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  • TD: Twins Top Prospects: #8 JO Berrios

    Age: 18 (DOB: 05/27/94)
    2012 Stats
    APPY: 3-0, 30.2 IP, 1.17 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 49/4 K/ BB
    ETA: 2016


    The 2012 draft was very important for the Minnesota Twins. Instead of drafting college players, the Twins used their first two picks on high school players. They took OF Byron Buxton with the #2 overall pick. With their first supplemental first-round selection, compensation for having lost Michael Cuddyer to the Rockies in free agency, the Twins took right-handed pitcher, Jose (JO) Berrios. The Twins made him the highest drafted pitcher every from Puerto Rico. It didn’t take long for him to agree to sign for a $1.55 million bonus, exactly the slot amount for the 32nd selection.

    Berrios had a very impressive debut season. After reporting to Ft. Myers, he began his career with the Gulf Coast League Twins. He pitched in eight games. He was used in relief the first seven appearances before making one start. He went 1-0 with four saves. In 16.2 innings, he gave up just seven hits, walked three and struck out 27 of the 62 batters he faced. On August 6th, Berrios and Buxton were promoted to the Advanced Rookie Elizabethton Twins. Berrios made three starts for the E-Twins and went 2-0. In 14 innings, he gave up just eight hits, walked one and struck out 22 of the 51 batters he faced.

    What made him so successful in his first season of pro ball? According to the Twins new Director of Minor League Operations Brad Steil, “He was confident, aggressive, and attacked with his fastball. He also located his fastball pretty well and used his off-speed more effectively as the year progressed.”

    The Good
    Although statistics don’t tell the full story in the lowest levels of the minor leagues, Berrios posted some amazing numbers in the GCL and was even better once he started making starts in Elizabethton. The statistic that jumps off the page is the 49:4 strikeout to walk ratio that he posted. It speaks to his control, but when an 18-year-old kid dominates in a league (Appalachian) where the average age of the hitters is 20.2, we can also conclude that he has some pretty electric stuff.

    Berrios is blessed with a very strong arm. He touched as high as 98 mph although his average fastball was in the 93-95 range. More important, his fastball has a great amount of natural movement. Along with great control of his fastball, he has some secondary pitches that could become plus big league pitches. He throws a slider that is already quite good. It sits in the low 80s and is sharp. He also is throwing a changeup that has room for improvement but the mechanics with it are very good. Add in that he is very athletic and has a consistent, repeatable delivery.

    Mike Radcliff is the Twins Director of Player Personnel. Understanding the importance of the 2012 draft to the Twins future, he also played a very active role in scouting. He had several wonderful things to say about Berrios. “He has a very good fastball, with velocity and life. He also has good confidence. He has good command and keeps the ball down in the zone, “he added, “He has a focus, and an aggressiveness on the field and desire and dedication in his daily approach.”

    Steil said, “I would say that he showed good mound presence and pitch-ability for his age.”

    The Bad

    Berrios has a tremendous upside, but let’s not forget that he has a long ways to go to reach the big leagues and much more developing to do.

    According to Radcliff, “Like all young pitchers, he will have to improve his pitchability. He will have stuff and control, but he will need to develop his approach and style. The development of his breaking pitches and whether or not he’ll be able to use his changeup will dictate his ultimate role and ceiling.”

    Steil adds, “He will need to locate his off-speed pitches more consistently and develop at least one of them into a go-to out pitch.”

    Berrios is listed at just 6-0, a height that often is deemed “too short” to be a major league pitcher (or an NFL quarterback, right, Russell Wilson?). But Radcliff does not seem worried about that with the lanky Berrios. “He is a very good athlete with a durable frame. Despite his lesser bulk, he has a resilient arm which allows him to have upside and projection to all of his pitches.”

    The Bottom Line
    Although many teams did not think that JO Berrios would be drafted in the 1st round, the Twins were convinced of his talent, his stuff, his make-up and most important, his potential. His first-year, rookie league performance certainly was an indication that the Twins were right in their conviction. He had a remarkable season and showed the characteristics that made the Twins like him. He is just 18 years old and has room for improvement and development, as you would expect. He also has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.

    Will Berrios begin his season in Cedar Rapids, and how quickly can he move up?

    Mike Radcliff said, “Will will be diligent to place him in environments that will allow him to have success and develop simultaneously. His advancement will be determined by his ability to apply his talent along with his natural maturation to handle the pro baseball environment.”

    Brad Steil added, “I would say that he showed good mound presence and pitch-ability for his age. It’s possible he could move fairly quickly, depending on how quickly his off-speed pitches improve. The Midwest League will be a good challenge for him.”

    I had done quite a bit of research on potential Twins draft choices. I read quite a bit and watched several videos of Berrios. I immediately liked that the Twins made him the 32nd overall pick last summer. However, when I saw the below video of Berrios showing his reaction to being drafted by the Twins, I absolutely loved the pick.




    [TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #10: Max Kepler]
    [TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #9: Trevor May]
    This article was originally published in blog: TD: Twins Top Prospects: #8 JO Berrios started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 35 Comments
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      I challenge anyone to watch that video and NOT smile.
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Nice work. I would gladly welcome that kind of crying over the kind we've endured over the last few years. If this whole organization can turn it around for and with these young players, we might have a shot later in the decade. Time will tell.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Thanks again, Seth, and thanks righty8383 for prompting me to push "play". You made my day.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Awesome, just awesome. I keep reading about his confidence and mature approach, and I think I can actually see it in his eyes. I really like this kid.
    1. LewFordLives's Avatar
      LewFordLives -
      When you do your Twins top prospects list next year it wouldn't surprise me if Berrios is #1.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think I'm rooting for Berrios more than any other prospect we have.

      Just to add though, a few mocks had him going in the end of the first round and some Rangers and Yankee fansites really wanted them to grab Berrios. So the Twins certainly didn't reach to draft him first in the supplemental. Nice pick for us.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by LewFordLives View Post
      When you do your Twins top prospects list next year it wouldn't surprise me if Berrios is #1.
      I'll be honest. I can certainly see him jumping up to #3. I'd be a little surprised if he gets above Sano and Buxton, but if he does make the case to be considered for #1, we all will be very happy!! He does have some serious talent and potential.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "He will need to locate his off-speed pitches more consistantly and develop at least one of them into a go-to out pitch."--Steil Director of Minor League Operations
      This is unexpected. Other than Santana, Twins' pitchers did not have an "out" pitch. They simply "pitched-to-contact". I conclude that either there has been a change in philosophy or Mr. Steil is in need of a "re-education seminar." I certainly hope it is a change, because Berrios sounds like just the guy the Twins need at the top of the rotation.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I hope kid gets shot in midwest league, given Twins history with pitchers picks, my biggest hope is he avoids the dreaded arm injury path that often seems to include Tommy John surgery...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      "He will need to locate his off-speed pitches more consistantly and develop at least one of them into a go-to out pitch."--Steil Director of Minor League Operations
      This is unexpected. Other than Santana, Twins' pitchers did not have an "out" pitch. They simply "pitched-to-contact". I conclude that either there has been a change in philosophy or Mr. Steil is in need of a "re-education seminar." I certainly hope it is a change, because Berrios sounds like just the guy the Twins need at the top of the rotation.
      I don't think it's really a change in philosophy as much as finding a guy who has that kind of stuff in the draft at that spot.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      This is unexpected. Other than Santana, Twins' pitchers did not have an "out" pitch. They simply "pitched-to-contact". I conclude that either there has been a change in philosophy or Mr. Steil is in need of a "re-education seminar." I certainly hope it is a change, because Berrios sounds like just the guy the Twins need at the top of the rotation.
      Unlike Seth, it's pretty clear to me that there's been a shift in how the Twins acquire young arms from last years draft to May and Meyers.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Unlike Seth, it's pretty clear to me that there's been a shift in how the Twins acquire young arms from last years draft to May and Meyers.
      When else in recent years did they acquire young arms via trade? Scott Diamond came through the Rule 5 draft. In the last several drafts, they have clearly gone after some power arms. Ben Tootle threw 100. Matt Bashore threw 97 before all his arm issues. Billy Bullock was in the upper-90s. Kyle Gibson hits 94, but he has "out" pitches. Wimmer's changeup was considered on 'out' pitch. In the 2012 draft, they drafted a lot of power arms (Bard's FB/SL, Melotakis (98), Chargois (97), Jones (100). Tyler Jones hits 95.

      Santana touched 96, I guess, but he was generally 91-92 with the FB. His changeup was his 'out' pitch.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      When else in recent years did they acquire young arms via trade? Scott Diamond came through the Rule 5 draft. In the last several drafts, they have clearly gone after some power arms. Ben Tootle threw 100. Matt Bashore threw 97 before all his arm issues. Billy Bullock was in the upper-90s. Kyle Gibson hits 94, but he has "out" pitches. Wimmer's changeup was considered on 'out' pitch. In the 2012 draft, they drafted a lot of power arms (Bard's FB/SL, Melotakis (98), Chargois (97), Jones (100). Tyler Jones hits 95.

      Santana touched 96, I guess, but he was generally 91-92 with the FB. His changeup was his 'out' pitch.
      You beat me to the Tootle/Bashore/Bullock "power arm change in philosophy" draft. I just hope now they're shifting towards GOOD power arms.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      "He will need to locate his off-speed pitches more consistantly and develop at least one of them into a go-to out pitch."--Steil Director of Minor League Operations
      This is unexpected. Other than Santana, Twins' pitchers did not have an "out" pitch. They simply "pitched-to-contact". I conclude that either there has been a change in philosophy or Mr. Steil is in need of a "re-education seminar." I certainly hope it is a change, because Berrios sounds like just the guy the Twins need at the top of the rotation.
      Most pitchers don't need to work too hard on an "out" pitch when they are incapable of throwing three pitches in the strike zone without the batter being able to put one of them in play. And Frankie Liriano's slider takes offense to your "other than Santana" comment.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      "He will need to locate his off-speed pitches more consistantly and develop at least one of them into a go-to out pitch."--Steil Director of Minor League Operations
      This is unexpected. Other than Santana, Twins' pitchers did not have an "out" pitch. They simply "pitched-to-contact". I conclude that either there has been a change in philosophy or Mr. Steil is in need of a "re-education seminar." I certainly hope it is a change, because Berrios sounds like just the guy the Twins need at the top of the rotation.
      Ha, yup I read that and thought, "How in the hell did any other Twins pitchers get promoted in the last decade?"
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      When else in recent years did they acquire young arms via trade? Scott Diamond came through the Rule 5 draft. In the last several drafts, they have clearly gone after some power arms. Ben Tootle threw 100. Matt Bashore threw 97 before all his arm issues. Billy Bullock was in the upper-90s. Kyle Gibson hits 94, but he has "out" pitches. Wimmer's changeup was considered on 'out' pitch. In the 2012 draft, they drafted a lot of power arms (Bard's FB/SL, Melotakis (98), Chargois (97), Jones (100). Tyler Jones hits 95.

      Santana touched 96, I guess, but he was generally 91-92 with the FB. His changeup was his 'out' pitch.
      It turned out to be a good trade, but the Twins did swap hard throwing Bullock for noodle armed Diamond. I also doubt Wimmers change up will be any more of an "out" pitch than it was for Brad Radke. The Twins have been drafting harder throwers for the last few years but it really didn't seem to be an organizational mandate until last year's draft.

      Why else was every draft prognosticator able to correctly peg Alex Wimmers going to the Twins in 2010 even though they did not pick until #21? Even though Wimmers was thought of as close to MLB ready, none of the 20 teams ahead of the Twins thought he was worth the pick because he had very little upside due to his non-dominating stuff. Yet everyone correctly said he was going to be drafted by our favorite team, simply because their pitching philosophy was painted on their forehead for all to see.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      When else in recent years did they acquire young arms via trade? Scott Diamond came through the Rule 5 draft. In the last several drafts, they have clearly gone after some power arms. Ben Tootle threw 100. Matt Bashore threw 97 before all his arm issues. Billy Bullock was in the upper-90s. Kyle Gibson hits 94, but he has "out" pitches. Wimmer's changeup was considered on 'out' pitch. In the 2012 draft, they drafted a lot of power arms (Bard's FB/SL, Melotakis (98), Chargois (97), Jones (100). Tyler Jones hits 95.

      Santana touched 96, I guess, but he was generally 91-92 with the FB. His changeup was his 'out' pitch.
      It's the draft combined with the acquisition of May/Meyers that certainly seems to emphasize high-ceiling high-velocity arms than in years past. Of course the Twins haven't exactly shied away from power arms, but they haven't consistently emphasized it either, that's what's changed.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I think people make far too much out of velocity. yes, you've got Verlander and Sale and guys like that that throw hard. Guys like Sabathia and Cain became more successful as they have lost some of their velocity and mixed in their other pitches. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay don't hit 93 on the radar very often. it's not about velocity. it's about having movement and three quality pitches.

      Bashore and Tootle were 'good power arms' who just got hurt. that is more likely to happen when you draft power arms. Bullock, like most power arms, just can't throw strikes.

      To be fair, Radke was pretty good. Wimmers was always believed to be a #3, and assuming he comes back at 100%, probably still will be. It's not about velocity, it's about location and effectiveness/movement of pitches.

      Again, Santana didn't throw real, real hard. Don't get me wrong. I love the draft strategy last year, and in 2009 (Gibson, Bashore, Bullock, Tootle). Gibson should be a solid starter, maybe even a solid #2 type in time. There is a certain amount of luck in the draft. There is a reason that generally 1 player from the draft each year actually makes it. If you can get more than one, it's a terrific draft.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Watched that video last year, but happily watched it again.

      My question, only partially in jest, is whether Berrios would be one of the five best SP the Twins could start THIS year. Meaning, would Berrios actually give the Twins the best chance to win games this year, despite not having pitched in A ball yet?

      Here is a more serious question. When is the last time the Twins have had a pitcher put up these kind of numbers in short season ball?
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Also, the thing about "good power arms" is, if they have any semblance of command and secondary pitches to be a starter, they get drafted in the top 10 picks, and the Twins hadn't been that high up on the draft board for like 10+ years until last year. Yes, they did draft a bunch of guys who can throw 95+, but none of them are sure bets to stick as starters (or even were starters, and I'd label most as longshots), and several of them are pure relievers, such is why they were not drafted all that high.

      It's an interesting philosophy that they took in drafting these guys in the hopes one or two may develop into a useful starter, and hopefully it works out, but it's not going to surprise me if it doesn't. But there's also a few of those guys who could rise to the Twins very quickly in a relief role, like Chargois, Melotakis. I even remember some saying Chargois was a guy who should be sent to AA right away in an attempt to get him to the MLB bullpen as quickly as possible, and that he was the best pure RP in the draft. I wonder how quick the Twins will try to move him.
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