2012 was a frustrating, injury-plagued season for one of the newest members of the Minnesota Twins organization, Sean Gilmartin. It’s fair to say that he is excited about getting a fresh start with a new organization. The left-hander was the first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2011 after a fine three-year career with the Florida State Seminoles. In December, the Twins acquired the southpaw in exchange for Ryan Doumit.
At Twins Fest, Twins Daily had the opportunity to chat with Gilmartin and get to know a little more about him.
Gilmartin spends his offseason at his home in Georgia. He made the trek north to the cold and winter weather of Minneapolis for Twins Fest weekend. Being new to the organization, he knew just one of his new teammates. As he said, “Everybody’s new except Trevor Plouffe. We actually went to the same high school together. He graduated two years before me. He played with my brother when my brother went there, so we know each other pretty well.”
Crespi Carmelite high school (in Encino, California) has developed some pretty decent ballplayers. Along with Plouffe and the Gilmartin brothers, there are several other former big leaguers from the high school. Catcher Rick Dempsey made his big league debut as a 19-year-old in 1969 and stayed in the big leagues through the 1992 season. RHP Jeff Suppan had a 17 year big league career.
Sean Gilmartin’s brother, Mike (26), was a 27th
round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2009 out of Wofford. After four seasons in the A’s organization, he split 2013 between the Reds and Nationals organizations.
Sean Gilmartin was selected in the 31st
round of the 2008 draft out of high school. Instead of signing, he went across the country and played at Florida State where he became one of the top collegiate pitchers in the nation. It was pretty clear he would be taken somewhere in the first round of the 2011 draft.
Heading into the draft, there was a lot of talk about the Twins being very much interested in the southpaw. “When I was in school my junior year, I think I talked back and forth with the Twins maybe three or four times leading up to the draft,” Gilmartin recalled, “Yeah, I had a couple of conversation with a few of their scouts.”
That year, the Braves had the 28th
overall pick. Two picks after Atlanta took Gilmartin, the Twins selected infielder Levi Michael. Recall that Alex Meyer was the #23 pick in that same draft, and that the Twins took Travis Harrison and Hudson Boyd in the supplemental first round. You may also be interested to know that two former Twins draft picks were taken earlier in the first round in 2011. The Astros took OF George Springer with the 11th pick (Twins 48th round pick in 2008), and the Cardinals drafted 2B Kolten Wong with the 22nd pick (Twins 16th round pick in 2008).
In 2012, he began his season in AA where he posted a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts. He was promoted to AAA where he finished the regular season with seven more starts. He also had a very impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League.
2013 was a frustrating year for Gilmartin. He made 17 starts for AAA Gwinnett and posted a 5.74 ERA with a 1.59 WHIP. The reality is that he was pitching with shoulder tendonitis. He said, “It was tough last year, you know, being as close as I was to my goal of being in the major leagues. I started the year out pretty well and ended up getting hurt. Tried to pitch through an injury and figured out that isn’t the best thing to do. So, like you said, velocity is usually around 89, 90, 91, and I was throwing it up there at 83 to 85 and that doesn’t get it done.”
In the Arizona Fall League in 2012, he was touching 93 at times. With tendinitis, continuing to pitch is just not really an option. Rest is the only way to improve. “(I) took time off, took about a month or so on the DL to get back. Made my last four starts. Came back healthy. It was basically just a little bit of deficiency in my shoulder program, so I’m working this year to get the shoulder strong.”
What has the offseason plan been for Gilmartin in an attempt to regain his arm strength? “Not really a lifting program, just different shoulder exercises, a lot of manual resistance work with a PT guy.”
His 2013 year ended with significant news for his career. After being a team’s first round pick less than 18 months earlier, he was traded to the Twins. What were his thoughts about the trade when he heard the news? “It’s a new opportunity, definitely looking forward to it. I’m thankful that the Twins were wanting to trade (for me), so I’m looking forward to the opportunity. It’s a new experience for me, so I’m enjoying it.”
So when he is on, what does Sean Gilmartin throw, and what are keys to his success? Going right to the source, Gilmartin said, “(I’ve got a) four-pitch mix; fastball, changeup, curveball and slider. I think my most effective pitch, when my fastball location is where it needs to be, is my changeup. But everything stems off my fastball and my fastball command and being able to throw the fastball where I want.”
It will be an interesting spring training for the lefty. He doesn’t need to be added to the Twins 40-man roster until after the 2014 season, but the Twins decided to make him a non-roster invite to big league camp. He’ll have an opportunity to put his injury and his frustrating 2013 season behind him. However, with the Twins depth of arms in the big leagues, with some out-of-options pitchers and some top prospects in the upper levels, it is possible that the Twins could send Gilmartin to either AAA Rochester or AA New Britain.
What are Gilmartin’s hopes and expectations for spring training? He said, “I’ve been trying not to worry about where I’m going to start the year this year. I did a little bit of that last year, and it didn’t help me out in spring training. This year, I’m just going into spring training and getting myself ready for the season and getting people out. That’s the main thing as a pitcher is to get people out. Throw the ball over the plate, throw strikes, get people out, give your team a chance to win.”
And what are his goals for the 2014 season? “For any pitcher, really, you look at the amount of innings pitched a starting pitcher throws. That’ll give you an indication of whether he’s doing his job or not.”
Sean Gilmartin enjoys hunting and golfing in his free time, a couple of hobbies that he is certain to share with several of his teammates.
With the Twins, there will be no need whatsoever to rush Gilmartin. He will not turn 24 years old until May 8. He will be able to work on what he needs to work on to make himself more big league ready. He profiles as a mid-to-back-end of the rotation starter. Considering that the Twins were looking to trade Doumit, and he was not going to catch any more, getting a player of Gilmartin’s potential is a coup.