The Fort Myers Miracle have stumbled to a 2-5 start to the 2007 season, falling victim in plenty of heartbreaking losses. This is a very good group of prospects, and their only wins have come when they swept a doubleheader against Lakeland on Wednesday. The team is only hitting a combined .236, and they have only hit one home run this season. The pitching has been decent for the Miracle, though it has been spotty at times. They need some better pitching from their starters if they want to compete in a very tough Florida State League. It is the beginning of a very long season, so expect the pitching staff to turn it around.
Infielder Steven Tolleson has gotten off to a fast start to the 2007 season, as he leads the Twins organization with a .400 batting average. Tolly has already scored six times for the Miracle, and has displayed a great batting eye. As the team's leadoff hitter, Tolleson has already walked seven times, and has an incredible .531 on-base percentage. Juan Portes has also been swinging a hot stick, posting a .321 mark through the team's first seven games. Portes has been used in the infield, and the outfield, and has yet to commit an error. Toby Gardenhire has also been solid at the plate.
The Miracle bullpen has been very solid during the first part of the 2007 season, as six of their eight relievers have earned run averages of 0.00. Eduardo Morlan, Angel Garcia, Kyle Aselton, Frank Mata, Yohan Pino, and David Shinskie have combined to throw 20.0 innings of scoreless relief, combining for 14 strikeouts. Once the starting rotation comes around, this should be a very tough pitching staff to face. Morlan and Garcia have also yet to allow a base hit during their appearances.
Two of the biggest bats in the Miracle lineup have struggled to open the 2007 season, and the team's record is indicative of that. Erik Lis and Whitney Robbins are both batting .208, and the team is struggling to produce runs because of it. Lis and Robbins are two of the better bats in the Twins organization, so they are likely to bounce back from their slow starts. Eli Tintor has really struggled, striking out eight times in the team's first seven games, en-route to a .154 batting average. Tintor had a breakout season in 2006 with the Beloit Snappers, so the Miracle are hoping he brings some of that magic to Fort Myers in 2007.
In what is supposed to be a pitcher friendly league, the Miracle starting rotation has struggled in their first trip through the rotation. Alexander Smit (8.31), Oswaldo Sosa (6.14), Ryan Mullins (5.68), and Jay Rainville (4.50) have all struggled thus far in 2007, though it is a rotation that is likely to get better really fast. Rainville is coming off an injury, and the rest of these guys were Midwest League All-Stars in 2006. Kyle Waldrop is the only starter who has been consistent in 2007, though the rest of his rotation mates should pick up the slack soon.
What We Know
The Florida State League is a pitcher friendly league, so the bats are going to have to find a way to come alive before the Miracle dig themselves a bigger hole. The Miracle lineup is full of big-time position player prospects, and if the lineup cannot produce runs, there is a stock-pile of big bats on the Beloit roster just waiting for a taste of the Florida State League. Lis and Robbins are proven hitters, who have been hitting the ball well since before college. They need to try to find a way to get Caleb Moore's bat in the lineup.
The pitching is going to be fine, and Rainville is going to find a way to capture the magic that made him one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the Twins organization. Smit can rack up strikeouts in bunches, and Sosa is a solid pitcher. The Miracle may also see if they can get Zach Ward some starts, though he has been one of the only productive relievers for the Miracle thus far this season.