The Red Wings worst opponent this season has been Mother Nature, as cold weather continues to plague the International League. The Rochester Red Wings record currently stands at 2-1, after bad conditions suspended their game on Wednesday night. The Red Wings have struggled with the sticks so far in 2007, posting a team batting average of only .215, but they have gotten solid pitching. Their club earned run average stands at 4.26, and they have quite possibly the best starting rotation in the IL. They have already been ravaged by the parent club in 2007, so this is a team that could be very good, or pretty average during the season.
Jose Morales has been a pleasant surprise behind the plate for the Red Wings, as he is currently one of only two Red Wings batters hitting over .300. The other Wing batter, Josh Rabe, is currently with the Minnesota Twins, making Morales the only current Wing with an average over .286. In at-bats, Morales has yet to strikeout, and he has doubled and scored twice.
Shortstop Thomas Watkins is batting .286, with two doubles and a home run, and has also driven in three runs on the season. Watkins has been a completely different player since being promoted to Rochester at the end of the 2006 season, and can be used as both a shortstop, and a second baseman. He now gives the Twins organization some more middle infield depth, and is beginning to become a seasoned Triple-A hitter.
Newcomer Jeremy Cummings has been great in his first season with the Twins organization, and should slide into the Wings rotation now that Glen Perkins has been recalled to Minnesota. In his two appearances, Cummings has posted a 1.80 earned run average, and has yet to walk a batter. To no-one's surprise, Kevin Slowey was outstanding in his first 2007 start, allowing no earned runs in six innings of work. The young right-hander also struck out two, while walking none.
The rookie batters for the Red Wings have struggled early on, which has led to a pretty bad overall team batting average. Matthew Moses, Denard Span, Matt Tolbert, and Douglas Deeds are all batting under .200, though it is still very early. Deeds has yet to record a hit in nine at-bats, and Moses only has two hits through his first 15 at-bats. Moses has also committed three errors from his third base position. Span needs to start getting on base, as he has only a .235 on-base percentage from his leadoff spot.
Bobby Korecky has not looked like himself through his first two appearances of the 2007 season, posting a 16.20 earned run average. He has already blown a save, and batters are hitting a whopping .571 against him. Mike Venafro, who nearly made the Twins out of Spring Training, has also been ineffective, posting a 15.00 earned run average in his two relief appearances. Most of the Twins relievers have struggled this season, but they should get better as the weather gets warmer.
The Red Wings have lost three of their key components already in 2007, as Josh Rabe, Glen Perkins, and Alexi Casilla are currently with the Minnesota Twins. Perkins was one of the better starting pitchers on the staff, and Rabe and Casilla were key to the Wings lineup. The Red Wings have welcomed back a familiar face, as Chris Heintz rejoins the team after a quick stint in the bigs.
What We Know
The young kids are going to hit. Span and Moses are both former first round draft choices, and both are striving for productive 2007 seasons. Moses is in the best shape of his career, and Span has been a productive leadoff man at every level he has played. Deeds just needs to get more at-bats, and once he gets rolling, he will show why he was so dominant in the Eastern League the past two seasons.
The starting rotation is going to be dominant, just as long as the Minnesota Twins rotation stays in tact. Garza was the Player of the Year in Minor League Baseball in 2006, and Kevin Slowey is another guy who is one of the top right-handed starting pitching prospects in all of the Minors. The loss of Glen Perkins will hurt, but he should be back in Rochester in a few weeks. Dave Gassner can eat innings, and Jeremy Cummings has had success in the International League, no-hitting Rochester last season. Also, don't forget about Scott Baker, who has been known to dominate in the IL.