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Rookie Review: Ryan Pressly

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On Opening Day, I had the opportunity to talk to a very excited Ryan Pressly. The right-hander was the Minnesota Twins Rule 5 pick last December and had a strong spring training. Understandably, Pressly was very much excited. During the Twins final weekend, I had the chance to catch up with Pressly and see how he felt about his season.
“I’m happy with it. Obviously there’s a couple of games I’d like to take back. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished this season.”

15 players were selected by 13 teams in last year’s Rule 5 draft (with Houston and Florida making two selections). Ten of those players were returned to their old team. One player, 30-year-old Angel Sanchez remained with the White Sox and played the season in the minor leagues. He went 0-2 with the big league club.

Nate Freiman was selected by the Astros with their second pick. The 1B/DH was then selected off waivers by the A’s and played in 80 games for Oakland. He hit .274/.327/.389 with eight doubles, four homers and 24 RBI in 190 at bats.

Pressly was taken with the fourth pick behind Josh Fields (Astros), Hector Rondon (Cubs) and Danny Rosenbaum (who was returned to the Nationals). Here are how his numbers compared to those two two picks:

Name Age Games IP W-L ERA WHIP BB/9 K/9
Josh Fields (HOU) 28 41 38.0 1-3 4.97 1.29 4.3 9.5
Hector Rondon (CHC) 28 45 54.2 2-1 4.77 1.41 4.1 7.2
Ryan Pressly (MIN) 24 49 76.2 3-3 3.87 1.28 3.2 5.8

Asked when he felt he belonged, Pressly said, “It was a little of everything. It was the situations I was put in. My stuff plays up here, and that’s what I was concerned about. It was a little bit of pitching to (the catchers) and the meetings we have and what was going to work that day and how I felt that day, so it was a little bit of everything.”

His “stuff” was led by an average fastball of 93.6 mph. He threw his fastball 61.4% of the time. He also showed a very good slider that he threw at an average of 86.2 mph. He threw that 14.2% of the time. He threw his slower curve ball 18.2% of the time, and it averaged 80.8 mph. He also threw a changeup just 5.6% of the time. It was 87.6 mph, so ideally he would find a way to reduce that by about 5 mph.

What worked for Pressly? “I went out there and just attacked hitters. That’s all I tried to do was to get people out. If the starters were in trouble and left guys on, it was my job to come in and bail them out. That’s really what I tried to do.”

The answer to what the highlight of his rookie campaign came pretty easily to him. “My first win in Boston. I mean, obviously my debut, but to get my first win in Boston against my old team, that’s pretty special to me. ”

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On May 8th at Fenway, the Twins scored four runs in the top of the first only to see the Red Sox score five in the bottom of the inning off of Pedro Hernandez. The Twins then scored seven runs in the top of the first to take an 11-5 lead. Hernandez gave up another run in the bottom of the second frame. So, Pressly came in for the third inning and went a season-high four innings to gain the win. He gave up no runs on just two hits in that time.

That was his role in 2013, and he did well in it. Six other times he worked at least three innings, gaining valuable experience that will carry him into the offseason and hopefully to a bright future with the Twins.

Consider this. In an August game in Kansas City, he gave up seven earned runs in 1.1 innings. Without that appearance, his rookie season ERA would have been under 3.10. I know, you can probably do that for every reliever in baseball. Every one of them has clunkers, but what it shows is that, despite spending about a half-season in AA and no time in AAA, Pressly showed he can succeed in the big leagues. That, in my mind, is a tremendous positive that Twins fans can gain from the 2013 season.

Will Pressly be given another chance to start? It is certainly possible. It will be interesting to see what 2014 holds for Ryan Pressly.
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