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Todd Van Steensel - 2016


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Todd Van Steensel, a 25-yr-old closer from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is a right handed closer for the Fort Myers Miracle. Interestingly enough, this is not his first shot at affiliated baseball; indeed, it is not even his second but rather his third chance to play professionally here in the States.

 

Todd’s baseball career began as a fashion conscious 7-yr-old who signed up for tee-ball because he liked the way the uniforms looked. He had a talent for the game and worked hard, and on January 23, 2009, he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. He played a year at the Rookie level, posting a 2-1 record with 29 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. However, his ERA was terrible at 5.83, and the Phillies released him the following spring.

 

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Todd Van Steensel (left) and Adam O'Neill, Aussie players who signed with the Phillies and Mets in '09 | Image courtesy of Troy Bendeich

 

That offseason Todd returned to Australia to play winter ball and work out some more, going 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA for the Sydney Blue Sox in the 2010-2011 ABL, and on June 6, 2011, he was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Minnesota Twins. Once again, things didn’t go too well as he posted a 5.68 ERA over 57 innings. As luck would have it, he picked up 5 wins and only 2 losses. However, it was sheer talent rather than luck that collected 58 strikeouts over those 57 innings.

 

It was during the 2011/2012 ABL season on the Blue Sox that Van Steensel rediscovered himself on the mound, striking out 25 in 21.2 innings while posting a much improved ERA of 3.32. That spring he was released by the Twins, and he went to Europe to play for the Corendon Kinheim in the Dutch Major Leagues. During his time there, he struck out 9 over 9.2 innings with an ERA of 2.79. His stint was cut short by a non-field related injury in July which sent him back to Australia to sit out the rest of the season.

 

Playing winter baseball once again for the Sydney Blue Sox during the 2012-2013 season, Todd made 15 appearances from the bullpen, allowing 7 earned runs over 18 innings for a 3.50 ERA, striking out 23, and walking 10. Once again, baseball scouts expressed an interest in the Aussie pitcher, and when the Twins decided to give him another chance and presented him with an offer to another contract, Todd jumped at the opportunity to return to the organization and signed to a minor league deal on February 6, 2014.

 

In 2014 at Cedar Rapids, Todd’s lifelong desire to be a closer was fulfilled as he closed out 18 games in 23 appearances, posting a 1.30 ERA, and picking up 8 saves whilst striking out 45 and walking a miniscule 9 batters. In July he was promoted to High A, and he went on to win the Florida State League Championship with the Miracle that year after picking up a win and a save in 16 games in the regular season, hurling 23.2 innings in relief and allowing only 15 hits. He ended the season with an impressive 1.39 ERA on 2 teams.

 

In 2015, Todd pitched for Fort Myers and picked up 13 saves in 16 opportunities, a 2-4 record, 81 strikeouts, and a 2.32 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 66 innings.

 

Always a fan of former MLB pitcher Dontrelle Willis, Van Steensel has modeled his mechanics after Willis’s unconventional pitching style which included a high leg kick and exaggerated twisting motion. Although he has toned the mimicry down over the years, the motions are still quite apparent, even in pictures.

 

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Todd's delivery | Image courtesy of Rinaldi Photos via Flickr

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In 2015, Todd pitched for Fort Myers and picked up 13 saves in 16 opportunities, a 2-4 record, 81 strikeouts, and a 2.32 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 66 innings.

 

 

2016 Summary

 

54.2 A+ innings, 4.12 ERA, 50 strikeouts, 27 walks, 1.372 WHIP

 

8 AA innings, 2.25 ERA, seven strikeouts, two walks, 1.000 WHIP

 

Van Steensel has really been slowly moving through the Twins system, and at age 26 next year, will be really experiencing AA hitters for the first time. 

 

 

2017 Outlook

 

Todd will be in AA and hopefully returns to posting double digit K/9 numbers again. He will have to learn to keep the walks down as well. Right now he is definitely depth in the system.

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