The Snappers have won eight of their first 15 games to start the 2007 season, and are doing it with little help from their potentially powerful lineup. The team has been getting strong starting pitching, and has a team earned run average of 2.53. As a whole, the team is batting a measly .216, which is saying a lot considering they have some of the best young bats in the Twins organization. Guys are struggling with the strikeouts, and the pitching staff has been asked to do unbelievable things in the early going. The bats should come around now that the weather is starting to come around, but some players just look lost at the plate.
Danny Valencia is killing the ball this season, as he has shown no signs of slowing down since his Appalachian League All-Star nomination in 2006. The young third baseman is leading the Twins organization with a .354 batting average, and his 17 hits are tops on the team. He is also the only member of the Snappers batting over .300 this season, and his four home runs are tied for the organizational lead. Brian Dinkelman has also been a bright spot for the Snappers this season, as he is second on the team in batting with a .289 average. The young two-bagger leads the team with ten walks, en-route to a very nice .429 on-base percentage. In 13 games as the team's second baseman, Dinkelman has committed only two errors.
Nobody in the Twins organization, outside maybe Kevin Slowey, is hotter than Jeffrey Manship right now. The Notre Dame-product is pitching lights out for Beloit in 2007, and was recently named Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Week. This season, Manship is fourth in the organization in earned run average (1.08), and his 28 strikeouts are most among Twins minor leaguers. Manship could be slated for a promotion to Fort Myers very soon. Newcomer Cole Devries has been unbelievable in his first season with the Twins organization, handcuffing Midwest League batters through his first 12.1 innings this season. Devries leads the organization with an 0.73 earned run average, and has struck out 11 batters against only four walks. The University of Minnesota-product has also shown the ability to work from the bullpen, and the rotation, making him that more favorable as a prospect.
Pretty much the entire Snappers starting lineup is struggling right now, and the numbers are staggering. Batting only .216 as a team, the Snappers have struck out 134 times in only 15 games, averaging 8.9 strikeouts per game. Their sluggers are struggling as well, as Chris Parmelee (.240, 23K), Joe Benson (.146, 16K), Danny Santiesteban (.194, 15K), and Mark Robinson (.125, 10K), have all gotten off to rough starts. These bats are crucial to the success of the Snappers in 2007, and they need to all learn to be more patient at the plate. Some of these guys are top prospects within the organization, and the more they strike out, the more worried Twins' brass gets. It's still very early, but they need to turn it around quick.
The Snappers pitching staff has only two guys with an earned run average over 4.00, so it is tough to say somebody is cold right now. Starter Alex Burnett has a 4.50 earned run average through his first three starts, but he has not pitched badly. The only guy who has really struggled has been Jose Lugo, who's 5.25 earned run average is tops on the team. In 12 innings of work, spanning three starts, batters are hitting a robust .319 off Lugo. He is a very good pitcher, who had great success in the Apply League in 2006. He did struggle last year in his first taste of the Midwest League, so he may just need to get some confidence in his stuff.
What We Know
This lineup has the potential to be much better than it has shown over the first three weeks of the season. Guys like Parmelee are going to strike out, but it is the high number of strikeouts that are alarming people right now. I, for one, am not concerned, as he is still a very young kid getting his first taste of full-season baseball for an entire season. He did see time with Beloit in 2006, but that was a short stint. Jeffrey Manship is a beast, and he could make a rocket-like rise through the Twins system this season. He has a great baseball pedigree, and has the mental makeup to really advance. I also like how Robert Delaney has been pitching out of the Snappers bullpen, posting a 0.93 earned run average through his first five appearances. This is a team that should finish well above .500, and if the bats can catch up with the arms, they could be the best team in the Midwest League this year.