the scouts as well as the team charters.

The game featured a look at what is most certain to be a good chunk of the Miracle starting pitching rotation next season, with Beloit ace Alex Burnett making the start. He allowed 2 runs in the second inning off a Boston triple, but was otherwise solid, posting 4 strike outs during 2 innings. He was relieved by Henry Reyes, who went three-up and three-down for two innings. Reyes pitched largely with Elizabethton last season, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.7 ERA in 53.1 innings worth of work. He struggled through 4 inning at Low A Beloit and is expected to begin the 2008 season with the Snappers.

He was relieved by Mike Allen another Elizabethton pitcher who'll likely be joining the Snappers for the start of the 2008 season. Aside from a couple of walks in the fifth inning, Allen looked good on the mound with 3 strike outs in 2 innings.

Meanwhile the Minnesota offense had gone into work. Rene Tosoni singled his way onto base and was doubled in by Jon Waltenbury in the 2nd to put the Twins on the board.

Nick Papasan got on base on a throwing error in the 3rd inning, taking 2nd base when the ball went into the visitors dugout. Esterlin De Los Santos singled to score the runner to tie the game.

A pair of walks to Waltenbury and Joe Benson, and singles by designated hitter Ben Petsch and De Los Santos helped the Twins nab 3 points in the 5th for a good lead. Greg Yersich relieved Danny Rams behind the plate in the sixth and promptly put one over the wall for his first at bat.

The four run lead quickly evaporated through when Cole Devries was brought onto the mound for the Twins. Devries struggled, allowing 3 runs on five hits. Devries 9-5 record and 3.41 ERA will probably land him a spot in the Miracle starting rotation last year, but the Miracle faithful's preview look at the former Golden Gopher was not particularly promising.

The Twins then turned to 6'5" lefty Tyler Robertson for the final two innings. Robertson was tops on the Snappers last season in strike outs with 123, despite joining the team mid season. His 2.29 ERA was second only to Miracle Jeff Manship among Twins starters at the low A level. The 19-year-old Simi Valley native really showed off his stuff, striking out 5 of the 7 batters he faced, allowing only one single in the 8th inning.

The 8th would be good for the Twins offensively as well, as Benson lead off with a double, followed by a Juan Richardson single. Yersich would be hit by a pitch to load the bases, and then Waltenbury would crush the ball for his second double of the game, scoring the three runners to give the Twins back their 4 run lead.

Aside from Burnett, Devries and Robertson, Matt Fox, who is not in camp, is a possibility for another of the Miracle starting jobs.

Benson will likely join the Miracle in the outfield, while Tosoni, De Los Santos, and Yersich will likely start the season in Beloit, but if they may all make it to Fort Myers before next season is out if they continue to hit well.

Richardson and Waltenbury were both part of the GCL squad this season and will like begin next season, most likely in Elizabethton, but a strong camp and a good spring training could see them make the jump to Beloit.

Brian Dinkelman and Ozzie Lewis were also in the game, but Lewis was 0-for-4 in the contest. I have Dinkleman down as 0-for-3 but I missed one of his at bats so I'm not sure what the final was.

Minnesota plays at home Wednesday Friday and Saturday this week and take on Boston at the City of Palms Complex on Monday and Thursday. Game times are 1:00 pm for all games except the Saturday game, which starts at 10:00 AM.

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