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Next Man Up on the Bump

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 19 February 2019 · 1,119 views

minnesota twins lewis thorpe zack littell kohl stewart stephen gonsalves
Right now, the Minnesota Twins have a tentative five-man starting rotation penciled in for 2019. Martin Perez was signed as a free agent to round out the group, and Michael Pineda will pitch for the first time in a Twins uniform. No matter how set the plan may be today however, there’s no denying a wrench will soon be thrown into it. How things are handled from there are worth speculating about.

The reality for the Twins is that they’ve burned through pitchers in recent seasons. Both in the rotation and the bullpen, no number of fresh arms have been enough. The good part of this equation is that depth is being stockpiled on both fronts and that gives us something to look at. While there’s no argument against the fact that the front office could’ve added more arm talent this winter, we’re now in a spot to consider what is readily available to them.

During the 2018 season players like Kohl Stewart, Fernando Romero, and Stephen Gonsalves all got their shot. Zack Littell showed up in the big leagues, and some higher tier prospects made significant strides on the farm. In 2019 though, there’s just one guy I’m keying in on, and he comes from the Land Down Under.

Lewis Thorpe missed two full seasons due to Tommy John surgery and then illness. Since his return though, he’s done nothing but vault up prospect rankings and lay waster to opposing hitters. At 22 last season, he reached Triple-A for the first time in his career. Through four rotation turns Thorpe posted a 3.32 ERA along with a 10.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. As a lefty, he’s not the soft-tossing crafty type, with an ability to put the ball by opposing hitters. The strikeout stuff has been there throughout his whole career, as evidenced by a 10.7 K/9 across 328.1 minor league IP.

Recently turning 23, Thorpe should factor into the Rochester rotation from day one. Fernando Romero looks like he’ll work in Minnesota as a reliever and Adalberto Mejia needs to make the big-league roster being out of options. Those developments put Thorpe in a group with guys like Gonsalves and Stewart. Everyone at Triple-A will have some level of prospect status and be looked upon as depth at some point during 2019. For Thorpe though, he could certainly find himself creating distance from the pack.

It seems that while there are top pitching prospects that get focus each season, like Romero and Gonsalves last year, there’s guys that pop up and take the reigns like Littell did early. I’m not sure how the season will go for any of the guys pitching for the Red Wings, but I’d bet against Thorpe being held down. If the capability he has shown over the past two seasons is on display early, he could push for big league time soon.

Baldelli’s starting rotation could use some help on the back end, and despite Dallas Keuchel being able to provide that, he doesn’t seem to be on Minnesota’s radar. The emergence, and sustainability of an internal talent would be a great reality, and the Aussie has as good of a shot as anyone to provide that.

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  • DocBauer, howieramone2 and nclahammer like this

Feb 19 2019 02:34 PM

I'm guessing Thorpe is the one who rises to the top. We have a ton of flexibility. If we can't keep Thorpe down on the farm, it will be painless to DFA Perez. On the relief side, same with Parker. Neither one is a Hughes type deal, where we need to find, as some unnamed GM was quoted as saying, an insane GM.

    • whatyouknowtwinsfan likes this
23yo now and a successful AAA debut, even in SSS. A history of winning and great numbers posted in his milb career and missing 2 whole seasons. Personally, I'd put him #4 on the prospect list. He doesn't need to be rushed! There is no reason for him not to begin 2019 at Rochester. And there is no reason for him not to be ready by mid season. It's all up to him. As stated, he's not just a soft tossing lefty who tricks batters. Pre and post injury and illness he has shown real ability and real stuff. Just give him a little more time to develop and work on his stuff. You mentioned all of Romero, Mejia and Gonsalves. Romero and Mejia will be in the pen initially as Rocco and his staff prepare for 2019. If they follow development the way the Rays have, and the Cardinals have, and the way the Twins did with Santana and Liriano, both of these guys could figure in the 2019 rotation and beyond. Gonsalves is a classic SP who just needs time to learn and adapt. And when called upon at some point in 2019 we will see a different pitcher than we saw initially in 2018, as a rookie. Thorpe has even better stuff than Gonsalves. Let him blow away AAA and bring him up when needed. Nurture Romero and Gonsalves and Mejia as needed, plug them in where they best fit, but never lose sight of the 2nd half of 2019 and beyond.
Feb 20 2019 11:29 AM

If Gonsalves can add justs a little velocity (going from 89 mph to 91-92), he could be a factor.Otherwise, he is just another slo-mo lefty like Tommy Millone or at best Bruce Chen.