Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Santana and Berrios

The Ervin Santana
era is about to begin.
Ervin Santana wrapped up his prep work Tuesday with his third and final start for Triple A Rochester -- eight shutout innings. In 20.2 Triple A innings on this "rehab" assignment, the suspended steroidian compiled a 1.74 ERA. Santana is to start Sunday at Kansas City.

We don't yet know how the Twins will make room for him in their rotation. The choices, broadly speaking:

  • Option out Trevor May or Tommy Milone (they are the only members of the current rotation who can be sent to the minors without waivers);
  • Trade away somebody;
  • Shift somebody, most likely Mike Pelfrey, to the bullpen; or
  • Go to a six-man rotation.

The latter two would require a different roster move, presumably involving one of the current relief pitchers.

The Twins aren't tipping their hand on which way they're going. Paul Molitor is clearly cool to the six-man rotation idea, but he hasn't ruled it out either.

Between 2014 and
2015, Jose Berrios
has made 23 starts
in Double A, going
11-7, 3.22 in
131.1 innings.
We do know what the Twins are doing to fill the rotation hole Santana leaves at Triple A Rochester: They're promoting Jose Berrios from Double A Chattanooga.

Berrios entered the season essentially neck-and-neck with Alex Meyer and Kohl Stewart in the organizational prospect rankings. His strong half season in the Southern League (3.08 ERA, 92 strikeouts in 90.2 innings) has established him as the top pitching prospect in the system.

Berrios is to pitch, for the second year in a row, for the World team in the Futures Game. There was an item about him in the current issue of Baseball America, in which Doug Mientkiewicz -- who managed Berrios in the first half last year at High A Fort Myers and again this summer in Chattanooga -- said that last year Berrios was tipping his changeup. The Florida State League hitters couldn't do much with it anyway, but the tell had its effect on Berrios' numbers in the second half, when he moved up to New Britain and even, for one start, Rochester.

This year, the tipoff is gone, according to Mientkiewicz via Baseball America. And Berrios' Double A strikeout rate has risen from 6.2 per nine innings last year to 9.1 this year.

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