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Thread: Michael Tonkin - 2014

  1. #1
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    Michael Tonkin - 2014

    Michael Harvey Tonkin
    Position: RP
    Throws: R
    DOB: 11/19/1989
    Acquired: 2008 draft; 30th round – out of Palmdale HS in Palmdale, CA

    Signed for $230,000 (4thround slot money) away from commitment to USC
    Height/Weight: 6’7”, 220 lb.

    Tonkin was converted from starter to reliever in 2011. He throws a lot of fastballs in the mid-90’s with good movement. He throws a good slider that emerged as a difference maker in 2012. So he has two pitches that are above-average to plus. What differentiates Michaelfrom most hard throwers is his good command. He appears to be a flyball-neutral pitcher at worst, which is a little surprising given his reliance on the four-seam fastball and slider – perhaps a function of his height. He has a high effort delivery but appears durable.

    Tonkin climbed three levels in 2013,from AA to AAA to the MLB making his debut in July when he was called up forThielbar’s paternity leave. He was optioned back to Rochester, then called up in September. In 2013, he had 28 days of MLB service andpitched 11.1 innings in 9 appearances so he is still eligible for Rookie of theYear and still a prospect.

    Tonkin was optioned before the startof 2014, then called up for the start of the season when Duensing went on paternity leave. In my opinion, he was optioned because he has options. Because he was on the 25-man active roster at the start of the season, Michael fell to me at #54 on the 2014 Adopt-A-Prospect board.

    Gardenhire would love to have thehard-throwing Tonkin on his staff, but then again he would love to have 13 pitchers on his staff.

    Tonkin would be much more noticeable in a farm system not as rich as the Twins. So where does he fit in the Twins firmament of prospects. John Sickels ranked him 14th but said he could fit anywhere from 14th to 20th (C+). Gleeman ranked him 12th. Twinkietown ranked him 15th. According to 2014 Minnesota Twins ProspectHandbook, Seth Stohs ranked him 26th, Cody Christie ranked him 20th, and Jeremy Nygaard didn’t rank him in his top 20.

    I would rank Tonkin 12th. I like his high floor as a 7th or 8th inning set-up man. Actually I hate those roles. I like that he appears to be an old-fashioned shut-down reliever. With his stuff and control, he could be inserted into the middle of a high-leverage situation. I think he could also pitch more than aninning, although Seth (in his handbook) questions Tonkin’s effectiveness when he is used that way. If he can pitch for more than an inning, he will help the Twins limit the pitching staff to 12. Or even 11.

    It seems you can’t write up Michael Tonkin without mentioning that Jason Kubel is married to his sister. I never put too much stock in that until I discovered that Tonkin got an audition in the Metrodome before Gardenhire and Anderson in June 2008 which reportedly led to his signing.
    Last edited by Lonestar; 04-08-2014 at 11:33 AM.

  2. #2
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    I could hardly wait to get back to work so I could write about my main man, Michael Tonkin, being called up to The Show.

    As I said in the intro, Gardy would love to have the hard-throwing Tonkin on his staff. He can, after all, throw the expletive out of the ball. And with the Twinsí starting pitcher saveraging 5.1 innings per start after 9 starts, Gardy was whining for his beloved 13th pitcher, even Ryan Pressly.

    The opening came when outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham were put on the disabled list. The Twins called up Daron Mastroianni (because you really should have two players on the active roster capable of playing center field) and Tonkin Ėa sad testimony as to the poor position player depth in AAA.

    When Tonkin was optioned, I was afraid that he would be pigeon-holed as a One Inning Only guy Ė otherwise known as the modern-day closer. To my relief, he pitched for more than one inning in all three appearances for the Redwings.

    So what do we expect from Michael Tonkin? The scouting report says he throws a lot of fastballs. This year in the majors, he has thrown 34 pitches including 24 four-seam fastballs at 92.6 mph and 6 two-seamfastballs at 92.38 mph. Tonkinís slider is supposed to be a difference maker but so far he has thrown only one at 83.2MPH. He has thrown 3 curves averaging 81mph.

    Fangraphs appears to be using a different radar reading than Baseball Savant, but according to them, Tonkinís MLB fastball velocity 92.8mph, down from 94.4 mph. That could be a spring phenomenon or small sample size. It will be something to keep an eye on.

    Tonkinís keys are stuff and command that we can monitor with these ratios:

    2013 BB% K% K/BB
    AA 0.074 0.278 3.750
    AAA 0.058 0.259 4.500
    MLB 0.064 0.213 3.333
    Total 0.065 0.259 4.000
    2014 BB% K% K/BB
    AAA 0.000 0.278 #DIV/0!
    MLB 0.000 0.250 #DIV/0!
    Total 0.000 0.269 #DIV/0!

    Is Michael Tonkin up in the majors for good? That depends. Willingham and Arcia are coming back Ė some day. That means two players are going to be removed from the active roster. It makes sense to me that one of those is a pitcher. If a pitcher doesnít get hurt (and pitchers do break), then who is voted off the island? Burton and Fien have struggled. Tonkin has options left, as do Gibson, Thielbar, and Fien. Gibson is not going anywhere. Fien has seniority. Thielbar has seniority and is the 3rd LHP in the pen. So Iím betting that I will have Michael Tonkin to write about again.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonestar View Post
    So I’m betting that I will have Michael Tonkin to write about again.
    Let's hope not!

    Good write up. Interesting to read that Tonkin is pitching more than 1 IP in his Rochester appearances. I wouldn't mind seeing the Twins start using guys for 1-2 innings more often this year and carry 11 or 12 pitchers rather than the predictable right-left-right all the time. In my opinion Burton and Duensing are past their expiration date and I'd prefer Tonkin over those guys.

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