If we’re being honest, there just aren’t as many relief pitchers on the minor league rosters right now. After a missed season, the organization will do what it can to protect arms. Part of that strategy, especially in the lower levels has been piggybacking. However, that has involved, often, a guy starting one week and then working in relief the next game. Short story long, there just isn’t a large sample size of guys in the relief pitcher category, and a small subset of that pitched well throughout the month.
Here are four pitchers who made less than two starts for the month and pitched well.
THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS
#4 - RHP Miguel Rodriguez - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 3 G, 1 GS, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 10 K
Rodriguez signed with the Twins in July of 2017 from Venezuela. He debuted in the DSL in 2018. He pitched to a 2.48 ERA in 32 2/3 innings with the GCL Twins in 2019. He began this season with the Mighty Mussels where he will likely be one of their many part-time starters. He missed some time this month, so he made just one stat. He was good when he was on the mound though. He only gave up six base runners in 9 1/3 innings. He can miss bats, and I would expect he’ll be in the Starting Pitchers category in the coming months.
#3 - RHP Hector Lujan - Wichita Wind Surge - 7 G, 2.03 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 6 BB, 11 K
The 26-year-old Lujan was the Twins 35th round pick in 2015 from Westmont College. He has been a strong performer throughout his minor league career. In May, he didn’t record a ton of strikeouts, but he worked innings and didn’t allow many hits. He has closed games in the past, but this year, he has worked as many as three innings in an outing.
#2 - RHP Yennier Cano - Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 21 K.
Cano signed with the Twins in July of 2019 after leaving Cuba. He was brought along slowly that summer, pitching twice in the GCL before making eight appearances with the Miracle. After missing the 2020 season, he jumped up to Double-A to start this season and has been good. He has done a good job of avoiding runs and getting strikeouts. He gave up some hits, but he didn’t hurt himself with walks. He had an immaculate inning early in the season. The 27-year-old could surface with the Twins later this season.
And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
LHP Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 1.08 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 16.2 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 25 K
Moran was the Twins seventh round pick in the 2015 draft out of the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico. He was the Twins Daily short-season minor league pitcher of the year back in 2017. In 2018 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, he struck out 107 batters in 76 innings. He reached Double-A in 2019. That’s where he began the 2021 season, and he has been very good. He has averaged more than two innings per outing. He is throwing strikes (which is a key for him), and he is back to missing a silly number of bats. He’s got a good fastball, but he has a special changeup that gets a lot of his strikeouts. Again, if he can throw strikes, he has a chance to pitch in the big leagues.
As you can see, there were a couple of solid relief pitcher performances in May. These guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today.
Congratulations to Jovani Moran, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May 2021.