Over the next couple of days I will be looking at a few different topics as it relates to the Twins getting back to their winning ways. It has been a tough couple of seasons for Twins fans but it looks like there is hope for the future. This might not come in 2013 but it is only the first step in the process.
"The Road to Rebuild" series will look at some of the key figures or events that will be critical for the long-term success of the organization. There are plenty of things that need to go right and these are just a handful of those topics.
The first article in the series looks at a young man that was on the fast track for the big leagues before an arm injury forced him to the sidelines. ----------
During the next couple of seasons, there is going to need to be more than one thing that breaks in favor of the Twins for the team to get back to the top of the AL Central. There will be plenty of young talent ready to emerge for the club but this will mean that some things need to go right in the minor leagues. For Minnesota, the road to rebuild has already started and there will be plenty of other important steps along the way.
Kyle Gibson could be one of the key pieces for the Twins on their road back to the top. The former first round pick back in 2009 will undoubtedly make his MLB debut this year after missing most of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Reports from the Arizona Fall League have his slider looking sharper and there seems to be a little more life on his pitches. This is great news for the Twins.
The Twins hope their rotation of the future will include Gibson and recent acquisitions Alex Meyer and Trevor May. It will be a year or two before Meyer and May make it to the big leagues. This leaves Gibson as the first cog in the rotation of the future. He should have the most big league service time under his belt and this could help him to be a leader to these other young pitchers.
When Minnesota looks ahead, the front office probably isn't considering Gibson a front of the rotation starter. His track record in the minor leagues didn't put him on the path for that elite level. But the team might not need him to get to this point; he still could be a very good number two or number three pitcher. If he can reach this level, he could be in the middle of the Twins rotation for the better part of the next decade.
Gibson has a fastball that can hit in the mid-90s but it usually rests in the 91-92 range. His plus slider will be a pitch that could be fun to watch for Twins fans. The other above average pitch in his arsenal is a change up. Between the end of last season and the AFL, Gibson got plenty of work in so there shouldn't be any restrictions on the type of pitches that he throws.
The plan for Gibson in 2013 is still up in the air. Since it will be his first full season since surgery, there will most likely be an innings limit placed on the right-hander. The other thing yet to be decided is where the 25-year old will start the season. He could be asked to begin in Rochester so he can be a starter and the team can have better control over his innings. The other option is to have him start the year in the bullpen for the Twins.
In an interview conducted by Seth Stohs of Twins Daily
, Ron Gardenhire had good things to say about Gibson and the coming year. Gardenhire said,
"The first thing is to get him out on the field and get him going through the same thing as everybody else. I'm sure he can't wait to do that. And get right into the middle of the program. HE's ready to do that with no restrictions. Get back on the programs and do all the drills. I'm sure he's fired up about getting back in there. I'm excited to see the young man. He's a very talented young man."
If Twins fans think Gibson is going to win multiple Cy Young awards and be a perennial 20-game winner, this might be setting the expectations a little too high. It does seem that at minimum he should be a strong middle of the rotation pitcher with the potential to do some very good things along the way.
The road to rebuild is going to be an extended process and Gibson is a key figure. The Twins need some of their young starting pitching to succeed and Gibson will be the first of that young core to make his debut. Eyes across Twins Territory will be keeping their focus on Gibson and it will be up to him to perform at the big league level.