• TD Top Prospects: #6 Jose Berrios

    We were introduced to Jose Berrios in a video of him celebrating with his friends and family after receiving the exquisite news that he was drafted by a professional baseball team. Arms in a “V”, high-fives, hugs and tears.

    For Minnesota Twins fans, the sequel is of him doing the same thing on the field following the last out of a World Series victory. That’s the dream anyway. There remains, of course, a long road from here to there.

    Still, Berrios has done much in his burgeoning career to inspire hope that he can be a part of any championship team in the coming years. After the draft, the supplemental first round pick dominated rookie ball in both the Appalachian and Gulf Coast Leagues in 2012, racking up 49 strikeouts and allowing just four walks in 30.2 innings. Baseball America said he was the team’s sixth best prospect in a system where new and elite talent was constantly being stocked.



    This past season Berrios, at the ripe age of 19, performed well in the tougher competitive challenge in the Midwest League. Mindful of his development, the Twins pulled back the reins to help insure he remains out of the infirmary, where so many of their lauded pitching prospects have gone. And, like most raw prospect talents, he also encountered some resistance as he discovered he could not always throw his speedball by you to make you look like a fool.

    Why He Might Struggle

    Berrios’ stature -- generously listed at six-foot-nothing -- may be his biggest perceived weakness. While that would be an inch and change above my current height, by major league pitching standards, that is considered downright diminutive. With a three-quarters delivery, there have been occasions when he has been unable to get the ball down in the zone and when that happens...boom.

    According to MinorLeagueCentral.com’s depository of stats, Berrios managed just a 40% ground ball rate - a figure toward the bottom of the Midwest League’s leaderboard. As a pitcher ascends in a system that rate typically decreases. It would be nicer to see that number at 50% or higher to go along with his strikeouts but that would take a complete revamping of his repertoire and mechanics. Basically, he is what he is: a strikeout pitcher with fly ball-leaning tendencies.

    The strikeouts, however, did not come in as many bunches this past season as they did his first year in the organization. He’s got a lively fastball, a decent curve with a 1-to-7 break and a good changeup with plenty of arm-side run. During his amatuer days, Perfect Game noted that Berrios had flashed a cutter to go along with his other three pitches. His problem, he acknowledged this summer, is that he tries to throw the fastball past everyone rather than mix in the assortment.

    Why He Will Succeed

    OK, so he won’t win any...umm...height contests but wowzers, that’s an impressive wing span on the young man. What is striking about Berrios is how polished his mechanics are for his age and how well he hides the ball from hitters in his windup. With three above-average pitches, it is easy to see why he can miss bats; just a little tinkering with his pitch deployment strategy could make for a very lethal pitcher.

    Beyond that, much has been made of Berrios’ work ethic. Gary Lucas, his pitching coach with Cedar Rapids last year, raved about his advanced make-up for someone as young as he is. He told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs recently that he places a great deal of emphasis on his training. There is no reason to think that Berrios won’t do everything in his power to take his God-given talent to the next level.

    What’s Next?

    Berrios is a long way from being in the Twins’ roster anytime in the near future. Realistically he may be best suited to be a late-innings reliever, someone who doesn’t have to churn through 100 bullets a night and who can stomp his cleats on hitters’ throats with his two best pitches. That said, there is no reason to write him off as a potential starter. Some refinement in his approach and filling out as he matures could propel him into a rotation spot. Either way, Berrios has some electric stuff that -- barring catastrophic injuries -- will eventually be on display at the major league level.
    This article was originally published in blog: TD Top Prospects: #6 Jose Berrios started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Love this kid. Would he top any organizational prospect lists?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      he also encountered some resistance as he discovered he could not always throw his speedball by you to make you look like a fool.


      Ahahahahahahahahah.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Ahahahahahahahahah.[/FONT][/COLOR]
      I saw him the other day. I was walkin' in, he was walkin' out.

      Nice.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Wondering if his stature and delivery make him a reliever long term. Guys who rely on hiding the ball and 3/4 deliveries tend to have better success as relievers. Once the opposition starts picking up the ball out of the hand, it gets tougher for guys like Berrios. If he can come in for a couple of innings at a time, they never get used to his release point. The exceptions are guys who have a good sinker, like Masterson, which Berrios does not, judging by his GB rates.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I may be wrong (again), but I don't think 6' 0" is much of a "generous" measurement. I'm just a bit over that, myself, and when I would talk to him last summer, I don't ever recall feeling like I was looking down. Our eyes were pretty much the same level. Not an exact way of measuring height, I grant you.

      Ironically, the one thing about Berrios that bothered me a little is also one of the reasons I think he could eventually really get better.

      There were times, when errors were made behind him or he gave up a couple extra-base hits in an inning, that he lost his composure a bit on the mound. In other words, he acted like a lot of 19-year-olds would. Often, that's when he'd just try to "throw that speedball by you" and the results weren't typically good for Berrios or the Kernels.

      As the summer went along, that happened less frequently. I think, as he matures, he'll keep his composure and make smarter pitches in those situations. That can do nothing but help his numbers.

      I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of season Berrios can put together this summer.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      I may be wrong (again), but I don't think 6' 0" is much of a "generous" measurement.
      Right, he very well could be six-even but I'm always skeptical of media guide height measurements.

      How do I know you are not lying about your height??
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      Right, he very well could be six-even but I'm always skeptical of media guide height measurements.

      How do I know you are not lying about your height??
      Both good points.

      It wouldn't be the first time my height was exaggerated. The game program for the JuCo basketball team I was a member of once listed me at 6' 11".
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by AM. View Post
      Love this kid. Would he top any organizational prospect lists?
      He might possibly be regarded as the White Sox' best prospect and would rank as the best pitching prospect were he in either Detroit's or Cleveland's system I think.
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      How tall was Johan Santana?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Ahahahahahahahahah.
      I know this was a Boss reference, but your reaction is more Barney:

    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      "I know this was a Boss reference, but your reaction is more Barney" Great theme song for Seth and the other Twins optimists (includes me). I really hope you have young kids.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      "It wouldn't be the first time my height was exaggerated. The game program for the JuCo basketball team I was a member of once listed me at 6' 11". " Did you have an afro? (Sorry, just figured since we are already referencing 80's culture I would throw a Fletch in there.)
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      "It wouldn't be the first time my height was exaggerated. The game program for the JuCo basketball team I was a member of once listed me at 6' 11". " Did you have an afro? (Sorry, just figured since we are already referencing 80's culture I would throw a Fletch in there.)
      No. Actually my afro showed up about 3 months later. (I wish I was kidding. Mine didn't look as good as Fletch's.)
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      "I know this was a Boss reference, but your reaction is more Barney" Great theme song for Seth and the other Twins optimists (includes me). I really hope you have young kids.
      I hope the Glory Days referrence isn't any indicator of Barrios success, because it seems to me the implication of the song is that the guy never made it and his best days were behind him.

      Long Live the Boss!
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack View Post
      How tall was Johan Santana?
      Santana was 6' but he was left handed and had a 70+ grade change up. Neither of those things Berrios has.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I talked to Berrios for about a minute at Twins Fest. I'm not 6-0, and he's not much taller than me... The general scouting belief is that because of his height and his skinniness, he may end up in the bullpen due to durability, but you never know. He's very young, but he's certainly intriguing.
    1. Madre Dos's Avatar
      Madre Dos -
      I have never had any ball player live with me that has any better work ethic than Jose. The first to bed every night following the Elizabethton Twins ballgames and up eating Fruit Loops before I left for work every morning. He is bright, happy and has a very easy going personality. Loves his cookies and cream ice cream - but shrimp make him go "POOF"! Can't wait to see him next month in Fort Myers.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Quote Originally Posted by Madre Dos View Post
      I have never had any ball player live with me that has any better work ethic than Jose. The first to bed every night following the Elizabethton Twins ballgames and up eating Fruit Loops before I left for work every morning. He is bright, happy and has a very easy going personality. Loves his cookies and cream ice cream - but shrimp make him go "POOF"! Can't wait to see him next month in Fort Myers.
      I love when Madre Dos drops comments like this! It's a great reminder that these players are real people. It makes following prospects that much better. Don't feed Jose Berrios shrimp. That advice may never come in handy for me, but I'm taking note anyway
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      He might possibly be regarded as the White Sox' best prospect

      and would rank as the best pitching prospect were he in either Detroit's or Cleveland's system I think.

      Jose Abreu, Eric Johnson and Micah Johnson cast dissenting votes from the WhiteSox.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      I am a noted Berrios hater. Or maybe that's too strong a word, but I'm not very excited about Berrios. Maybe its prospect fatigue. Maybe I see too many other arms in the system that I think are better, that have more MLB potential. J.O. Berrios just doesn't do it for me. I hope I'm wrong, I hope he can become a successful part of future Twins teams, I just don't buy it.
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