Brusdar Graterol made his much-anticipated debut this afternoon as part of the Twins' 8-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. The 21-year old has been raising eyebrows and expectations primarily because of his velocity and the impact he could make down he stretch run and hopefully a long run into the playoffs. Comparisons have been made and dreams have been dreamt of the Twins striking gold for this year in much the same way the Angels did in 2004 with Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez.
Graterol pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the victory for the Twins, as they were able to stretch the lead in the AL Central over Cleveland to 5.5 games. This was a great way for a guy like Graterol to make his debut: a low leverage situation against a weak offense. And he performed. His first pitch as a big leaguer was advertised on TV broadcasts at 100 MPH because of rounding. Baseball Savant had it at 99.6. This would be a good time to note that I am not projecting anything about how hard Graterol may throw in the future or analyzing how hard he threw in the minors - just a few thoughts on how hard he threw today.
Graterol began his outing with a four-pitch strikeout of Dawel Lugo. Lugo didn't swing at any of the four, which came in at 99.6, 99.3, 99, and 98.5 MPH. Graterol then faced Brandon Dixon, who hit a single on the fifth pitch of the AB and second slider. To Dixon, Graterol threw three fastballs at 98.5, 99.1, and 98.6 MPH. Then Jordy Mercer saw two fastballs at 99.3 and 98.5, a slider at 88.1 and hit a 98.7 MPH fastball for an infield single. The first pitch to Jake Rogers was another 99.6 MPH fastball (tying his first pitch for the fastest of the outing) for a game-ending double play.
So what did he throw today? Overall, there were 14 pitches with 10 for strikes. His fastball accounted for 11 pitches and 8 strikes. He topped out twice at 99.6 MPH with his first and final pitches. His fastball averaged 99 MPH and none were thrown slower than 98.5 MPH.
And here is why that matters to Twins fans. After 14 pitches, Brusdar Graterol now sits in positions 2-7 for individual pitch velocity by Minnesota Twins this year. Position #1 is still held (for now) by Trevor May who hit 99.8 MPH on August 5 against Atlanta's Johan Camargo. Extend that out throughout the Statcast era (since 2015) and Graterol is tied for third in individual pitch velocity behind that May 99.8 MPH pea, a 99.7 MPH fastball thrown by Ryan Pressly in 2016 and tied with a 99.6 MPH pitch thrown by JT Chargois in 2016 also.
For a long time, the Twins have been left out (somewhat intentionally and also unintentionally) from baseball's growing velocities. In Brusdar Graterol, Twins fans have someone exciting to watch who has the potential for missing lots of bats. Ironic note to end: Graterol missed exactly zero bats today against the Tigers. But that will change.