Hi Twins fans.  I don?t know about you, but I was quite satisfied with the Twins play in the first month of this 2007 season. The Twins were 14-11 and although they had their lapses, they still came out with a first-month winning record and now it is on to May. If the Twins can duplicate their April record in May and go into June 6 games over .500 I certainly will like their chances when the third month of the season rolls along. Now, here are my items for this week?s blog:

1. ?I?ll bet you didn?t know this about Jesse Crain.
2. A minor league update with some rather impressive performances from some of the Twins top minor league prospects.
3. And, our weekly Twins Quiz?.a question that may leave you scurrying to a Twins Media Guide to come up with the answer. 

Ok, here we go.

I?ll bet you didn?t know that Jesse Crain, Twins reliever, is a one heckuva of a ping pong player. Jesse grew up with a ping pong table in the basement of his house and he played ping pong during his growing up years. I asked Jesse if he ever played competitively and he said, ?no,? but that he would like to some day. Kiddingly ,he said that Forest Gump was his ?idol.? Jesse did say that he would like to play in a tournament some day, but for now it?s just a friendly game. There?s a ping pong table in the Cleveland clubhouse and Jesse is always ?game on,? with any challengers when the Twins visit Jacobs Field. Jesse says that Nick Punto offers the toughest competition, and he?s the only guy that has been able to get to 21 before Jesse. Jesse admits that Punto is a pretty good player. Jesse says his serve is just adequate, but that the key to his game is a strong forehand. Bring on the challengers says Jesse. I don?t know what would be more challenging… playing Jesse Crain in ping pong, or standing at home plate and facing Jesse?s 94 mile an hour fast ball. You make the call. 

Twins Minor League Update. The minor league teams fared well in the first month of the season. Rochester, the Twins AAA team in the International League, had the best record, while Beloit in the Class A Midwest League also sported a winning record. New Britain survived a number of rainouts and snowouts in the first two weeks of play and finished the month of April just under .500, while Fort Myers, in the Class A Florida State League, started strong but ended the month with a sub-500 record.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the month was the pitching of RHP Jeff Manship at Beloit. He put up some rather amazing statistics. Manship, out of Notre Dame, dominated opponents in the Midwest League and was 2-0 in 5 starts. He gave up only 3 earned runs in 32 innings of pitching and struck out 36 while walking just 3!! Some month for the 22 year old righhander.

SS Trevor Plouffe had a very good start to the season at New Britain. The Twins number one pick in the 2004 draft (number 20 overall) hit .299 and held a .300 plus batting average most of the month.  Plouffe seems seems to be holding his own at the AA level. 

And 1B/OF Garrett Jones led the charge for the Rochester Red Wings. Selected as the Twins Minor League Player of the Month, Jones hit a strong .329 with 3 home runs and 16 runs batted in. 

RHP Kyle Waldrop was 3-0 at Fort Myers, 2B Nate Tolbert hit .370 for Rochester, and Beloit closer Robert Delaney had 5 saves for the Snappers with 19 strikeouts in 14-plus innings.  Some of the top performances of the Twins minor leaguers in the first month of play. 

This Week’s Twins Quiz: 

Over the years the Twins have had some outstanding minor league players who later on have made it to the big leagues and helped the Twins to 4 divsional championships in the last 5 years. Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, and Lew Ford are all past winners of the Sherry Robertson Minor League Player of the year.  And, now all three are and have been major contributors to the Twins recent successes on the field. In 2002, the Twins separated the Robertson Award and started naming a Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The award is named after Twins Director of Minor Leagues Jim Rantz. But only once has a Minor League player won the award two years in arrow. Let?s see if you can name that player.  I?ll have the answer in the next blog.

Now here?s the answer to last week?s Twins Quiz…

Question:

Earlier this season, the Twins were off and running in a game vs Baltimore.  They stole 5 bases in the game. Was that a Twins record? And if it wasn?t what is the record for most stolen bases in a game for the Twins. I?ll have the answer when I write again.

Answer:

The Twins’ team single-game club record for stolen bases is 6 on September 9, 1992, against the Seattle Mariners. Incidentally, the Twins’ individual single-game record for stolen bases is 4 by Larry Hisle on June 30, 1976, against the Kansas City Royals.

That?s all for this week Twins fans. Let?s hope the Twins have a good homestand versus Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. 

?Touch ?em All,?

JG

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