Last week, we began to look at the Minnesota Twins organizational depth by looking at all of the outfielders
and then all of the infielders
in the in the system. Yesterday, we reviewed all of the catchers
. Today, we will be taking a look at the starting pitchers throughout the Twins system. Consider there are five starters on the big league team plus four full-season affiliates and several remaining in Extended Spring Training. There are lots of pitchers to get through.
As pitchers move up the organizational ladder, they typically get put into either the starting pitcher or relief pitcher category. In the lower levels, the line is a little more blurry. Because all pitchers are a little different (age, mechanics, stuff, maturity), they are treated a little differently. A high school draft pick in his first full season will likely throw less innings than a 25-year-old in AAA. In the lower levels, it’s quite possible that one pitcher will start in the first half and pitch out of the bullpen in the second half, or once they hit a certain innings limit. Other pitchers may be stretched out in the bullpen and move into the rotation when scheduled. This also occurs when a pitcher is rehabbing an injury. In other words, it is important to remember that if a pitcher is not starting in April, it doesn’t mean that he’ll be in the bullpen the whole year.
Here are (most of) the Starting Pitchers in the Minnesota Twins organization:
Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley, Scott Diamond (DL), Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries,
Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano are gone. Last year’s best pitcher, Scott Diamond is likely to start the season on the Disabled List after having bone chips removed from his elbow in December. The Twins starting rotation in 2012 was a hodge-podge, thrown together with hope and prayers, and for the most part, things went horribly wrong. The front office did make a couple of offseason trades to make the future of the starting rotation look brighter, but they did little to instill confidence that the rotation will be much better in 2013.
That said, there can be some reason for some minimal optimism, should you choose to think that way. In the Ben Revere trade, the Twins acquired Vance Worley who was clearly the #54 starter for the Phillies rotation the last couple of years (behind the likes of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels), but he would have been the Twins top guy the last couple of seasons. He would be the odds-on favorite to be the team’s top starter in 2013. He also had bone chips removed, but his procedure was done last August. Kevin Correia is going to give up a ton of hits. We know that. But if he can find a way to give up four runs or less in his 5-6 innings most starts, the offense may have a chance to keep up. He got $10 million. He’ll be making starts. Mike Pelfrey was an innings-eater at least for the Mets for several years. That is, until 2012 when he had Tommy John surgery in May. His comeback has been nothing short of remarkable, though it will be interesting to see how his aggressive return plays out. If healthy, he can be an average starter. Liam Hendriks would likely be in the lead for the 5th
starter job if it was decided today. (Yes, he also had bone chips removed, in October) He’s looking to take his immense minor league success and show it in the big leagues in 2013. Assuming Diamond starts on the DL, the Twins will need another starter, and I would say that would be Cole de Vries at this point. The Minnesota native has performed quite well this spring, and although expectations were low for him in his rookie season, he actually pitched well.
Rochester Red Wings
Kyle Gibson, Samuel Deduno, PJ Walters, Pedro Hernandez, Virgil Vasquez, Scott Elarton (Nick Blackburn – DL)
There is a chance that Kyle Gibson still makes the Twins Opening Day roster, but I sense that he is going to begin the season with the Red Wings where they will be able to limit his innings early in the season. That way, when he comes up to the Twins, there will be no limitations. Samuel Deduno will certainly be an interesting pitcher to watch in 2013. He pitched much better than expected in 2012, even showing good control at times. He was terrific in the Dominican Winter League, and his one start in the WBC was very impressive, and no walks. PJ Walters is having a very good spring again, and may be trying to earn a spot as a long reliever. Assuming he doesn’t, he’ll again be part of the Red Wings starting staff. Pedro Hernandez came to the Twins in the Francisco Liriano deal, made a couple of starts for Rochester, and then his season ended with injury. He is yet to give up a run this spring and may be competing with Tyler Robertson for a third lefty reliever. Virgil Vasquez hasn’t played in the big leagues for a couple of years. The Twins signed him while he was pitching in the Australian Baseball League this past winter. Elarton is another veteran who has been around for many years. He’s looking to the Twins for another opportunity. As you know, Nick Blackburn will begin the season on the Disabled List. When healthy, he’ll get another chance to start.
New Britain Rock Cats
BJ Hermsen, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Logan Darnell, Pat Dean, Blake Martin, Tom Stuifbergen, Kyle Davies, (Alex Wimmers – DL)
Hermsen was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year last year. He spent April in Ft. Myers, but he moved up to New Britain and was an Eastern League All-Star. He earned his spot on the Twins 40 man roster. Trevor May came to the Twins with Vance Worley from the Phillies in the Ben Revere trade. The hard-throwing right hander pitched for Reading (AA) last year and will return to the league for 2013 because he struggled with control. If he can throw strikes, he has the pitches and the mid-90s fastball to become a top of the rotation type of starter. Alex Meyer came to the Twins in the Denard Span trade. As the Twins said, to get a top of the rotation pitcher, you have to give something significant up, and before he gets to the upper levels. The sky is the limit for Meyer as he has a fastball that reaches into the upper-90s and a devastating slider. Darnell is a lefty who has pitched for the Rock Cats each of the past two seasons. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year. Blake Martin is another lefty who sees time in the rotation and in the bullpen. He has generally pitched better as a starter. Kyle Davies was once a prospect with the Braves. He was traded to the Royals where he was even worse. He did not pitch at all in 2012 and hopes to stick in the Twins organization. Stuifbergen has pitched for Ft. Myers each of the last two seasons. He has the stuff to be a solid starter, but he has to stay healthy. He is pitching for The Netherlands in the WBC. Alex Wimmers had Tommy John surgery in July, and he will likely be rehabbing much of the season.
Ft. Myers Miracle
Adrian Salcedo, Jason Wheeler, Matt Summers, Madison Boer, David Hurlbut, Matt Tomshaw, Luke Bard
Adrian Salcedo was one of the Twins Top 10 prospects a year ago at this time, but in 2012, he missed most of the season with shoulder and elbow injuries. When healthy, he is long and lanky and can throw 95. He’s very athletic and could move quickly when confident in his arm. Jason Wheeler led the Twins minor leagues in Wins in 2012 with the Beloit Snappers. The tall left-hander doesn’t throw hard but does have good control and three pitches. Matt Summers started last year with the Snappers, but he was promoted to Ft. Myers where he was solid but unspectacular. Eden Prairie’s Madison Boer moved up to Ft. Myers very early and really struggled. I think that he could move up the system really quickly if he moved to the bullpen, but he has the velocity and the pitches that make him intriguing still as a starter. Hurlbut and Tomshaw were both terrific in the Beloit rotation all season. The lefties don’t throw hard, but they know how to pitch. Tomshaw pitched well right for the Miracle right after he was drafted in 2011, and he will return again in 2013. Luke Bard was the Twins third, first-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. He pitched so little last year due to injury. He will begin the season as a bullpen guy, but he will get a chance to start at some point.
Cedar Rapids Kernels
JO Berrios, DJ Baxendale, Tyler Duffey, Mason Melotakis, Taylor Rogers, Christian Powell, Brett Lee
The Twins’ draft strategy last year included taking top available talent. For the team, the meant a lot of hard-throwing college arms who could move up quickly in the bullpen, but the Twins want several of them to become starters. When JO Berrios was available with the first pick of the supplemental first round, the Twins were thrilled to select him. The youngster impressed the Twins brass in spring training before heading to the WBC to pitch for Puerto Rico. Taylor Rogers moved up to Beloit and made a few starts in 2012 after being drafted out of Kentucky. DJ Baxendale pitched for Arkansas in the College World Series last year. Upon signing, the Twins kept him pitching out of the bullpen to limit his innings. He was dominant for the Snappers in 2012. Melotakis was the Twins 2nd
round pick. The hard-throwing lefty dominated out of the bullpen, but he will also be able to find out if he can be a starter. Tyler Duffey put up astonishing numbers in Elizabethton as a reliever. He pitched for the Snappers in the playoffs. He too will be getting an opportunity to start. Christian Powell worked just a handful of innings before being hurt, but the hard-thrower will get a chance to start. Brett Lee is a lefty who pitched well for Elizabethton last year. He was drafted three times, so I’d expect him to take a big step forward in 2013.
Extended Spring Training/Short-Season
Hudson Boyd, Austin Malinowski, Josue Montanez, Hein Robb, Sam Gibbons, Felix Jorge, Yorman Landa, Kuo-Hua Lo.
Hudson Boyd’s first pro season was full of ups and downs, and his numbers show it. The 20-year-old pitched in Elizabethton last year and posted a solid 2.95 ERA. However, he was just 2-5 and had a WHIP of 1.48 while striking out just 36 in 58 innings. He throws hard. He lost a lot of weight this offseason. Expect much improvement in his second season. Austin Malinowski is from Minnesota and gave up a ride to the University of Arizona to sign with the Twins. He went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 11 games in the GCL. His WHIP was 1.45, but the southpaw struckout 32 batters in 31.2 innings. Josue Montanez fought some injuries last year, but when he pitched, he was terrific. In the GCL, the lefty went 2-0 with a 0.36 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. He struckout 30 and walked just eight in 25 innings. Seems like lefty Hein Robb has been around for a long time. He has been. The Twins signed him as a 16-year-old from South Africa. He played for their national team in the 2009 WBC, before he even pitched in the States. Last year at E-Town (after two years in the GCL), the lefty went 2-4 with a 3.73 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. In 41 innings, he walked 14 and struckout 38. Sam Gibbons is a 19-year-old from Australia who debuted in the States with the GCL Twins in 2012. He went 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 35.1 innings. He walked just eight but struckout just 22. Felix Jorge was signed as a highly-touted right-hander from the Dominican. He went 0-3 but posted a 2.34 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in the GCL. In 34.2 innings, he walked 12 and struckout 37. Jorge just recently turned 19. Yorman Landa is also highly-touted. He comes from Venezuela. He too pitched in the GCL in 2012, and he went 1-3 with a 2.43 ERA. In 33.1 innings, he walked too many (21) but struckout 27. He will turn 19 about the time the Elizabethton season starts. Kuo-Hua Lo signed from Taiwan near in 2011 and debuted in the GCL as a 19-year-old in 2012. He went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP in 11 games. In 39.2 innings, he walked seven and struckout 33.
1.) Alex Meyer, 2.) Kyle Gibson, 3.) JO Berrios, 4.) Trevor May, 5.) Mason Melotakis, 6.) Luke Bard, 7.) BJ Hermsen, 8.) Felix Jorge.
The Twins finally have a few pitchers in their system with some significant upside. Alex Meyer has true ace potential. Kyle Gibson is very close, and he can be a solid #2. The sky may be the limit for JO Berrios, and although he’s young, he could move quickly. May came to the organization, and he has #2 upside, and if he does wind up in the bullpen, he could be dominant.
2012 was a frustrating year for the Twins. Often, the team would find itself down by three or four runs before the third inning. It will be interesting to see how the new pitchers fit in and pitch in the American League. It will be interesting to see Hendriks and De Vries get their next shot in the big leagues. Some of those guys that were forced into action last year for the Twins are still around, hoping for another shot. In Sam Deduno and PJ Walters, they have good options.
And, what is really exciting is the influx of talent that the Twins have had since the end of last year. A couple of guys came via trade The Twins drafted the talented Berrios, and then a bunch of strong-armed college pitchers. Some will get a chance to start. Others could move up quickly in the bullpen. And, there are some more high-ceiling, high potential pitchers who threw in the GCL a year ago. It will be interesting to watch their slow climb up the organizational ladder.
The Twins minor league pitching depth hasn’t been this strong in a long time. Will they use that #4 pick in the 2013 draft to obtain more high-ceiling pitching talent? We shall see.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!