The St. Paul Saints hitting coach is a man named Nate Spears. I looked him up; he’s almost the definition of a guy who had the proverbial “cup of coffee” in the majors. He played in seven games as a middle infielder, and got eight plate appearances, all - and I find this slightly sad - without getting a hit.
The minors, meanwhile, are a different story. Spears played 1190 minor-league games, and got 1067 hits, batting .268 across 12 years. But in all that time, he did only hit 71 home runs - 20 in a single Double-A season, and then never more than 10 in any other year.
Why do I mention all this? Well, I assumed that whoever the Saints hitting coach was, he was going to be somebody who loved home runs, because St. Paul cannot stop hitting the ball over the fence.
Thursday, it was Kyle Garlick taking the lead, homering twice and driving in four runs as St. Paul beat Louisville 10-3, their third win in a row in Kentucky. St. Paul has scored 34 runs in the first three games of the series, reaching double digits in every game, and has hit ten home runs so far; I don’t know what the weather’s like in Louisville this time of year, but it seems to be conducive to the ball leaving the ballpark.
Simeon Woods Richardson had what might be his best start of a disappointing year, allowing just one run on four hits in six innings, and striking out five. Maybe more importantly, Woods Richardson only walked one batter, making this the first time this year he’s pitched six or more innings and walked one batter or less.
He hasn’t had a great year, but before we write him off, it’s worth remembering that Woods Richardson is just 22 years old, making him nearly seven years younger than the average Triple-A player. He’s still one for the future, and I think he’s still seen as a future part of the Twins rotation.
I said at the beginning of the week that the Saints were going to need to do something crazy to have a shot at the second-half International League title, like winning 16 out of their final 18 or something like that. They’ve since won three games in a row, so I suppose that’s now down to 13 out of their last 15… and somehow that seems a lot less daunting to me. They’re still two games back in the race, with Durham and Lehigh Valley tied for first.
Thursday’s other big news was an official announcement from Minnesota United FC that Caden Clark, a Medina / Wayzata / Minneapolis (I’ve seen all three of these - maybe we should just say “west metro”) native, would be returning to play for the Loons in 2024.
Clark was kind of in a weird spot a few years ago, in that Minnesota owned his MLS homegrown player rights, but he wanted to go play for New York, in order to get onto the Red Bull ladder. So there seemed to be a few people who were accusing the Loons of cruelly trapping him in a homegrown dungeon, and other fans that wanted to use him as a club with which to beat Minnesota (for not properly developing and keeping young players).
Anyway, eventually a deal was worked out, and Clark went to New York. He scored a few goals for the Red Bulls in 2020, at the age of 16, and ended up with seven goals in 23 starts for them between 2020 and 2022. He moved to RB Leipzig in Germany for last season, but didn’t end up making any first-team appearances there, and he clearly wasn’t in Leipzig’s plans moving forward; they’ve not only sold him to the Loons, but loaned him to Denmark for the rest of 2023.
Minnesota’s getting a USA youth national-teamer who’s not only One Of Us (which is always worth a 20% bonus for any Minnesota athlete), but is still barely 20 years old. He’s an attacking midfielder, which should mean he’s not hurting for competition for places in the Minnesota lineup.
LYNX at Chicago, 7pm
TWINS vs New York Mets, 7:10pm
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs Oregon (Palo Alto, CA), 6:30pm
SAINTS at Louisville, 6:15 pm
LOONS vs New England, Saturday
GOPHER FOOTBALL vs Eastern Michigan, Saturday
VIKINGS vs Tampa Bay, Sunday