Friday, August 22, 2014

Minors details

The minor league season is winding down, and for several of the Twins top prospects, that's probably a good thing.

We already know that Byron Buxton won't return to action this month after his frightening outfield collision and concussion. The hope is that he'll pass the concussion protocol to play in the Arizona Fall League.

J.O. Berrios and Kohl Stewart, two of the organization's top three starting prospects (the third being Alex Meyer), each missed time at the end of July with shoulder somethings. Yeah, I'm vague. So were the public reports on their issues. Each has returned to action, but not with complete success.

Stewart was pulled from a start Tuesday in the second inning with his velocity, which normally tops out in the mid-90s, lagging in the 88-90 mph range. The Twins called his early departure from that game precautionary, and have said that their exams last month found no structural damage in the shoulder. But ...

For his part, general manager Terry Ryan sounds relatively unconcerned about Tuesday's brief outing and suggested Wednesday that he expected Stewart to start again. (Cedar Rapids is closing in on a playoff berth, something that seemed highly unlikely when I visited CR in early July, so there's a good chance the Kernels will have plenty of opportunities to pitch Stewart.)

Stewart is not yet 20, and he has 87 innings under his belt this season. That doesn't appear to be a particularly heavy workload, but fatigue may still be a factor.

Berrios spent last season at Cedar Rapids, also at age 19. He pitched 103 innings for the Kernels and did not appear in their postseason. So even if Stewart is done for the season, he's only 16 innings behind Berrios' workload at the same level.

This year Berrios was dominant at high A Fort Myers but less so in seven starts (so far) at New Britain. He started Thursday with mediocre results:

Berrios is now at 131 innings for the year, and has had to make a midseason transition from the six-man rotation the Twins employ on their A-ball teams to the five-man rotation at Double A. I suspect, however, that between off days and the late July shoulder scare that he's made few if any starts on four days rest.

Regardless, Ryan has already declared Berrios off limits for the Arizona Fall League. It's less clear if the Twins will let him pitch winter ball in his native Puerto Rico.

Assuming that there are indeed no true injury issues with these two guys, an offseason of rest sounds like a good idea.

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