It’s finally here. The day you have been waiting for all Winter. The smell of green grass, the sound of baseballs popping into gloves, and the renewed hope of a fresh start to another Major League Baseball season. While there might not be a ton of hope for Minnesota Twins fans for the 2014 season, there is hope for the club just over the horizon. The Twins enter the season boasting arguably the number one farm system in baseball, which should make for a fun Spring camp. In this installment we will go over some of the names to pay attention to this Spring.
We will start with starting pitchers. I’m not going to talk about Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes because we all know all eyes will be on them after the Twins spent a historic amount of money in free agency to nab them. No, we are going to focus on pitchers that are already with the club and are battling for spots. While not all of these players will make the big club, they all have large opportunities this Spring for the Twins.
Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond, and Vance Worley
There are three things these players have in common. They all struggled in the 2013 season (Deduno mostly because of an injury), they all lost their jobs in the rotation last season, and all three will be battling for the 5th and final pitching staff. While Deduno posted a nice ERA of 3.83, he struggled with command which led to very high pitch counts early in his starts. You can make the argument that he is effectively wild but he needs to reign it in a bit before I can comfortably give him that title. He also was knocked out in the final month of the season due to shoulder soreness which led to off season surgery. If he is healthy, which he says he is, I believe he is the front runner for this spot.
Worley, you know, The Vanimal? The guy we traded Ben Revere for? Former ROY candidate who was banished to the minors only a couple months into the 2013 season after posting a 7.21 ERA? Well he’s back in camp and according to him he is ready to show everyone why the Twins wanted him. After hearing noise about his weight gain last year he has dropped 25 pounds this off season. He has also changed his off season throwing program, cutting back on the amount of throwing sessions, an effort to keep his arm fresh. The coaching staff will look to regain that power sinker that made him successful while he was with the Phillies.
Scott Diamond came into the 2013 with the expectations that he would duplicate his fantastic 2012 campaign in which he pitched to a 12-9 record and a 3.54 ERA. However, they were not met as he struggled with his command which is disastrous for a pitcher who tops out at 88-90 MPH. This season he looks to return to the dart throwing pitcher of 2012 we all thought would grow into a steady part of the rotation.
Kyle Gibson, Alex Meyer, and Trevor May
After a thrilling debut last season, in which Kyle Gibson showed Twins fans why he was the number one pitching prospect, he struggled with command which is expected with a rookie pitcher. He got the speed back on his fastball, which was around 94-95 MPH and is completely unheard of for a Twins starting pitcher. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Twins starter blow away an opposing batter with a fastball. He looks to build off the experience gained while he was with the big club last season. He has an outside chance at the 5th spot on the rotation if he shines in camp this Spring.
Alex Meyer, the Twins’ new top pitching prospect finished the year at AA New Britain and posted a cool 4-3 record and 3.21 ERA. The most impressive stat was his 10.8 K’s per 9 innings. He is also an intimidating presence on the mound. At 6’10 he is virtually releasing the ball at 55 feet instead of 60 from his monstrous wingspan alone. He will likely start the season in AAA but don’t be surprised when he joins the big club in September. My only worry for Meyer is if his arm can hold up to throwing in the high 90s for an extended amount of time.
Trevor May was another trade acquired arm the Twins got leading up the 2013 season. Not the power pitcher that Meyer is, but a more prototypical Twins style pitcher. Good command, no walks, and lets batters get themselves out. May has three nice pitches, a 92-93 MPH fastball with sink, a hammer of a curve, and an above average changeup. In 27 starts in AA last season he posted a 9-9 record with a 4.51 ERA. May will likley find himself in AAA to start the season with Meyer.
Over the next week, we will go over who to watch in the bullpen, and the position players this Spring. And because I’m so happy that Spring Training is here, I have a bonus picture for you!