Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wimmers, Radke and the Twins philosophy

Alex Wimmers it is.

From the Baseball America scouting report on the Twins' first round pick (subscription only):

...Few pitchers in this draft can match the depth of his repertoire. He has the best changeup in the 2010 draft crop, and one area scout said it's the best he has ever seen from an amateur. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94, and he could add a little more velocity if he builds arm strength by using it more in pro ball. His third pitch is a curveball that he easily throws for strikes. He's an athletic, 6-foot-2, 195-pounder who holds the record for career batting average (.457) at Cincinnati's storied Moeller High--the alma mater of Buddy Bell, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.

Brad Radke is the quick comp for Wimmers, and that seems almost too easy. Really, Radke is the mold for the organization's starters, at least the right-handers; at one point or another, I've cited Radke as the comp for Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn as they made their way to the Minnesota rotation, and Carl Pavano is probably more Radke-like than any of the other three.

Radke is the personification of the strengths and limitations of the Twins pitching philosophy: Throw strikes, change speeds, keep it simple. I linked this spring to a New York Times piece in which career backup catcher Chad Moeller talked about what he's learned from handling various pitchers, and this is him on Radke:

Wouldn’t walk anybody, never had a concern that he was going to. Didn’t try to throw balls by guys, and he just caught on at an earlier age than most guys do about what pitching actually is. Everything went away from the plate. Guys have watched Greg Maddux; they all want their ball to look like it’s going at them and come this way, over the plate. He just wanted to have everything going away from the middle of the plate. I’d say, ‘Brad, what do you want to do today?’ He’d say: “Get outs. Just put it down, I’ll throw it.” That was it. I was a rookie. All right, let’s go.

I mentioned a few days ago a Jerry Crasnick piece in Baseball America about the Twins pitching approach, and he has Rick Anderson hitting the same point:

Twins pitchers focus on on keeping the ball low and down the middle, with the understanding that natural movement and variations in deliveries will carry it away from the heart of the plate.

Crasnick goes on to suggest that the lack of true power arms works against the Twins in October. If that's a concern for the organization, it's a chance they're willing to take.


  1. Ed, I know you earlier expressed displeasure at Valencia overrunning a foul-ball. Any further reactions? One problem with "watching" the games by real-time internet applications is that I get nothing but the facts. I'm curious if he is showing enough that he might stick on the roster, maybe replacing Harris and platooning with Punto at third.

  2. Well, he got his first out-of-the-infield hit today.

    He's sticking for a while, with Hudson now on the DL and Hardy resting his wrist, but I expect that if Hardy stays off the DL and Hudson returns that Valencia will return to Triple A.

    He isn't kicking the door in, and whether the two-year deal with Harris was wise or not, the Twins do have that commitment made. They can't option Harris out, so he'd have to be DFA'd, and I don't think they're at that point yet. Nor should they be.

  3. Ah, forgot that Harris can't be optioned. Damn shame, that.