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Article: Report From The Fort: Time For Jose Berrios To Take Control

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 11:45 AM

FT. MYERS – Around this time last year, it was reasonable to feel a little alarmed about Jose Berrios.

Following a tumultuous rookie campaign, the brightest hope for Minnesota's rotation was once again struggling to command his dazzling repertoire. His spring ended with a thud when he started for Rochester in an exhibition against the big-league club on March 31st and allowed five walks with an HBP in just 2 1/3 innings.

But of course, Berrios was still only 22 – a fact easily forgotten due to his meteoric rise through the minors. His growth over the past 12 months has been clearly on display this spring.Heading into his fourth start of the spring on Friday afternoon, Berrios had yet to allow a single walk in Grapefruit League action. He broke that streak against Tampa Bay, issuing a pair of free passes in the second inning of a game where his final line failed to reflect his performance.

Berrios got through only 3 2/3 innings on 72 pitches while allowing three runs, but two were unearned and the other should've been; Brandon Snyder scored after tripling to lead off the fourth when left fielder Chris Heisey lost the ball in the sun. That was one of four outs that Minnesota squandered behind the starter.

Despite all that, Berrios notched four strikeouts and came away from the outing with a 1.64 ERA.

Hard work appears to be paying off for one of the most relentless grinders in the organization. He's noticed a difference compared to last spring.

"I feel great. I feel better," he said. "Every year I get to know my body and myself more."

Indeed, by all appearances, Berrios has smoothed his mechanics and improved his fastball command – an utmost priority for setting up his physics-bending secondary offerings.

Paul Molitor believes the best is yet to come in that regard.

"He's throwing fairly well, but I still think that we're going to see a little bit more sharpness command-wise from him," the manager said after Friday's game.

Berrios is a crucial component in Minnesota's starting pitching equation, and not just because of his youth and a ceiling that exceeds that of all other players currently in the rotation mix. (Though that's huge.) His particular skill set fits well on this team.

Despite some improvements with missing bats in 2017, Twins pitchers still ranked near the bottom of the league in strikeouts. Berrios led all Minnesota starters in K-rate at 22.6%, and did so as one of the youngest starters in the majors, still learning how to fully harness his stuff.

There is also this: Berrios, like the rotation's elder statesman Ervin Santana, is a fairly extreme fly ball pitcher. But whereas this has often proven a weakness for Santana, leading to many of those flies leaving the yard, Berrios has generally been able to keep them in the park.

In the minors, the former first-round pick out of Puerto Rico allowed only 35 home runs in almost 600 innings while coming up through the minors. During his time in the majors last year, Berrios was taken deep just 15 times in 145 frames – good for a 0.9 HR/9 rate that ranked as the lowest among all Twins starters, and in fact 12th-lowest among all MLB starters (140+ IP). Pretty impressive in a season where long balls were way up across the league.

With Minnesota boasting arguably the best outfield defense in the game, getting a high percentage of hitters to put the ball in the air, but inside the fence, is a very good recipe. Especially when you're putting away so many guys without needing to rely on your fielders at all.

If Berrios is staying in the zone and hitting his spots, he's going to be a force. I have zero doubt. And as he enters his first full season as a big-leaguer, there are plenty of signs that he is poised to do just that.

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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 12:06 PM

I have great hopes for him and it is exciting to see him develop.Pitchers need time.I am reading Gleeman's Minnesota Twins 50 book and it is fun to read the stories and remember the players and experiences, but one thing jumps out as I read about Santana, Viola, Radtke - they were brought in young and given a chance to learn in the majors and it paid off.That is why I continue to push for Romero and Gonsalves to be given the opportunity Berrios had to experience MLB and work through some struggles.Our biggest opportunity to get back to the WS is not Odorizzi or Lynn - it is the maturation of this young player and the rise of one or two more from the minors. 

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#3 Twodogs

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 12:48 PM

Yeah however with Berrios, he was selected as the futures all star starting pitcher for two years in a row!! So Gonsalves and Romero at this point in time are not at the same level as Berrios was. They seem to be close, but not quite there yet, hopefully they do that in AAA this year and then next year they can take over for guys like Lynn when they walk??
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#4 D.C Twins

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 04:01 PM

Good to hear that the control looks better. Good MLB hitters lay off his offerings that spill out of the zone unlike what he got away with tearing up the minors. This results in high pitch counts if not high run counts and taxes the bullpen over the year. 

 

We still need to see an extended period of control with low pitch counts before I can be officially excited. 

 

Boy to I hope though!

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#5 Monkeypaws

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 06:06 PM

He could be the ace people have been wanting to overpay for after his best years for a long while. He's but a child, and damn good too. 


#6 FormerMinnasotan

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 08:44 PM

I am hopeful he can take the next steps in his development this year. If he can improve his change and tighten up command of his fastball that will make him better imo. He has done a great job of limiting damage during Spring Training he hasn’t looked dominant this Spring. I hope he is well because he’s a big part of our rotation this year.
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#7 yarnivek1972

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 09:51 PM

He would be my choice for opening day. If all goes well, he could go on a Brad Radke type run of them. Radke holds the Twins record with 9 opening day nods.

#8 ashburyjohn

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 07:04 AM

He would be my choice for opening day. If all goes well, he could go on a Brad Radke type run of them. Radke holds the Twins record with 9 opening day nods.

They want him to pitch in the Cleveland series at San Juan, and starting on Opening Day would likely throw him off schedule for that.

Nothing is so annoying as someone going on talking when I'm interrupting.


#9 birddog

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 08:47 AM

So very excited to see how he develops this year. His pitch count always seems to be higher than what you'd like, but with his workout regiment I'd like to see them put his pitch count at at least 110 to 115. If not, I hope he uses it as motivation to challenge hitters and throw strikes.


#10 Twodogs

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 09:49 AM

It seems that most pitchers that strikeout a lot of guys have high pitch counts.

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#11 Nine of twelve

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 10:22 AM

It seems that most pitchers that strikeout a lot of guys have high pitch counts.

This is why pitch to contact is the right approach for many pitchers. True power pitchers are excepted, of course, but if you're not able to get a lot of K's you're better off inducing easy grounders and fly balls early in the count.

Edited by Nine of twelve, 18 March 2018 - 10:23 AM.


#12 ashburyjohn

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 11:02 AM

It seems that most pitchers that strikeout a lot of guys have high pitch counts.

Maybe because they get to stay in the game longer than guys who have trouble putting batters away? :)

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#13 Tommygun921

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 12:57 PM

When I see/watch Berrios outside of baseball, I see a confident animal, but when he faced adversity on the mound her seems to lose confidence. Once he can beat that I believe that's when he'll finally reach his full potential and consistency.
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#14 Oxtung

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 01:14 PM

 

They want him to pitch in the Cleveland series at San Juan, and starting on Opening Day would likely throw him off schedule for that.

I'm hoping they pitch him in the 1st game of the Cleveland series because that would also make him the starter for the Twins home opener, which I'm going to!


#15 USAFChief

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 03:46 PM

It seems that most pitchers that strikeout a lot of guys have high pitch counts.

I think that's a myth.

Guys that give up a lot of baserunners have high pitch counts.
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