Friday, March 15, 2013

The WBC and the Twins roster

Sam Deduno celebrates getting out of a first-inning jam
Thursday against Team USA. He did walk in a run in that frame,
but that was all he gave up in four innings.

Sam Deduno is having a whale of a World Baseball Classic: Two starts for the undefeated Dominican Republic, eight innings, 12 strikeouts, two walks and just one run allowed.

It was easy to discount the first outing, since that came against Spain. But Thursday night he gave Team USA fits, and that is a much more imposing lineup.

I don't know that his WBC exploits are helping him win one of the spots in the Twins rotation, however. As I said here after his Spain game, he's a non-roster guy who slotted in no higher than eighth on the Twins starting pitching depth chart entering camp.

Even with Kyle Gibson demoted (more on that later) and Scott Diamond possibly headed to the disabled list for the season's start, Deduno still ranks behind Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley (three sure pieces of the rotation given continued health) and Cole De Vries and Liam Hendriks, who have both been better in exhibition games than the first three.

It's also worth noting that the same pitch-count issues that made Deduno a master of the short start in his major league stint showed against Team USA. He threw 80 pitches in four innings — 20 pitches an inning. That's a problem. Nobody, including the Twins, should be eager to turn over a rotation spot to a guy who struggles to go six innings.

Personally, I'd much rather give the opportunity to Deduno than Correia, but the Twins have invested $10 million in the latter.


Kyle Gibson was
optioned out on
Gibson's not involved in the WBC, but since I mentioned his demotion, a quick word on the topic:

I'm not surprised Gibson didn't make the roster, and it has nothing to do with holding back his service time. He's struggled with his command this spring, which is not unusual for Tommy John patients. Velocity and movement come back first; location often lags.

He's still a vital piece of the puzzle. He's just not going to be put into place next month.


This may fall into the category of reading too much into developments, but ...

The Twins have signed Curt Smith, the first baseman for the Dutch team, to a minor league contract. Smith is a 26-year-old right-hander from Curacao — much of the Dutch squad is from the Caribbean — who spent three seasons in the Cardinals system, one in independent ball and one in the Marlins system. He's had a couple years in Double-A.

Not a real hot prospect, but he's had a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic.

So has Chris Colabello, another right-handed hitting first baseman with an indy league background. Colabello led Team Italy in homers (2), RBI (7), and total bases (12) while hitting .333 in Italy's five games.

Colabello is a dark-horse candidate for the major-league roster as the Twins consider carrying a pinch-hitter on their bench. Signing Smith adds some first-base depth to the upper levels of the system and makes it a bit easier to promote Colabello.

Easier, but hardly certain.

1 comment: