The Future Arrived (But Only for One Day)
by, 07-14-2014 at 04:57 PM (199 Views)
It's always exciting - at least for me - to get to see guys play well before they are major leaguers. Whether it's watching Brian Dozier play for the Beloit Snappers or sit in the Metrodome during a blizzard watching a Tom Windle/Sean Manaea match-up, I enjoy it. I'm no scout, but trying to project how these guys will be against the greatest baseball players in the world is an exercise I enjoy doing.
Yesterday, then, would classify as a highlight of my baseball-watching experience. No major leaguers, yet a lot of future All-Stars present.
Seth and I were able to catch the U.S. team take batting practice. Baseball-wide, there are a lot of impressive bats that about to join the Show. But I'm going to keep this entry focused on the three Twins who participated: Jose Berrios, Kennys Vargas and Alex Meyer.
Berrios got the start for the World Team and pitched only the first inning. Baseball America's Josh Norris had him clocked as high as 98 (though I only saw him clocked at 94, 95). He was able to get four swings-and-misses (three on four-seamers, one on a 86 mph change-up) in 12 pitches. Ironically, those four swings-and-misses were the most a Twins starter has had in a single inning at Target Field all year. (I don't know if that is really true. I hope it isn't... but it certainly sounds like it should be.) Berrios has become a near-consensus Top-30 prospect in all of baseball, but there are still questions. ESPN's Keith Law sees less in him. Literally. He questions his ability to get downward plain and didn't like his curveball on Sunday.
Berrios said after the game that his goal is to make it to Target Field by September. While lofty, it's not impossible... it's not probable either. He threw 103 2/3 regular season innings last year. He's at 101 1/3 already this year. So expect the organization to ramp down his innings as he continues to get accustomed to AA life. Not MLB life. At least not in 2014.
Vargas started at first base and batted cleanup. He struck out in his first and third at-bats. His initial at-bat came right-handed with the next three all coming from the left side of the plate. Vargas's second at-bat was pulled down the right-field line for a double... barely. A good throw would have gotten him out, but the off-line throw allowed him to slide in safely. His final at-bat was a routine groundball to the second baseman. Vargas hit some long home runs during batting practice (before it was open to the public), but game situations continue to expose his long swing that doesn't cover the whole plate. But we he connects, he certainly puts a charge into it.
Considering that Vargas is on the 40-man, he could get a September call-up. Long-term, though, there are a lot of questions. Defensively, he's a designated hitter even though he approached the Twins about playing some outfield (and they told him to lose weight). Vargas still doesn't make my Twins Top 10, but his production in AA has him trending the right way.
Meyer was credited with having the best fastball by Baseball America. And that's all he threw. Four four-seam fastballs.
97, 97, 98, 97.
Of course, three of those pitches were put into play. (Cue the pitch-to-contact jokes now.) All three were struck pretty solid, but it's a pretty small sample size.
There's an outside chance that Meyer joins the Twins yet this year, though there is a better chance that we see the Twins start to limit his innings.
But of course, it's only just begun. Tonight we'll get to see Brian Dozier in the Home Run Derby. Tomorrow, Glen Perkins and Kurt Suzuki represent the Twins in the All-Star Game.