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Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - May

After looking at the May Relief Pitchers of the Month, we turn our attention to the starters in the Twins farm system. There were some really strong performances. In fact, one starter who went 5-0 did not make the top five list. Another with a strikeout per inning and a 2.43 ERA didn’t make the top five. Some of the Twins top pitching prospects had impressive months and a couple of lesser known minor leaguers continued to put up numbers.

With that, let's jump to the starting pitchers. Here are the Top 5 Starting Pitchers for the month of May:

Attached Image: Taylor Rogers2.jpg

Number 5 – Rochester – Kris Johnson - 5 GS, 3-0, 1.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 32.0 IP, 24 H, 14 BB, 30 K

The 29 year old came to the Twins from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason in exchange for Duke Welker, who was the Player to be Named Later in the Justin Morneau deal last July. The 2013 International League Pitcher of the Year has been even better so far this season. Overall, he’s 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA after posting a 2.39 ERA last year.

Johnson’s month began with a spot start with the Twins where he struck out five (and walked six) in just 4.1 innings. The lefty sits 89 to 91 and touches 93 at times. He’s got a good mix of pitches.

Number 4 – Ft. Myers – David Hurlbut - 5 GS, 2-1, 2.00 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 36.0 IP, 31 H, 2 BB, 20 K

The Twins drafted Hurlbut in the 35th round in 2009 and again in the 28th round in 2011 out of Cal State-Fullerton. He has pitched in pretty much every role in the Twins farm system in just a couple of years. He has pitched in long relief, short relief and also been a closer. However, each year, his team ends up making him a starter and each year he pitches well in the role. 2014 is no exception. The 24-year-old works fast with three good pitches and incredible control. He doesn’t have the strikeout stuff of others, but he limits base runners by not handing out free passes. Long-term, maybe he will be a reliever, but for his minor league teams, he has been a leader in the rotation.

Number 3 – Ft. Myers – Trevor May - 5 GS, 3-2, 1.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 23 H, 13 BB, 30 K

In May’s first start in May, he walked one and struck out 11 over six innings. In his second start, he gave up four earned runs on eight hits and three walks in just 4.1 innings. Since then, he has not given up a run. In his last four starts, he has worked 26 scoreless innings. The streak has pushed his overall numbers this season to 5-3 with a 2.62 ERA. His walk rate continues to drop (although it is still 3.6 per nine) which is encouraging. May has certainly put himself in a position to be called up when the Twins have a need. Of course, so have Kris Johnson and Yohan Pino.

Number 2 – Ft. Myers – JO Berrios - 5 GS, 3-1, 1.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 29.1 IP, 23 H, 12 BB, 36 K

May was a big month for the young Berrios. First, he became a first-time father. Also, as of last week he is no longer a teenager. And yet, he is in the Florida State League putting up some impressive numbers. The 2012 supplemental first round pick from Puerto Rico has not let the fact that he’s over three years younger than the league average player in the league get in his way. In May, he put things together.

Berrios has had quite the start to his professional career. He dominated at two levels of rookie league that first summer. In 2013, he was on the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic. He found himself making a few Top 100 prospect lists. This season, he has been terrific. Berrios throws hard, sitting 92 to 94, but he has touched 96 mph on several occasions. He has a very good curveball and a slider. He also has an ever-improving changeup. Also note that his June 1 start gives him a pretty good start toward June pitcher of the month consideration.

And the TwinsMinor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is:

Number 1- Ft. Myers – Matt Tomshaw - 4 GS, 4-0, 0.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 27.0 IP, 19 H, 5 BB, 11 K

Earlier in the month, I wrote about two Unsung Southpaws, #3 David Hurlbut and this month’s Starting Pitcher of the Month, 25-year-old Matt Tomshaw. Both would not fit on your top 40 or top 50 Twins prospect lists, but both have been tremendous. Look at what Hurlbut, Berrios, May and Johnson did this month. And for that matter, look at what the three pitchers that I listed as Honorable Mention below accomplished. Now take another look at what Tomshaw did in May.

In mid-April, Tomshaw had made three relief appearances and he was sent back to Extended Spring Training. Why? To work on The Thing! It is a pitch he had not been able to use the last two seasons. Now, it is a pitch that they want him to throw a lot in a game.

When asked to describe The Thing, Tomshaw describes it as, “…like a knuckle split. Moves left to right and drops. Occasionally straight down or an abrupt right turn.”

The other thing is that after sitting in the mid-to-upper 80s earlier in his career, Tomshaw now sits 89 to 91 mph with his fastball. He also throws a curveball and a changeup.

Upon returning to the Miracle, he made one April start and gave up one run in four innings. In his five innings, he has worked at least six innings in each start. He gave up zero earned runs in three of the four and just two runs in 7.2 innings on May 20. In his final May start, he gave up three hits over eight shutout innings.

There were a lot of very good starting pitching performances in May. It was difficult to rank the five above, and here are a few more starters who were strongly considered:

Honorable Mention:


  • Sean Gilmartin – New Britain – 5 GS, 3-1, 2.43 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 37.0 IP, 33 H, 12 BB, 37 K
  • Taylor Rogers – New Britain – 6 GS, 5-0, 2.41 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 37.1 IP, 37 H, 11 BB, 31 K
  • Kohl Stewart – Cedar Rapids – 5 GS, 0-1, 2.74 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 23.0 IP, 21 H, 11 BB, 19 K

We’ll be back tomorrow to discuss Hitter of the Month. Please feel free to comment and ask questions.


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