Opinions. As they say, everybody's got one. Here are some of mine.
--The Miracle blew everyone away in the first half. Then their best players went to New Britain, and they became just another team--not awful, but not great, either. They made the playoffs on the basis of that big first half, but were swept out of the playoffs.
--We talked about them yesterday, but the strong first half was led on offense by Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Angel Morales. Sano hit .330/.424/.655 with 16 homers in 206 at-bats. Rosario hit .329/.377/.527. Morales hit .297/.364/.525. You're going to score a lot of runs that way.
--But of course, when we think Fort Myers Miracle, at least in the second half, we think Byron Buxton. Buxton followed a .341/.431/.559 performance in Cedar Rapids with .326/.415/.472 in Fort Myers. He was 32-for-43 in stolen bases in Cedar Rapids and 23-for-31 in Fort Myers, percentages which should only improve with experience. He also hit a combined 18 triples, 10 in Cedar Rapids and 8 in Fort Myers. What impresses me the most about Buxton is that even when he doesn't have a great offensive game, he almost always makes a contribution. He hardly ever goes 4-0-0-0 or 5-0-0-0. He'll draw a couple of walks and score a run, or he'll get a single and a stolen base, or he'll do something else that helps the offense. If you're looking for a negative, about the only one I can find is that he struck out 105 times between the two teams. He'll turn twenty in December. There's no such thing as a sure thing, but he seems like he's about as close as you can get.
--There are other players who are worth noticing, though. Kennys Vargas continues to improve. He didn't have the awesome year he had in Beloit in 2012, but he hit .267/.344/.468 with 19 home runs. On the other hand, he did strike out more, 105 times, double what he'd done last year. The Twins have brought him along very slowly, giving him two years at the GCL, one in Elizabethton, one in low-A, and now one in high-A. One assumes he'll be at New Britain next year. He turned 23 last month.
--Mike Kvasnicka came to the Twins this season after spending three years in Class A for Houston. He had by far his best season, hitting .282/.341/.460. He'll turn 25 in December, so those numbers aren't all that impressive, but they're not nothing, either. Presumably they'll move him to New Britain next year and see if he's learned something or if this is as good as it gets.
--Dalton Hicks spent most of the year in Cedar Rapids, but had 42 games in Fort Myers. He didn't show as much power in Fort Myers, but otherwise he showed he could handle it. He went from .297/.355/.494 in Cedar Rapids to .270/.364/.405 in Fort Myers. He hit only four homers in Fort Myers after hitting 13 in Cedar Rapids. He'll be 24 next season. He may start out at Fort Myers again next year, but should have a good chance to move up if he does well.
--Aderlin Mejia hit .308. His OBP was .359 and he has no power, so .308 is the best thing you can say about him. But the other nice thing you can say about him is that he's 21 and was able to hit .308 in high-A. Again, I assume they move him up and see how he does.
--It wasn't all hitting at Fort Myers. The pitching staff was led by Taylor Rogers, who went 11-6, 2.55, 1.16 WHIP. His strikeout numbers don't blow you away, but they're not awful--83 Ks in 130.2 innings. He'll turn 23 in December.
--Matthew Summers was a pretty good number two. He was 6-5, 2.47, 1.11 WHIP with 87 strikeouts in 120.1 innings. You could argue that he was just as good as Rogers, but just didn't have the wins. He turned 24 last month.
--He didn't do it in New Britain, but D. J. Baxendale had an awesome nine starts in Fort Myers. He was 7-0, 1.10, o.78 WHIP with 48 strikeouts in 57.1 innings.
--Zach Jones had another fine year in relief. He went 4-3, 14 saves, 1.85, 1.15 WHIP with 70 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. He'll turn 23 in December. Relief pitchers can be hard to evaluate, but he's handled everything so far, so again, move him up to New Britain and see how he does.
--Ryan O'Rourke also did well in Fort Myers, and didn't do as badly as it might seem when moved up to New Britain. He was 5-1, 3 saves, 2.22, 0.95 WHIP for the Miracle. He was 0-2, 4.67 for the Rock Cats, but his WHIP was a very respectable 1.27 and he struck out 19 in 17.1 innings.
--As you noticed, a lot of comments are "he's done okay so far, so move him up and we'll see." But, that's kind of how it is as you get to the low minors. You put a guy at one level and see what he does. If he succeeds, you move him to the next level and see what he does. There's the rare player that you can be more aggressive with, but for most of them, it's one step at a time.
So, there's your 2013 Fort Myers Miracle. We'll take the weekend off, and if all goes according to plan, we'll look at the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Monday.