TD Midseason Top Prospects: #3 Jose Berrios
Image courtesy of Tommy GIlligan, USA TodayAge: 21
2015 Stats (AA): 90.1 IP, 8-3, 3.08 ERA, 92-to-24 K/BB, 1.11 WHIP
2015 Preseason Ranking: 3
What's To Like
By now, most Twins fans are familiar with the merits of Berrios. He has pitched extremely well at every level since being drafted 32nd overall as a Puerto Rican high schooler in 2012, and has advanced quickly enough that he already has 23 starts at Double-A under his belt at age 21.
Even though it's been nearly a full year since he was first promoted to Double-A, Berrios remains the second-youngest qualified pitcher in the Southern League, where he has excelled. One of the biggest question marks attached to the 6-foot-nothing right-hander was whether his lack of height (and thus, downward plane) might lead to hitters lifting the ball over the fence at the higher levels, but Berrios continues to minimize that concern by keeping it in the yard. He has allowed only six home runs in 15 starts for Chattanooga this year, and in total has yielded eight homers over 134 innings since moving up from Single-A.
Just about everything in the young righty's game has been positive. He's missing bats, limiting walks, and holding his own even on days where he doesn't have his best stuff – just once in 15 starts for the Lookouts has he given up more than three earned runs.
There was a general sentiment in spring training that Berrios had the most impressive stuff of any pitcher in camp. As usual, that has played out in his results this season. He has been one of the best starters in the Southern League and could probably get it done in the majors right now if a need arose.
That's saying something, since as of now he'd be the youngest pitcher to make a start in the big leagues this year (Houston's Lance McCullers, who is six months older, currently holds that distinction).
What's Left To Work On
At this moment, not much. He hasn't been untouchable every time out and could possibly stand to show a little more consistency, but there isn't really a single thing in Berrios' performance that you can point to as a clear weakness, and that's what makes him the bona fide top pitching prospect in the organization.
Under different circumstances, Berrios might be in line to debut sometime this summer, but with the present logjam in the major-league rotation, it's unclear when an opportunity will arise. The return of Ervin Santana next weekend will oust a quality starter, and Tyler Duffey is also pitching very well above Berrios in Triple-A.
The Twins don't benefit a whole lot from letting their young stud cut directly to the front of the line unless they're convinced that he can absolutely blow away MLB hitters right now.
Given that he has put in nearly a full season's worth of work at Double-A, the Twins might opt to promote Berrios to Rochester so he can be tested at one more level before reaching The Show. That would probably happen sometime within the next couple weeks – perhaps immediately after he makes his second straight appearance in the Futures Game.
Unless things go awry in the Minnesota's starting corps, or the Twins trade a starter or two, Berrios will have a tough time cracking the rotation this year. If he keeps pitching as he has though – and especially if he keeps it going after moving up another level – he would be a candidate to make some bullpen appearances as a September call-up. He certainly will have done plenty to earn it.
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