Twins 2006 Minors All-Stars: The Pitchers

The Minnesota Twins had some of the best prospects in Minor League Baseball this past season, and here is a look at who made the 2006 Twins Minor League All-Star Team. In part two, we look at the pitchers who make up our 25-man roster. We will name 11 pitchers, including five starters, five relievers, and a closer.

The Starters:

Matt Garza, RHP (Fort Myers, New Britain, Rochester, Minnesota Twins)
Garza made a rapid rise through the Twins farm system in 2006, moving from being one of the best pitchers in the Florida State League, to being s starter in the Minnesota Twins rotation. He began the season with Fort Myers, compiling a 1.42 earned run average in eight starts. The Twins saw enough in him to move him to New Britain after only eight FSL starts, and Garza responded by winning six of his ten Eastern League starts. He then advanced to Rochester, making only five starts before being recalled to Minnesota. He is slated for a spot in the Twins rotation in 2007.

Kevin Slowey, RHP (Fort Myers, New Britain)
Slowey was nearly unhittable during his time in the Florida State League, posting a ridiculous 1.01 earned run average in his 14 starts. The young right-hander led the Twins organization in earned run average in 2006, posting a 1.88 ERA overall. His 151 strikeouts were the second-best total in the system, and he was also named Most Valuable Pitcher of the Florida State League All-Star Game. Once promoted to Double-A, Slowey would make nine starts for New Britain, finishing his Eastern League season with a respectable 3.19 earned run average. Slowey has the best command in the Twins system, as he walked only 22 batters in 148.2 innings of work this season.

Anthony Swarzak, SP (Fort Myers)
Swarzak re-established himself as one of the top starting pitching prospects in the Twins organization in 2006, coming back from a horrid first half to finish the year as one of the better starters in the Florida State League. He made a team-high 27 starts for the Miracle this past season, striking out 131 batters in 145.2 innings of work. His 11 wins were also a team-high, as he finished sixth in the organization with a 3.27 earned run average. His 11 wins were the fourth-best total in the Twins system, and he looks to be slated for his first taste of Double-A ball in 2007. After his strong second half, Twins fans are once again excited about him.

Oswaldo Sosa, RHP (Beloit, Fort Myers)
Sosa began the year as one of many top starters for the Beloit Snappers, but by the third week of the season, he had established himself as the ace of the staff. He made 20 starts for the Snappers, tossing a complete game along the way, and he posted a nice 1.17 WHIP. He finished second on the team with nine wins, and his 13 total wins were the third-highest in the system. Once promoted to Fort Myers, Sosa did not seem the least bit fazed, as he actually put up better numbers in the Florida State League. He made six starts for the Miracle, posting a 2.08 earned run average, and notching four wins.

Brian Duensing, LHP (Beloit, Fort Myers, New Britain)
Duensing was a pitcher who succeeded at three levels during the 2006 season, but still flew under the radar. It seemed like every couple of weeks he would receive a promotion, and he never once buckled under the pressure. The former Nebraska Cornhusker finished the season eighth in the organization with a 3.49 earned run average, and he pitched much better than his 5-10 record would indicate. He will most likely begin the season back in Double-A in 2007, but don't be surprised if he is shipped to Rochester early on.

The Relievers:

Beau Kemp, RHP (Rochester)
Kemp was more than solid for the Rochester Red Wings this past season, appearing in a team-high 49 games. Working mostly as a set-up man for Pat Neshek or Bobby Korecky, Kemp posted a 2.49 earned run average, and even saved three games. He finished the season with seven wins, tossed over 89 innings, and allowed only two home runs the entire year. He will most likely be with Rochester next season, but the Twins feel he could be a Major League reliever with a little more seasoning.

Danny Hernandez, RHP (Elizabethton)
Hernandez was the best closer in the Appalachian League in 2006, leading the league with 18 saves. He blew only one save opportunity all season long, and was a big reason why the Elizabethton Twins made it back to the Appalachian League Finals. He appeared in 28 of the team's 68 games, and held the opposition to a .190 batting average. His 18 saves were also the highest total in the Twins organization, and he may have earned himself the job as Beloit's closer in 2007.

Yohan Pino, RHP (Beloit)
Pino is good, and I mean really good. He is one of the top pitchers in the Twins organization, and this past season he was almost unhittable in any role that the Snappers put him in. He appeared in 42 games, made seven starts, notched 14 wins, and even saved three games. He basically did it all, and along the way he posted a 1.91 earned run average. His 14 wins were tied with Garza for the organizational lead, and he struck out better than a batter per inning. He will definitely be a major cog in the Fort Myers pitching staff next season.

Alexander Smit, LHP (Beloit)
Smit was another member of the Beloit Snappers pitching staff that pretty much did it all in 2007, as he showed the potential he flashed in the Appalachian League last season. The Snappers used him from both the bullpen and the rotation, and in all, he appeared in 34 games. He made 13 starts, posted a 2.99 earned run average, and struck out 141 batters in only 108.1 innings of work. His 141 strikeouts were the third-highest total in the organization, and he held the opposition to a .199 batting average. After closing for Elizabethton last season, and working as both a starter and reliever this year, the jury is still out as to where he will be in regards to the Fort Myers pitching staff next season.

Eduardo Morlan, RHP (Beloit)
Morlan is one of those pitching prospects that really excites Twins fans, and he backed up a stellar 2005 season with an even better 2006 season. The young right-hander appeared in 28 games for the Snappers in 2006, starting 18 of them, and he pretty much held the opposition in check no matter what his role was. He was a perfect 2-2 in save opportunities, won five games, and finished the year with a 2.29 earned run average. A Midwest League All-Star, Morlan held his opponents to a .202 batting average, and even tossed a complete game. He also showed a prowess for the strikeout, striking out 125 batters in only 106.1 innings of work.

The Closer:

Patrick Neshek, CL (Rochester)
Neshek was far and away the best closer in the International League in 2006, after being the best closer in the Eastern League in 2005. In 33 appearances, Neshek posted a 6-2 record, saving 14 games in 19 opportunities. He finished his International League season with a 1.95 earned run average, and he held batters to a .189 batting average. In 60 innings of work, Neshek struck out 87 batters, earning a promotion to the Minnesota Twins. A fan favorite, Neshek should be a mainstay in the Twins bullpen for many years.

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