Top 10 Minor League 1st Half Stories: #3

Now that the Minor League full-season teams have reached the halfway point of their respective seasons, takes a look at the Top-10 performances of the first half. In our #3 selection, we look at the Beloit Snappers, who send an incredible nine players to the Midwest League All-Star Game.

The Beloit Snappers may not have the best record in the Midwest League, but they sure have the best talent, as they sent an league-high nine players to the Midwest League All-Star Game. That number would have been higher, but Brian Duensing was promoted to Fort Myers prior to the game. Since the All-Star break, Beloit has gone 10-7, and seem to have the pieces in place for a playoff run.

While shortstop Paul Kelly and outfielder Tarrence Patterson were named to the starting lineup, Caleb Moore, Erik Lis, Andrew Thompson, and Steven Tolleson all joined them as position players to make the team. Eduardo Morlan, Yohan Pino, and Oswaldo Sosa were the Snappers pitchers who were named to the team, along with Duensing. All nine of them have had great seasons with the Snappers this year, and Tolleson is now playing in the Florida State League.

Many believe Lis should have been a starter on the team, as he is at the top of the leaderboard in many offense categories in the Midwest League. He has also been one of the more consistent batters in the Twins organization this season, and seems poised for his first taste of Florida State League action. For the season, Lis is batting .320, and has driven in 45 runs.

Patterson has speed to burn, and his 21 stolen bases are good enough for second place in the Twins farm system. He currently in the middle of a five-game hitting streak, and has shown the ability to play consistent defense at all three outfield positions. He has scored 44 runs this season, including six in his last four games.

Caleb Moore is one of the better hitting catchers in the Twins organization, and in two of his three full months with the Snappers, Moore has batted well over .300. If he had not struggled during May, then the slugging catcher would be batting .300-plus this season. He has batted in every spot in the order except for leadoff this season, and is batting .299 with runners on.

Andrew Thompson is batting .272 for the Snappers this season, as he has completely turned his season around in the past two months. At the end of May, Thompson was batting only .231, but he has hit better than .300 during June and July. He has struggled with the glove this season, committing 18 errors playing both shortstop and second base.

Paul Kelly is in the middle of a five game hitting streak as well, and has been one of the more consistent bats for the Snappers during the past two months. Like Moore, Kelly struggled in May, and would be hitting close to .300 if it had not been for those 27 games. Batting mostly from the number three spot in the order, Kelly has now driven in six runs during the last three games, and is now batting .324 with runners in scoring position.

Steven Tolleson was bitten by the injury bug recently, but has since come back to be a big part of the Fort Myers lineup. He was solid during his time in the Midwest League, batting a respectable .287 in 47 games. The former South Carolina Gamecock is batting .387 during his first seven games in the Florida State League, and has hit safely in his last six.

Eduardo Morlan has elevated himself into superstardom this season, and Twins' fans are getting very excited about what he could turn into. He has been solid as both a starter and a reliever this season, although he recently fell victim to the injury bug and has not appeared in a game since June 23. Still, he is one of the better pitching prospects in the Midwest League, and could get a taste of the Florida State League if he can get back off the shelf.

Oswaldo Sosa is a 20-year old right-hander who has posted a 2.50 in 17 appearances this season, as he has been very solid as a member of the Snappers' rotation. He has notched 79 strikeouts in his 101 innings of work, and has walked only 31 batters. Against him, batters are hitting only .239, and he has posted a sub-2.00 earned run average for the past two months.

The final participant for Beloit was Yohan Pino, who may be the best relief pitcher in the Midwest League. He has lost only one game since April 22, and has a 1.69 earned run average in 31 games. For the season, the righty has not allowed an earned run against a left-handed batter, and lefties are batting only .184 against him.

It is almost unheard of for a team to send so many players to an All-Star Game, no matter what level of baseball it is. For the Snappers to send so many players to the game is a testament to the Twins organization, and they are only going to get better as they get more experience in the Minor Leagues. One thing is for sure, the Fort Myers Miracle are going to be pretty tough next season.

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