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11/01/2006 11:52 AM ET
Alexi Casilla and Matt Garza named 2006 Twins' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year
Casilla becomes 37th winner of Sherry Robertson Award while Garza becomes fifth Jim Rantz Award winner
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MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Twins announced today that infielder Alexi Casilla has been named the 2006 Sherry Robertson Award winner as the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year and righthanded pitcher Matt Garza has been named the 2006 Jim Rantz Award winner as the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Casilla, 22, batted .318 (157-493) with 84 runs, 22 doubles, seven triples, one home run, 46 rbi and 50 stolen bases in 123 games (78 with Ft. Myers in the Florida State League and 45 with New Britain in the Eastern League). He was the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week from July 8-14 and the Twin's Minor League Player of the Month for July, batting .370 (34-92) in 24 games. Casilla had his contract selected from New Britain on September 1 and appeared in nine games for the Twins, going 1-4 (.250).

The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder was named to the Florida State League Postseason All-Star team and was ranked as the Fastest Baserunner, Best Defensive Second Baseman and the Most Exciting Player in the Florida State League by Baseball America. He led the organization in stolen bases and was second among all Twins minor leaguers in batting. Casilla was acquired by the Twins from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for lefthanded pitcher J.C. Romero on December 9, 2005.

Garza, 22, began the season at Ft. Myers and was 5-1, 1.42 (44.1 ip, 7 er) with 11 walks and 53 strikeouts in eight starts. Promoted to New Britain on May 15, he was 6-2, 2.51 (57.1 ip, 16 er) with 14 walks and 68 strikeouts in 10 starts. Garza was then promoted to Rochester (AAA, International League) on July 14, going 3-1, 1.85 (34.0 ip, 7 er) with seven walks and 33 strikeouts in five starts. He was a combined 14-4, 1.99 (135.2 ip, 30 er) with 32 walks and 154 strikeouts in 23 Minor League starts. His contract was selected by the Twins on August 8 and he made 10 appearances (nine starts), going 3-6, 5.76 (50.0 ip, 32 er) with 23 walks and 38 strikeouts. Garza was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week from April 8-14 and was also the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April, going 3- 0, 0.74 (24.1 ip, 2 er) with six walks and 34 strikeouts in five starts.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder became the fourth fastest player to reach the Major Leagues in Twins history and earned his first Major League win on August 23 at Baltimore. He was named the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year, becoming the second Twins player in as many years to win the Award (Liriano in 2005). Garza was a First-Team selection to the Baseball America Minor League All-Star team and ranked as the second best pitching prospect in the Eastern League by Baseball America. He was the Twins' first round pick (25th overall) in the June, 2005 free agent draft.

The Sherry Robertson Award, named in honor of the Twins' first farm director, was established in 1970 to recognize the Twins top minor league performer each season. Beginning in 2002, the award began recognizing the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year while an additional award was created to recognize the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. This award was named in honor of current Twins' Minor League Director Jim Rantz. Past winners of the Sherry Robertson Award include Butch Wynegar (1974), Kent Hrbek (1981), Gene Larkin (1986), Paul Sorrento (1989), Denny Neagle (1990), Marty Cordova (1992), LaTroy Hawkins (1993 and '94), Todd Walker (1996), David Ortiz (1997), Doug Mientkiewicz (1998), Michael Restovich (1999), Michael Cuddyer (2001), Lew Ford (2002), Joe Mauer (2003), Jason Kubel (2004) and David Winfree (2005), while J.D. Durbin (2002), Jesse Crain (2003), Scott Baker (2004) and Francisco Liriano (2005) have won the Jim Rantz Award.
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