This type of story reminds me how amazing sports can be.  Last night, Rochester Red Wings catcher Chris Herrmann spotted a fan outside the stadium and gave him his all of his used gear. See, Herrmann doesn’t need the gear with the Red Wings colors anymore. He was recalled to the big leagues last night; to the Minnesota Twins. This simple act turned a great time at the ball game into a night this boy will never ever forget. I now know who my favorite baseball player is.

If you love this as much as I do, send The Twins a note and tell them so!

Story and Photo Submitted By: Mark S.
Location: Rochester, NY

Perkins on the DL, Twins Recall Dusty Hughes

As if the Twins’ situation weren’t discouraging enough with a 15-29 record and a monster implosion last night in Arizona - but one of their top relievers is going on the disabled list.

Glen Perkins, after spending an underwhelming year in Rochester in 2010, has emerged as a quality bullpen pitcher for the Twins this season, posting a 1.59 earned-run average.

Dusty Hughes, who pitched 10 2/3 innings for the Twins this season mixed in with stints in Rochester, seemed the most likely call-up as a lefty (considering the Twins have no interest in calling up Chuck James, another lefty, for reasons not yet determined).

Hughes allowed seven walks and 12 earned-runs in his 10 2/3 innings with Minnesota. No word yet on his replacement in Rochester.



In the first image,  New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter shares a laugh with Rochester Red Wings second baseman Ray Olmedo on Monday, July 8, 2013 at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa. Jeter has been playing with the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for his rehab.  (AP Photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys) 

In the second image, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter tags out Rochester Red Wings base runner Deibinson Romero as he attempts to dive back to second base on Monday, July 8, 2013 at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa. Jeter has been playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for rehab.  (AP Photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys) 

In the third image,  New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter talks with reporters during pre game warmups during his rehab baseball game with the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Rochester Red Wings on Monday, July 8, 2013 at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa.  (AP Photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys) 

In the fourth image, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter gives a fist pump to Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley before the game against the Rochester Red Wings on Monday, July 8, 2013 at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa.  (AP Photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys) 

In the fifth image,  New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hugs Rochester Red Wings second baseman Ray Olmedo during pre game warmups on Monday, July 8, 2013 at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa.  (AP photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys)

In the sixth image,  New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter walks in the dugout as his loyal fans react during his rehab baseball game with the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Rochester Red Wings on Monday, July 8, 2013 at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa.  (AP Photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys)

40-Man Roster and Rule 5 Draft

With the decision to option Matt Tolbert, Rene Rivera, and Jason Repko to triple-A Rochester – removing them from the 40-man roster – one has to think that the Twins are preparing for the Rule 5 draft this December at the baseball winter meetings.

Of course the move was most conspicuously made to add Nick Blackburn and Alexi Casilla to the 40-man roster from the 60-day disabled list; but with the 40-man roster at 38 players, the Twins could also use the roster spots to preserve players they want to protect from being picked up in the Rule 5 draft or to make a selection of their own.

Teams pick up players in the Rule 5 draft with the expectation that the player(s) selected will play in the Majors. Last year, the Twins gave up highly-regarded prospect Billy Bullock to get Scott Diamond who made key spot starts en route to a 5.08 ERA season in 39.0 innings.

In order to participate, the Twins have to have 40-man space available and at this point, Repko, Tolbert and Rivera are replaceable. As Twins’ blogger Seth Stohs points out, the Twins have several recognizable names eligible including Cole DeVries, Anthony Slama, Tom Stuifbergen, Carlos Gutierrez, Dustin Martin, Danny Lehmann, and Jair Fernandez among many others.

Most players will end up back with their original team, but are there some players that the Twins wouldn’t want to take a chance on?

Cole DeVries and Anthony Slama stick out as two quality relief pitchers, whom if given the chance, could be effective at the Major league level.

Slama’s situation could be complicated because he isn’t currently on the 40-man roster; he was optioned to Rochester along with Repko, Rivera and Tolbert. As a player who has a K/9 above 12 in this minor league career (and over 10 at triple-A) and a HR/9 under one, he’s a quality relief pitcher despite his injury-riddled year and a less-than-impressive seven Major League innings.

DeVries is coming off a strong year mostly spent at triple-A Rochester (62 1/3 IP) in which he posted a 3.16 FIP and a walk-rate under 6 percent. Besides this, he came come into different relief situations with the same stable demeanor and is able to consistently able to throw strikes - enabling him to stay ahead in counts.

Again, while the decisions to clear space and option players to Rochester are not intended solely for preparation of the Rule 5 draft, it will be interesting to see how the Twins manage the eligible players using the open 40-man roster spots this winter.

Red Wings Defeat Braves 3-2 on a Walk-Off


Though the Red Wings roster seems to fluctuate by the day, Rochester pulled out a 3-2 victory against the Gwinnett Braves from a walk-off RBI single by Ray Chang on Thursday.

Chang, in his first game as a Red Wings after being called-up from double-A New Britain yesterday, batted second and played shortstop. He finished 2-for-4 with a double.

Dustin Martin brought in a run off a groundout in the fifth and Toby Gardenhire hit another home run to account for the scoring.


-With Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe with the Twins, I was curious about how the lineup would shake up:

Dinkelman RF, Chang SS, Martin CF, Brown DH, Bailey 1B, Lambin 3B, Singleton 2B, Lehmann C, Gardy LF, Swarzak SP

Some observations: Both new additions, Chang and Steve Singleton were inserted into the middle infield positions; Dinkelman batted lead-off in the team’s first game without Ben Revere; Toby Gardenhire played left field. He’s played every position in his minor league career except centerfield; Brandon Roberts continues to be left out of the lineup. He’s been struggling, hitting .189/.232/.208/.440, and has not played since April 28 vs. Buffalo.

-Steve Singleton, another player recently promoted from class AA went 1-for-3 with a walk.

-Toby Gardenhire is the utility guy of all utility guys. Not only did he play left field, further proving that he is capable of playing all nine positions, but he hit another home run - his second this season and the fourth of his career.

-Swarzak, in his first start for Rochester since making a spot start for the Twins last week, is continuing his solid performance in a comeback season for him: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 6 K, 0 BB.

Although he did allow a high number of hits, it’s important that he didn’t walk anyone. His problem when he has struggled with consistency is when he leaves his pitches up, especially his mid-70s changeup and low-90s fastball. When he starts losing command, his control is not there and he ends up giving up walks and runs - which did not happen last night. His 2011 K/BB ratio is at 3.33 and his triple-A average is 2.03 which is positive progression.

Red Wings Offseason Update: Managerial Candidates and Radio Broadcaster

LaVelle Neal of the Star Tribune wrote in a blog today that the Twins have not announced any official candidates in the Red Wings’ manager and hitting coach vacancies.

The Twins are still looking at candidates to take over as manager at Class AAA Rochester. I have not heard who is being considered. Rochester also needs a hitting coach, and former Twin Tom Brunansky might be a candidate. I watched Brunansky work with Gulf Coast league players a couple years ago and his enthusiasm jumped out at me. He spent last year at Class AA New Britain and Joe Benson raves about him. He’s one to watch in the coming years.

It appears that New Britain manager Jeff Smith and Class A Fort Myers manager Jake Mauer will  stay where they are at for now. That, of course, could change if the Twins need to expand their list of candidates.

It will be interesting to see if there is any shuffling of Twins system coaching to fill holes this season.

Another note from Neal’s blog is an update on the replacement for the Twins’ radio broadcaster. One name he doesn’t mention is current Red Wings’ broadcaster Josh Whetzel who has been in triple-A for eight years. He called a game against the Yankees in September.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to Make New Home at Frontier Field for 2012

The International League’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will play 37 “home” games at Rochester, N.Y.’s Frontier Field in 2012 while PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., undergoes significant construction.

The Yankees’ triple-A affiliate will also play seven games at Batavia’s Dwyer Stadium – home of the short-season class A Batavia Muckdogs – as well as selected games hosted by the Syracuse Chiefs, Buffalo Bisons, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and Pawtucket Red Sox – all of the International League.

For several months, Scranton ownership (Mandalay Baseball Properties and the New York Yankees) was pondering stadiums in Ottawa and Staten Island (where the New York-Penn league Yankee affiliate plays); but Rochester emerged as the dominant home site. Newark, N.J., was another site that was an option before it was thwarted by the Mets hoping to preserve its own fan-base territory.

Why the enormous pain in dozens of people’s lives (think of the Scranton part-time workers and interns who will not get the local work/experience this season. Or the radio broadcaster – and whichever other personnel they decide to send to Rochester – who will not go home for six straight months, away from their families, or Red Wings game-day employees who will work 37 extra games, for example)? The overhaul will be cheaper in the long run if done over one season, instead of splitting, and presumably compounding, construction time and costs.

Could this summer’s circumstances mean that players such as Dellin Betances, Austin Romine and Manny Banuelos play in double-A again despite getting some September major league experience? With the Twins coming off a 99-loss season and the farm system essentially devoid of prospects, it would be beneficial for Rochester – a Yankees’ market – to feature such talent. The most likely outcome is that the Yankees keep those players out of triple-A to avoid the incessant traveling and instability.

There are other issues that arise from this arrangement. While the Red Wings will be renovating a clubhouse for the Yankees players, there are only so many batting cages, and other baseball facilities available – let alone space – at Frontier Field for 75 players.

At the same time, the Red Wings are coming off consecutive 90-loss seasons under the Twins. And minor league teams within the approximate market of the parent team fare much more successfully than teams that aren’t (for example, the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs – located an hour away from Philadelphia and also the Phillies’ affiliate – led the International League in attendance with 9,248 on average. Same goes for Louisville, who finished second and is affiliated with the Reds and Columbus who finished third and is affiliated with the Indians. It’s not just a coincidence. And Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. – who owns the Red Wings and Muckdogs – recognizes that.)

Another one is having old, experienced triple-A ballplayers play games at Dwyer Stadium. Since you’ve never been there, let me convey that this stadium, in this town, is the epitome of middle-of-nowhere, 2,600-maximum-capacity, manicured-field-surrounded-by-actual-fields, low-minors situation. Combine that with the facilities, its inconvenient location 40 miles away from both Buffalo and Rochester, and the grounds crew with one full-time employee, it represents the furthest experience from the majors. It will bring these 28-to-30-year-olds back to their early, early playing days, and probably not in the reminiscent kind of way.

Lastly, Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. needs to be concerned that its own product – the Red Wings brand – is not blurred with the Yankees and fans will distinguish the difference. With 37 extra games when there are already 74 or so in a season, Rochester might be inundated with baseball, no matter who is playing.

Several local outlets, including WROC-TV and WHEC-TV reported that the Red Wings will receive 100 percent of the ticket sales and concessions, which probably had the biggest impact upon Rochester’s decision to be the main host – as well as the opportunity to appeal to Rochester’s depth of Yankees fans. CEO Naomi Silver said during a press conference that the club expected to make money or at least “break even.” My guess is that they make a lot of money, actually, based on the gate revenue alone, regardless of other, unreleased financial specifics of the agreement. No organization goes into something like this with the expectation of making a little money.

It will be interested to see how things play out this season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. They will come back in 2013 with a brand-new stadium only several hours outside New York City. I am also curious to see how Yankees game draw in comparison to Red Wings games at Frontier Field, since those matchups are usually the biggest and most anticipated in Rochester’s home slate when they’re opponents. And if those big prospects are playing with “Scranton” and the Red Wings have Kyle Gibson, Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson, it will represent a more exciting, rather than inconvenient, baseball summer in Rochester.

Red Wings Finish Consecutive Putrid Seasons

The Red Wings came into 2011 with the hopes of improving from the 95-loss 2010 season.

Ninety-five losses in 143 games seems impossible to replicate; but this season’s team almost did just that.

After an offseason of pressure and urgency for a much-improved season for one of the hallmarks of minor league baseball, Rochester finished with 91 losses…in 143 games. It finishes with the worst record in the all of triple-A.

Improvement, yes. But that is being facetious. Back-to-back 90-loss seasons is just what the headline says: putrid. And historic. Some notes about the current streak of three losing seasons for Rochester:

  • Rochester is only the fourth International League team to lose 90 or more games in a season since 1979 (2010 Rochester Red Wings 49-95 record, 2000 Richmond Braves 51-92 record and 1985 Pawtucket Red Sox 48-91 record)
  • Rochester is the first IL team to have back-to-back 90-loss seasons since Syracuse back in 1961 (56-98 record) & 1962 (53-101 record). 
  • It’s the first time a Red Wings team has had back-to-back 90-loss seasons since 1903 (34-96 record) & 1904 (28-105 record).

There are plenty of factors, and most of them connect back to the Twins. Rochester endured an all-time franchise record of 140 total transactions and used 55 unique players. It must have difficult for former manager Tom Nieto to build lineups and develop a bullpen strategy when the roster was changing every day.

The Red Wings began the season with only a few players who had any chance of playing in the Majors. If players such as Rene Tosoni, Rene Rivera, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere (who all played fewer than half of the Red Wings’ games this season) had actually played the majority of the season with Rochester like what was originally expected before the Twins crumbled apart due to injuries, the season would have much different.

Rochester Prospects: Could Next Season Be Different?

Kyle Gibson and Ben Revere.

Those players summed up the list of legitimate, young prospects on the Opening Day roster of the 2011 Red Wings.

We know how their seasons turned out – most significantly, both spent significant time not actually playing for the Red Wings. Will 2012’s team be any different?

Sure, triple-A is a stomping ground for wash-ups, old guys, dependable-but-not-quite-good-enough guys, and emergency guys. Why send young, bright, positive prospects to a team with mostly older and married players (and also probably cynical and aggrieved ones) when double-A is filled with promising talent and competition?

And most Major League clubs would agree. So much young, minor league talent is concentrated in double-A like the Texas and Eastern Leagues.

The thing is, though, young talent – players with futures, players with names you’re going to hear later – are important to a minor league franchise. Kyle Gibson was the top-rated pitching prospect in the Twins system and Ben Revere is an athletically gifted, charismatic outfielder. Excitement and buzz shouldn’t be underrated when it comes to a minor league franchise.

Which makes this note from Twins’ Farm Director from via LaVelle Neal of the Star Tribune):

The Twins expect several prospects to jump to Rochester from Class AA New Britain, headed by shortstop Brian Dozier, first baseman Chris Parmelee and outfielder Joe Benson. Rantz said Rochester is headed in a different direction…

If this is true, this is tremendous news. Think of a roster with Dozier, Chris Parmelee, Joe Benson, and Liam Hendriks, among others.

There’s a sign at Frontier Field where the Red Wings play in Rochester that reads “Twins of Tomorrow.” Last year, it was an incidental joke considering the record-setting number of transactions the Red Wings endured; but those names on next year’s roster? That would reaffirm that sign.

New general manager Terry Ryan will hopefully be able to see what Rantz said though and commit to changing the personnel in Rochester.

Tom Brunansky Nameds Red Wings Hitting Coach

The Red Wings announced today that former Major Leaguer Tom Brunansky will be the team’s hitting coach this season.

Brunansky, who played 14 years in the Majors including seven with the Twins, was double-A New Britain’s hitting coach last season. This will be his first triple-A experience.

The Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen writes that Brunansky “drew rave reviews” in his third season in the Twins minor league system last year. He started coaching the Gulf Coast League Twins in 2010 before taking a full-time coaching position with the Rock Cats.

Upon immediate review, this seems to be a smart hire for the Red Wings. Brunansky was the hitting coach last season for players like Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee who project to feature prominently with the Red Wings this season.

Precarious Future for Red Wings?

ESPN SweetSpot blogger, Davis Schoenfield wrote on Tuesday about the potential “dark years ahead” for the Minnesota Twins.

This obviously would have adverse effects on Rochester’s future success.

Schoenfield points out that even if Mauer and Morneau return to their former-selves, “this is a franchise that has a lot of rebuilding in front of it. None of the younger players on the team project as stars and the farm system isn’t highly rated.”

The younger players referred to (Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Valencia, etc.) were supposed to star for the Red Wings this season and with a majority of games-played, could have probably helped the Red Wings avoid a consecutive 90-loss season (with two more losses in 2011).

It might appear things will get better for the Red Wings – perhaps even next season – when Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson, Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson all have full, healthy seasons in triple-A. As far as the Twins go though, Schoenfield implies that these top prospects are far from helping the Twins. He uses the term “isn’t highly rated” regarding the Twins’ farm system, but Kevin Goldstein gave them a “C” when I asked him on Twitter earlier this season.

It’s always possible for affiliates to do well while the parent club isn’t – but it seems like the Twins have dug themselves a hole in areas like bullpen and infield depth – that it might indeed lead to “dark years ahead.”