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  • Mixed Developments For Future of Twins Rotation

    Kyle-a-palooza? Gibsanity? Gibsmas?

    Whatever you wanted to call it, Kyle Gibson's debut on Saturday generated a palpable buzz throughout Twins Territory. Eagerly awaited and long overdue, the rookie's arrival aids a pitching staff in the midst of its third straight year of sub-mediocrity.

    He doesn't profile as one of the league's elite pitchers, but Gibson is likely the best pitching prospect to graduate from the Twins' system since Matt Garza in 2006, and he showed why in his debut.

    Gibson came as advertised, delivering with high velocity and impressive command from an imposing 6'6" frame. The 25-year-old exhibited no signs of jitters as he fired 64 of 91 pitches for strikes and issued no walks. The Royals managed eight hits in six innings, but few of them were hit hard and Gibson limited the damage to two runs in an easy victory.

    Some voices have warned that expectations for the right-hander might be getting out of hand. Even his ardent supporters will admit that Gibson probably doesn't have the upside of a top-tier pitcher in the major leagues.

    But so what? There was an awful lot to like in Saturday's performance. Gibson displayed poise that was, in light of all he has gone through to get to this point, shocking. He peppered the lower regions of the strike zone with a heavy fastball that routinely whizzed in at 92-93 MPH and occasionally touched 95. That's a number Twins fans aren't accustomed to seeing with anyone other than Glen Perkins on the hill.

    It might be that "so overrated he's underrated" phenomenon, but I get the sense that some actually are underselling Gibson's ability to an extent. In his first big-league game, he was constantly locating a power sinker around knee level, mixing in breaking balls that made people miss. He's done these things throughout his career, when healthy. Guys with that type of stuff/command combo often excel in the majors, and if Saturday was any indication, Gibson has the makeup to match.

    Will he ever be Stephen Strasburg? No. But can he be the No. 1 starter in a quality rotation? I'd say so. Keep in mind the Twins haven't had a true "ace" since Johan Santana's departure, and have still made the playoffs twice since then.

    Of course, it's not Gibson that the Twins are eyeing as the next arm to earn that vaunted ace label. That would be Alex Meyer, who was acquired in return for Denard Span during the offseason. When he came over from Washington, Meyer instantly became the highest-upside pitcher in the system.

    The ideal scenario was that Meyer and Gibson (and perhaps Trevor May, if he ever refined his control enough) could join forces atop the embattled Minnesota rotation, helping usher in a return to contention sooner rather than later.

    Unfortunately, as well as things are currently going for Gibson, the developments surrounding Meyer have been far more troubling. The 24-year-old hasn't pitched in a month due to shoulder soreness, and there now appears some doubt over whether he'll pitch again this year.

    Asked earlier this month about the prospect's status, Ryan said that MRI results had come back clean and that Meyer was fine, adding, "I don't think anybody thought it was that serious." Twins fans breathed a sigh of relief.

    And yet, three weeks later, Meyer still has not pitched competitively. It doesn't look like he's especially close to doing so. Over the weekend, New Britain manager Jeff Smith had this to say about the righty: "Hopefully by the end of the season, really just later in the season, he'll be able to pitch in some games." Matt Straub, who covers the Rock Cats for the New Britain Herald, inferred that to mean Meyer would be out for at least the entire month of July.

    The Twins insist that they're just playing it cautious with Meyer, who is on a throwing program in Ft. Myers, but it's tough not to be alarmed with the indefinite return date. Shoulder problems are always scary for young hurlers, and Meyer -- whose delivery is high-stress, as he delivers in the upper-90s from a wiry 6'9" build with a three-quarters arm slot -- has always presented more risk than most.

    Hopefully, this truly is an instance where the team is taking every possible precaution with a young man who might be the single most important asset in the entire organization at this point. But fans will find little comfort in Ryan's assertions that everything is fine, especially when we now know this to be the front office's initial assurance in the case of every injury, even those that prove severe.

    And hell, maybe we should be worrying a little more about Gibson's shoulders. After all, he's carrying a heavy burden as one of the brightest hopes for the Twins' rotation for the foreseeable future. Until Meyer successfully returns to the mound or May takes a step forward, Gibson alone will be labeled with that designation.
    This article was originally published in blog: Mixed Developments For Future of Twins Rotation started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      IMO the next milestone in the rebuilding process, is Meyer and/or May making it to Target Field. It does underscore the need for Ryan to continue to accumulate top starting pitching prospects. I would be very surprised if Perkins doesn't net us the next one.
    1. CK's Avatar
      CK -
      I liked him resting until they came out and said he was resting indefinitely. Ugh. Fingers crossed.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      The future of the rotation is in the CR, GCL and E-twon
      Guys like Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, Berrios, Stewart are going to be the future.
      Gibson, Meyer, May are nice pitchers, but in my opinion, by the time the above guys get to AA, the Twins are going to be looking at a amazing future rotation.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      It's nice to look at guys in the minors and project that they become solid (or better) SPs, but history shows most of these guys fail. Consider recent Twins pitchers that had substantial success in the minors--even at Rochester who floundered or even completely failed at the ML level.

      Recall this preseason when people were guessing who would be in the rotation this year? Diamond was not only deemed a lock for this season, but for several years. Now? His future as a SP is in question. Things change. There are very good reasons why teams sign free agents to join their rotation.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      The future of the rotation is in the CR, GCL and E-twon
      Guys like Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, Berrios, Stewart are going to be the future.
      Gibson, Meyer, May are nice pitchers, but in my opinion, by the time the above guys get to AA, the Twins are going to be looking at a amazing future rotation.
      I hope you're right and I've read several of your articles, so I know you watch things much more closely than I do. That said, I find it hard to get excited about starting pitching prospects in the lower minors. I much prefer Ryan's approach of getting prospects with one or two+ years of experience from our friendly competitors.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      just schedual his surgery now and hope hes back next spring...
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      just schedual his surgery now and hope hes back next spring...
      If it's a sticky shoulder surgery situation for Meyer, by the time they properly diagnose and schedule it, he probably would have little chance to be ready to pitch next spring.

      But it could be even worse than that. Recent studies have been done that show that while around 85% of elbow surgeries end up in pitchers equaling or exceeding previous performance levels......for shoulders, it's less than 50%. This is very, very disconcerting news and the Twins extreme caution is well-justified. If things don't take a turn back to the positive, it's now getting too uncomfortably near the area wherein it's less than a coin flip that Meyer still projects to being the potential Ace pitcher we once all hoped for.

      Now, more than ever, why didn't the Twins get John Lannan thrown into the deal, when the Nats were going to avoid arbitration and cut him anyway? At least they would have had a still-young (only 28) and proven innings-eater to show for the "blockbuster" trade.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Who is a good comp for Gibson? I always thought he had a Brandon Webb-type of ceiling. Webb's sinker was absolutely devastating but Gibson throws a little harder than he did. I don't expect Gibson to win a Cy Young but I think some were underselling him a bit.
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      I wish everyone would stop focusing on the speed of pitches. Location and baseball smarts are more important than mph. Gibson looks like he has a good off-speed out pitch. Let us hope he develops to become a Cy Young candidate, using smars & skills, instead of speed.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      I wish everyone would stop focusing on the speed of pitches. Location and baseball smarts are more important than mph. Gibson looks like he has a good off-speed out pitch. Let us hope he develops to become a Cy Young candidate, using smars & skills, instead of speed.

      Terry Ryan, what are you doing on this site?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      I wish everyone would stop focusing on the speed of pitches. Location and baseball smarts are more important than mph. Gibson looks like he has a good off-speed out pitch. Let us hope he develops to become a Cy Young candidate, using smars & skills, instead of speed.
      Part of what makes a good out pitch is a pitch that the batter cannot keep up with. Speed is very much a factor. What's nice is that Gibson does keep his pitches in the low to mid 90s.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      It's not like they traded our best outfielder and leadoff guy guy for Meyer.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      It's not like they traded our best outfielder and leadoff guy guy for Meyer.
      It's not like a leadoff guy with a .314 OBP is that phenomenal. Even Clete is 20 points above that at the moment, and doing better than that when he leads off. I'll take my chances with Meyer.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Part of what makes a good out pitch is a pitch that the batter cannot keep up with. Speed is very much a factor. What's nice is that Gibson does keep his pitches in the low to mid 90s.
      Most if not all major league hitters can hit a 97 mph fastball down the middle. What is more important IMO is command, movement and speed difference. A 85 mph fastball looks like a 90 mph fastball when you can throw a 70 mph change up. A 90 mph fastball with late movement on the outside corner on the knees is harder to hit than a 100 mph down the middle. Velocity is nice and can cover up mistakes, but not the most important.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      It's not like they traded our best outfielder and leadoff guy guy for Meyer.
      You haven't checked Span's hitting line this year, have you?
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by orangevening View Post
      Most if not all major league hitters can hit a 97 mph fastball down the middle. What is more important IMO is command, movement and speed difference. A 85 mph fastball looks like a 90 mph fastball when you can throw a 70 mph change up. A 90 mph fastball with late movement on the outside corner on the knees is harder to hit than a 100 mph down the middle. Velocity is nice and can cover up mistakes, but not the most important.
      No one thinks that command isn't important, but minimalizing the effect of velocity is the same arguement as minimalizing the effect of a higher payroll. Neither guarantee sucess but they are very strong indicators as they provide a very large advantage.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      You haven't checked Span's hitting line this year, have you?
      Have you looked at what our leadoff guys have done this year?
    1. Beezer07's Avatar
      Beezer07 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      Have you looked at what our leadoff guys have done this year?
      Option A: Keep Span. Result? Have a bad leadoff guy.

      Option B: Trade Span. Result? Have bad leadoff guys AND a minor league pitcher with good potential.

      B seems better to me.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Velocity allows for a little more margin for error in location, but coupled with good command and two good secondary pitches, that makes an ace. But velocity alone is not enough.

      I like and am excited about Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, Jose Berrios, Felix Jorge and Kohl Stewart. However, the only one in that group whose potential is equal to Alex Meyer's is probably Stewart's. What's exciting is having a bunch of guys with big potential so that at the end of the day 2 or 3 of them can be successful big league pitchers.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by orangevening View Post
      Most if not all major league hitters can hit a 97 mph fastball down the middle. What is more important IMO is command, movement and speed difference. A 85 mph fastball looks like a 90 mph fastball when you can throw a 70 mph change up. A 90 mph fastball with late movement on the outside corner on the knees is harder to hit than a 100 mph down the middle. Velocity is nice and can cover up mistakes, but not the most important.
      Please re-read my post instead of arguing against a point you think I'm trying to make. I never said it was the most important. I just pointed out that it is a major factor.
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