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Eades Among Under The Radar Pitching Prospects Finishing Strong

Posted by Tom Froemming , 01 September 2016 · 7,747 views

d.j. baxendale ryan eades dereck rodriguez eduardo del rosario
One of the great things about being a baseball fan is you can always find plenty to be positive about if you’re willing to look hard enough. While 2016 has been a bleak year for the Twins, having 100-plus players in the organization means there are 100-plus opportunities to find some bright spots.

It’s no secret that the biggest issue for the Twins has been their pitching. While some of the prospects like Jose Berrios and J.T. Chargois have struggled in their brief time in the major leagues, there are plenty of other pitchers in the system trending in the right direction.

If you’re looking for the brightest stars shining in the system, Stephen Gonsalves (1.97 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.9 K/9) and Fernando Romero (1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.0 K/9) are having as good of seasons as anyone in the entire minor leagues. But there has been and will be plenty of coverage about those two as they rocket their way up the Twins prospect rankings.

Digging a bit deeper, you can find a few less heralded pitchers who have really put things together over the past couple months. Unlike Gonsalves and Romero, these guys aren’t going to be in the running for pitcher of the year awards or sit atop any prospect lists, but what they’re doing shouldn’t be ignored. Here is a list of one pitcher from each of the Twins’ top four affiliates who has turned things up as the minor league season is winding down.

Rochester: D.J. Baxendale

Baxendale began the season in the Chattanooga Lookouts’ rotation and pitched well enough to be named a midseason Southern League All-Star. He had a 3.44 ERA and displayed excellent control (1.8 BB/9), which has been his calling card throughout his professional career.

That performance earned him a promotion, but it wasn’t to the Rochester rotation. Along with a new team, Baxendale shifted to a new role out in the bullpen. After averaging 6.6 K/9 as a starter in Double A, the Arkansas product is now averaging over a strikeout per inning out of the Rochester pen.

Over 30 ⅓ innings with the Red Wings, Baxendale has a 1.19 ERA and 34 strikeouts. He’s pitched at least two innings in seven of his 22 appearances.

A former 10th-round pick, the 25-year-old Baxendale has never been viewed as much of a prospect, but the way he’s pitched at the highest level of the minor leagues has to have captured the attention of the front office. With a new regime expected to take over, however, it’s anyone’s guess whether Baxendale will remain in relief or go back to starting next season.

Chattanooga: Ryan Eades

Eades’ totals for the year don’t look like much to get excited about, but since returning to the Lookouts’ rotation, he has been on a nice roll. The former second-round pick was bumped to the bullpen in early July and saw his ERA balloon to 5.13 in the middle of that month.

He smoothed things out and managed to get back into the rotation on Aug. 14, partially due to performance but luck also played a big role. While he may not have technically earned his way back into the rotation, he’s certainly pitched like he intends to stay there since.

Maybe being sent to the pen was a wakeup call, maybe he learned some things out there, maybe it’s as simple as he has a fresh arm ... whatever it is Eades has looked like a different pitcher. Over four starts, the LSU product has a 2.42 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and four times as many strikeouts (20) than walks (5). His 8.1 K/9 over that period is a nice increase over his career mark of 6.6.

Eades hasn’t lived up to his impressive college resume or $1.3 million bonus up to this point, and this could just be him getting hot over a small sample, but I wonder if we are seeing his turning point.

Fort Myers: Dereck Rodriguez

Rodriguez started the year in Cedar Rapids and got off to a rough start. Coming off a season in which he was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year, Rodriguez looked lost, pitching to a 7.71 ERA through June 2. From there he really turned things around. The Twins took notice and quickly bumped him up to Fort Myers.

The 24-year-old has carried that momentum over, and through four starts in the Florida State League has a 2.36 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over 26 ⅔ innings. He isn’t posting as many strikeouts since the promotion (just 5.1 K/9), but he has issued just two walks. That’s not two walks as in per nine rate, that’s two walks as in total. While the FSL is a notorious pitcher’s haven, that kind of control is impressive no matter the setting.

Since hitting that low point in early June, Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in all 13 of his starts. That’s an especially impressive feat considering this is just his second season as a starting pitcher and third overall since being converted from the outfield.

Cedar Rapids: Eduardo Del Rosario

Much like Rodriguez, Del Rosario’s 2016 got off to a rotten start. His season started in June, but the lanky 21-year-old didn’t really get rolling until the start of July. Here’s a breakdown his numbers by month.

June: 6.58 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 5.2 K/9
July: 2.83 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.4 K/9
Aug.: 1.69 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11.5 K/9

Del Rosario has pitched out of his mind over his last eight starts in particular, tallying a total of 58 Ks against just 14 walks over that stretch of 44 ⅔ innings. He is far and away the most intriguing prospect on this list, but it’s important that Del Rosario keeps logging innings and developing his body before he really shoots his way up the rankings. Regardless, he has definitely established himself as a guy to keep an eye on.

Aside from Berrios and Chargois, there has been plenty of frustration over the lack of progress from other highly-touted prospects like Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart, Nick Burdi and the handful of other relievers the Twins took with high draft picks. But luckily in baseball hope springs eternal.

All those guys will get another shot to breakout next year. But in the meantime, Gonsalves and Romero are reason enough to be excited and there are plenty of under the radar guys beyond the four listed above taking big steps forward right before our eyes.




I would rather see smoke given to Baxendale than the guys they are calling up and putting on the 40-man. At some point, the Twins have to forget about who they promote and when do they really have to add them to the roster. 

 

Which seems strange because the 40-man currently contains at least three (maybe Walker the fourth) who WON'T be on the Twins opening day roster next year and will probably need a full season of seasoning before getting a shot at the Twins, three of them not expected to even get halftime notice until 2018. Go figure!

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Deduno Abides
Sep 01 2016 09:38 PM
Now Kohl Stewart has "elbow tendinitis." That can be a slow-healing injury. Here's guessing he'll rehab all winter and then get a worse elbow injury next year.


Like what Baxendale and Rodriguez have done. Don't believe in Eades' SSS. Del Rosario- who knows?


Let's hope Jay puts it together next year.
    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Tom Froemming
Sep 01 2016 09:57 PM

 

I would rather see smoke given to Baxendale than the guys they are calling up and putting on the 40-man. At some point, the Twins have to forget about who they promote and when do they really have to add them to the roster. 

 

Which seems strange because the 40-man currently contains at least three (maybe Walker the fourth) who WON'T be on the Twins opening day roster next year and will probably need a full season of seasoning before getting a shot at the Twins, three of them not expected to even get halftime notice until 2018. Go figure!

Tough spot for Baxendale, was really nothing more he could've done. If he keeps up that kind of performance, you'd have to think we see him at Target Field at some point in 2017 for sure.

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Tom Froemming
Sep 01 2016 10:12 PM

 

Now Kohl Stewart has "elbow tendinitis." That can be a slow-healing injury. Here's guessing he'll rehab all winter and then get a worse elbow injury next year.


Like what Baxendale and Rodriguez have done. Don't believe in Eades' SSS. Del Rosario- who knows?


Let's hope Jay puts it together next year.

Yep, the Eades optimism is definitely wishful thinking, but it's great to see the guy succeeding at Double-A of late. At the very least he's pitched his way from kind of an afterthought to a guy to keep an eye on again. Very encouraged by that strikeout-to-walk ratio.