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Modern Era Hall of Famers: Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons

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Front Page: Official Twins Winter Meetings Day 4 Thread

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How high and long would you go for Ryu?

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Still waiting...

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Front Page: Randy Dobnak Is Better Than You Think

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Among the group of Twins internal starters without a firm place for 2020, but with a clear chance to assert themselves, one name stands o...
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Reason to Believe Brusdar Graterol Could Start 2020 in Twins Rotation

There is a great chance the Twins will have to completely rebuild their starting rotation for next year. Brusdar Graterol is one of the most talented in-house options Minnesota has but can he actually make the immediate leap from top prospect to a full-time member of the Twins rotation? It's possible.
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The young Venezuelan, who was the organization’s No. 3 prospect last year, made his much-anticipated MLB debut as a September callup. Including the postseason, he appeared in 11 MLB games, posting a 4.22 ERA out of the bullpen. He has electric stuff, and if it wasn’t for one bad outing against Cleveland, he would have had a 1.68 ERA in his first month as a major leaguer.

Giving Graterol a rotation spot early would be a real shot in the dark, but it could definitely work out. One example that in particular stands out in particular is Mike Soroka of the Braves.

Soroka made his MLB debut in 2018, also at age 21. He was the team's top prospect at the time. He went through Atlanta’s minor league system quickly, also taking advantage of his Canadian National Team experience.

Along with their age and pedigrees, Graterol and Soroka's minor league performances are comparable. Soroka posted an ERA of 2.84, held opposing batters to a .605 OPS and averaged 8.04 K/9 in the minors. Graterol had a 2.48 ERA, held opponents to a .574 OPS and averaged 9.67 K/9. The biggest difference would be that Soroka (370 2/3) pitched a lot more innings down on the farm than Graterol (214) has.

Just like Graterol, Soroka pitched very little in his first major league callup. Soroka started five games for Atlanta between two separate stints, posting a 3.51 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. He then went on to deliver an out-of-this-world 2019 season for the Braves, becoming one of the front-runners for the Rookie of the Year award. He pitched 174 2/3 innings this season, was worth 4.0 fWAR and had a 2.68 ERA.

Between Double A and Triple A, Graterol pitched less than 60 innings this year. His shift to the bullpen was part of that limited innings count, but so was a shoulder injury. Odd coincidence: Soroka only 30 2/3 innings in the minors in 2018 and was also sidelined because of shoulder inflammation.

These two kids are similar even when you check their pitch arsenal. According to Baseball Savant, Soroka relies on four pitches: sinker (44.6%), slider (24.3%), four seamer (18.7%) and changeup (12.4%). Those are the very same four pitches that Graterol uses, in a very similar ratio: sinker (49.3%), slider (30.6%), four seamer (18.1%) and changeup (2.1%). The key-differences are that Graterol has much greater velocity (99.0 mph on his sinker, against 92.3 mph from Soroka) and Soroka adds much more movement to his pitches (2,372 spin rate average on his pitches, against 2,045 from Graterol). For more details on Soroka’s mechanics, you can check this out.

There’s very little to ensure that Graterol will have the same outcome as Soroka did, but it seems foolish to rule out the possibility that he can’t be effective in the Twins rotation immediately.

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41 Comments

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Crackedfungo
Nov 02 2019 11:16 PM

Tremendous perspective in this article.I am looking for the Twins to move Graterol, and later, Balazovic quickly to MLB.Duran will depend upon whether he can master some control/command this year. 

 

Soroka is NOT the only example of really young players getting a shot and essentially skipping unnecessary time in MiLB, and saving their 'bullets' for MLB; which is what matters.If he proves he cannot handle it, there is always opportunity to send him down for some focus and clean-up.I am tired of watching the Twins wreck young pitching prospects by leaving them down on the farm until they blow up, or monkeying with them too much (Romero).It is cheaper to have 1-2 spots rely on younger pitchers, which would allow for one Top signing.  

    • jjswol, mikelink45, bighat and 1 other like this
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the_brute_squad
Nov 03 2019 06:17 AM

In order of importance in MN Twins history:

 

1) Service Time

2) Wins

 

He won't be making the club out of spring training, that much is guaranteed.

 

    • D.C Twins likes this

I love the idea.Wasting arms in the minors and even the worry about service time drive me crazy. Yes they can learn in the minors and most need to, but raw talent plays at any level.In a year or two in the majors he could approach the number 1 - Ace - level that we are in need of. 

    • denarded, bighat, D.C Twins and 1 other like this

Interesting comparison, especially how Soroka pitched only 30 innings a year ago.  

 

None of us know what the guys that will make these decisions are thinking.There is a chance, however, that they may be counting on one of their young starters taking one of those open spots in the rotation.Could it be Graterol?Certainly.But it also could be Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer, or even long shots like Stewart or Gonsalves (assuming they are still Twins come spring training).

 

If it is Graterol, I could see him paired with another starter (Thorpe? Smeltzer?) and pitching only 3-4 innings each start so that he ends the season around 120 innings. 

 

Should they bring back Pineda, expect one or two of these young guns will get the opportunity to show their stuff the first six weeks of the season.  

    • twinkiesfan11, DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

Slightly weird article, because Soroka didn't actually start 2019 in the Braves rotation -- although he made only 2 starts at AAA before getting promoted.

Soroka was limited in 2018 (56.1 IP combined AAA/MLB), but he threw 143 and 153.2 innings in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

 

All told, Soroka wound up throwing 191 innings in 2019, combined between AAA/MLB and the postseason.

 

By comparison, Graterol only has 224.2 innings for his entire pro career to date, barely more than Soroka's 2019 output. Graterol's single season high is 102, significantly less than TWO pre-2019 Soroka seasons. Also, while both guys had shoulder issues, Graterol has also had Tommy John surgery already, suggesting even further caution.

    • birdwatcher, Jham, bighat and 3 others like this
I like the idea of resigning Pineda and giving that first month to one of the young guys. Odds are that by the time Pineda is ready to play odds are that we will need someone in the rotation. It could be because the young guy needs some tweeking, someone is hurt, something else. Any way you go though you can never have too much pitching, but I’d really like for it to be good pitching.
    • glunn and wabene like this
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jorgenswest
Nov 03 2019 08:37 AM
Soroko has and used three effective pitches. His change up was effective entering the season. The change up is the striking difference between the two.

From May 21- look at the layover of his three pitches

https://mobile.twitt...797255060070400

From April 29

https://www.pitcherl...ches-from-4-29/

We didn’t see any evidence of a major league ready third pitch or change up from Graterol. Until he shows that third pitch I don’t think we can compare him to Soroka even if his age and minor league stats are comparable.

Without a major league ready third pitch the options would be to send him to AAA or give up on making him a starter and put him in the bullpen to start the season.
    • glunn, Twins33, adorduan and 2 others like this
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Tommygun921
Nov 03 2019 09:07 AM
I think he'll start the year in the minors, maybe extended spring training, and then get warmed up for a few weeks in Rochester before being promoted to the rotation around mid May. Assuming pitching well and healthy. Not for service clock reasons but to limit his workload.
    • DocBauer and bighat like this

There will likely be several starters at Rochester with major league experience.In addition to Graterol, this could include Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak, Stewart and Gonsalves.Unless one sticks with the Twins as a regular starter, I see all of them getting major league time just like last year.Get called up as the 8th reliever in the bullpen for long outings.Then after pitching, sent back to Rochester as a starter with someone else called up.  

 

I like this as it accomplishes three things that are important for most of these young guys.One, it gives them major league experience.Two, it also limits their innings as they will be pitching only 3 or 4 innings while with the Twins for a week or so.And three, it gives them a major league check for whatever number of games they are with the Twins.That's a lot of extra cash for most of these guys.

    • brvama, Hosken Bombo Disco, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Nov 03 2019 11:35 AM

In order of importance in MN Twins history:
 
1) Service Time
2) Wins
 
He won't be making the club out of spring training, that much is guaranteed.

That’s not guaranteed. The only service time issue I can recall with this team under the current leadership was the Buxton situation.

And “service time” and “wins” aren’t mutually exclusive, especially for a pitcher. Missing three April/May starts in your rookie year will get you 30-some starts in a bonus year of control. Presumably you’ll get more production out of 30 starts than three.
    • Steve J and Major League Ready like this
I don't see a third pitch, as pointed out above. I don't see this happening.
    • Twins33, DocBauer and Battle ur tail off like this
Minor leagues are overrated. I fully believe MLB waste arms in the minors. Let talented kids learn in the big leagues if they're able. Only so much you can learn in the minors.

Let the kid pitch, and send him down to work on specific things if he's unable to perform in the MLB. So many bad old pitchers are allowed to toil in this league, while young guys like Dobnak are constantly buried in the minors.
    • wabene likes this

Interesting comparison, thanks.

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twinkiesfan11
Nov 03 2019 03:11 PM
I’d love to see a Graterol/Smeltzer combo for the 5th starter slot. Good way to build innings gradually and they compliment each other nicely.

 

Minor leagues are overrated. I fully believe MLB waste arms in the minors. Let talented kids learn in the big leagues if they're able. Only so much you can learn in the minors.

Let the kid pitch, and send him down to work on specific things if he's unable to perform in the MLB. So many bad old pitchers are allowed to toil in this league, while young guys like Dobnak are constantly buried in the minors.

 

I've been saying that for years, but he's not going to succeed without a third pitch.

    • Battle ur tail off likes this

I've been saying that for years, but he's not going to succeed without a third pitch.


Succeed is relative. If the pitch is close to being ready, a guy with his arm talent can get pretty far while working on things. League average era was 4.5 in 2019, likely to go down next year. If he could maintain that level, I fully believe he belongs with the twins. Berrios was allowed a good leash when he came up, that is the best way to learn.

 

I've been saying that for years, but he's not going to succeed without a third pitch.

Agree it will be tough to succeed as a starter without a good third pitch, Mike.But he could be very successful as a reliever with the two plus, plus pitches he has.

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jorgenswest
Nov 03 2019 07:21 PM
If he shows (with his pitch mix not stats) he is ready in spring start him in the rotation. If not, give him more time to develop in AAA instead of using him in the major league pen.
I think you give him a legit shot at a rotation spot in spring training. I dont think holding him back will help him that much, these guys need to come up and see what it's like at the MLB level in order to be prepared. So if he earns it, let him start the beginning of the year in Pineda's spot if the twins re-sign him. Once he struggles then send him down. Give him a taste, if he earns it, I mean if he gets lit up in SP T. Then you have your answer. If he mows people down give him that shot. They need to be able to at some point trust the guys in their system.
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Crackedfungo
Nov 03 2019 08:08 PM

 

Soroko has and used three effective pitches. His change up was effective entering the season. The change up is the striking difference between the two.

From May 21- look at the layover of his three pitches

https://mobile.twitt...797255060070400

From April 29

https://www.pitcherl...ches-from-4-29/

We didn’t see any evidence of a major league ready third pitch or change up from Graterol. Until he shows that third pitch I don’t think we can compare him to Soroka even if his age and minor league stats are comparable.

Without a major league ready third pitch the options would be to send him to AAA or give up on making him a starter and put him in the bullpen to start the season.

That's NOT accurate.He has a plus 4 seam fastball (as high as 103), a plus two seam sinker (as high as 101), and a wipe-out slider.They are working on his change-up.This IS 3 pitches, and they are working on the 4th.Have you ever seen a 100+mph sinker?There might have been 1-2 prior, but it is clearly a 3rd pitch, as the bottom literally drops out. 

    • birdwatcher and jrod23 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 03 2019 08:17 PM

Graterol's problem to date is durability. I don't see him pitching a full season. He's going to get shut down at some point in 2020... He can either start or finish in the pen to make it work, but that's probably the big issue there. I'm not sure I'd pencil him into a spot for 2020 unless they've resigned Pineda. 

    • glunn, Danchat and Doctor Wu like this

Agree it will be tough to succeed as a starter without a good third pitch, Mike. But he could be very successful as a reliever with the two plus, plus pitches he has.


Agreed, but that's not what this thread is about. I'll be pleasantly surprised if he's ever a really, really, good starter. And very disappointed if he's not a good reliever at least

I think you give him a legit shot at a rotation spot in spring training. I dont think holding him back will help him that much, these guys need to come up and see what it's like at the MLB level in order to be prepared. So if he earns it, let him start the beginning of the year in Pineda's spot if the twins re-sign him. Once he struggles then send him down. Give him a taste, if he earns it, I mean if he gets lit up in SP T. Then you have your answer. If he mows people down give him that shot. They need to be able to at some point trust the guys in their system.


So, go into the season coming off 100 wins with two massive question marks to start the year? I hope not.

That's NOT accurate. He has a plus 4 seam fastball (as high as 103), a plus two seam sinker (as high as 101), and a wipe-out slider. They are working on his change-up. This IS 3 pitches, and they are working on the 4th. Have you ever seen a 100+mph sinker? There might have been 1-2 prior, but it is clearly a 3rd pitch, as the bottom literally drops out.


I dunno, in most of the appearances I saw, it was hard to argue he had more than 1 mlb ready pitch, and hitters can catch up to heat pretty well at that level. Control was an issue. He mostly sat high 90s not 103. Didn't generate lots of swinging strikes. His "wipe out" slider ducked out of the zone every time. I recall 1 outing where it was genuinely effective. He's got a chance, but he needs to get significantly better at pitching. His MiLB numbers are really good. But not MLB ace good.
    • Twins33 likes this

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