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  • Reviewing Rotation Reinforcements in Rochester

    If it wasn't obvious before his latest poor performance, it certainly seems obvious now that Scott Diamond is in line for a demotion from the Minnesota Twins rotation. Since pitching well in his first five starts back in April and May, the lefty has gone 2-7 with a 6.65 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and 28/24 K/BB ratio in his past 13 turns.

    It would be one thing if he were showing signs of improvement, but that's not the case. In his last three outings, Diamond has surrendered 16 hits, 10 walks, 11 earned runs and four homers while recording just two strikeouts. He has allowed more than twice as many fly balls as grounders in that time. I wrote back in late May that Diamond was getting away from the things that had made him successful last season, and recently that has been more blatantly true than ever.

    On Sunday, after watching Diamond get shelled for six runs in 4 2/3 innings, the soft-spoken and non-provocative Tom Kelly opined while filling in as commentator on FSN's broadcast that the time has probably come for a change. It was clear to him -- as it has been to many of us -- that Diamond doesn't presently belong in a major-league rotation.

    In the wake of his latest disastrous outing, the lefty was mystified that his great work in the bullpen isn't translating over to games. I've seen some variation of that quote from a Twins' starter far too often this season; it conveys a sense of hopelessness, and convinces me more than ever that Diamond needs a break to get things figured out. At this point, the Twins surely must agree, though they appear content to give him at least one more chance.

    If a move should come in the near future, who are the candidates to replace him? With Pedro Hernandez and Cole De Vries on the shelf, let's take a look at the available arms on hand in Class-AAA Rochester:

    Vance Worley, RHP
    AAA Stats: 9 GS, 58 IP, 3.88 ERA, 34/17 K/BB, 1.41 WHIP

    Minnesota's Opening Day starter was demoted back in late May with a 7.21 ERA and an obscene .381 opponents' batting average. His performance in Triple-A has looked far better on the surface, but at a deeper glance it's pretty tough to get excited about his improvements. Even against the lesser competition, Worley has still been unable to strike people out (5.3 K/9) while allowing too many hits (65 in 58 innings). He was placed on the 7-day disabled list last week with shoulder inflammation, but he'll be eligible to return tomorrow, so his availability depends on the severity of the injury. Even if he returns soon, the Twins will likely want to see him prove that he's healthy and effective before a recall is considered.

    Andrew Albers, LHP
    AAA Stats: 20 GS, 115.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 105/29 K/BB, 1.26 WHIP

    Albers has been the standout performer on Rochester's staff, consistently turning in strong outings while posting a respectable K-rate (8.2 K/9) and controlling the running game (three stolen bases attempted in 20 starts). As a 27-year-old who was pitching as a reliever in an independent league three years ago, Albers is hardly a conventional prospect, but based on merit he is beyond deserving of a look in the majors. The stumbling block: he still needs to be added to the 40-man roster.

    P.J. Walters, RHP
    AAA Stats: 11 GS, 61.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 53/21 K/BB, 1.44 WHIP

    Walters was called up to fill in back in late May and quickly unraveled after a couple good starts, leading to his second designation for assignment in two years. It's plain to see that he doesn't have the stuff to pitch in the majors, as illustrated by a 5.79 ERA in 101 innings with the Twins over the past two seasons, so although he chose to stay in the organization after his latest demotion, you have to figure that he's exhausted his opportunities in Minnesota.

    Liam Hendriks
    AAA Stats: 11 GS, 65 IP, 5.12 ERA, 39/12 K/BB, 1.49 WHIP

    The forgotten man. Hendriks made the Twins' rotation out of spring training but was bumped after two starts (a shockingly short leash, considering how long guys like Worley and Diamond have been allowed to flap in the wind). While in Rochester, he missed about a month due to injury and hasn't pitched very well, although his control has remained very good and prior to his last clunker he had rattled off four straight quality starts. Hendriks has looked hittable everywhere this year, but he's still only 24 and might have a better shot at making a future impact in the Twins rotation than anyone else listed here (save for Worley, who is presently unavailable).

    Nick Blackburn
    AAA Stats: 1 GS, 5 IP, 10.80 ERA, 0/0 K/BB, 2.00 WHIP

    I can already hear the cringing. Twins fans tend to have a visceral reaction to Blackburn, who is currently earning $5.5 million in the last year of an ill-advised contract extension, but there's a good chance we'll be seeing him in Minnesota before season's end. After undergoing his third arm surgery in as many years in the spring, Blackburn missed the first half but is now on the rehab trail and nearing a potential return. After achieving decent results (3.80 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) in five starts between the rookie-level GCL and Double-A, he was promoted to Rochester this week and made his debut on Tuesday night. An absolutely terrible outing didn't help his cause, but he's got plenty of time to convince the club that he deserves one more look.
    This article was originally published in blog: Reviewing Rotation Reinforcements in Rochester started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. AROG's Avatar
      AROG -
      Like I said, I think May is the best option we have. He is on the 40-man roster already and has major league stuff. He is just inconsistent. I would rather have inconsistent but good stuff than a steady super nasty high schooler.

      With that being said, Mark Burhle (can't spell that name ) is a pro so maybe it is worth a shot for Albers. You always need those players pushing the edge.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      Does not look like we have options for Diamond at this time. Too bad, We cannot afford to have a full 40 man roster incase we take more players than we sell at this time.
      Judd Zulgad said this also, but I'm not sure it's right... I only see two option years exercised?? 2011 and 2012, meaning this could be his third and last option year?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      Judd Zulgad said this also, but I'm not sure it's right... I only see two option years exercised?? 2011 and 2012, meaning this could be his third and last option year?
      Which suggests to me that Diamond won't be optioned--he will become a long relief guy for the rest of this season.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Ramirez has been on the 7-day DL for almost exactly 60 days. He could be on the 60-day right now, freeing up a spot for Albers, if that is what the Twins want to do. Further, with Thomas' relative success as a backup CF and sometimes corner OF, Ramirez isn't needed on the roster, so he can be DFAed. I doubt anyone would claim him coming off a two month recovery from a concussion and with an underwhelming resume. I thought Albers reached the upper 80s-low 90s, much like Diamond. I suspect he might be another Colabello, able to excel below the major leagues, but not having the tools to advance to the top level. But, like Colabello, he's earned a chance to try.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      Judd Zulgad said this also, but I'm not sure it's right... I only see two option years exercised?? 2011 and 2012, meaning this could be his third and last option year?
      Two options used, one left.
    1. robbie111's Avatar
      robbie111 -
      albers has been good at AAA but he is throwing 83-85
      That's unlikely since he was hitting 88 for Team Canada at the WBC this year. Also if you check his scouting report from the University of Kentucky he was hitting high 88-89 then.
    1. wabene's Avatar
      wabene -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinstalker View Post
      Dude, Pelfrey is a free agent.
      Dude sign him then. He keeps getting better so the time is now
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      It appears that Virgil Vasquez, now in New Britain, may be the most ML ready pitcher we have in the minors.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by 3up3down View Post
      jun, I am not writing Albers off , all i am saying is most on here just see the stats & thats ok..I have seen Albers pitch in college & professional, as I have seen alot of guys & I cant remember 1 single guy in the last 10 years that has gotten a chance much less succeded throwing 83-85mph, it just dont happen..he maybe , maybe could have some success as a pen guy because he faces hitters one time & has them out front of everything , but that 2nd time thru the order big league hitters will wait back & kill it..he deserves a chance BUT he is not the answer, the best options in AAA or on the AAA DL is unfortunately walters or hendriks. in my opinion walters or hendriks if facing the tigers gives you a chance to win if they are locating pitches. any of the others you have very little chance of winning that day. Albers is alot like Brad Mills , mills had success in the minors , he even pitched great in vegas & thats almost impossible but he had zero success in the bigs & he throws harder than albers & i am not a velocity guy but you have to atleast get it in the hi 80s...

      Albers mixes a high 80s fastball with a slow curve. He has carried reverse platoon splits through the minors with a low groundball rate. You can't find to many major leaguers with that profile, but they exist. Bruce Chen and Barry Zito have pitched a long time with that mix. They would probably be the high end upside comp.
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