The Twins broke their Thursday spell last night with a win to complete a sweep over the hapless Royals. Kevin Slowey hurled a complete game, allowing just one run on an RBI double off the bat of Alex Gordon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Twins pitchers will have a bit of a tougher task ahead of them against the Yankees this weekend, but for the time being, the Twins have won five of six and are three games above .500. Life is good. A couple notes:
* Yesterday the Twins acquired Craig Breslow off waivers from the Indians. A 27-year-old lefty reliever, Breslow owned a 3.24 ERA and 7-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 8 1/3 innings this season, and a holds a 2.95 ERA over 36 2/3 career major-league innings. While the ERA is good, Breslow's big-league WHIP is an ugly 1.67, his numbers against left-handed hitters have been underwhelming and he has struggled with his control. Nevertheless, he posted good strikeout rates throughout the minors and looks like a fairly decent addition.
While the team's desire to add another left-handed reliever to the bullpen is understandable, it is interesting that they felt the need to go outside of the organization to get one. There are a pair of southpaw relievers down in Rochester who have put up pretty good numbers this season, and seemingly have earned a shot at pitching in the big leagues. Mariano Gomez has posted a 2.27 ERA and 23-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing only one homer over 31 2/3 innings, and Ricky Barrett has posted a 3.38 ERA in 29 1/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .216 average. While the two have pitched well this year, Gomez hadn't proven much prior to this year and Barrett has struggled with his control (as usual); those factors might help explain why the Twins sought to acquire a more reliable option.
Breslow is expected to join the Twins in time for their series opener against the Yankees tonight.
* There is a tendency amongst fans of a baseball organization to want to see prospects promoted aggressively. This makes sense -- most fans follow the big-league club and they want to see talented young players making an impact with the team as soon as possible. If a prospect goes on a hot streak, you'll almost always see message boards and blogs filled with calls to see him sent up to the next level.
People who advocate promotions based solely on statistical proficiency tend to overlook some important factors in whether or not a young player should be moved up. How is he handling things mentally? How is his attitude? Is there room at his position at the next level? Is he old enough that a promotion is warranted? I generally tend to agree with the organization's rather conservative philosophy in promoting prospects, so I have no problem with the previously unspectacular Luke Hughes -- this blog's Prospect of the Month in April -- spending some more time in New Britain to prove that his incredibly hot start is for real, or with 2007 first-rounder Ben Revere hanging in Low-A Beloit for a while despite the fact that he's hitting almost .400 there.
With that said, there are a couple guys in Class-A Ft. Myers who I think the Twins really need to move up to New Britain very soon: reliever Anthony Slama and third baseman Danny Valencia. Slama -- a lanky right-hander with a funky delivery -- has absolutely dominated out of the Miracle bullpen this year, allowing just one earned run over 28 1/3 innings (0.32 ERA) while posting a fantastic 46-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and getting tons of ground balls. While he's in just his first full pro season after joining the Twins last year, Slama is already 24 years old, which gives him a distinct advantage over the younger hitters in A-ball. Meanwhile, Valencia is hitting .347/.409/.571 in Ft. Myers with five homers and 17 doubles in 47 games. He's 23.
The outstanding numbers being posted by these young men are certainly encouraging, but it's not exactly unusual for college products like Slama and Valencia to dominate the low minors. The step up to Double-A will be a big one for both players and will likely serve as a strong indicator as to how close they are to big-league ready. Being that both players fill what are likely to be positions of need for the Twins in the near future, I think it's best that the organization move them up to a more fitting level of competition and see how they handle it.