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Clock's Ticking: The Tyler Kinley Decision

Opening Day is just a few short days away. For many players, the fate of their careers could be on the line. Twins fans have already seen the club make a decision on Kennys Vargas and there will be other player decisions in the days to come.

For Tyler Kinley and other Rule 5 Draft picks, the yet to be made decisions will help determine which organizations they will play for in the coming season. Rule 5 picks must stay on the 25-man roster or the disabled list for the entire season or be offered back to their former organization.

Kinley will certainly be packing his bags but will his final destination be Minnesota or back to Miami?
Image courtesy of Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Miami left Kinley unprotected this offseason following an up and down minor league season. He posted a 1.98 ERA at High-A but struggled to a 5.19 ERA after being bumped up to Double-A. There were some control issues as he averaged 3.7 walks per nine innings but his 12.7 strikeouts per nine was tough to ignore.

Over the winter, Kinley pitched in the Dominican Winter League. In 14 appearances, he posted a 0.47 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP and a 32 to 11 strikeout to walk ratio. During one stretch, he had an 18-inning scoreless streak. It’s hard not to be impressed with those numbers even if it is a limited sample size.

Kinley knows his time with Minnesota could be fleeting. “I really try not to think about it. I try to just think about preparing myself the best I can and trying to go out and execute the plan,” he told the Associated Press. “Just to establish myself as a reliable bullpen arm, not only to the coaching staff and front office’s eyes, but to the players as well.”

Twins bullpen coach Eddie Guardado likens Kinley to a former Rule 5 pick. “Johan [Santana] was willing to work and get better. Kinley reminds me of that. I’m not saying starting-wise, but he wants to learn, works hard, [a] very good person.”

Control issues have continued to follow Kinley this spring. In the 10 innings pitched, he has six walks and a hit-by-pitch. According to the Star Tribune, Kinley’s fastball was clocked at 99 miles per hour earlier in the spring. Pair that with his 91 mile per hour slider and he could provide a power arm the Twins need in the bullpen.

Minnesota’s addition of Lance Lynn added another wrinkle to fitting Kinley on the roster. The Twins were expected to start the season with a four-man rotation because of additional off-days worked into the schedule. This could allow for an eight man bullpen. Phil Hughes might be pushed to the bullpen to make way for Lynn in the rotation.

As far as starters go, the Twins are looking at Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios and Lance Lynn. Hughes could serve as a fifth starter or a long-man out of the bullpen. Some of the locks in the bullpen are Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Tayler Rogers, Zach Duke and Ryan Pressly.

Trevor Hildenberger has struggled this spring so he could be sent down to start the year. He was critical to the Twins in the second half of last season so this might be enough to keep him on the roster. Players like Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss, Tyler Duffey and Gabriel Moya all have at least one option remaining. Things might have been made clear on Thursday with multiple bullpen pieces being optioned to Rochester.This could make Kinley the last player to fit into the bullpen.

For the Twins and Kinley, the clock is ticking. One way or another a decision needs to be made.

Do you think Kinley stays with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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48 Comments

I think we all know the elephant in the roster is Phil Hughes. If he is not throwing 92 he can't help us either as a starter or reliever and Twins need to eat his contract and keep a better pitcher. The Twins lost some impressive prospects to get Kinley, who is intriguing if he can limit the walks and develop off speed pitches.

 

I really like Moya and hope he stays up, but I think pitchers with options will be optioned and the Twins will give Hughes a shot in the pen hoping they can work a trade with a team who would take on at least ten percent of his salary.

    • mikelink45 and caninatl04 like this
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Nick Nelson
Mar 22 2018 09:02 AM

The sense I got in camp is that Kinley will make the team. Duffey and Busenitz being optioned today just about seals it. 

    • Sconnie, dbminn, Tom Froemming and 3 others like this

I was never a fan of the Tyler Kinley signing for exactly this reason.If we had kept Chargios there would be more flexibility on the 25 man.Both are power pitchers with strike out stuff, granted Chargios does have an injury history so Kinley looks slightly better there but potentially clogging the roster is a larger issue.

 

To be honest I am pleasantly surprised Kinley held his own in spring training.My guess is the front office will give him a chance to at least start the season with the team.

    • nclahammer likes this

Kinley's opponent quality in spring training this year in 6.6.  Or somewhere between High-A and AA type of opponents. So he's more or less dominating the competition he was playing against all of last year.   

 

https://www.baseball...tching_st::none

 

So while his numbers this spring have been encouraging and the 99 MPH fastball with a 90 MPH slider is sexy, I'm approaching his spring training numbers with some extreme cautious optimism.    Hopefully the Twins can work out a trade so he can get some seasoning in AAA. 

    • beckmt, h2oface, Danchat and 1 other like this
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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Mar 22 2018 09:54 AM

Down to him and Moya at this point, no?

 

Down to him and Moya at this point, no?

And Phil Hughes

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specialiststeve
Mar 22 2018 10:40 AM
Would be awesome if we could some how move Hughes but with his contract we would have to buy some of that.... that would solve a bunch of issues...

Would be awesome if we could some how move Hughes but with his contract we would have to buy some of that.... that would solve a bunch of issues...


I don't think we could move Hughes even if we ate his entire contract. He still requires a 25 man roster spot, and I can't imagine anyone thinks he's worth that.
    • diehardtwinsfan and specialiststeve like this

The last man on the roster, the last man on the staff present interesting speculation. Has anyone done a study to see how much player 24/25 means to a team and a season?

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yarnivek1972
Mar 22 2018 11:16 AM

The last man on the roster, the last man on the staff present interesting speculation. Has anyone done a study to see how much player 24/25 means to a team and a season?


Well, last year that was (arguably) Danny Santana and Michael Tonkin. Both of whom were DFA in early May.
    • nclahammer likes this
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KirbyDome89
Mar 22 2018 11:36 AM

 

The sense I got in camp is that Kinley will make the team. Duffey and Busenitz being optioned today just about seals it. 

That's unfortunate.

 

Any word on Molitor's thoughts/feelings, or how Kinley is likely to be used?

Mentioning Johan Santana and Tyler Kinley in the same thought is as preposterous as it gets.
    • Mike Sixel, Dr. Evil, Taildragger8791 and 2 others like this

That's unfortunate.

Any word on Molitor's thoughts/feelings, or how Kinley is likely to be used?


I'm guessing the infamous Tim Stauffer mop up role.
    • KirbyDome89 likes this
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KirbyDome89
Mar 22 2018 12:04 PM

 

I'm guessing the infamous Tim Stauffer mop up role.

My greatest fear has been realized. Nice name drop.

 

What contending team doesn't have two low leverage long shots for mop up duty right? 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

My greatest fear has been realized. Nice name drop.

What contending team doesn't have two low leverage long shots for mop up duty right?


Clearly we're planning on winning by 7+ runs a lot this year!
    • Puckett34 and KirbyDome89 like this

 

Mentioning Johan Santana and Tyler Kinley in the same thought is as preposterous as it gets.

It's Eddie G. who's doing the mentioning, and basing the comparison on attitude not ability (or likelihood of success), Eddie even tries to qualify it.That doesn't seem preposterous, it seems genuine, from someone who has worked with them both. 

    • Han Joelo, howieramone2, AceWrigley and 1 other like this
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Homer Hanky
Mar 22 2018 01:27 PM

keep Moya and this kid 

 

cut Phil... :(

 

send to AAA = Hildy & Rodgers

 

 

 

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Nick Nelson
Mar 22 2018 01:41 PM

 

That's unfortunate.

 

Any word on Molitor's thoughts/feelings, or how Kinley is likely to be used?

Molitor mentioned when I was down there that he'd like to start lengthening Kinley out a bit, and they had him pitch into a third inning on Monday against Pittsburgh, so that probably tells us something.

 

I don't really see the wisdom of trying to turn max-effort fireballers into long relievers personally, struck me as a misstep with Tonkin. But they're a bit short on options for that utility at the moment.

 

There's definitely a lot of enthusiasm around the club regarding Kinley's velocity, especially that hard slider. 

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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Kelly Vance
Mar 22 2018 04:04 PM

when you have a guy with Kinley's stuff, you are patient. Remember Jesse Crain? When he found out how to throw a slider and not just a straight fastball, he got better. I think they view Kinley as a potential closer, long term 

    • Monkeypaws and flyin fin like this

 

Mentioning Johan Santana and Tyler Kinley in the same thought is as preposterous as it gets.

While that comes across as a weebit harsh ;)- From a whole career and body of work standpoint, you have a valid point. Psuedo put it well, Guardado was I believe speaking more to his work ethic and attitude and the beginning of Johan's career.

 

If you compare the two players from 20/20 hindsight, it's not even remotely fair... but if you use the analogue of their starting points with the Twins, I believe that changes the view some.  

 

We all love Johan, but when he started as a Twin's Rule V pick out of the bullpen... well, initially it was "Great stuff, but Meh'.If he makes it, cool. If not, we just send him packing".  

    • PseudoSABR and Vanimal46 like this
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nicksaviking
Mar 23 2018 08:10 AM

 

Molitor mentioned when I was down there that he'd like to start lengthening Kinley out a bit, and they had him pitch into a third inning on Monday against Pittsburgh, so that probably tells us something.

 

I don't really see the wisdom of trying to turn max-effort fireballers into long relievers personally, struck me as a misstep with Tonkin. But they're a bit short on options for that utility at the moment.

 

There's definitely a lot of enthusiasm around the club regarding Kinley's velocity, especially that hard slider. 

 

I thought that was one of the hot new trends? Chad Greene, Andrew Miller, Mike Minor, Chris Devenski, Archie Bradley.

 

I thought that was one of the hot new trends? Chad Greene, Andrew Miller, Mike Minor, Chris Devenski, Archie Bradley.

 

Those were all starters who got moved to the bullpen

    • Mike Sixel and ThejacKmp like this

I think they'll just trade for him so they can move him down. Let's be honest here, he came from Miami and they're just in it to lose. Toss $100,000 and bucket of gum at them. They'll accept and even send a thank you note for the gum.

    • ThejacKmp and howieramone2 like this

I think they'll just trade for him so they can move him down. Let's be honest here, he came from Miami and they're just in it to lose. Toss $100,000 and bucket of gum at them. They'll accept and even send a thank you note for the gum.


He'd have to clear waivers.

 

He'd have to clear waivers.

For us to complete a trade to keep him? Or to send him down once he's a member of the Twins organization?


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