Twins 2015 Minor League Starting Pitcher Of The Year- Jose Berrios
- Chih-Wei Hu, Fort Myers Miracle/Rochester Red Wings: 16 GS, 6-3, 2.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 90.2 IP, 81 H’s, 23 BB’s, 79 K’s.
- Sam Gibbons, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 15 GS, 7-4, 2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 90.1 IP, 84 H’s, 23 BB’s, 68 K’s.
- Aaron Slegers, Fort Myers Miracle, Chattanooga Lookouts: 25 GS, 9-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 156.0 IP, 143 H’s, 33 BB’s, 104 K’s.
- Ryan Eades, Fort Myers Miracle: 20 GS, 6-3, 3.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 118.2 IP, 109 H’s, 38 BB’s, 80 K’s.
Here are the top six vote-getters for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year.
#6 – Pat Dean, Rochester Red Wings: 27 GS, 12-11, 2.82 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 179.0 IP, 170 H’s, 36 BB’s, 98 K’s.
The left-hander drafted out of Boston College in the third round of the 2010 draft, was as steady as you could possibly be for the Rochester Red Wings in 2015. He did not miss a single turn in Rochester’s rotation and led all of the minor leagues in innings pitched on the year. His accomplishments also included leading all Twins farmhands with five complete games, including three of the shutout variety. He also did not wear down with the high workload that comes from leading the minors in innings pitched, as four of those complete games came in his last eight starts of the season. He failed to complete at least five innings in just two starts the entire season, and one of those included a game which was delayed by rain that he could not continue once play resumed. Of his twenty-seven starts, thirteen were of the quality start variety, and he went seven or more innings eleven times. It is quite an accomplishment to rack up twenty-three decisions in twenty-seven starts, and speaks to the consistency Dean displayed throughout the year. Dean appeared in April and August’s Starting Pitcher of the Month reports, and was honorable mention two other times.
#5 – Felix Jorge, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 23 G/22 GS, 6-7, 2.79 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 142.0 IP, 118 H’s, 32 BB’s, 114 K’s.
Jorge spent the entire season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and racked up quite the workload for a twenty-one-year-old starter in his first full year of exposure to a full-season league. In 2014, he spent some of his time with the Kernels, but needed to make some adjustments and was sent to the Appalachian League when their season started. It helped, as 2015 was a mammoth step forward for the right-hander. He ranked top ten in the Midwest League in ERA (7th), innings pitched (10th), and WHIP (3rd), and just outside the top ten in strikeouts (12th). He improved in all aspects of his game in the MWL as compared to 2014, and did not fail to finish at least five innings in any of his twenty-two starts on the year. In fact, he failed to go six innings in just two starts, and notched twenty quality starts in those twenty-two games. In his first game of the year, he struck out a season-high ten batters, and followed that up with a nine K effort his next time out. Jorge is poised to start 2016 in Fort Myers, and with a similar performance, will look to reach Chattanooga as a 22 year old. Jorge appeared in the Starting Pitcher of the Month rankings twice (May, June), and received honorable mention two other times.
#4 – Mat Batts, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 24 GS, 11-6, 2.61 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 141.1 IP, 127 H’s, 28 BB’s, 129 K’s.
Batts started his season in the Midwest League alongside Jorge, and laid waste to its hitters. The lefty posted a 2.21 ERA in seven starts, with forty-four K’s in 40.2 innings before being bumped up to the Florida State League. He continued his success there, posting a 2.77 ERA in seventeen starts and 100.2 more innings. He struck out eighty-five FSL hitters. His eleven wins on the season ranked fourth in the organization, behind only pitchers that make up this list, and also ranked third in strikeouts and fifth in ERA. Batts received honorable mention in three of the monthly awards rankings, and took home the Pitcher of the Month award in July, when he was 3-0 in five starts with a 1.15 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .179 batting average against, and 30 K’s compared to just 7 BB’s in 31.1 total innings.
#3 – Tyler Duffey, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings: 22 GS, 7-8, 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 138.0 IP, 119 H’s, 30 BB’s, 122 K’s.
Duffey has made quite an impression with Twins fans after his promotion to the major leagues and continues to do so in their push for the playoffs, but before that he was making quite an impression in Double- and Triple-A too. With the glut of pitching the Twins had to stash in AAA to start the season, Duffey found himself in Chattanooga to start the year despite making some appearances for the Red Wings in 2014. He didn’t stay there long. In eight starts, Duffey racked up 52.2 innings (6.5 innings/start) and struck out fifty-four hitters with a 2.56 ERA. In what would be his final start there, he struck out a season high twelve hitters to earn a promotion back to AAA. He made fourteen more starts with the Red Wings before he found himself in the majors pitching meaningful games with the Twins, which totaled 85.1 innings with a 5-6 record and 2.53 ERA. He struck out sixty-eight and walked just eighteen. With the Twins he has held his own after a rough introduction, and has struck out eight twice in six starts. Duffey reached as high as number two on the monthly award lists (June), and number five another time (July) with one honorable mention (May).
#2 – Stephen Gonsalves, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle: 24 GS, 13-3, 2.01 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 134.1 IP, 95 H’s, 53 BB’s, 132 K’s.
Even moreso than Jorge or Batts, Gonsalves was otherworldy to start the year in Cedar Rapids. He made just nine starts there before it was determined he needed to be in the Florida State League. He needed to be there because he was 6-1 in this nine games, with a 1.15 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, just twenty-nine hits and fifteen walks in 55.0 innings, while racking up an astronomical seventy-seven strikeouts. He struck out double-digit hitters in four of those games, including his last two, and did not record fewer strikeouts than innings pitched in any of his starts while Midwest League batters hit just .154 against him. They couldn’t get him to the Florida State League fast enough. While the strikeout numbers didn’t persist for the projectable lefty in the FSL, his overall success did. In fifteen starts with the Miracle, Gonsalves went 7-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 79.1 more innings. On the year as a whole, Gonsalves did not allow more than three earned runs in any of his twenty-four starts, and surrendered just four home runs the entire season despite being a fly-ball heavy pitcher (0.72 GO/AO ratio). Gonsalves took home the monthly award for April, and was number two for the month of May (though he might as well have won it then too, since it went to Tommy Milone, haha), and appeared at number six again in the month of July.
Starting Pitcher of the Year – Jose Berrios, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings: 27 GS, 14-5, 2.87 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 166.1 IP, 136 H’s, 38 BB’s, 175 K’s.
(picture of Berrios by Craig Gordon)
As if you didn’t already know?!
Jose Berrios came into the 2015 season with lofty expectations for himself. In spring training, he talked about how one of his goals was to break camp with the major league team. It didn’t matter to him that he was just twenty-years old and had made just one appearance above AA in 2014.
He certainly didn’t perform himself out of the chance, as he appeared in two games with the major league squad that totaled six innings of 0.00 ERA pitching. But the Twins had a plan for him, and it included getting stretched out for a full minor league season to fully developing their prized young pitcher, who had made quite an impression.
It’s hard to argue with the end results, even if you’re in the camp who believes he could be contributing in the majors for the Twins right now (I do! I do!).
Berrios returned to the ranks of AA, where he had spent a good portion of his 2014 season with the New Britain Rock Cats of the Eastern League, but with the Twins new affiliate in the Southern League, and the stacked roster of the Chattanooga Lookouts.
But he wasn’t about to be overlooked.
His first start of the season came on April 10th, and he allowed one earned run in 6.1 innings to pick up his first win. He struck out eleven on just eighty-nine pitches.
As the month turned to May, Berrios really started to find his footing in AA. He made six starts on the month, and went 4-1 with a 2.61 ERA. He totaled 41.1 innings, including a two-run, eight inning effort on May 8th that he followed up with a two-hit complete game shutout on May 13th.
He made his final start in double-A on June 28th, going seven innings to improve his record to 8-3, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out six.
In Rochester, Berrios experienced some early struggles, allowing five runs in each of his first two outings, but he learned quickly.
His next start was a seven-inning gem where he allowed just two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out nine. It was a springboard for the domination he would sustain over the season’s final two months.
From that start on July 18th on, Berrios made ten more starts with the Red Wings. He completed seven innings in six of those games, six in three others, and only failed to complete that number in his last start as he was shut down for the year with a well-above his career high 166.1 innings pitched.
In a two start stretch in August with General Manager Terry Ryan in attendance, Berrios allowed just one run on only eight hits and one walk, while striking out twenty-two in consecutive seven inning appearances. Ryan had to have his mind made up at that point, as you don’t see that type of dominance and come away unimpressed if auditioning for a major league call-up. It doesn’t get any better than that.
As a fitting end to his phenomenal year, Berrios finished the 2015 season by leading all of the minor leagues in strikeouts with 175. Though it might come a year later than he originally had hoped, Berrios is poised to make a strong contribution in the majors in 2015, and who knows, it could be as soon as April (or March?!) 2016 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Obviously, there were some fantastic starting pitcher performances from Twins minor leaguers throughout the system in 2015. Congrats to all the players on a fantastic season that was loads of fun to follow like every year, and get ready for 2016!
In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers:
- Seth Stohs – 1) Jose Berrios, 2) Stephen Gonsalves, 3) Mat Batts, 4) Tyler Duffey, 5) Felix Jorge, 6) Pat Dean
- Jeremy Nygaard – 1) Jose Berrios, 2) Stephen Gonsalves, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Felix Jorge, 5) Mat Batts, 6) Pat Dean
- Cody Christie – 1) Jose Berrios, 2) Stephen Gonsalves, 3) Felix Jorge, 4) Mat Batts, 5) Aaron Slegers, 6) Tyler Duffey
- Steve Lein – 1) Jose Berrios, 2) Stephen Gonsalves, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Mat Batts, 5) Pat Dean, 6) Felix Jorge
- Eric Pleiss – 1) Jose Berrios, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Stephen Gonsalves, 4) Mat Batts, 5) Felix Jorge, 6) Ryan Eades