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  • Lefty Logan Darnell is making his pitch

    One of the pitchers in the Minnesota Twins farm system who has begun to garner more attention is Logan Darnell. The 24-year-old left-hander was 6-6 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 15 starts at New Britain this year. Last Thursday, he threw a complete game, four-hit shutout against the Erie Sea Wolves. I had been occasionally getting questions about Darnell from readers, but following that start, there were a lot more inquiries. What does he throw? When will he get promoted? What is different from last year?

    Looking back, there probably should be more excitement about Darnell than there has been. He was the team’s 6th round pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. In his first full season, 2011, he pitched in Beloit and Ft. Myers before ending the year with five starts in New Britain. Guys that have pitched at three levels in a season, and the Twins have had many, typically get an opportunity in the big leagues.

    Last year, he made 28 starts for the Rock Cats. He went just 11-12 with a 5.08 ERA, but as he was developing pitches, he also was able to throw 156 innings. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and did well.

    This year, he has been very good and was on a pace to throw nearly 180 innings. In nine of his last 11 starts with the Rock Cats, he threw at least six innings. The two times that he didn’t go six innings, he went 5.2 innings. While he has been more efficient with his pitches, his strikeout rate increased from 5.7 to 7.2 per nine innings. More people were beginning to take notice.

    So, I started asking some questions. For instance, late last week, I asked Twins minor league director Brad Steil when Darnell might be promoted to AAA. He responded by saying, “he just needs to continue to be consistent and be ready when there’s an opportunity.”

    On Sunday, a spot in the Rochester rotation opened. Kyle Gibson was promoted to the big leagues, and Darnell was given (and had earned) a spot and an opportunity in the Rochester rotation.

    Last night, he made his Rochester debut. Now, as you read in today’s minor league report, it didn’t go as planned. He gave up just one run, but he was only able to go 2.2 innings before leaving the game due to a blister.



    What has made him so successful this season? Steil has noticed a couple of things. “I think Logan is locating all of his pitches better and getting ahead. There’s also some confidence that comes with being in a league a second year. He uses all four of his pitches effectively, with the change probably being his best off-speed pitch.”

    Darnell agreed. The lefty said the biggest improvement he’s made since last year is “probably my changeup. I’ve had confidence to throw it in hitter’s counts, and it got better this year. I believe that consistency is a big thing. Always work on something to improve and not be satisfied because baseball can humble you fast.”

    He also spoke of his Arizona Fall League experience. “The Fall League was great. I made a lot of good friends that are having success. But if I learned anything from it, it was to make it more about me and what I throw, more than about who is hitting. I spent a lot of time there working on my curveball, trying to throw a good one early in counts.”

    Darnell throws a fastball that reaches into the low 90s. He has always had good breaking pitches, both a curveball and a slider. Darnell said when asked if he had an out pitch, “If I had to choose, it would be the slider. I definitely consider myself a groundball pitcher, but with my changeup this year, it’s helped me be more diverse in how I throw.”

    Hopefully Logan Darnell can quickly get back on the mound and continue to make strides in the right direction. He could be added to the 40 man roster at season’s end if he continues to pitch well. He is left-handed and projects as a back of the rotation type starter. There’s value in a guy like that, either as a starter or as a long reliever.
    This article was originally published in blog: Lefty Logan Darnell is making his pitch started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      Rochester now has an interesting group of starters. De Vries, Hendriks, Worley, Pedro Hernandez, Andrew Albers and now Logan Darnell. If the Twins have a hope for the near future, it will come from these guys.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I like Darnell but he can be added to the other 3 LHSPs the Twins have in the high levels (Diamond, Albers & Hernandez) and you got pretty much a set of number 4 or 5 starters with average FBs and adequate secondary stuff who have to hit the corners to survive in a MLB game. No dominating fastballs, no out pitches. That's not bad, they are all "serviceable" and could be good bullpen assets and spot starters in a competitive in the post-season team , but you cannot build a rotation around them (like the Twins ill-advisedly tried to do with Diamond this season...)
    1. 2wins87's Avatar
      2wins87 -
      How good are his slider and changeup? Would either be a fringe plus pitch at the MLB level?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Nice to read the comments from both the Twins and Logan. Pretty cool stuff, Seth. I have no idea how good he is, or is not. But, generally, guys the Twins move that fast end up having some kind of MLB career, from ok to good. Here's hoping he succeeds on the good side!
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Thank you Seth. I am rooting for him. Obviously the Twins need pitching in general but the fact that he is left handed makes it better. May, Meyer, Berrios, Gibson, Baxendale and Stewart are all righties so it is nice to mix in lefties. Per Thrylos, maybe he is not an anchor but he seems to be doing well and growing. Keep it up. For anybody who has not really looked, check his career stats. This year compared to last shows some serious improvement. Go Logan.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I agree with Thrylos. The margins are so thin, it's tough to project better than back-of-the rotation for any of the lefties at the higher levels. We have some lefties in A ball and below with higher upside. And we drafted one this year. But we are short on lefty prospects at the B level in the upper levels. I would put Darnell at a solid C with an upside of C+.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      they are all "serviceable" and could be good bullpen assets and spot starters in a competitive in the post-season team , but you cannot build a rotation around them (like the Twins ill-advisedly tried to do with Diamond this season...)
      That's a reasonable reality check, but it's not like we don't need serviceable 4/5 starters also. I think they (Diamond, Albers, Darnell, Hernandez) can fill at least one, if not both, of those roles on the post-season team you speak of. You would hope they could be around league average in those spots (4.20 ERA).

      When guys like Joe Saunders and Joe Blanton are getting $7MM/year, you can see how a decent #4 earning $.5MM/year is pretty darn valuable to the team.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Good observations by thrylos and others. We have an abundance of 5-6-7 SP's from both sides. We all know that. We really need Gibson to be a 2-3, Worley to come around as a 3-4, Wimmers to come back as a 4-5....

      And we need to go outside the system for a 2-3 or better, maybe two. This off-season, pretty please, Mr. Ryan?
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Always makes me wonder if one of these lefties could add a pitch that hitters don't practice hitting, like a good fading circle change or a knuckle curve. Coming from the lefty release point, a rightie hitter loves an average lefty curve coming in towards his wheel house, but some lefties (eg: Bruce Chen) develop a collection of pitches that have a more unusual trajectory. Pedro Hernandez should study Chen's stuff to see if he can duplicate some of that. Guys that throw a bit harder like Darnell might try developing a circle change or a knuckle curve, something a little different than average.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I don't get why fringe guys don't learn the splitter, screwball, knuckler, whatever they need to learn once it is clear they are fringe guys, to get to the majors.*

      *not saying Logan is that, that was a genereal sentence
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      That's a reasonable reality check, but it's not like we don't need serviceable 4/5 starters also. I think they (Diamond, Albers, Darnell, Hernandez) can fill at least one, if not both, of those roles on the post-season team you speak of. You would hope they could be around league average in those spots (4.20 ERA).

      When guys like Joe Saunders and Joe Blanton are getting $7MM/year, you can see how a decent #4 earning $.5MM/year is pretty darn valuable to the team.
      Wonderful point. I don't think I wrote anywhere that Darnell would be a top of rotation guy, but he can be a big leaguer. There's no shame in having 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 starters. And, you mention the reason that I never get upset when the Twins don't go out and spend spend money on 5th starter guys like Blanton or Marcum or Saunders or those types. Why give those guys $4, 5, 8 million when you can have internal guys who are 24 and 25 and 26 do an equivalent job for $0.5 million?

      As I've said before, there are probably only about a 8-12 true aces in baseball, in the world.There are maybe 20 that might fit into that second tier of good #2/3s. Then there are probably 30 more that are in that next tier. So, there are 60 pitchers... That's each team, in theory, having two really good pitchers on average. There are another 90 spots in rotations. That's why #3 starters are getting 3 year, $24 million deals and #4 starters are getting 1 year, $8 million deals. I guess. I'll take my chances on guys in pre-arbitration years over spending on those guys.

      Now, at this point, we can all agree, the Twins don't have any that fit into those top two categories. We hope that Gibson will eventually be in that #2 category and certainly in the #3 category. Alex Meyer is the one that could potentially fit into that #1/2 range, and that's Stewarts' upside, though he (and Berrios) have a long ways to go.

      That's why I like guys like Darnell. Scott Diamond was supposed to be the Twins #1 starter, but everyone knows he's a #4/5 starter.

      Darnell is a good guy and has really improved himself. He's the type of guy that we should be getting to know.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Well put, Seth. The reason I haven't been more troubled by Ryan's failings in procuring #2-3 starters is that it's harder than some people think to find them with acceptable financial risks, and that we weren't going to contend in 2013 anyway.

      The way I see it, for the next two years, the only internal candidates that have any liklihood of delivering #2-3-4 starter results are Gibson, Meyer, Worley, Wimmers, and just maybe May, Eades, Hendriks, and Deduno. The odds of four of them panning out isn't so hot, which is why I'm hoping for at least one #2-3 from outside the system. Then I'll be fine taking our chances on the #5-6-7 staters coming from this group plus DeVries, Darnell, Baxendale, Hernandez, Blackburn and the like.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      And Scott Diamond.
    1. chopper0080's Avatar
      chopper0080 -
      I would love for us to be in a position to have too many decent starting pitchers rather than the farce that we have gone through recently. As Seth stated, true 1 and 2 SPs are pretty rare, but having a glut of potential 3, 4 & 5 SPs puts an organization to either pursue a 1 or 2 if they come available or trade for one from a team wanting to package a 1 or 2 for a cost effective MLB pitcher and a prospect.

      Too early to tell, but hopefully these are indicators of a true move by the Twins to become one of the better organizations in MLB again.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Darnel is striking out more than 7/9 this season. I don't have the time to look it up, but I doubt that Diamond hit that total. I think it's a bit unfair to lump him in that category just yet if he can keep getting the Ks.. That might make him a decent 3...
    1. Uncle Charlie's Avatar
      Uncle Charlie -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Darnel is striking out more than 7/9 this season. I don't have the time to look it up, but I doubt that Diamond hit that total. I think it's a bit unfair to lump him in that category just yet if he can keep getting the Ks.. That might make him a decent 3...

      Diamond had pretty good K/9 numbers early in his minor league career but they consistently dropped as he moved up through the system. Darnell's K/9 is on the rise as he matures. He appears to be turning into a different level of pitcher as he gains experience and develops his pitches. I watched him in his debut last night and, even though the blister ended his night early, he settled in pretty nicely after giving up a homer to his first AAA hitter (k'd 2 guys in the 2nd maybe?). Some guys survive on raw talent alone and some guys survive on guts. Logan might fall into that category. He's got good make-up it seems. I don't care what anybody says, I like a guy who goes 6+ basically EVERY time he takes the mound. It means he's a strong competitor who doesn't necessarily have to have his best stuff to get guys out.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      ......and that we weren't going to contend in 2013 anyway......

      ...which is why I'm hoping for at least one #2-3 from outside the system....
      Both comments are directly attributable to what the Twins FO decided to do--- ie, that they definitely wouldn't choose to contend in the present... and what they won't do to make themselves better contenders in the future.

      You, yourself had your "hopes" up last offseason that they would make legitimate upgrades at the top of the rotation- instead, they chose to sign a wounded-wing #5 and a recently demoted Pirate #6- which was essentially a repeat of their acquisition strategy going into 2012.... and you said you would hold them accountable if they failed to do better than that. What evidence leads you to think they will act any differently this coming offseason?
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Birdwatcher, to hold the Twins accountable, I think shaking your finger with your eyebrows raised would suffice.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Moderator's Note:

      Folks, this thread is already starting to drift from the topic of Logan Darnell; a side comment by the original poster has taken life as a review of the perceived failings of the front office. If one of you feels this is un-tilled ground, feel free to start a new thread of your own.
    1. Uncle Charlie's Avatar
      Uncle Charlie -
      By the way, any word on whether or not the blister will impact Darnell's availability for his next start? He's thrown as many innings as anybody in minor league baseball to this point. The short outing might not be the worst thing for him as long as it doesn't turn into a trip to the DL
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