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.

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