Saints Wins Series in Iowa, Return to Face Former Twins Affiliate
The Saints Story is a weekly publication that is focused on the St. Paul Saints, the AAA-affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The Saints Story will discuss the past week’s games, take a look at what lay ahead, and discuss who’s hot and who’s not, plus much more. Also, news from throughout the Minnesota Twins minor league system will be provided, including from the Wichita Wind Surge (AA), the Cedar Rapids Kernels (High-A) and the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Low-A).
Record: 24-29, (Ninth place in International League West Division)
Week Record: 4-2
Batting Average: .246 (14th in International League)
Team ERA: 5.50 (19th in International League)
St. Paul Saints Week in Review
The St. Paul Saints headed down I-35 last week to take on the Iowa Cubs and came away with an impressive week, going 4-2. It was an impressive performance that saw the team score double digit runs in three of the six games, producing a total of 57 runs.
The offensive siege started on Tuesday, as the club came away with a 13-3 victory. Iowa jumped out to a two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning, but St. Paul took the lead in the top of the second when Roy Morales drove home Caleb Hamilton and David Banuelos followed with a two-run blast, his fourth homer of the year. Iowa tied the score in the bottom of the third, but the Saints took command of this game in the top of the fourth, plating seven runs. Spencer Steer put his team back on top with a bases clearing double. An error allowed Steer to score and Jose Godoy hit a three-run homer, his first of the year to close out the scoring. Jake Cave added a two-run double in the ninth and Michael Helman closed out the scoring with an RBI double.
The top of the order was great in this contest, as Steer and Cave were a combined 6-11 with four runs scored and five RBI. JC Ramirez tossed 2.2 scoreless innings to earn his third win of the season.
Turn about was fair play on Wednesday as Iowa came away with the 13-3 victory. Cave had another big game, going 2-5 with a run and an RBI, hitting his fifth homer of the year. However, Iowa scored six runs in the first and added three more in the second, taking command of this contest before it barely got started. Daniel Gossett was hit hard in the contest, allowing seven earned runs in 2.0 innings.
On Thursday, St. Paul brought the lumber once again, downing the Cubs, 12-5. This was a very close game as the teams each scored two runs in the second and ninth innings, sending this contest to an extra frame. However, in the 10th, the Saints put eight on the board to earn the victory. Morales had the big blow in the 10th, hitting a grand slam, his first homer of the year.
Tim Beckham hit a two-run homer for St. Paul in the second and Cole Sturgeon added a two-run single in the ninth. Austin Schulfer, who had been called up from AA-Wichita two weeks ago where he was dominating, earned his first victory.
The extra-innings heroics continued on Friday, as the club earned an 8-7 victory in 10 innings. Then teams combined to score 13 runs through the first six innings, with neither team scoring in only three of those half-innings. St. Paul trailed entering the top of the ninth however, but Morales came up with another big hit, drilling a double down the line that scored Alex Kirilloff to tie the score. In the 10th, Hamilton reached on a fielder’s choice to score Helman. Tyler Viza was brilliant out of the bullpen, earning the victory with three perfect innings of relief. Cave had a hit in the contest, extending his hitting streak to 15 straight games.
On Saturday, the Cubs used the big first inning to take command of this game, scoring six runs in the first to earn the win. Dereck Rodriguez had a tough outing, allowing six runs in 2.0 innings, but Jake Faria was fantastic in relief, tossing six solid innings of relief, allowing two earned runs. Cave saw his hitting streak snapped. Beckham went 2-4 with two runs driven in and Steer hit his third homerun of the season as St. Paul rallied to pull with two, but Iowa added two more runs in the eighth to seal the victory.
On Sunday, St. Paul brought the lumber, rapping out 16 hits in a 16-7 victory over Iowa. St. Paul produced runs in seven of the nine frames, scoring two in the first, three in the second, a run in the fourth, three more in the sixth, a run in the seventh, four in the eighth, and two in the ninth. Steer was unstoppable at the top of the batting order, going 3-4 with five runs and five RBI, including homering three times in the contest. He led off the game with his fourth homerun of the season, added a solo shot in the fourth, and a two-run blast in the eighth. Hamilton homered twice for the Saints and Beckham and Kirilloff also went deep. In all, St. Paul hit seven home runs on the day. Hamilton drove in five and Kirilloff drove in four.
Ramirez only lasted two innings before coming out of the contest, turning it over to the bullpen. Schulfer took over from there, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings to earn his second victory in three nights.
Beckham has been fantastic in his four games with St. Paul, going 8-17 (.471), scoring four runs and adding seven RBI. Kirilloff also hit .471 last week, scoring eight runs and driving in eight while hitting for homers. Steer finished with a .233 batting average, but homered four times and drove in 11 runs. After struggling in his first few appearances with St. Paul, Tyler Viza has been spectacular, allowing one earned run in 5.0 innings last week.
This week the St. Paul Saints will welcome the Rochester Red Wings to town. This is an interesting series as Rochester used to be the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, so this is a battle between the new in the old so to speak.
Rochester enters the series with the top record in the International League East Division at 35-19. They hold a 3.5 game lead over Buffalo after going 8-2 during the last 10 games. The club is 17-7 on the road, and boast the most potent offense in the International League, hitting .267. They have scored 283 runs, which is ninth best and their team ERA is also ninth best in the league (4.47).
Rochester is led by first baseman Joey Meneses, who is hitting .330 with 12 homers and 37 RBI. Nick Banks was off to a solid start (.355, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 20 Games), but he has been on the disabled list since May 7. Carl Edwards has been fantastic out of the bullpen, posting a 0.63 ERA in 13 appearances. Edwards has allowed just three hits and four walks in 14.1 innings pitched, a 0.49 WHIP and a .068 opponent batting average. That earned him a call up to the big club, where he has continued his dominance, posting a 1.80 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP in 13 appearances.
Down on the Farm
AA-Wichita Wind Surge
The Wichita Wind Surge went 4-2 against Frisco during last week. That helped move the Wind Surge ahead of Tulsa by 1.5 games. Wichita is 6-4 in their last 10 and are 15-8 on the road as they head to Arkansas this week.
Wichita dropped the first game of series against Frisco, losing 3-0, then defeated the RoughRiders in the next two contests, 7-1 and 2-1. After dropping Friday night’s contest, the Wind Surge responded with an 8-7 victory on Saturday and closed out the series with a 5-3 victory on Sunday. The team allowed 17 runs in the six games, and seven of those came in Saturday’s contest. That helped Wichita lower their team ERA to 4.42, second best in the Texas League. The club is fifth in batting average (.252) and sixth in homeruns (61).
Chris Williams continues to swing a hot bat since being reactivated on May 5, hitting .300 with five homeruns and 18 RBIs in 24 games. Of his 24 hits, 12 have gone for extra basis and he has an impressive .412 on-base percentage. While the numbers may be impressive, the St. Paul Saints Alex Kirilloff (.351, 6HR, 20 RBI, 26 games) has been playing a lot of first base for St. Paul, and is likely going to stand in the way of Williams advancing.
After an abysmal may, Simeon Woods Richardson had a solid performance in his first June start, allowing two runs on six hits in 5.0 innings. Despite Tyler Viza and Austin Schulfer moving up to St. Paul, the bullpen still continues to be spectacular for Wichita. Evan Sisk could very well be the next arm moving up, as his 1.07 ERA and 0.99 WHIP are going to make it hard to keep him down in Wichita. Matt Canterino (1.83, 1.14 WHIP, .142 opponent batting average) and Kody Funderburk (6-0, 1.83, 1.31, .215) also have impressive numbers.
This week Wichita will take on Arkansas. The Travelers are third in the North Division (27-24). The club is 8-2 in their last 10 games after winning their last four games of last week’s series. Arkansas is 13-11 at home. The Travelers have the worst offense in the Texas League, last in team batting average (.226) and in homeruns (33). They are first in team ERA (.377), however.
Jake Scheiner leads the club with seven homers and 30 RBI, but is hitting only .220. In fact, there are six players who have played at least 37 games for the Travelers, and Zach DeLoach (.259) is the only one hitting above .250. However, this club is about pitching. Starter Taylor Dollard has been spectacular, posting a 0.95 ERA in 10 starts. He has allowed 32 hits and 10 walks in 47.1 innings pitched. The starting staffer Arkansas has a 3.12 ERA.
High-A-Cedar Rapids Kernels
The Cedar Rapids Kernels went 4-2 against Lansing last week, dropping two of the first three games of the series before winning each of the last three. Solid hitting was the catalyst for the Kernels, as they scored one run in the opener, then produced 38 runs over the final five games. Cedar Rapids remains in first in the Midwest League West Division (33-18), holding a 2.0 game edge over Wisconsin. The club is 6-4 in their last 10 and will be on the road this week where they are 16-8.
After getting off to a spectacular start, Christian Encarnacion Strand has tailed off, but had a solid week against Lansing, hitting .348 with two homeruns and four RBI. That has helped to keep his batting average above .300 (.303) and he is fourth in the league in homeruns (10) and first and RBI (43).
Cedar Rapids is third in team batting average (.241) but continue to dominate in pitching, posting a 3.05 ERA, tops in the league. In fact, that is 0.78 better than Dayton, the next best club. Starters Brent Headrick (5-1, 1.90 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, .161 opponent batting average) and Sawyer Gipson-Long (4-2, 2.06, 0.96, .192) have been dominant this season, and it would not be surprising if either find themselves in Wichita over the next month. The bullpen has been spectacular for the Kernels as well, posting a 3.00 combined ERA.
Cedar Rapids travels to take on South Bend this week. The Cubs are 28-23, 5.0 games behind Cedar Rapids in the standings. South Bend is 20-7 at home, the best record in the Midwest League but enter the series struggling, losers of four straight games. The Cubs are sixth in team ERA (3.97) but are first in team batting average (.245). They are fourth in total runs scored (240).
A- Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels are running away with the Florida State League West Division, holding an 8.0 game lead over Clearwater after going 7-3 in their last 10. Fort Myers is tied for the best record in the league (34-16) and are 18-9 on the road this season as they head to Daytona this week. The Mighty Mussels are second in team batting average (.240) and dominating in team ERA (2.63). That is 0.64 ahead of Clearwater, the next best team.
Fort Myers had a solid week, going 4-2 against Tampa. The pitching staff continues to lead the way, as Mike Paredes is likely not far away from moving up to Cedar Rapids. Paredes is 2-0with a 1.64 ERA over his last two starts, moving him to 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 appearances, four of which have been starts. The decision by the organization to move him to the starting rotation has really worked out well and should hasten his ascension.
Emmanuel Rodriguez continues to lead the club, hitting .280 with nine homers and 25 RBI. His .495 on-base percentage is ridiculous, walking 54 times in 45 games. He has struck out 51 times, but the organization will likely take that kind of on-base percentage even if it means lots of strikeouts.
This week Fort Myers travels to Daytona. The Tortugas are in last in the East Division (19-31), going 2-8 in their last 10 games, including losing their last five. Daytona is 15-12 at home. The Tortugas are last in team ERA (4.45) and last in team batting average (.206).
Austin Hendrick leads the team in homers (7) and RBI (21), but is hitting just .205. Hunter Parks has been very good for the Tortugas, going 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA in 10 appearances, six of which have been starts. Parks has switched back-and-forth between the bullpen and rotation, but was solid in his last outing, tossing 4.0 shutout innings, allowing two hits while striking out five.
By Robert Pannier