First Look at the 2012 Snappers

If you follow me on Twitter (@JimCrikket), you know that the Twins’ low-A affiliate, the Beloit Snappers, are making their first trip to Cedar Rapids this week and that I’ve spent the past couple of evenings at the ballpark watching them take on the Kernels (the Angels’ Midwest League affiliate).

They’ve played 1+ games in the series so far (Thursday’s game was suspended by thunderstorms in the 3rd inning and will be resumed at 5:00 today, prior to the scheduled series finale), so I thought I’d put up a quick post with my initial impressions.

The guys who are getting all the attention for the Snappers are infielders Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. Sano is the consensus #1 ranked prospect in the Twins organization and Rosario is most often listed as either #2 or #3, so they both have some game. They aren’t the only guys on the team with some talent, though.

Wednesday night, I had arranged use of the suite that my company has out at Memorial Stadium, so I hosted a number of my coworkers and their significant others as we watched what started out as a pretty ugly display of baseball, frankly. To give you an idea of how ugly, the Snappers won the game 6-5, but the teams each scored only two earned runs on the night. That’s not pretty.

After two innings, the teams were tied 2-2 in the runs column, but the Snappers “led” 3-2 in errors. Two of those Snapper errors were charged to Rosario and Sano and they both were the kind that made you cringe. The conventional wisdom is that both players have work to do on defense with Sano’s size perhaps making staying at 3B a challenge and Rosario trying to learn a new position at 2B, after being an outfielder throughout his career. The conventional wisdom may be pretty accurate in this case.

But let’s face it, if Sano and Rosario are fixtures in the Twins 2015 lineup, it won’t be because they’re gold glovers, it will be because they’re capable of hitting the crap out of the baseball. Rosario had a tough night at the plate, going 0-4 (no Ks though) before being lifted after hitting in the 7th inning. Sano fared much better, with three hits in 5 at-bats, including a rocket double down the left field line that Kernel 3B Caleb Cowart managed to get a little leather on.

As I mentioned, though, Sano and Rosario aren’t the only players with some baseball talent. Relief pitcher Corey Williams came in to finish off the final two innings and slammed the door on the Kernels, walking one and striking out two hitters, without giving up a hit, to earn his fourth save on the year. Shortstop Tyler Grimes has only played four innings so far this series, but he’s made a couple of pretty impressive plays in the field. Finally, 1B Rory Rhodes may be struggling to get his BA up over the Mendoza line, but he hit a HR Wednesday night that was a monster. It cleared the fence. It cleared the picnic area beyond the fence. From my vantage point, it appeared to clear the street beyond the picnic area. I’m not 100% sure it’s come down yet.

Eddie Rosario was lifted in the 7th inning Wednesday night, for what I assumed was defensive purposes, but when I arrived at the stadium Thursday night, I saw he wasn’t in the lineup for the Snappers. It made me wonder if he was hurt or, perhaps, had been bumped up to Ft. Myers. But he was in uniform warming up with the rest of the Snappers in LF before the game, so the latter clearly wasn’t the case. I’ll be interested to see if he plays tonight.

Here’s another thing I really liked seeing… Sano and Rosario seemed to be enjoying themselves before and during the games. They were loose and smiling during warm-ups and both were generous with their time signing autographs for fans along the wall by the Snappers dugout before the games. That’s not always the case, especially with visiting teams’ “top prospects.” Then again, there was no shortage of fans in Twins caps and shirts at the ballpark this week. It’s always a bit of a “split crowd” when the Twins’ affiliate comes to Cedar Rapids, so the Snappers get plenty of support.

With that, I’ll wrap up with a few pictures from last night’s abbreviated trip to the ballpark.

 

Miguel Sano signing a few autographs for fans

 

Eddie Rosario warming up before the game... he's changed positions once already, but could he really be thinking about pitching?

 

... or catching? Say it ain't so, Eddie!

 

The Snappers loosen up with that time-honored tradition of a game of "Pepper"

 

Thursday's starting pitcher, Matthew Tomshaw, is off to a nice start for the Snappers, but wouldn't get much of an opportunity to pitch before the rains came

 

OK, this was a swing and a miss by Rory Rhodes Thursday night... but on Wednesday, he launched a ball about as far as I've seen one hit at Memorial Stadium in recent years

 

Tyler Grimes at shortstop for the Snappers in the sunshine... obviously prior to the thunderstorm that was to soon arrive

 

The thunderstorm may have caused the game to be suspended in the 3rd inning, but the crowd didn't let a little thing like that keep them from enjoying "$1.50 beer night"

2 thoughts on “First Look at the 2012 Snappers

  1. Nicely done Jim :)

    I was also at the Wednesday evening game and it always is interesting to note if you “saw the same game” as someone else did!

    I completely agree — it was not a particularly well played game defensively. I’ll admit to focusing in on Sano and Rosario at first. Rosario’s error was on a pretty routine ground ball directly at him that he just plain old muffed. As Jim C says, it made you cringe. Sano threw the ball away during a series of throws made by the Snappers that made you think it was a little league game. Even more cringe-worthy. With a runner on first, there was a base-hit to center and Jhon Goncalves came up firing to third. His throw was a bit late and a bit high, Sano came down with it and promptly fired the ball into right center, widely missing 2nd base. Cringe. Even Sano put his hands to his head, leaned over, and I suspect was in full cringe-mode himself.

    Despite all this cringe-inducing defensive behaviour (from both teams) – I did come away with other more positive impressions that night.

    Sano really is an impressive young athlete. On his double down the left field line, he glided around first base and into second with ease. Power and grace in one package. He drove another ball to straightaway center that was caught right at the 400 ft sign on the fence.

    Despite his 0-4, Rosario impressed me with his ease and patience at the plate. I felt like he got 4 good at bats.

    AJ Pettersen caught my attention with his pre-game “attention to detail”. As opposing Cedar Rapids pitcher Austin Wood warmed up down the right field line, AJ lined himself up behind home plate, in line with Wood and his catcher way down past first base, so he could study his delivery and get a sense of timing his swing. I’d never seen that before.

    Rory Rhodes did indeed absolutely crush that home run ball. Jim C has likely seen more games at Vets Memorial than I have but I also would say its the longest I’ve ever seen there. It was the game-winner too, breaking a 5-5 tie in the 8th.

    Wang-Wei Lin, the Snappers right fielder, also impressed me. The lefty-hitter looked good on an opposite-field single to left in the first and while I can’t remember his stats, I have the impression he always seemed to be on base.

    And lastly, the Cedar Rapids Kernels have a player named Abel Baker. No I’m not some old-timer military veteran – but I still found it funny. :)

    Had a great night watching the Snappers play in Cedar Rapids!

    Again, nice report by Jim C. :)

    ———————————————————
    “Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.”

  2. Thanks for the comments and observations, Crash!

    Were you at the games Friday, as well? Sano and Abel Baker had some words after Sano’s game winning HR in the top of the 9th inning of the nightcap.

    Honestly, the only HR that I specifically recall at this stadium (which has only been open now something like 11 years) that may have been hit harder than Rhodes’ was hit by another Snapper… Michael Gonzales… a couple of years ago. He hit his HR to RF and the ball was still higher than the top of the RF foul pole as it went over the fence.