Friday, January 24, 2014

Andrew Albers and pitching depth

Andrew Albers had a sensational first two
starts with the Twins last year.
Terry Ryan acknowledged during Thursday night's Diamond Awards that Andrew Albers, who was the Twins' minor league pitcher of the year, won't be in the organization much longer. The lefty has a deal to pitch in South Korea, and the Twins will accommodate him.

As I said the other day, it's a good deal for Albers, who will get more money for one year in Korea than he has in his entire pro career so far. While Ryan doesn't sound enthused about losing the 28-year-old, Albers obviously isn't prominent in Minnesota's pitching plans. They're not losing that much.

Still, pitching is always in shorter supply than we think in January. There aren't a lot of achy elbows and sore shoulders right now. A month from now, when spring training bullpen sessions are under way, there will be.

Half of Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects for the Twins are pitchers: Alex Meyer, Kohl Stewart, J.O. Berrios, Lewis Thorpe, Trevor May. It's easy to look at such a list and say, That will someday be the Twins' rotation, and maybe it will. But the odds are against it.

One can pick that list apart too. Meyer missed a good chuck of 2013. Stewart is just 18 and a Type One diabetic who barely pitched in rookie ball. Berrios is a short righty without a lot of projection who has yet to pitch above High A ball. Thorpe is even younger than Stewart. May repeated the Eastern League last year and led the league in walks allowed.

These are the most promising hurlers in what may be the most loaded minor league system in the game, but none is a sure thing. "There's no such thing as a pitching prospect" is more cynical than I care to accept, but there's truth behind it.

Which is why, even though Albers doesn't offer much upside, and even though the Twins appear to have plenty of alternatives both for the major league and Triple A rotations, there is reason for them to be reluctant to let him go.

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