Shades of Brusdar: 3 Twins Pitching Prospects Who Can Help Ease the Loss of Brusdar Graterol
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY SportsLeaning towards the rotation
Although Minnesota had announced that Graterol would likely start 2020 in a relief role and the Los Angeles Dodgers are almost certain to do the same, it’s probably still too early to rule out a future starting role for the 21-year-old. Prior to his shoulder injury in 2019, Graterol was lights out as a starter in AA, and his four-seam fastball, sinker, and slider looked like a filthy mix in Minnesota. As a reliever, Graterol scrapped his changeup, which he will likely need to succeed as a starter, but his young age suggests he may have time to develop the pitch.
This brings us to our first Graterol comp: Jhoan Duran. The 6’5’’ 230lb righty is starting to appear on top-100 prospect lists and even passed his former teammate on Fangraphs' recent list, where Duran comes in at 63 and Graterol falls all the way to 113. Like Graterol, Duran can bring the heat, as FanGraphs has him sitting 96-99 and topping out at 102. Duran also features a good breaking ball and importantly his changeup and command rate higher than Graterol’s, which bodes well for his future outlook as a starter. Along with Jordan Balazovic, Duran looks like Minnesota’s best bet to become a middle-to-front end starter in the next few years.
Another prospect who frequently invites Graterol comparisons, is 22-year-old Edwar Colina. Although shorter than Graterol, Colina has a similarly stocky build and has hit triple digits on the radar gun. Colina spent most of 2019 between High-A and Double-A as a starter and the results were very promising. His very good 2.34 ERA at Fort Meyers went all the way down to 2.03 in AA-Pensacola along with 10.74 K/9. This will sound familiar: Colina’s chances of remaining a starter are hinged on his ability to develop his changeup. His changeup is not well regarded and he finished 2019 in the bullpen, but he should get more opportunities to start in 2020.
Destined for the ‘pen
When the Twins acquired Jorge Alcala from the Houston Astros as part of the Ryan Pressley trade, there was some hope that Alcala could remain a starter. However, after struggling as a starter in AA during the first-half of 2019, Alcala transitioned to the bullpen. His fastball gained some velocity and sat 94-97 and combined nicely with his power slider. Control has been an issue for Alcala and his ability to improve in this area will likely be the difference between being a late-inning set-up guy or a middling reliever. Alcala pitched well in a small sample size after his promotion to AAA and earned a small cup of coffee with the Twins in September.
Who will we see in Minnesota?
All three of our Graterol comps have at least some chance of sniffing big-league action in 2020. Alcala already had a small sip of coffee with the Twins last September and is on the 40-man roster. Minnesota does have quite a bit of bullpen depth, but removing Graterol makes Alcala one step closer. Colina is not on the 40-man, so that’s an extra hurdle to jump, but he was on a similar path to Graterol and Alcala last season as he finished the year in Rochester’s bullpen. Had he pitched better in AAA, it’s not inconceivable that he could have switched places with Alcala. Duran has been added to the 40-man, but is likely the furthest away of the group. As a starter, his development could take a bit longer and the Twins have quite a bit of starting pitching depth. However, a Graterol-like late-season shift to the ‘pen is also a possibility.
Who do you expect to see in 2020 and in what role? What kind of long-term impact do you think the three young prospects will have for Minnesota? Please share your thoughts and leave your comments below!
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