Here’s a look at the Top 5 relief pitching performers from July. Feel free to discuss below.
Number 5 – GCL Twins – LHP Stephen Gonsalves – 5 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 0.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 8 H, 7 BB, 18 K
Gonsalves was the Twins 4th round draft pick in June out of high school in San Diego. Already 19, the lefty pitched very well in his professional debut with the GCL Twins in his first month. In fact, he pitched well enough that he was just promoted to Elizabethton. At 6-5 and just 190 pounds, the Twins should be patient and let him grow. The Twins had to go a little over slot to get him signed, but he should prove to be worth it in time.
Number 4 – Ft. Myers – RHP Adrian Salcedo - 6 G, 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 7 K
Salcedo was a Top 10 Twins prospect as recently as before the 2012 season. However, that season was lost because of both shoulder and elbow injuries. He spent most of the year, and the offseason, rehabbing. He has been brought back this year in the Ft. Myers bullpen. Overall, in 27 relief appearances this year, he is 5-1 with a 3.72 ERA. In 48.1 innings, he has given up 47 hits, walked just seven and struck out 48. Salcedo is 6-3 and 175 pounds. He is extremely athletic. It will be interesting to see if he gets another opportunity to start.
Number 3 – Elizabethton – LHP Brandon Bixler - 6 G, 1-1, 0.73 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 18 K
The 21-year-old Bixler was the Twins 16th round draft pick of the Twins this June out of Dunk City, Florida Gulf Coast University. This college season, he went 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA. He had 64 strikeouts in 50 innings. Over three college seasons, he struck out 156 batters over 128.2 innings. The left-hander is just 5-11 and 170 pounds, but he does throw hard. Bixler put up these terrific numbers in Elizabethton, and has now been promoted to Cedar Rapids where he has made one appearance in August.
Number 2 – New Britain/Rochester – LHP Edgar Ibarra - 9 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 11 K
I saw Ibarra make a start for Beloit in 2010 and came away incredibly impressed. I saw a very good fastball that he worked inside and outside. I saw a tremendous changeup that he was able to spot. He also had a very good breaking ball that he threw at various speeds. All of his pitches moved. Then again, he never really put up great numbers as a starter. The following year in Ft. Myers, he made 16 starts and 16 relief appearances. He has not made any starts since. Today (8/4) marks two months since he last gave up a run. That covers 20 appearances and 25.2 innings. The left-hander touches 95, and I believe he has a very good chance of helping the Twins. His control has been good so far with the Red Wings, but over his career walks have been the biggest issue. Ibarra could have become a 6-year minor league free agent, but he quickly re-signed with the Twins. Don’t be surprised if the Twins don’t let him become a free agent at the end of this season and add him to the 40 man roster, either in September, or days after the World Series is complete.
And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers – RHP Tyler Jones - 8 G, 0-0, 7 Saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 17 K
Jones, a 23-year-old Milwaukee native, was the Twins 11th round pick in 2011 out of LSU where he spent just one year. In 2012, he began the season at Extended Spring Training because, as he said to me earlier in the season, he was completely out of shape. He did make 16 starts with Beloit and posted a 4.67 ERA, but he had 102 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. This year, he got himself into tremendous shape, and also moved into the bullpen at Cedar Rapids. In doing so, he can now air-out his fastball. When I saw him a month ago, he ended a game with a strikeout on a 96 mph fastball. His slider is also much improved from when I saw him in 2012. He was tremendous in July, starting in Cedar Rapids and earning that promotion to Ft. Myers. Not only did he not give up any runs in July, but look at the walks and strikeouts per inning. Astounding. Jones is definitely one to watch!
What do you think? Please feel free to discuss and ask questions.