Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Three minor league pitchers

The Twins did considerable roster shuffling throughout the organization this week. If you want the details, I'll refer you to LeVelle Neal and Seth Strohs.

I'm struck by three pitchers:

Kyle Gibson, last year's first round pick, pitched poorly in the season opener at High-A Fort Myers, then grabbed the Florida State League by the windpipe until it turned blue. He'll next pitch for Double-A New Britain.

Gibson's a fast tracker, and the Twins are a slow track organization. Mike Leake, also a first-round collegiate pitcher last summer, opened this season in the Cincinnati rotation; Stephen Strasberg, last year's version of the Greatest Pitching Prospect Ever, opened in Double A, has moved up to Triple A, and if such financial issues as arbitration eligibility weren't a factor would have been in the Washington rotation in April.

One difference, of course, is that Gibson works for a team without an obvious hole in the starting rotation. The Twins don't need to push him along. He'll get here soon enough.

Deolis Guerra (photo above) — the one original piece of the Johan Santana trade still in the system — is now in Triple A. His luster dimmed after he joined the Twins organization — he repeated High A in 2008 and pitched worse than in 2007, opened 2009 in High A again and escaped to Double A in midseason with marginal statisical improvement.

He's been quite effective in New Britain this spring, especially in the strike-throwing department (four walks in 29-plus innings). And he's still just 21 — barely.

Gibson's probably the better prospect, but Guerra (who's on the 40-man roster) might beat him to the majors. Again, however, there's no rush.

Shooter Hunt is the other pitcher I wanted to mention, even though he didn't get promoted.

Hunt was a supplemental-round pick in 2008, the 31st overall pick, out of Tulane. The word was great stuff and uncertain command — which made him unusual for the Twins, who love "pitchability" and strikes more than sheer stuff.

He signed fast and ripped through four starts in the Appy League — 19 innings, six walks, 34 strikeouts, 0.47 ERA — and up he went to Low-A Beloit.

Where "the Thing" grabbed him. It hasn't been pretty: 27 walks in 31.1 innings in Beloit (2008), 33 walks in 17.2 innings in Beloit (2009), 25 walks in 15 innings in High Rookie Fort Myers (2009).

It was more of the same in his first outing this year in High A Fort Myers — three walks and no outs. But since then, he seems to have found the plate again, having walked six in 18.2 innings, all in relief.

He is definitely not a guy they're going to push.

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