It all began in June, when the Twins promoted Matt Garza from High-A Fort Myers. A big-time pitching prospect, Garza tore up the Florida State League, earning a selection to the Florida State League All-Star Game. Since his promotion, he has been dominant at the Double-A level as well, earning a second All-Star Game nod.
What would follow would be some moves that have quickly revamped the Rock Cats lineup, as they brought Kevin Slowey, Garrett Guzman, and Matt Tolbert to the fold. Slowey had been the best pitcher in the Florida State League at the time of his call-up, posting a 1.01 earned run average in his 14 starts. Guzman and Tolbert had been catalysts in the Miracle lineup, and they have succeeded since being called up as well.
Slowey is a prime-time prospect who, like Garza, is one of the top-10 prospects in the Twins organization. He also has taken a liking to the Eastern League, striking out ten batters in his first two starts, to go along with only one walk. Possessing pinpoint control, Slowey has struck out 109 batters this season against only ten walks.
Guzman, who missed the entire 2005 season due to injury has shown consistent pop in his bat since joining the Rock Cats roster, blasting three home runs in his first 14 games in the Eastern League. While with the Miracle, Guzman was the big clutch bat in the order, and was responsible for clinching plenty of wins for Fort Myers. If he continues to hit, the 23-year old will once again be considered a big outfield prospect in the Twins organization.
Tolbert provided another consistent bat while with the Miracle, and has hit over .300 since returning to the Rock Cats. He is a slick-fielding middle infielder, who can play either shortstop, third base, or second base. For the season, he has a plus-.300 batting average, and has shown he is ready to take on Double-A pitching.
Add to the mix Glen Perkins, the top left-handed pitching prospect in the Twins organization. Some feel that Perkins is ready for Triple-A, but with nine losses this season, he needs a little more seasoning in the Eastern League. Still, his talent is overwhelming, and he should turn it around as the Rock Cats try to get out of the cellar in the Eastern League North.
Trent Oeltjen, the only member of the Twins organization to be selected to the Futures Game is also a member of the Rock Cats, and with guys like Doug Deeds, Danny Matienzo, and Denard Span joining him in the Rock Cats lineup, the Cats now have the weapons to be a dangerous offense ballclub. Span may be the best centerfield prospect in the Minor Leagues, and Deeds and Matienzo have proven they can rake at the Double-A level.
If the Cats can begin firing on all cylinders, it should make for an interesting second half of the season for New Britain faitful.