• Cole De Vries making most of late-season audition

    The Twins are getting a long look at plenty of different players as the 2012 season is coming to a close. There are a ton of questions about the future of the Twins organization and it is tough to know if all of them can be answered before the end of the year. Can Chris Parmelee earn a starting job at some position? Who will compose the outfield next year? Will any veterans be traded to try and add some pitching to the Twins system? Which players should compose the 2013 starting rotation for the Twins?
    Cole De Vries is one player that is getting an extended look as the season is wrapping up. The 27-year old right-hander has spent the last six seasons in the minor league system for the Twins after not even being drafted by any club. There have been plenty of ups-and-downs for him on the way to his MLB debut with the Twins but he shown some promising signs in recent weeks. So far this year, De Vries has a 5-5 record with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 87.2 innings on the mound. This includes a stretch of baseball during his last four starts where he has gone 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA while averaging almost six innings in each start.

    The biggest key for De Vries recent success has been his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. Before his recent hot streak, he had given up 16 home runs in 13 games for the Twins with 12 of those being starts. Opponents were hitting .264 off of him and there were three games that he gave up two or more home runs. Since getting manhandled by the offenses of Detroit and Tampa Bay in the middle of August, it has looked like a different De Vries on the mound. The batting average of opponents has dropped to .227 and he has over three times as many strikeouts as walks without a single home run allowed in that time.

    It was a long hard road to get to this point for De Vries. He signed with the team as an amateur free agent and he was sent straight to Beloit for his first season of professional baseball. For the Twins, it was most likely a move to fill out rosters in the minor leagues with little thought of him making an impact on the big league club. The Minnesota native stayed the course and worked his way through every level of the minor leagues. In 2010 and 2011, the Twins tried to use De Vries as a relief pitcher with him even picking up a few saves in New Britain. But the Twins have run into plenty of headaches with the pitchers at the upper levels of the system, this meant De Vries needed to shift back to a starting job.

    Besides one brief relief appearance with the Twins, De Vries has been used exclusively as a starter in 2012. He went 3-5 with Rochester and posted a 4.37 ERA over 12 starts. His ability to throw pitches in the strike zone was most likely one of the reasons the club gave him a chance at the big league level. In 70 innings at the Triple-A level, he only walked 10 batters while striking out 50 men along the way. His ability to stay in the strike zone isn't always a good thing since his pitching repertoire doesn't allow him to overpower batters. Opposing hitters averaged 9.6 hits per nine innings against him in the minors this year and that is close to his career average of 9.9 hits per nine innings.

    So what does the crystal ball hold for Mr. De Vries?

    In a perfect world, the Twins would love to have a plethora of starting pitchers waiting in the wings to take over the rotation for 2013. Unfortunately, the last two seasons have been as far away from perfect as possible for the Twins. There will be plenty of open spots in the rotation at the onset of spring training and there is a good chance that it will be an open competition for more than one of the spots. De Vries would need to continue his current hot streak and combine that with an impressive spring to show the front office that he deserves a spot. But behind Scott Diamond, there might not be any locks for a spot in the 2013 rotation. This leaves four other spots and not a whole lot of options for the Twins to pick from before the start of next year.

    If De Vries is in the rotation to start 2013, it might not be a good sign for the 2013 version of the Minnesota Twins. He could be holding a place for a player like Kyle Gibson to get some innings under his belt in the minor leagues but a full season of De Vries might be bad news for the Twins. His Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tendencies for giving up home runs are tough to handle and it's hard to imagine a situation where he will turn back into the pitcher that gave up so many home runs earlier this year. His track record as a professional has been full of plenty of holes and the Twins don't need those holes clogging up their rotation.

    Unless there aren't any better options to turn to...
    This article was originally published in blog: Cole De Vries making most of late-season audition started by Cody Christie
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I actually think De Vries has the potential to stick as a #4/#5 guy, he has a great walk rate, and is actually able to strike out a few guys. I'd much rather they give him a spot instead of wasting 3 million on a Marquis type, the Twins need to be focused on bringing in front of the rotation guys this off-season (#1/#2) I am pretty sure #3/#4/#5 can be filled out with Diamond, Gibson, Hendriks, DeVries, Baker etc.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      I disagree completely. Cole De Vries is an excellent young pitcher. His rise through the minor leagues and now in the majors is a reflection on his mental approach to the game, which has been steadily improving.

      Obviously, De Vries has no overpowering pitch. So, how is it that he gets guys out? I'd love to say, "simple..." but it ain't simple. It's complex, and sometimes subtle. De Vries is practicing the art of pitching, which means that he looks for ways to keep his team in a game, however he can. This involves a variety of factors.

      He masks his delivery. Of course, lots of pitchers try to do that, and their success varies. De Vries is very good at it, because his stance on the mound is very consistent, his release point for each pitch is almost identical. Hitting depends a lot on pitch recognition, the earlier, the better. De Vries makes it very difficult to distinguish his curve from his fastball. Not impossible, but difficult.

      He spots his pitches. Again, lots of pitchers do that, but De Vries is better than average at keeping the ball in the lower third of the zone and pitching to spots.

      He fields his position. De Vries is excellent at fielding and good at holding runners. His delivery from the stretch is quick to the plate, and he doesn't appear to lose accuracy or velocity from the stretch.

      It's easy to dismiss a guy like De Vries because he's never going to wow the crowd with high-90's fastballs or jug-handle curves. He just plugs along very carefully, doing all the little things that don't look fancy, but get the job done. At the end of the game, it's just another start where the Twins had a good chance to win.

      I'm not saying you don't want guys with more impressive stuff, but if you don't want Cole De Vries on your pitching staff, you're being foolish. If nothing else, De Vries should be there to remind the whiz kids that pitching ain't all about how hard you throw the ball or how far you make the ball bend. It's an art, and the little things add up to wins.

      In fact, the best local example of my point is Liam Hendriks. Better stuff than De Vries, yet he has zero wins so far. Imagine how much better Hendriks would be if he employed the same kind of disciplined, careful approach that De Vries uses. Unfortunately, you can't just turn it on. As De Vries discovered, it takes years to master all the little things.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Two earlier clunker starts have pushed his season ERA higher. Of the pitchers currently on the roster not named Diamond, he has the most quality starts. He has earned a scholarship for next year. Maybe scouting will catch up to him but it has not been so. The league has seen him for half a season. The scouts know what he can throw. He would appear to know how to pitch.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Cole De Vries is the type of back-of-the-rotation filler that teams can live and die by over the course of a season. He's basically the New Nick Blackburn. You ride him until the league catches up and then you shuffle him out of the rotation. If that never happens, great. You have a quality #4/5 pitcher on the cheap for several years.

      But you never, ever sign that kind of guy to a multi-year deal.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Yes, DeVries should be given a rotation spot next year he has earned it. The Twins must trade for a top line starter...no top free agent will come here. Then Diamond at number 2, with DeVries (at least until either Gibson is ready or league figures him out) then Deduno, Hendricks, Blackburn, Walters fight for other spots. Hopefully we have seen the last of Baker and Pavano.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      I really like De Vries' demeanor. He's a bulldog, like Jack Morris was. Quite the contrast to pansies like Slowey and Liriano.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Two earlier clunker starts have pushed his season ERA higher. Of the pitchers currently on the roster not named Diamond, he has the most quality starts. He has earned a scholarship for next year. Maybe scouting will catch up to him but it has not been so. The league has seen him for half a season. The scouts know what he can throw. He would appear to know how to pitch.
      I like how the kid battles with very little to work with in his quiver, the prototype "poor man's Greg Maddux", with the local-kid-made-good angle going for him, besides; it's a feel-good story in an otherwise year of one pitching disaster after another. He's earned a shot at a 2013 SP spot, but he definitely hasn't "earned a scholarship"- "scholarships" should be only set aside for guys with special elite talent- period. There is no pitcher on the current 25-man roster who employs that level of talent.

      "Earned Scholarships", ala, Butera, Blackburn, et al, was the type of thinking that has led the Twins organization down this disastrous road to where they now reside.
    1. Falcon25's Avatar
      Falcon25 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      I disagree completely. Cole De Vries is an excellent young pitcher. His rise through the minor leagues and now in the majors is a reflection on his mental approach to the game, which has been steadily improving.

      Obviously, De Vries has no overpowering pitch. So, how is it that he gets guys out? I'd love to say, "simple..." but it ain't simple. It's complex, and sometimes subtle. De Vries is practicing the art of pitching, which means that he looks for ways to keep his team in a game, however he can. This involves a variety of factors.

      He masks his delivery. Of course, lots of pitchers try to do that, and their success varies. De Vries is very good at it, because his stance on the mound is very consistent, his release point for each pitch is almost identical. Hitting depends a lot on pitch recognition, the earlier, the better. De Vries makes it very difficult to distinguish his curve from his fastball. Not impossible, but difficult.

      He spots his pitches. Again, lots of pitchers do that, but De Vries is better than average at keeping the ball in the lower third of the zone and pitching to spots.

      He fields his position. De Vries is excellent at fielding and good at holding runners. His delivery from the stretch is quick to the plate, and he doesn't appear to lose accuracy or velocity from the stretch.

      It's easy to dismiss a guy like De Vries because he's never going to wow the crowd with high-90's fastballs or jug-handle curves. He just plugs along very carefully, doing all the little things that don't look fancy, but get the job done. At the end of the game, it's just another start where the Twins had a good chance to win.

      I'm not saying you don't want guys with more impressive stuff, but if you don't want Cole De Vries on your pitching staff, you're being foolish. If nothing else, De Vries should be there to remind the whiz kids that pitching ain't all about how hard you throw the ball or how far you make the ball bend. It's an art, and the little things add up to wins.

      In fact, the best local example of my point is Liam Hendriks. Better stuff than De Vries, yet he has zero wins so far. Imagine how much better Hendriks would be if he employed the same kind of disciplined, careful approach that De Vries uses. Unfortunately, you can't just turn it on. As De Vries discovered, it takes years to master all the little things.
      I agree with you in terms of learning and fine tuning the trade. Hendriks is 23 and Australian meaning he has played significantly less baseball than his US or South American counterparts. He is there because he has very good results and deserves his opportunity from the list that is available. I just hope that the twins coaching staff dont see him as a finished product and therefore dont commit the time, energy and fine tuning that a young developing pitcher requires. Let's not forget that he climbed rapidly due to great results in the minors. I agree with so many people that he needs to get that first win and see what happens after that. To DPJ and his comments in relation to Hermsen and Hendriks in the minor league pitcher of the year nominations it is obvious that he has no or little idea about pathways and development!!!
    1. Falcon25's Avatar
      Falcon25 -
      My apologies for mixing posts (dig at DPJ) and not commenting on De Vries and his contribution. I agree that he has taken his opportunities and given his best shot and also deserves his opportunities. He has mixed his pitches very well and has been able to induce the batters to swing at pitches that would not be their ideal. He throws enough strikes and mixes it up with balls to keep batters off balance and unsure of whats coming. Reasonably smart pitch selection and location in my book!!
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Falcon25 View Post
      To DPJ and his comments in relation to Hermsen and Hendriks in the minor league pitcher of the year nominations it is obvious that he has no or little idea about pathways and development!!!
      Then please explain it to me where I'm suppose to be jazzed that Liam Hendriks and BJ ****ing Hermsen are winners of this award. That alone should just make everyone on this board depressed as hell about the future of this club.
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