FORT MYERS, FL-Minnesota Twins AAA and AA affiliates were on full display on Thursday, as they took on the AAA and AA affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles. There were plenty of highlights from the action, and here are some of the top plays:
The Minnesota Twins Minor Leaguers started playing games on Thursday, as they welcomed Norfolk (Baltimore Orioles AAA affiliate), and Bowie (Baltimore Orioles AA affiliate) to Lee County Sports Complex. There were plenty of highlights from the games, and the Twins Minor Leaguers looked pretty good for the first time out.
Nick Blackburn looked very good on the mound, displaying a fastball with some great velocity on it. He continuously worked down in the zone, and induced plenty of ground balls.
Trent Oeltjen showed great prowess on the base paths, stealing third base, and then scoring when the Norfolk catcher threw the ball into left field. Oeltjen played centerfield in the game, keeping the spot warm until Denard Span comes down from Major League camp.
Brian Duensing worked two innings, and he was hit pretty hard before settling down. He allowed a single and a double to the first two hitters he faced, before gaining command of his stuff. Overall, he did not pitch bad, and had a good breaking ball working.
Douglas Deeds looked good at the plate, and had one at-bat where he worked a walk from an 0-2 count. He started in right field for the Red Wings.
Matthew Moses played third base, though he looked a bit overmatched at the plate. He struck out badly on a check swing, but did look good in the field. He appears to be in great shape, and should have a good year in 2007.
It appears that Matt Tolbert will be the Red Wings shortstop this season, as Gil Velazquez was working out at second base. The Red Wings should be very solid in the infield this year.
Matt Allegra made a great play in left field for the Red Wings, gunning down a Norfolk base runner trying to stretch a single into a double. Velazquez made a nice tag to get the runner.
Rochester outfielder/ first baseman Garrett Jones watched from the stands, then went over to the big league game and stroked the game winning hit.
Brian Buscher hit the ball hard to the gap, but the Norfolk centerfielder made a nice grab on a very tough line drive.
New Britain Highlights:
The New Britain Rock Cats looked very good against Bowie, and the pitchers looked in mid-season form.
Kyle Waldrop had a nice 1-2-3 inning, getting a strike out, groundout, and a pop out. He was really locating his fastball well, and showed command of his breaking ball.
Shortstop Trevor Plouffe got the crowd on it's feet with an unbelievable defensive stop. A Bowie hitter hit the ball hard into the hole and Plouffe went full extension to his hand side to backhand the ball, and then fired a strike to nail the runner at first. It really was an impressive play.
Erik Lis stroked a very nice double to left field, crushing the ball to the warning track. It was one of the better hits of the afternoon.
Rashad Eldridge showed a good batting eye, working nine pitches en-route to a walk.
The Rock Cats played some small ball, after a Plouffe bunt single loaded the bases. After Eldridge struck out, J.R. Taylor scored on a passed ball, and they got another run on a David Winfree sacrifice fly.
Ryan Mullins displayed a great breaking ball during his time on the mound, and induced a couple of ground ball outs.
Anthony Swarzak had the strikeouts working, whiffing two batters in one inning. He struggled with his command a bit, but his fastball was really popping the catcher's mitt. When he keeps his fastball down, he is very hard to hit.
The Beloit Snappers and Fort Myers Miracle are home tomorrow, so we'll be bringing you coverage of those two games.