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Projects Vs. Prospects


Cody Pirkl
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The Twins have brought in a few project pitchers despite having several younger arms who appear ready for extended looks. The front office appears to be growing confident in its ability to identify undervalued skills and turn them into value. Is this really the way the Twins should be filling out their roster?Only one rotation spot is up for grabs as we roll into spring, and it likely won’t be a long term gig, as Pineda returns 39 games into the season. The fifth spot has several competitors.

 

Jhoulys Chacín - 103.1 IP, 6.01 ERA, 5.88 FIP, .280/.356/.521 against

 

Chacin is believed by some to be the favorite for the fifth rotation spot despite everything bottoming out in 2019. If you’re looking at his numbers wondering why the Twins even gave him a call, it’s because prior to 2019 he sported a 3.86 ERA in over 1,200 innings in his career. He was starting playoff games for Milwaukee just two years ago and still managed a 25.7% whiff rate on the slider that’s carried him to this point in his career. If the Twins can adjust anything with Chacín to bring him near the No. 2 or 3 pitcher he was in Milwaukee, he slots in well for the fifth spot and gives you more than you can realistically ask from any of the rookies.

 

Randy Dobnak - 28.1 IP, 1.59 ERA, 2.90 FIP, .245/.297/.300 against

Lewis Thorpe - 27.2 IP, 6.18 ERA, 3.47 FIP, .336/.387/.531 against

Devin Smeltzer - 49 IP, 3.86 ERA, 4.58 FIP, .265/.312/.466 against

 

Here we have three young pitchers who you could easily argue, based on their 2019 performances, are more deserving of a rotation spot than Chacín . Even Thorpe’s ugly looking numbers are balanced by his 3.47 FIP, likely due to his .438 BABIP allowed. So why would Chacín be in consideration for it? The first thought is that he can have explosive value for a non-roster invite if he returns to form. His history says he’s at least capable, while the other three have had success in relatively small sample sizes to start their careers. Also consider Pineda’s return. Do the Twins want a young guy to settle in for six weeks and then have his role in flux?

 

The bullpen had a spot open up just recently as the front office used their bullpen depth to add to their rotation depth by trading Brusdar Graterol for Kenta Maeda. Let’s call this 1.5 spots up for grabs.

 

Matt Wisler: 51.1 IP, 5.61 ERA, 4.23 FIP, .272/.323/.490 against

 

A former top 100 prospect, Wisler was brought in on a guaranteed contract this winter to take a spot in a bullpen with a surprising amount of depth. His FIP being a run and a half lower suggests he may have gotten unlucky. Look no further than his home run to fly ball rate at 18.2%, almost double what the league average normally is. He also has an absurd slider to work with, which earned a 40.8 whiff%. While everything but the slider got crushed in 2019 for Wisler, finding just one more effective pitch could make him a valuable reliever. While it’s not certain, I’d expect Wisler, being out of options, to hold his role with that guaranteed contract when the team heads north, leaving only one bullpen spot remaining.

 

Cody Stashak: 25 IP, 3.24 ERA, 3.01 FIP, .287/.298/.475 against

Fernando Romero: 14 IP, 7.07 ERA, 5.07 FIP, .317/.431/.483 against

 

Stashak was money in his debut season, so it’s easy to want him to nab the final spot given his performance compared to Romero’s. You may even be asking what the question is here. Nick Nelson had a nice write up on why you shouldn’t just rule the hard-throwing righty out. He’s got the raw skills you dream of in a reliever, and 2020 is his last option year. It would be nice to give him another chance in the majors in low leverage to live up to his pedigree. If you disagree, also consider that one of the young guys who lost out on a rotation spot could transition to long relief to begin the year. You could solidly argue that the Twins might make better use of two bullpen spots rather than counting on improvement from Wisler.

 

What the final decision may come down to is the confidence the Twins have in betting on themselves. They’d be betting on their ability to identify hidden talent and value, as well as their coaching staff’s ability to bring it to the forefront. It’s easy to say “stash the young arms in the minors in case we need them”, but they’re looking ready for a major league role after most performed better last season than the projects the front office brought in this winter. A lot of them possess a fair amount of upside themselves.

 

Consider the depth that this team has in all facets, as well as the fact that they’re coming off of 101 wins with a wide open window. Do you feel comfortable with the Twins’ ability to make something of these pitchers coming off rough seasons? Or would you prefer they run with the younger, mostly unproven arms of which little is known at this point? Let us know below.

 

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Would love to see guys like Romero and Thorpe pitch so well that the FO has to keep them on the 26-man.  I know Wisler is guaranteed money, but it's not a huge amount is it?  A little over $1 million?  Or am I wrong?  I kind of look at what they're doing as compared to a game of darts.  If you only have a couple darts to throw, your chances of hitting a bullseye aren't very good.  The more darts you have, the better your odds.  They're stockpiling darts.  Sort of. :)

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I go back and forth on this issue.  In the end I still think I go with the vets.  Wins are as important early in the season as they are late in the season.  With vets you have a slightly better idea of how they will perform.  

 

The small sample sizes for the young guys makes me a little nervous.  I say give them some time at AAA to make sure they have their stuff together and once proven then the vets can be on a shorter leash. 

 

Depth is never a bad thing just ask Cleveland.  Still I would start with the season with the guys who have been there and done that before.  Use the young guys if injuries happen or they are just killing it in AAA that you just have to bring them up.

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I really want nothing to do with chacin.  He was a ok pick up when we needed 2 spots to start the season  but one spot should go to the best of the young guys.  
as far as the bullpen goes I think we should give Fernando Romero lots of innings this spring.  You can easily see if he has it back or not, if that arm looks live and is controlling his pitching he can be dominate and should be in the bullpen.  If he is all over the place and can’t locate that fastball send him back down and see what you can salvage.  
wisler or even one of the young starters for the last bullpen spot if you don’t see it from Romero. 

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With the number of pitchers teams are using these days during the season, you can't have too many capable bodies on hand. I think the Twins have set themselves up pretty good in this department. It will be interesting to see who breaks camp on the MLB roster.

 

Starting Rotation Projection: Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Bailey, Dobnak. At least until Pineda returns. Also, I think Fernando Romero pitches his way back into a MLB role.

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I'm fine with Wisler being given a shot early on. He's a nice early season experiment to try out, and if he fails, it shouldn't be a big deal.

 

As I've said many times, I'd much rather see one of the young starters start over Chacin. I don't think he has the upside compared to the other options, plus he doesn't have any options. 

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As I've said many times, I'd much rather see one of the young starters start over Chacin. I don't think he has the upside compared to the other options, plus he doesn't have any options. 

Chacín technically is on a minor league contract, which means he could be sent to Rochester without optioning him. Most likely, he has an opt-out clause, which would mean either he's on the team or let go altogether.  

 

I think Chacín has the inside track on the fifth starter competition. If he doesn't perform, the Twins still have Dobnak, Smeltzer, and Thorpe available, along with the return of Pineda and Hill. 

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Chacin or Thorpe is probably best case scenario, either Chacin has found enough of his good years form or Thorpe claims a rotation spot. 

 

 6 pen spots are pretty locked, Wisler/ Romero/ Stashak/ Poppen/ Coloumbe/ Hardy/ Reed/ starters that don't make the back of the rotation all fight for the 7 and 8 spot.  Wisler probably wins the first look with his contract and I think they carry a lefty other than Rodgers.

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I hope all the projects & prospects work out even eventually to the extent of Duran & Balazovic. I think because of the condition of our rotation we need all of them to work out. I don`t think there needs to be that much stress just keep on rotating them from AAA to ML as long as they work out.

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Service time will also need to be a consideration. Odo has a one year deal and if he's as good as last year he'll get a larger contract that will be outside the Twins pay scale. If he isn't good then they won't re-sign him, either. I don't think the Twins see Pineda as long term so I suspect this will be his last year as well. If I'm correct then that puts Chacin in the #5 spot for the first couple of months.

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Service time will also need to be a consideration. Odo has a one year deal and if he's as good as last year he'll get a larger contract that will be outside the Twins pay scale. If he isn't good then they won't re-sign him, either. I don't think the Twins see Pineda as long term so I suspect this will be his last year as well. If I'm correct then that puts Chacin in the #5 spot for the first couple of months.

Pineda signed a 2 year contract. The only way he is not back is bu anither PED suspension.

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Service time will also need to be a consideration. Odo has a one year deal and if he's as good as last year he'll get a larger contract that will be outside the Twins pay scale. If he isn't good then they won't re-sign him, either. I don't think the Twins see Pineda as long term so I suspect this will be his last year as well. If I'm correct then that puts Chacin in the #5 spot for the first couple of months.

Odorizzi is a pretty good pitcher when at his best. But, he’s certainly not one of the dominant upper-echelon guys. If he’s “outside of the Twins payscale,” what the heck are we even doing here?

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I am for the Twins prospects - Chacin and Wisler may be nice guys, but I hope they are beat out and we get young arms into our staff to build for the future.

 

I am also in favor of the young arms. HOWEVER, I am also not rooting for the failure of seasoned veterans just so the young arms get a chance. It's a long season and I want to see the best arms in the system on the mound.

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I'm hoping Dobnak gets rotation spot #5, which I'm trying to make as clear as possible. Also, Smeltzer's a good pick for #5 or if some starter gets injured. He will put up solid numbers. (Let's just remember ALDS Game 2 when he finally ended the third inning and put out the Yankees' fire.)

 

Chacin, Stashak, and Romero may also be good starters, but a rotation is 5 people, not 7, so let's pick one for the rotation and put the rest in the bullpen.

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I'm fine if Chacin regains some of his old form, but if not I think Dobnak deserves first crack at the rotation spot. I don't know quite what to think of him long-term but he gave them some quality innings last year down the stretch. In the bullpen I'd love to see Romero figure things out. You can see the talent in that arm when he throws, he could be quite the weapon if they ever get him straightened out. 

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The fact of the matter is, when it comes to bullpen, the Twins will continue to rotate arms from AAA.  They will not be able to use DL as much now that it is back to 15 day instead of 10, but until they either go back to number of options, not years, players will get shuffled back and forth.  So expect possibly all the above play at one point or another.  Also, do not be surprised if Twins use up one for early in season, then when scouting figures him out he gets released.  That has happened a lot lately too. 

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 Also, do not be surprised if Twins use up one for early in season, then when scouting figures him out he gets released.  That has happened a lot lately too. 

 

Could you refresh my memory? I don't recall a single instance of this.

Ryne Harper.

Trevor Hildenberger.

And those are just the most recent two that come to mind.

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Harper... I’ll give you a maybe on that one.

 

 

 

Hildy...... I don’t care who you are, how you throw, what you throw, or how hard you throw, if you can’t hit your spots and have trouble throwing strikes all of a sudden on top of that... you’re going to get flat out murdered on the mound.

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With the number of pitchers teams are using these days during the season, you can't have too many capable bodies on hand. I think the Twins have set themselves up pretty good in this department. It will be interesting to see who breaks camp on the MLB roster.

 

Starting Rotation Projection: Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Bailey, Dobnak. At least until Pineda returns. Also, I think Fernando Romero pitches his way back into a MLB role.

Beat me to it..... Barring some chronic injury that we are not aware of, I feel like Romero just has waaaaay to much talent to go away this quickly....

 

That being said, players with waaaaay too much talent have gone away quickly many, many, many times before....

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I go back and forth on this issue.  In the end I still think I go with the vets.  Wins are as important early in the season as they are late in the season.  With vets you have a slightly better idea of how they will perform.  

 

The small sample sizes for the young guys makes me a little nervous.  I say give them some time at AAA to make sure they have their stuff together and once proven then the vets can be on a shorter leash. 

 

Depth is never a bad thing just ask Cleveland.  Still I would start with the season with the guys who have been there and done that before.  Use the young guys if injuries happen or they are just killing it in AAA that you just have to bring them up.

I see we are on opposite sides in this philosophy.  I wonder if TD will ever have dislikes as an option.  You start with a Perez and he gets you off to a good start and then you are hesitant to pull the plus which allows him to erase all the benefit.  Give me potential!

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I'm a prospect guy, and most of this decade, I would have just said that I support giving the prospects the innings (unless they're overwhelmed).  I'm always for minor league signings... but getting a guy with Chacin's track record on a minor league deal is fantastic.

 

The team is in Win-Now... Chacin has been there, done that, he's pitched in the playoffs. He had one rough year... but love taking a shot on a guy like that. now that said, if Thorpe or Dobnak are better, give them the job. 

 

I assume Chacin has an opt-out at some point early in the year... they can take advantage of that too.

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Push come to shove, I am absolutely a prospect guy and it isnt even close. Now, I mean how I want it to turn out. I am and have always been in favor of fliers that could hit and pay dividends.

 

There is a really, really good chance Chacin looks like his old self again and gives the Twins another fine SP option. And that's a good thing! But if you ask me who I'd rather have, he or a 24-25yo Thorpe/Dobnak/Smeltzer with youth and potential on their side of course I take youth and promise.

 

That being said, Chacin and Wisler don't have options. Everyone else does. If cut, once gone, they are gone. So if they show something, look for them to make the roster initially over the kids. It only makes sense.

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Chacín has the potential to slot in as a #2/3 if the coaching staff can help him figure it out. I look for Bailey to be the #5 guy and bumped for Pineda when he returns. That leave IL starts for Dobnak and company unless they push someone out of the rotation…which would be a great problem to have.

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