• Twins Finally Assembling Starting Pitching Depth

    In their first turn through the rotation this past season, the Twins sent out Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks and Pedro Hernandez.

    Opening the year with multiple backup plans already plugged into the starting five set the stage for a tumultuous campaign that exposed the organization's miserable starting pitching depth at the high levels.

    Overly lengthy auditions for guys like Worley, Hernandez and Scott Diamond, along with painful redux performances from non-MLB talents like P.J. Walters and Cole De Vries, were all contributors in a season that saw Twins starters finish at the bottom of the majors in ERA, xFIP, WHIP and basically any other important category you could imagine.

    With two signings in the books already, and with at least one more expected to come, the Twins are now actually building something resembling depth in their starting corps, so that if someone gets hurt or struggles they might actually have multiple palatable options waiting on deck to step in, rather than uninspiring emergency plugs. It's been quite a while since that has been the case.

    With Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes already added to the mix to join Kevin Correia, and with many seeming to believe that one more veteran pitcher -- possibly Mike Pelfrey -- will still be enlisted, there may be only one opening available in the 2014 season-opening rotation. Terry Ryan has hinted that Samuel Deduno earned himself another chance, if healthy, with his strong performance in 2013.

    That would round out the rotation, meaning that a group including Worley, Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, Andrew Albers, Hendriks and Alex Meyer could be left on the outside looking in.

    That's undeniably an intriguing group. Not all are certain to remain within the organization if they don't latch onto the 25-man roster (some, like Worley and Diamond, will be out of options), but having a handful of pitchers with some history of MLB success -- or with legit prospect luster -- available in Triple-A would put the Twins in a very different position than they have been over the past three years.

    Worley was the Opening Day starter in 2013. Diamond was the team's best starter in 2012. Albers impressed during his debut, Meyer is the organization's top pitching prospect and Gibson offers sizable potential despite a rocky start. Any one of those guys has the potential to bounce back or emerge as a legitimate quality option, giving the Twins a much comfier margin for error with the guys currently slotted to comprise the rotation.

    Everyone wants to talk about the importance of adding an ace at the top, and that would certainly be nice, but having decent arms available to plug in at the back end if someone gets hurt or isn't performing can be almost just as important over the course of a 162-game season.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Finally Assembling Starting Pitching Depth started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 40 Comments
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Well a couple of pitcher who reportedly are avalible in trade ,who might help are
      Matthew Wisler
      Rank: 5 (Preseason: 8)
      San Antonio Missions (AA)
      ETA: 2015
      Position: RHP
      Age: 21, DOB: 09/12/1992
      Bats: R, Throws: R
      Height: 6' 3", Weight: 195
      Drafted: 2011, 7th (233) - SD
      Twitter: @wisler233
      Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 6/6 | Curveball: 4/6 | Changeup: 3/5 | Control: 3/5 | Overall: 4/5 The Padres have been aggressive in drafting high school arms in recent years and Wisler has the chance to be one of the better ones theyíve nabbed. A projectable right-hander, he has the chance to have at least two above-average pitches. He got his fastball up into the upper 90s during his first full season of pro ball and he throws it downhill. His curve has the chance to be just as effective, a big hammer of a breaking ball that he has trouble locating. Heíll show signs of a deceptive changeup, but itís behind the other two. His first full season was a great first step and the Padres are excited to see exactly what Wislerís ceiling might be



      Burch Smith
      Rank: 9 (Preseason: 20)
      San Diego Padres
      ETA: 2014
      Position: RHP
      Age: 23, DOB: 04/12/1990
      Bats: R, Throws: R
      Height: 6' 4", Weight: 215
      Signed: 2011, 14th (443) - SD

      Scouting Grades* (present/future): FB: 7/7 | Curve: 4/5 | Slider: 4/5 | Changeup: 4/4 | Control: 4/5 | Overall: 4/5 Smith, the product of the University of Oklahoma, went straight to the Class A Advanced Caliifornia League for his full-season debut and not only held his own, he topped the organization in strikeouts. He did that while posting a walk rate below 2.0, impressive for a pitcher with this much arm strength. Smith cranks his fastball up to 97 mph at times and his heater has late cutting movement. His secondary stuff is behind the plus fastball, but he'll show glimpses of a good curve. He needs to keep his arm speed with his changeup consistent, especially if he wants to be an effective starting pitcher at the highest level. As is often the case, the next step up to Double-A should help.

      While both of these kids might need a little time to get ready Smith appeared in 10 games for the Padres last year (bad ERA 6.14 but had 36ks in 26 innings)
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      It looks like one huge back end to me.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I don't know why they would spend $5 million or whatever on Pelfrey, even now. It's a joke to sign that guy. Deduno, Gibson, and Diamond can compete for 4 and 5 in the rotation (Diamond loses and becomes the LR guy). Then think of the $5 million saved on Pelfrey as money towards improvements during the year in case of a serious problem (like a bullpen meltdown . . . if Burton and Fien start to suck . . . that's an issue, and maybe the money saved can be used there . . . or an injury to Dozier or Florimon, etc. etc.).
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      SIGN MORE PITCHERS! You can never have too many pitchers. The Dodgers, last season, had something like 9 starting pitchers and at one point last season had to resort to ADDING MORE ARMS, including the Twins new addition, Ricky Nolasco. More is better. I'd love to see the Twins go out and get one more guy before the winter is through, especailly if that guy is a front end of the rotation guy, a real 1/2, but another 3/4/ guy would also improve this collection of Talent.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pleiss View Post
      SIGN MORE PITCHERS! You can never have too many pitchers. The Dodgers, last season, had something like 9 starting pitchers and at one point last season had to resort to ADDING MORE ARMS, including the Twins new addition, Ricky Nolasco. More is better. I'd love to see the Twins go out and get one more guy before the winter is through, especailly if that guy is a front end of the rotation guy, a real 1/2, but another 3/4/ guy would also improve this collection of Talent.
      Couldn't agree more and I've argued as such previously. I hope TR has truly turned the corner and learned his lesson from the last 2 years. Trade Perkins for a strong SP prospect like Hunter Harvey at Baltimore (continue building high-quality SP depth in the lower levels, heck, all these teenage phenoms-in-waiting can stagger their inevitable TJ surgeries and then start hitting the rotation in waves, starting in 2016).

      As far as "real 1/2s", unless they make a blockbuster deal for someone like Price, the only realistic option in FA is Tanaka- and his status as an Ace isn't certain (but I hope they pursue this with an all out effort- especially if the posting price ends up being capped).
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      Exchange Pelfrey for Garza and BOOM, rotation.
    1. MichiganTwins's Avatar
      MichiganTwins -
      The problem with signing more pitchers is Worley, Hendriks, Deduno, and Diamond are all out of options. By signing, another pitcher we are going to lose one after ST. So adding a pitcher is not really adding a pitcher.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichiganTwins View Post
      The problem with signing more pitchers is Worley, Hendriks, Deduno, and Diamond are all out of options. By signing, another pitcher we are going to lose one after ST. So adding a pitcher is not really adding a pitcher.
      Methinks the concept of "addition by subtraction" comes into play here.....
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Hitting, hitting, hitting. They have already "fixed" 40% of the rotation, but have added no offense. Indeed, we are looking at a CF that can't hit at all, again. There is no DH. The 3B can't be counted on to hit. The SS can't hit. The LF might hit, but can't field, if he can stay healthy. The catcher is an unknown. They were as far from being in the top 5 in runs scored, as they were in runs allowed.

      Of course, the best run producing FA not named Cano is now off the market.....and they aren't signing Cano. Choo is a RF, but you could put him or Arcia at DH, but I'd bet they don't sign him. Frankly, the real difference makers are either off the market, or not coming here probably. So, ya, they could sign another pitcher, but they aren't likely to score enough runs for it to matter this year at all.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Seriously, as TR has intimated, the #5 spot is Deduno's to lose. Besides, Worley/Deduno both could be candidates for extended time on the DL. Diamond as a lefty would fit in nicely in the bullepen/6th starter role. And I don't think anyone will claim Hendriks if the Twins time it right. Problem solved....an embarrassment of riches indeed....
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Hitting, hitting, hitting. They have already "fixed" 40% of the rotation, but have added no offense. Indeed, we are looking at a CF that can't hit at all, again. There is no DH. The 3B can't be counted on to hit. The SS can't hit. The LF might hit, but can't field, if he can stay healthy. The catcher is an unknown. They were as far from being in the top 5 in runs scored, as they were in runs allowed.

      Of course, the best run producing FA not named Cano is now off the market.....and they aren't signing Cano. Choo is a RF, but you could put him or Arcia at DH, but I'd bet they don't sign him. Frankly, the real difference makers are either off the market, or not coming here probably. So, ya, they could sign another pitcher, but they aren't likely to score enough runs for it to matter this year at all.
      Trade for JJ Hardy and Matt Wieters, the Orioles are shopping them- and now they need a closer. They just gave away Jim Johnson for practically nothing. Sano moves into the starting lineup no later than June. Arcia OPS's at .800. Willingham has a bounceback year primarily DHing. Mauer stays healthy all year and OPS's .925 in 160 games at 1B.

      Hitting problems significantly rectified.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      On topic, this is a lot better attempt at fixing the rotation than last year. Gotta be happy that they are trying to get better, rather than just trying to get by. I don't get the disdain for Gibson. He dominated AAA, and imo, they waited too long to bring him up and he wore out. He has more upside than most of their other options. Not sure why you'd not trot him out there this year. It's not like he is 22 years old.

      I'd prefer two FAs, KC, Gibson, Deduno be the starters, with Worley as a RP until someone is hurt/fails, with Meyer in AAA until the next guy is hurt/fails. My guess is that guy is Deduno or KC, frankly, but it could be Gibson. I don't care all that much if they lose Hendriks or Diamond at this point.
    1. wabene's Avatar
      wabene -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichiganTwins View Post
      The problem with signing more pitchers is Worley, Hendriks, Deduno, and Diamond are all out of options. By signing, another pitcher we are going to lose one after ST. So adding a pitcher is not really adding a pitcher.
      Forget about Hendo, I thought the whole point of the FA signings was we were done with aaaa talent. Keep Deduno (highest upside) and let Diamond and Worley pitch for their jobs in ST. Diamond is a low ceiling junk baller at best who cares? Worley had a little success in the NL, no proven success in the AL and low ceiling stuff. Who cares about either of these guys?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Trade for JJ Hardy and Matt Wieters, the Orioles are shopping them- and now they need a closer. They just gave away Jim Johnson for practically nothing. Sano moves into the starting lineup no later than June. Arcia OPS's at .800. Willingham has a bounceback year primarily DHing. Mauer stays healthy all year and OPS's .925 in 160 games at 1B.

      Hitting problems significantly rectified.
      If Willingham is the DH, who the heck if the LF and CF? ugly.

      But I do share the other parts of your optimism.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      If Willingham is the DH, who the heck if the LF and CF? ugly.

      But I do share the other parts of your optimism.
      TR is going to ride that Presley Pony until he proves once and for all his AAAA-ness, probably no later than the 1st of June. Hicks then gets the nod in CF. Arcia in LF/Willinham DH/Doumit & Parmelee in RF with Mastro and Hermann back-ups.... I agree.....it's patchwork ugly....but TR has himself in a corner with Doumit because of that ill-advised extension...probably untradeable at any price.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      I mentioned this in another thread, but to those that are completely writing off Worley have forgotten about his potential. He was coming off of an elbow surgery (not TJ) but he has recent ML success and is still young. If we are giving Gibson 2nd chances, why not Worley? Although Gibson is our homegrown talent, with a #2 upside, Worley has similar upside and is only a handful of months older. AND did I mention he has actually put successful seasons together at the MLB Level? Don't write this guy off yet!
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Isn't it "sign more GOOD pitchers" (or potentially good pitchers), not just sign more pitchers?

      When I think about last season, it looks to me like they tried to put together a starting rotation in much the same way that they have put together bullpens (often successfully). Just target enough and someone will come through.

      But starting pitching is clearly a little different and it seems that you need a certain level of talent to provide some leadership to the staff. Although Correia was a pleasant surprise, I don't think he commanded enough respect to really fill that leadership void -- I doubt that anyone thought of him as a #1, #2 or even #3 when he was signed. While I don't think Nolasco or Hughes are a #1 and may only show glimpses of being #2's at times, I do think they command a little more respect (and I definitely liked what we heard from Nolasco about his health and thinking of it as a 5-year contract -- it all sounded like what you would want from a leader). I hope that his attitude will carry over to the other pitchers on the team and make the entire staff better -- and please, let's get over the idea that 6 innings is a complete game.

      While it is a cliche, I do think that "good pitching begets good pitching" (we have only to look at the comments of pitchers who say they've learned from other pitchers on their staff). Conversely, I think mediocrity begets mediocrity and bad pitching.

      Hopefully Nolasco and Hughes will be good enough to stabilize the rotation. From Berardino's tweets, it looks to me like the Twins are still looking to add another pitcher. Maybe more of a flier. It really sounded like another free agent acquisition is more on TR's mind than a trade.
    1. gobirds's Avatar
      gobirds -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Trade for JJ Hardy and Matt Wieters, the Orioles are shopping them- and now they need a closer. They just gave away Jim Johnson for practically nothing. Sano moves into the starting lineup no later than June. Arcia OPS's at .800. Willingham has a bounceback year primarily DHing. Mauer stays healthy all year and OPS's .925 in 160 games at 1B.

      Hitting problems significantly rectified.
      Only problem with this is, the Orioles are asking for the moon for Hardy. They wanted Shelby Miller plus others from the Cardinals. They'd probably ask for Sano/Buxton and Meyer from the Twins. So really, I'd say they aren't really shopping Hardy. Wieters might be a different story, I think I read that they are reluctant to keep him due to salary demands going forward.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Why is anyone concerned with lossing Hendricks, Deduno or diamond? These guys are a dime a dozen. I don't get the man crush love deduno gets around here. He had a lucky year and has shoulder issues. Plus, he's proven over his long professional career to be a bad pitcher. One year won't change that for me, shoot, 2 years might not even.

      Pelfrey will have a better year than all 3. I'm not sure what type of deal he's looking for, but I wouldn't count him out yet.

      I agree that the twins need some bats. However, arcia will be better, sano will be up soon, florimon still posted a positive war, hicks can still hit as a rh batter, Rosario might still make it to the twins and buxton will start the year in aa. Lot of possible growth there. I'm most worried about hicks and if he can learn to switch hit. I really wish they would abandon it. He will lose millions in the long run if he never figures it out.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Wonderful read Nick. And what a realistic way of looking at the coming spring.

      As you stated, three of the in house group are out of options (Deduno, Diamond and Worley...I believe Hendiks has one more option). If they do sign Pelfrey or someone else, I expect one of these three will be dealt in advance to open a spot on the 40-man roster. If not, they will let them battle it out for two spots in spring then trade one if one isn't on the DL.

      But you hit it square on the head, they will have wonderful depth heading into spring training. And with Hendriks, Gibson, Meyer, May, Albers and Johnson all at Rochester, the Red Wings should have a legitimate chance to have a very good season. And I really like the prospects of having Gibson in Rochester ready to move up when a starter goes down.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.