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Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of July 2014

Yesterday, we looked at the top relief pitchers for the month of July. There were a lot of great bullpen performances and many honorable mentions as well. It’s much of the same today as we look at the Minnesota Twins top starting pitchers in July.

This list is a mix of top prospects and pitchers who deserve much more recognition.
Image courtesy of Steve Buhr
[size=4]Honorable Mention[/size]

• RHP – JO Berrios – Ft. Myers/New Britain – 5 GS, 2-3, 3.51 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 25.2 IP, 20 H, 7 BB, 17 K (.220/.290/.319)
• RHP – Alex Meyer – Rochester – 5 GS, 2-0, 1.55 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 29.0 IP, 17 H, 17 BB, 34 K (.175/.298/.227)
• LHP – Sean Gilmartin – Rochester – 6 GS, 1-2, 3.89 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 37.0 IP, 33 H, 12 BB, 31 K (.244/.311/.356)
• RHP – Felix Jorge – Elizabethton – 5 GS, 2-1, 2.63 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 27.1 IP, 27 H, 8 BB, 27 K (.255/.319/.321)
• LHP – Brandon Easton – GCL Twins – 5 GS, 1-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 22.0 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 15 K (.235/.292/.370)

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Number 5 – GCL Twins – RHP Alexis Tapia – 6 G, 4 GS, 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 25.0 IP, 17 H, 4 BB, 20 K

The Twins signed Tapia out of Venezuela in September of 2012. Less than two years later, he made his debut in the States and doing a very good job in the GCL. Last year in the DSL, he went 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 games (seven starts). In 42.1 innings, he gave up 32 hits, walked five and struck out 31. He has continued that with the GCL Twins, giving up less than a hit per inning, minimizing walks and getting decent strikeout numbers. In July, opponents hit .193/.240/.284 (.524) against him.

Number 4 – GCL/Elizabethton – LHP Mat Batts – 5 G, 4 GS, 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 25.0 IP, 15 H, 4 BB, 27 K

The Twins used their 17th round pick this year on this four-year college senior out of UNC-Wilmington. He is also a former intern at Baseball America. However, it is what he has done on the mound since being drafted that has the 23-year-old on this list. He made just three appearances in the GCL before there was a need at Elizabethton. He then made four starts at Elizabethton. At the end of July, he was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he had a very good first start. In July, opponents hit just .179/.225/.286 (.510). He is not a hard-thrower, but he is a pitcher. He’s got the “Twins Pitcher” profile: throws strikes, mixes pitches, knows how to pitch.

Number 3 - Cedar Rapids – RHP Aaron Slegers - 6 GS, 2-2, 1.96 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 36.2 IP, 28 H, 5 BB, 31 K

At 6-10, Aaron Slegers has the ability to stand out in a crowd. After a strong start in Cedar Rapids this year, he struggled for a couple months. However, he figured some things out in July and posted his best month. Opponents hit just .224/.267/.328 (.595) off him. He gained control and command of his pitches. In fact, the 21-year-old was promoted to Ft. Myers and made his first start on Monday night. Slegers has a low-90s fastball, and as you would expect, a good, downward angle on his pitches. The Twins 5th round pick in 2013 out of Indiana, he will require some patience, but there is reason to be excited about his potential.

Number 2 – New Britain – Tyler Duffey - 6 GS, 5-0, 3.10 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 40.2 IP, 34 H, 5 BB, 34 K

Posted Image

Duffey was the Twins 2012 fifth-round draft pick out of Rice University where he shared closer duties with Twins 2nd round pick JT Chargois. In 2013, he was moved into the starting rotation, and he has been very solid. He certainly has had some ups and downs as a starter, but when he’s on, he gives the feeling that he could pitch in the big leagues. His fastballs come in anywhere from 90 to 95 mph. He has a very good curveball, and his changeup remains his biggest question mark. Things were working well in July when opponents hit just .228/.259/.396 (.655) against him.

And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:

Cedar Rapids – RHP Chih-Wei Hu - 6 GS, 5-0, 1.25 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 36.0 IP, 20 H, 6 BB, 38 K

The Twins outbid several teams for Hu’s services after he had a very impressive amateur career. He was a star in high school as well as in international competitions. The Twins signed him for $220,000 in August of 2012. He spent 2013 in the GCL, and he began 2014 in Elizabethton. In July, he made one start in Elizabethton before a promotion to the Kernels. In each of his six starts, he went six innings. Opponents hit just .156/.206/.195 against him. He has a fastball that can touch 95. He has a good curveball and a solid changeup. He even throws a palm ball. At 6-1 and 215 pounds, the 20-year-old has a sturdy frame. He has an advanced knowledge of pitching and has a chance to be very good.

So there you have it. The top pitchers in the Minnesota Twins farm system in July. What do you think? How would you rank these starting pitchers?

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24 Comments

Would have been nice to see at least one AAA guy in the top 5.  Hard to get too excited about the guys at the lower levels as AA is where things become make or break and you find out what you have.  I am excited about the depth the Twins have at pitching.  The next couple of years should be fun to watch as they climb there way up to the top.

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mike wants wins
Aug 05 2014 07:39 AM

Not too excited about 23 year olds below A ball.....but at least he did what he should have.

 

That slash line against Meyer is ridiculous. Very frustrated he's wasting his limited pitches in AAA. It's not like he is 22 years old......

 

Very impressive stuff from Chih-Wei Hu. Really seems like he has a chance.

Not too excited about 23 year olds below A ball.....but at least he did what he should have.

 

That slash line against Meyer is ridiculous. Very frustrated he's wasting his limited pitches in AAA. It's not like he is 22 years old......

 

Very impressive stuff from Chih-Wei Hu. Really seems like he has a chance.

 

Batts was drafted as a 4-year college senior less than two months ago and he's already moved up three levels. We need to stop worrying about such things.

 

Meyer would be in the top 5 if he wouldn't have walked as many as he gives up hits. 

    • birdwatcher likes this

I think perhaps there are too many rookie league guys on this list -- there is just so much variability in performance in those leagues, a dominating 5 start stretch, while it looks cool statistically, just isn't that impressive in context.  They are borderline instructional leagues.

 

Outside of Hu, Alex Meyer basically equaled or surpassed everyone else on this list in terms of opponents OPS against, run prevention, and K rate, at a much higher level (as many as 4 leagues higher, at the very top level of minor league baseball).  And heck, Tyler Duffey is less than a year younger than Meyer; Mat Batts is only 18 months younger than Meyer too.

Meyer would be in the top 5 if he wouldn't have walked as many as he gives up hits. 

That's not really a fair criteria -- I think Meyer gave up the fewest H/9 of anyone on this list (well, except Hu again).

 

If his walk rate was any better, he'd be a top-5 prospect in all of MLB.  I don't think it's fair to make that the threshold for being a top 5 Twins minor league starter for the month of July.  :)

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mike wants wins
Aug 05 2014 08:10 AM

I'm not worried about it, but I'm not overly impressed that a college senior (23 years old) can dominate 18 year olds right out of HS. It's great he is now at the level he should have started at. It's great that they seem to be moving their pitchers up (at the low levels) this year. A nice change from the past, imo.

 

Not sure why it is unreasonable to be frustrated that the clearly best or 2nd best pitcher in the whole system is in AAA, when he is on a pitch limit, and that limit seems to be being reached in AAA, and not in the majors. My comment was about that, not if he should be in the top 5 for the month. Being frustrated is an emotion, not logic. 

 

And, that slash line is ridiculous.

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mike wants wins
Aug 05 2014 08:21 AM

To be clear, the comments are nits....the point that the pitching seems SO MUCH deeper now, is awesome, and I don't want to lose sight of that.

    • DocBauer likes this

If Meyer lowered his walk rate he'd be in the majors.  You will not get enough outs in the majors to offset 5 walks per 9 innings long term in the majors. 

 

Matt Batts.  if that isn't a baseball name then I don't know what is.

 

I remember Tapia as 1 of the 2 international players from the top 30 we signed that year.  He was a high dollar signing so good to see him showing we were right to sign him. 

 

It looks like we have numerous pitching prospects in the minors now.  How much is the offense in the minors changing the last few years as the offense in the majors has dropped noticeably. 

I think Meyer had a great July.  That is pretty clear by his numbers... except for the walks.  When I saw the walks, I understood why he was a honorable mention rather than the top 5 (remember, this is just for the month, not overall prospect rating).

 

All the guys on the honorable mentions list had really months.  That's very encouraging.

 

It's great that 4 out of 5 have an ERA under 2.00 (I know ERA isn't a great stat), but it's even more encouraging that all of them had a WHIP under 1.0.  I'm excited to see how these guys progress.

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DAM DC Twins Fans
Aug 05 2014 09:16 AM

I agree pitching depth in the lower minors is impressive.  It will be interesting in the next couple of years as these guys get to NB and Rochester how they shake out.  I was surprised that my AAP (Brett Lee--5 starts--31.2 IP, WHIP 1.105, etc.) didn't make list--then I reviewed list--wouldn't be top 5--could be honorable mention--but a sign of deep depth as they say.

I have defended the Twins promotions of starting pitchers all season.   Not in the sense of what I would  have done or what I would have liked to see done but just as defendable.  If Darnell had been promoted a month earlier I would have defended that as well.   That wasn't the case.   Meyer should have had two starts already with the Twins. 

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birdwatcher
Aug 05 2014 09:44 AM

This is an uplifting list for sure. A year ago, and especially two years ago, there were quite a few proclamations that the system was bereft of legitimate pitching prospects, and we can now see that the problem was well on the way to being corrected even then. Now, if only we could get some bats in the lower minors. ;)

I think Meyer had a great July.  That is pretty clear by his numbers... except for the walks.  When I saw the walks, I understood why he was a honorable mention rather than the top 5 (remember, this is just for the month, not overall prospect rating).

 

All the guys on the honorable mentions list had really months.  That's very encouraging.

 

It's great that 4 out of 5 have an ERA under 2.00 (I know ERA isn't a great stat), but it's even more encouraging that all of them had a WHIP under 1.0.  I'm excited to see how these guys progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just to put things in perspective here, take a look at these numbers:

7.9--7.1--8.2--5.7--4.5

vs. these #s:

3.1--3.7--4.4

These are the BB/9 numbers for ages 21-25 for Randy Johnson  vs. ages 22-24 for Alex Meyer-  in the minor league phase of their careers.  Johnson's minor league K/BB rate was 1.40, 

 

by contrast, Meyer's K/BB rate is nearly double that of Johnson @ 2.78.

Now take a look at these numbers:

5.38
4.92
6.79
6.16


These are the BB/9 results for Randy Johnson's first 4 full-time years in the Major Leagues.  Johnson's K/BB rate through his first 4 seasons was 1.54. After seeing Alex Meyer in person on Sunday, I'm more convinced than ever that the walk rates are an overblown concern, approaching red herring status.  Meyer's stuff is so overpowering and unhittable, the streak of wildness is more a feature of his intimidating ways than a detriment to his overall effectiveness. 

Like Johnson before him, there's no reason to think that he can't improve his command and control over time....if anything, the numbers indicate that Meyer appears to have a head start over Johnson in this area.

    • Tibs likes this

This is an uplifting list for sure. A year ago, and especially two years ago, there were quite a few proclamations that the system was bereft of legitimate pitching prospects, and we can now see that the problem was well on the way to being corrected even then. Now, if only we could get some bats in the lower minors. ;)

 

The problem was not well on the way to being corrected two years ago.  The Twins had just drafted Berrios and Bard, still  no Meyer or May on the roster.  Virtually everyone in the system two years ago (except Gibson) has busted, is on the DL, or is still an uncertan prospect, at best.  With so much uncertainty about pitching arms, the Twins still need to be stocking the shelves w/ high-upside arms.  As we have seen this year with the arm, shoulder and calf problems from May, Meyer, Berrios and Stewart, like most teams, the Twins are only a couple of TJ/Rotator cuff surgeries away from being closer to bereft yet again of pitching prospects.

Like Johnson before him, there's no reason to think that  he can't improve his command and control over time....if anything, Meyer appears to have a head start over Johnson in this area.

 

I 100% agree with you.  I also want to see Meyer up with the Twins.  I want to see that soon.  

 

I was just commenting about who had a better month of July.  There's definitely a case to be made for putting Meyer in the top 5 for July.  But I understand this list and the reasoning behind where everyone was placed too.  

 

Walks... concerning, but I think Meyer can fix that while up with the big league club.  

I 100% agree with you.  I also want to see Meyer up with the Twins.  I want to see that soon.  

 

I was just commenting about who had a better month of July.  There's definitely a case to be made for putting Meyer in the top 5 for July.  But I understand this list and the reasoning behind where everyone was placed too.  

 

Walks... concerning, but I think Meyer can fix that while up with the big league club.  

 

Great points about Randy Johnson.  The M's were rewarded by bringing him up and the command got better in time.  I also think the Twins as an organization stress walks too much.  When you have an organization with guys like Liam Hendricks and Kevin C., Mike Pelfrey without good stuff.  Walks are extremely important. These guys are going to give up a ton of hits, not strike guys out, and give up HR's.

 

Alex Meyer's worst BA against is this years .225, it has varied between .206 and .225.  His HR rate this year is .64 per 9 innings, by far the worst of his minor league career.  When you have a guy that is going to get out 77.5% of hitters, going to strike out 26-27% of them, and will give up an HR about every other start.....a "really high" BB per 9 of 4 or 4.5 amounts to one additional BB about every other start over an OK 3 per 9.  This is really a silly reason to keep him down. 

 

To piggy back off the RJ Analysis in his first four MLB seasons.  Here is RJ's BB/9 numbers that were cited, I added his ERA that year to the right.  I will take that in the Twins rotation.

 

BB/9    ERA

5.38 -  4.40

4.92  - 3.65

6.79 -  3.98

6.16 -   3.77

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I remember Tapia as 1 of the 2 international players from the top 30 we signed that year.  He was a high dollar signing so good to see him showing we were right to sign him. 

 

 

I'm not sure you're memory is serving you correctly. Perhaps you are thinking of Roni Tapia signed last year. I believe Alexis was a pretty under the radar signing. I can't find his actual bonus, but I'm pretty sure it was under 100k. Ben Badler who's probably the most on top of international signings doesn't even include him in this brief article:

http://www.baseballa...13/2614701.html

 

Tapia caught my attention last year with his excellent K/BB rate in the DSL along with his good size. I've yet to find anything regarding what he throws and how he projects. Obviously a long way to go, but definitely encouraging to see him having success in the GCL. (2 IP 1 H 1 K today). His success does show as you pointed out that the Twins were right to sign him ... maybe more right than your memory would have you think :)

    • birdwatcher likes this

Great points about Randy Johnson.  The M's were rewarded by bringing him up and the command got better in time.  I also think the Twins as an organization stress walks too much.  When you have an organization with guys like Liam Hendricks and Kevin C., Mike Pelfrey without good stuff.  Walks are extremely important. These guys are going to give up a ton of hits, not strike guys out, and give up HR's.

 

Alex Meyer's worst BA against is this years .225, it has varied between .206 and .225.  His HR rate this year is .64 per 9 innings, by far the worst of his minor league career.  When you have a guy that is going to get out 77.5% of hitters, going to strike out 26-27% of them, and will give up an HR about every other start.....a "really high" BB per 9 of 4 or 4.5 amounts to one additional BB about every other start over an OK 3 per 9.  This is really a silly reason to keep him down. 

 

To piggy back off the RJ Analysis in his first four MLB seasons.  Here is RJ's BB/9 numbers that were cited, I added his ERA that year to the right.  I will take that in the Twins rotation.

 

BB/9    ERA

5.38 -  4.40

4.92  - 3.65

6.79 -  3.98

6.16 -   3.77

 

 

Bingo.  And that little nugget of non-correlation is the dagger in the heart to the overstated concern about the number of walks.  It's a completely different worry for the typical Twins pitcher, management obviously needs to adjust their expectations and philosophies for the talent differential.  For example, getting May's BB/9 number down this season with his more pedestrian stuff made a lot of sense, for Meyer, not so much.  Lots of Ks, BBs, GBs and weakly hit balls in play means few baserunners in scoring position, more double plays and stranded runners, all of which should eventually translate to very good FIP/xFIP/ERA results.

For the record, Meyer ranks first in the IL in K/9, K%, KL%, LD% at 13.4%, second in IFB% at 11.6% and KS% at 15.5% , while he's 5th in GB% at 46.1%.  Seems like a pretty good combination for major league success, BB's nothwithstanding.

On offense OBP is king to me so it makes sense that on defense if you give up fewer hits you have more of a cushion so to speak to walk more batters.    The reverse is somewhat true also that the fewer you walk the more hits you can give up.   Its why I defended the "pitch to contact" staff a half dozen years ago.  They gave up the least walks in the majors by a ridiculous amount which of course also speaks to control within the strike zone.    The staff of recent years has been middle of the road in walks, and bottom of the league for strikeouts which speak for both lack of control in and out of the strike zone as well as basic lack of "stuff".   Bottom line is that someone is going to be promoted this week.    If Milone was just coming off his stretch of 11 excellent starts before his demotion I would say he was the guy.   If May hadn't gotten hurt he should be the guy.   As it stands right now Meyer should be the guy and if they decide to bring Pino down and promote either May or Milone that would be all right also.  

I don't feel May's stuff is pedestrian by any means. I see a big, strong bodied kid who can make 33 starts every year, throw a 100 pitches per game, rack up innings and SO's in bunches. I think it is WAY too early to pigeon hole someone in to a 1-2-3 starter hole. The word "consistency" is not ugly in any way. It refers to overall effectiveness and consistency. Walks can kill. This is a proven absolute. Further, walks, and long AB's, limit the overall effectiveness of a pitcher to log the appropriate innings to win games, help his team win games, and can result in a greater burden for the bullpen. Are the Twins too conservative with pitchers? Possibly. Not here to argue that point. But a guy who tosses his load in 4 or 5 innings, even with SO's, is not as valuable as a pitcher who can throw fewer overall pitches to accomplish 6-7 innings with the same number of SO's. It's simple, performance logic. I believe May and Meyer are close. I believe the Twins believe they are close. You may be frustrated with the Twins, but they ARE in the baseball business. They are well aware of the fact that May and Meyer...and Berrios...are their top 3 SP prospects at this point. Very few pitchers ever hit the majors and are instant #1 or #2 starters. But with the talent they possess, yes...actual ML experience, and more "consistency", talent like these two can be top of the rotation starters. I'm reminded of Gibson last year, when the Twins stated they wanted to promote him when he seemed ready, so that he would be up to stay for good. Scream conservative regarding the Twins if you will, but is that really a bad idea/philosophy? And Seth's list isn't a top 10 or 20 prospect list, or even a precursor of ML success, but best efforts/performance for a single month.
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 06 2014 08:23 AM

well said Doc.

I don't feel May's stuff is pedestrian by any means. I see a big, strong bodied kid who can make 33 starts every year, throw a 100 pitches per game, rack up innings and SO's in bunches. I think it is WAY too early to pigeon hole someone in to a 1-2-3 starter hole. The word "consistency" is not ugly in any way. It refers to overall effectiveness and consistency. Walks can kill. This is a proven absolute. Further, walks, and long AB's, limit the overall effectiveness of a pitcher to log the appropriate innings to win games, help his team win games, and can result in a greater burden for the bullpen. Are the Twins too conservative with pitchers? Possibly. Not here to argue that point. But a guy who tosses his load in 4 or 5 innings, even with SO's, is not as valuable as a pitcher who can throw fewer overall pitches to accomplish 6-7 innings with the same number of SO's. It's simple, performance logic. I believe May and Meyer are close. I believe the Twins believe they are close. You may be frustrated with the Twins, but they ARE in the baseball business. They are well aware of the fact that May and Meyer...and Berrios...are their top 3 SP prospects at this point. Very few pitchers ever hit the majors and are instant #1 or #2 starters. But with the talent they possess, yes...actual ML experience, and more "consistency", talent like these two can be top of the rotation starters. I'm reminded of Gibson last year, when the Twins stated they wanted to promote him when he seemed ready, so that he would be up to stay for good. Scream conservative regarding the Twins if you will, but is that really a bad idea/philosophy? And Seth's list isn't a top 10 or 20 prospect list, or even a precursor of ML success, but best efforts/performance for a single month.

 

 

I love you Doc, but you mischaracterized what I said.... that's not what I wrote, this is what was stated:

 

 

For example, getting May's BB/9 number down this season with his more pedestrian stuff made a lot of sense, for Meyer, not so much.

 

 

Can anyone disagree that May's stuff is more pedestrian than Meyer's?

 

You and I agree on the assessment of May, and you stated May's ceiling potential quite well.  I've been a backer of May's potential for durability from Day One. And I've really been impressed with his cerebral approach in his quest to becoming a true "pitcher".  I rated him at 50-50 to eventually becoming a middle-end, #3-type major league starter last season.  I think that the odds have now gone up in that regard, and there's now a little light at the end of the tunnel for him in reaching his ceiling, which may be a little higher.  A credit to him and the coaching staff, to be sure. But Meyer and Stewart have the chance to be true aces (and possibly Berrios, as well), there is a qualitative difference between them and May.  

My apologies if I misunderstood or mis-interpreted your use of the word "pedestrian" when I read initially. Thought you were saying his stuff was pedestrian in comparison to Meyer, not simply more pedestrian than Meyer's pure stuff. My bad.

My apologies if I misunderstood or mis-interpreted your use of the word "pedestrian" when I read initially. Thought you were saying his stuff was pedestrian in comparison to Meyer, not simply more pedestrian than Meyer's pure stuff. My bad.

 

No problem, Doc.It's all good.


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