Twins Minor League Hitter Of The Month: June 2016

There’s no need to even tease our Minor League Hitter of the Month. It’s Daniel Palka. He was named the Southern League Hitter of the Month yesterday, and today we’ll just formalize something that’s been pretty clear since the second week of the month. What a month it was for the slugger in Chattanooga. However, one of his teammates deserves a lot of consideration for the top honor, and find out who else was considered for the award and others that deserve some honorable mention as well.

June is always such an interesting and fun month in the minor leagues. Players get named to and play in their league All-Star games in most of the affiliates. The draft adds several players to the organization. The players who have been in Ft. Myers for extended spring training get to start seasons that really count and show up in places like Baseball Reference. We are just past the halfway point of the minor league season, and it’s time to hand out some more awards!

Image-courtesy-of-Seth-Stohs-photo-of-Daniel-Palka

Before we jump to the top five hitters of the month, here are other hitters who are very deserving of recognition. These guys had a strong June performances. Congratulations to all of the players mentioned below.

  • C John Ryan Murphy (Rochester) – .279/.346/.456 (.802). 19-68 with nine doubles, a homer and 14 RBIs.
  • IF Leonardo Reginnato (Chattanooga) – .318/.367/.432 (.799). 28-88 with two doubles, one triple, two homers and nine RBIs.
  • 1B/OF Trey Vavra (Ft. Myers) – .296/.359/.423 (.782). 21-71 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs.

THE TOP FIVE HITTERS

Number 5 – Rochester – 1B Kennys Vargas – .213/.368/.468 (.836). 20-94 with seven doubles, a triple, five homers and 20 RBIs.

Overall, I think it is very fair to say that 2016 has been a disappointing season for Vargas. In 80 overall games, he has hit .231/.348/.415 (.764). Certainly not terrible, but clearly he would prefer to be in the big leagues. He has hit 13 doubles and 12 home runs, and he has driven in 51 runs. He’s done a better job of taking walks too. He has 51 walks to go with 74 strikeouts. He was a bit better in June, though the average was still very low. He got on base and he produced a lot of extra base hits and drove in runs.

Number 4 – Cedar Rapids – 2B Luis Arraez – .330/.359/.409 (.768). 29-88 with seven doubles and eleven RBIs.

The 19-year-old second baseman from Venezuela was in this exact spot in May when he hit .340 in Cedar Rapids. He continued to do a nice job setting the table at the top of the Kernels lineup. He participated in the Midwest League All-Star Game, held in Cedar Rapids. He led off and had two hits. After playing well in the GCL last year, I don’t think anyone was expecting him to play this well in Cedar Rapids this year. Overall, he is hitting .328/.380/.430 (.810) and made himself into a legit prospect.

Number 3 – Rochester – OF Eddie Rosario – .305/.342/.524 (.866). 32-105 with eight doubles, five home runs, and 15 RBIs.

OK, I was wrong. Eddie Rosario was not the rare exception of a guy who refuses to walk who still finds success in MLB. A sophomore slump hit him and hit him hard. He, like Vargas and Danny Santana and Oswaldo Arcia, found himself back in Rochester after early success in MLB. However, Rosario didn’t sulk. Instead, after a few games, he has been hitting great. Sure, he still isn’t walking a ton, but he has his stroke back and hopefully he has learned enough to know what he can and can’t hit. He should be back for another opportunity with the Twins very soon.

Number 2 – Chattanooga – OF Zach Granite – .363/.420/.529 (.949). 37-102 with four doubles, two triples, three homers and 10 RBIs.

In many months, the numbers that Granite put up in June would likely win this award. There was some surprise when Granite began the season in Chattanooga, but he has established himself as a terrific leadoff hitter and even generated a little power. But first and foremost, Granite does a great job of just getting on base. He definitely has led the way, initiating the offense for the Lookouts all season. Granite takes very professional at-bats, stays back well and uses the whole field. The hitter whose stock has grown most in the first half of the season just might be Zach Granite. If you want, you could say he’s been Rock Solid!

And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is:

Chattanooga – OF Daniel Palka – .302/.372/.802 (1.174). 29-96 with three doubles, three triples, 13 home runs and 30 RBIs.

This award was won fairly early in the month. Palka was the Twins choice for Twins minor league hitter of the month in April, but he had a very quiet May. He began June with some big power and won the Southern League Player of the Week during the first week. For the most part, he remained hot throughout the month and ended the month on another home run tear. 13 home runs. 30 RBI. That type of production will win a lot of awards. Will it also get him some time at Rochester this season?

 

The Twins acquired Palka from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in November. Chris Herrmann was out of options and likely would have been removed from the Twins 40-man roster. Somehow, inexplicably, Terry Ryan was able to steal Palka in return. Now, Herrmann is playing very well in Arizona, but Palka is looking like he has the makings of a future 30-home run hitter in the big leagues.

 

Palka, who will turn 25 in October, was Arizona’s third-round pick in 2013 out of Georgia Tech where he was a teammate of Luke Bard. Last year in High-A ball, Palka hit .280/.352/.532 (.885) with 36 doubles, 29 home runs and 90 RBI. He even stole 24 bases, something he hasn’t done much of this season.

 

He made a good impression on the big league club this spring. The first time they had him dress with the big league team in a spring game, Palka hit two home runs. He hit another in a later game with them. He is almost certain to be added to the Twins 40-man roster this November. Will he have a spot in the Twins big league lineup in the next couple of years? We shall see.

June can be a tough month for these awards since generally players get fewer at bats due to All-Star games and such. But Daniel Palka and Zach Granite led the way with great performances, helping the Lookouts to a terrific month.
Congratulations to the June Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month for 2016, Daniel Palka.