The Minnesota Twins will remarkably use their 11th different starting pitcher this season when Samuel Deduno takes the mound against the Texas Rangers tonight.
Deduno has been dubbed an atypical Twins starter in that he has been a high strikeout guy in the minor leagues, but his control gets away from him at times. In nine Triple-A starts, he has a 2.14 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 42 innings, but has walked 22.
Speaking of the minor leagues, I thought – considering how often the Twins have turned to Triple-A this year for help – now would be a good time to see how some of the minor leaguers are performing so far this year.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Triple A Rochester)
The former Japanese batting champ has carried his 2011 big league struggles into the minor leagues this season. The middle infielder is hitting just .227 with one home run and six steals in in 60 games. He has just six hits in his last 32 at-bats.
Aaron Hicks (Double-A New Britain)
The 2008 first-round pick has had plenty of ups and downs at the plate, but many continue to rave about his tools in the outfield. He started strong in April before enduring a lengthy May slump. But he’s heating up again in July, with 8 hits in 21 at-bats this month, including a homer last night. For the season, he’s hitting .266 with eight homers and 18 steals to go with a .359 on-base percentage.
Joe Benson (Double-A New Britain)
It’s been a difficult year for Benson, who parlayed a strong 2011 season at Double-A into a September call-up with the Twins last season. Hopes were high for Benson this year, but he finds himself back at Double-A after hitting just .179 in 28 games at Triple-A earlier this year. And so far, it’s gotten worse at Double-A, with an average of just .156.
Oswaldo Arcia (Double-A New Britain)
The power-hitting outfielder played well enough at Single-A Fort Myers to earn a call-up to Double-A. Between the two levels, he’s hitting .303 with 8 HRs and 45 RBIs in 73 games. His numbers – notably slugging percentage – has dipped significantly since the move to Double-A.
Levi Michael (Single-A Fort Myers)
The 2011 first-round selection is off to a rough start to the 2012 season. The shortstop from the University of North Carolina is hitting just .229 in 72 games this season.
Miguel Sano (Single-A Beloit)
What can be said about this prospect that hasn’t already been said? The third baseman is unpolished defensively and at the plate, but wow, what power! He’s missed the past few games with a thigh strain. And while his modest .244 average may not drop jaws, you don’t see many players at this level slugging over .500. But Sano is. In 80 games, he has 18 homers and 57 RBIs to go with a .509 SLG. He has homered in three of his previous four games before suffering the thigh strain.
Byron Buxton (GCL Twins)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft has played in 13 games in rookie ball. But he has his biggest performance Saturday, hitting his first professional home run in a two-hit performance. For the season, he’s hitting .159 in 44 at-bats.