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  • Reliever Ryan Pressly leaves an early impression

    Ryan Pressly’s odds of making the bullpen when the Minnesota Twins break camp in April appear somewhere between slim and none.

    On a liberal guess, there are likely three spots open and two of those may already belong to Alex Burnett and Anthony Swarzak. The remaining vacancy? That’s competition between a Twins’ bullpen incumbent in Casey Fein, baseball’s relief innings leader last season in Josh Roenicke, and two former major leaguers trying to re-establish their careers in Rich Harden and Rafael Perez. So where does that leave a 24-year-old Rule 5 draft pick who has fewer than 30 innings of experience above Double-A? Probably with a one-way ticket back to Pawtucket with all the clam chowder he can eat waiting for him.

    Because of the Rule 5 draft’s rules, if Pressly is not placed on the 25-man roster, he must be offered back to Boston. However, there is another route Pressly could go to remain within the Twins’ system and that is if the team pulls a trade similar to the one that landed them Scott Diamond from the Braves. In order to do so, the Twins will need to place him through the waivers, exposing him to all the MLB teams, prior to negotiating a trade with the Red Sox.

    Would Pressly be worth it?

    There are plenty of people within the organization who firmly believe in his capabilities as a major league contributor. When the Twins selected him in early December out of the Red Sox organization, plenty of officials were already infatuated with his stuff. The Twins director of scouting Vern Followell, who followed Pressly since high school, said that he envisioned the right-hander to be a solid back-of-the-bullpen arm.

    “This guy definitely has the two pitches to pitch late in the game,” Followell said. “Now, a lot more goes into it – throwing strikes, commanding (pitches), handling pressure in those situations. But this guy has the two pitches that work late in the game.”
    Early in camp, manager Ron Gardenhire was also keen on the youngster, noting that while Pressly was a bit erratic, he was impressed by his fastball. What’s more is that Pressly was facing the meat of the big club’s order during his live BP sessions including Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham, and Trevor Plouffe.

    Pressly works with a three pitch repertoire that is comprised of a mid-90s two-seam fastball, exquisite tilt on his curve and a good changeup. With those three pitches, the Sox had designs of making him a starter. While he did well with his secondary offerings, Pressly’s fastball often got him into trouble and he wound up with a high number of free passes issued.

    What is interesting about Pressly is that he make opposite handed hitters – lefties – miss more often than same-sided ones. This is not usually true as right-handed pitchers are much better at striking out right-handed batter thanks to the ability to hide the ball better and spin pitches away from their swing. Given the tilt on Pressly’s breaking ball, one would assume he would thrive against righties but that has not been the case. Still, in 2012 – his first year in the bullpen – Pressly struck out 14% of right-handed batters faced but yielded a 25% strike out mark against lefties thanks to a strong running fastball and changeup combination. Take a look at this clip of his changeup thrown to Justin Morneau this week:



    (Video courtesy of MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger)

    According to the StarTribune’s Phil Miller, this incited the Twins first baseman to describe the pitch as “nasty” afterwards. Pressly’s changeup has a strong bite down and away from the left-handed swing. Based on this action, one can easily conclude how he is able to achieve such a high percentage of strikeouts against the opposite hand.

    Competition may ultimately keep Pressly out of the hunt for the final bullpen spot but his strengths as a reliever should not go unnoticed this spring. Keep an eye on his ability to command his fastball. If he impresses enough, he may be given an opportunity to remain with the organization.
    This article was originally published in blog: Reliever Ryan Pressly leaves an early impression started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. twinsfaninsaudi's Avatar
      twinsfaninsaudi -
      Swarzak will not be ready to start the season. Will he? Burnett is no good. Here's your pen: Perkins, Burton, Duensing, Fien, Perez, Wood, Pressley (someone will be replaced by Harden later in the year). Don't ignore the fact that Wood is awesome and is going to kill it this year. Best pen in baseball.
    1. josecordoba's Avatar
      josecordoba -
      I can't comment on Ryan Pressly's ability going forward. I'm a bit unsure why Burnett, or Swarzak would be golden calfs heading into 2013. Harden and Perez are far from sure bets. If you really like this kid's arm they're should be no reason not to find a spot for him on the 25.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by josecordoba View Post
      I can't comment on Ryan Pressly's ability going forward. I'm a bit unsure why Burnett, or Swarzak would be golden calfs heading into 2013. Harden and Perez are far from sure bets. If you really like this kid's arm they're should be no reason not to find a spot for him on the 25.
      I agree, the potential upside is worth more than what we already know we have in Burnett and Swarzak.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Swarzak is only missing like 2 weeks of spring training, so he won't be eligible for the DL and he is out of options. So are Fien and Wood and some other 'pen guys. Burnett's pretty much a given, I would say. Only reason he might not be is because he has an option remaining.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      > Twins director of scouting Vern Followell

      Follow Well? I don't know if I had ever heard of him (a quick TD search didn't turn up a prior mention), but it's a great name for a scout. I had to check that this wasn't an Onion parody article tripping me up.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      Pressly works with a three pitch repertoire that is comprised of a mid-90s two-seam fastball, exquisite tilt on his curve and a good changeup

      Did this guy add velo?
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      Is SlaMa up for this open bullpen spot? I heard he is good?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think Josh Roenicke should be in the conversation there as well. Arguably he was Colorado's best 'pen guy last season and was a large outcry in Denver when the Twins picked him up. Casey Fien did OK last season but only in 30some innings of .229 BABIP and lots of them during the expanded roster time; he is about to return to his average self. Tim Wood would have had a hard time making the team if his first name was Kerry or Travis as well. Did ok with the Pirates AAA last season, but Slama has done better consistently. I just think that all the 'pen positions after Perkins, Burton and Duensing (now that Swarzak is hurt - and I don't believe that he will be back that soon; bruised ribs are not an easy thing) are wide open. Throw in De Vries (who was a lights out closer in AA for a while btw), Deduno, Perdomo, etc and the competition for those pen spots will be fun.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I don't know what reason there is to think Tim Wood is going to be any good. I get that the Twins like him, but the Twins also liked Dusty Hughes and Jim Gray and Matt Maloney.
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      > Twins director of scouting Vern Followell

      Follow Well? I don't know if I had ever heard of him (a quick TD search didn't turn up a prior mention), but it's a great name for a scout. I had to check that this wasn't an Onion parody article tripping me up.
      Yup. I think Vern was hired about the same time as Shurcan Pickum.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Followell is the pro scouting director. Responsible for assessing the Scott Diamonds of the world, as well as that 5th starter they signed
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Swarzak is only missing like 2 weeks of spring training, so he won't be eligible for the DL and he is out of options. So are Fien and Wood and some other 'pen guys. Burnett's pretty much a given, I would say. Only reason he might not be is because he has an option remaining.
      This year, that's a big reason. In my eyes, this much is set:

      Perkins
      Burton
      Duensing
      Fien

      Leaving three spots for:

      Burnett
      Swarzak
      Robertson
      Roenicke
      Pressly
      Wood
      Perez
      Harden

      These guys are gone if we don't keep them
      Roenicke
      Wood
      Pressly
      Swarzak

      I can see them them trying to make a trade with Pressly. But I can't see them giving up on Roenicke, Wood or Swarzak if they can avoid it. If they keep those three, that means Burnett, Robertson, Perez and Harden go down. If they want to keep any of those guys, Swarzak has to pass through waivers. Even if they risk that, I can see Gardy wanting two situational lefties. The more I think of it, the more I think they option Burnett out to start the season.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      I don't know what reason there is to think Tim Wood is going to be any good. I get that the Twins like him, but the Twins also liked Dusty Hughes and Jim Gray and Matt Maloney.
      Wood was the best reliever in the IL the last two years. I don't think he compares to Hughes or Gray. I could be wrong, but early reports say he is highly regarded because he throws VERY HARD.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Wood was the best reliever in the IL the last two years..
      Better than Slama? (other than the injury part)
      Methinks not.

      Slama:

      2012: 1.24 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 13.9 K/9, 3.11 K/BB
      2011: 1.28 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 13.6 K/9, 2.63 K/BB

      Wood:

      2012: 2.19 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.91 K/BB
      2011: 3.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 2.27 K/BB

      (and these include Slama's injury)
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Better than Slama? (other than the injury part)
      Methinks not.

      Slama:

      2012: 1.24 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 13.9 K/9, 3.11 K/BB
      2011: 1.28 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 13.6 K/9, 2.63 K/BB

      Wood:

      2012: 2.19 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.91 K/BB
      2011: 3.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 2.27 K/BB

      (and these include Slama's injury)
      I was just going off of the annual IL awards, including top reliever, which he has received two years in a row. I think the coaches vote on this. Slama has better numbers, I will grant you. But for whatever reason, the coaches have preferred Wood. And that is reflected in their respective contracts. Slama was available to the highest bidder as a sixth-year guy and had to sign a minor league deal with the Twins for the minor league minimum. Wood signed a one-way major league contract for more than the major league minimum. If they try to pass him through waivers, he'll get claimed.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Leaving three spots for:

      Burnett
      Swarzak
      Robertson
      Roenicke
      Pressly
      Wood
      Perez
      Harden

      These guys are gone if we don't keep them
      Roenicke
      Wood
      Pressly
      Swarzak
      Give me 2 of Swarzak, Pressley, and Harden (all pending ST performance). Then add Robertson as long as he doesn't lay an egg. What I'd most like to see:
      RHP Pressley
      RHP Harden
      RHP Fien
      RHP Burton
      LHP Duensing
      LHP Robertson
      LHP Perkins
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Wood was the best reliever in the IL the last two years. I don't think he compares to Hughes or Gray. I could be wrong, but early reports say he is highly regarded because he throws VERY HARD.
      Well, he was (arguably) the best reliever in the IL who didn't get an extended big-league promotion at any point, so that's a pretty significant caveat. He was also 28 and 29 years old. He may throw hard, but it hasn't resulted in especially great K-rates. Gray and Hoey threw hard too...
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Well, he was (arguably) the best reliever in the IL who didn't get an extended big-league promotion at any point, so that's a pretty significant caveat. He was also 28 and 29 years old. He may throw hard, but it hasn't resulted in especially great K-rates. Gray and Hoey threw hard too...
      Good points. According to Gardy, he is glacial to home plate (1.8 seconds). So he's got some work to do.
    1. LewFordLives's Avatar
      LewFordLives -
      If Pressley impresses this spring, and they can't make a trade with the Red Sox, then the Twins would have to come up with a pretty good reason not to keep him on the roster. This team needs a miracle to make the playoffs, so they can afford to use a spot on the 25-man roster to stash away a rule 5 pick. Swarzak would probably clear waivers, and even if he doesn't, so what. Hopefully the Twins have seen enough to convince them there isn't much upside with him. Burnett is close to that point as well. Is Burnett better than the other options available to the Twins? I don't think so.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Pressly has to demonstrate he has upside beyond just a career middle reliever, because you can acquire those more easily than having to babysit a player before he's ready to contribute. He's tagged as a washout as a starter, so that means he needs to be able to close after a year or two of major league experience; I'm not sure an upside of setup man is enough. I think that's what the Twins have in mind - the quotes in the article speak of "late in the game" - but he still needs to show it in Florida, and that won't be easy for him.
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