There was one 2013 Target Field game that felt like an event. It was June 29th
, the opponent was the Royals and the Minnesota Twins starting pitcher was Kyle Gibson.
The promotion of Gibson
was anticipated for months, which is what led to it being such a big story. Objectively, he was far from the best prospect in the organization, and ranked just 68th
overall in the minor leagues by Baseball America
. Furthermore, he was battling his way back from Tommy John surgery, and approaching a predetermined innings limit by the time he made his major league debut.
But we had waited for this one; oh, how we had waited. A week before, we howled whe Pedro Hernandez was promoted over Gibson. Before that, Sam Deduno had taken precedence. Going into spring training, people wondered if Gibson might make the opening day roster. In 2012, before his elbow injury, we wondered how few starts in AAA he might make. Heck, go back to 2009, when the 1st
round pick signed literally at the deadline.
As the lone pitching prospect making his way through the high minors, Gibson received an undue amount of mindshare. For as long as the Twins have needed starting pitching, their fans have had basically one prospect from whom they could anticipate some help: Kyle Gibson. No wonder his promotion was announced a week early.
His first start, which also happened to fall on a beautiful Saturday, was electric. He didn’t disappoint
, recording a quality start with six innings, two earned runs and five strikeouts. He also got his first “Win” as his teammates jumped on Kansas City early, scoring five runs in the first inning on their way to a 6-2 victory. It felt like a long anticipated jump start to a bright future.
But the rest of the year was considerably less hair-raising, and Gibson’s bright future is now less clear. In his next start he was knocked around for eight runs. His ERA never fell below 6 after that and he never pitched more than six innings in a start. He was shut down for the year after throwing 152.2 innings between AAA and the majors.
Next year, he will likely begin the year back in the minors. He’ll be battling for the final rotation spot against three pitchers who have had more major league success than him – Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond and Vance Worley. He will be further hampered by a roster status that allows the Twins to safely stow him in Rochester.
But Gibson’s promotion and initial success was a hopeful distraction in a gloomy season. That hopeful promise should yet provide some similar relief to tired Twins' fans in the future.