2012 has been a rough year for the Minnesota Twins starting rotation. Ineffectiveness and injuries have led to the worst ERA in the American League and with Nick Blackburn pitching every five games that’s likely not going to change.
With the trade deadline nearing and the likelihood that the Twins will swap major leaguers for prospects, it’s time to take a look at what the Twins have in their farm system.
Most of these pitchers will not be ready for 2012 or even 2013 but all have ceilings that place them into the starting rotation in the future. I did not include any draft picks from the 2012 class and anyone who has seen Major League action already for the sake of shining the light on a few new prospects.
Current Team: New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
Drafted: 2008, 6th Round (186th pick)
Hermsen fits the typical (or at least what used to be typical) mold of a Twins pitching prospect. He lacks high end velocity (tops out around 87-89 mph) but his ability to throw strikes and hit his spots consistently masks that lack of power.
He has been one of the more pleasant surprises in the minor league system in 2012, making the jump from Fort Myers (+A) to New Britain without missing a beat. His ERA sits at an impressive 2.65 through ten starts but what is more remarkable is that his K/BB ratio sits at 4.71. His success solely relies on his command and so far his command has been spectacular in 2012.
As of right now he projects to be a #4 or 5 starter or a long reliever in the majors. He has a nice repertoire of pitches (two and four-seam fastball, changeup, curve and a newly added cutter) that could elevate his stock when it comes to breaking into the Twins rotation and his ability to command all of those pitches will also help as well. The big test for Hermsen will come when he gets promoted to the Red Wings and is tested against better bats than what he is currently seeing.
Current Team: Fort Myers Miracle (+A)
Drafted: 2011, 2nd Round (87th pick)
Boer was drafted out of the University of Oregon and was projected to be fast tracked towards the major league after cruising through Elizabethton and Beloit. Things haven’t been as easy in Fort Myers where Boer has struggled mightily.
Although his 8.41 ERA is shocking it doesn’t even compare to his atrocious walk rate of 4.43 per 9 innings. Batters are hitting a staggering .359 off of him so far and even his strikeout rate has dipped to 4.65 per 9 innings.
Even with his poor 2012 season he has the potential to be a solid starter or a very effective relief pitcher. His fastball sits around 90-93 mph and has even touched 96 which shows that he has the ability to elevate his velocity even more if given the opportunity. Along with his slider he throws a plus slider that he uses as his out pitch and can throw a splitter as well.
It’s still unknown whether Boer can become a starter or fall into the relief role but no matter what he needs to learn how to control his pitches before he is ready to continue his trek towards the major leagues.
Current Team: Elizabethton Twins (Rookie)
Drafted: 2011, 1st round (55th pick)
When the Twins selected Boyd they were going against everything that they believed at the time. Instead of being a commanding college pitcher as was the usual selection, he was a power pitching high school with plenty of upside.
His fastball has reached 97 mph but usually sits around 92-94 and is accompanied by a swooping curveball that scouts rate as a plus pitch. His repertoire is small (fastball, curve and changeup) but given his age there is plenty of chance for expansion in the near future.
2012 is his first professional season after missing out on the 2011 so as of right now there isn’t much to grade Boyd on rather than what his raw skills project him to be. Those skills project him to be an innings eater who could become a power pitcher if given the chance to do so. If there was a dark horse for the ace of the future this would be the guy to bet on.
Current Team: Fort Myers Miracle (+A)
Drafted: NA (signed Nov. 27, 2007)
Salcedo, like Hermsen, is a control style pitcher that the Twins coveted once upon a time. Every pitch that he throws, from his fastball to his breaking ball to his changeup, is thrown for strikes. His strikeout rate will never impress because of this but his ability to limit walks negates that aspect of his pitching.
So far his 2012 campaign has been very shaky. The control that I spoke of has been absent and his effectiveness has taken a hit because of it. His walk rate is an astounding 6.04 per nine innings which has bloated his ERA to 5.64 through 7 starts.
How far Salcedo progresses through the organization will be directly affected by whether his command returns to normal. If it does return then he should go back to his old self that was considered one of the top pitching prospects in the entire organization.
Current Team: Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Drafted: 2009, 1st round (22nd pick)
Gibson was well on his way to the Twins starting rotation before he was sidelined with the dreaded UCL tear in 2011. Right now he is currently rehabbing and should be ready to go for the start of the 2013 season.
The biggest strength in Gibson’s game is his ability to induce groundballs. He keeps his pitches down in the strike zone and has excellent control of his fastball that sits in the 87-93 mph range. Both his slider and changeup are considered to be above average pitches which give him a very nice arsenal to bring to the mound.
Whether he is able to return to his original form after Tommy John surgery is a big question but with advancements in the surgery it’s more than likely he will be back to normal very soon after his return. If that’s the case Gibson can be a very solid #2 starter for the Twins in the upcoming seasons.