The Red Wings are currently 15-9 on the young season, and have the highest team batting average of any of the other affiliates in the Twins organization. They are currently batting .268 as a team, and their 3.23 earned run average is only behind Beloit in the organization ranking. The team has been slumping a bit lately, but with their starting pitching, it is only a matter of time before they get back in the win column.
The Red Wings boast two of the hottest hitters in the Twins organization on their roster, and they are both prospects who weren't supposed to carry the load when the team broke camp back in April. Catcher Jose Morales has been a force in the batter's box, batting .351 through his first 21 games. He was recently named Twins Minor League Player of the Week, and continues to get better with each passing game. He could be the catching prospect the Twins have been waiting for to back-up Joe Mauer. Infielder Matt Tolbert had a big year in 2006, and he is having an even bigger year in 2007. He leads all Twins farm hands in batting, hitting at a .379 clip, which is tops in the International League. First baseman Garrett Jones appears to be ready to try his hand at the Major League level, after being named Twins Minor League Player of the Month for the month of April. Jones is batting .299, has cut down on his strikeouts, and has driven in 18 runs in 25 games.
The Red Wings seem to get great starting pitching every game, with the exception of a few rough outings every now and again. Scott Baker (2.40), Kevin Slowey (1.38), Jeremy Cummings (3.18), and Matt Garza have all been stellar this season, not counting Garza's rough outing on Monday. Slowey is once again possibly the most dominant pitcher in Minor League Baseball, and Scott Baker is proving once more that he is too good for the International League. Jason Miller has also been clutch for the Red Wings in 2007, and he has a 1.20 earned run average in five appearances this season. Miller has worked from both the rotation, and the bullpen, and looks comfortable in any role. Carmen Cali has also been great from the pen, and the lefty has a 1.13 ERA in seven appearances.
Some of the Wings better bats have struggled so far this season, including Matt Moses (.215 BA), Douglas Deeds (.189 BA), and Matthew LeCroy (.179 BA). The team has been waiting for them to get it going for some time now, and Moses appears to be slated for a demotion very soon. I don't think that is the right thing to do, but he just is not producing. LeCroy hit his first home run of the season on Tuesday, so perhaps he is turning the corner. Denard Span has struck out a team-high 25 times, but he has been playing better lately. He has upped his stolen base total to eight on the season, and has not looked as overmatched at the plate.
Brian Bass pitched well on Monday, but he has had a rough season to start. He has appeared in seven games for the Red Wings, and has a bloated 6.59 earned run average. For a team with a 3.23 mark overall, that number really sticks out. Dave Gassner has been struggling in the role of starter lately, and has a 5.49 earned run average in four starts. He is much better than his numbers are showing, and needs to get back on track. The only other pitcher with an earned run average near 5.00 is top prospect Matt Garza, though that is mostly due to his seven earned run effort against Toledo on Monday.
What We Know
The Red Wings starting rotation is arguably the best in all of Minor League Baseball, and they are going to carry the team this season. The team got a shot in the arm with the return of Alexi Casilla from Minnesota, and he slides right into that number two hole in the lineup. The fact that Garrett Jones is batting near .300 is a very good sign, as he needed a big year in 2007 to stay in the Twins plans. The bullpen is also starting to take shape, as they welcomed Ricky Barrett back to the mix. Barrett is one of the key left-handed relief prospects in the Twins organization, and he should help take some of the load off the hands of guys like Cali, and Miller. One thing is for sure, Moses and Deeds need to start hitting the ball soon, or they could be slated for their third season of Eastern League ball.