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  • Twins Daily 2022 Top Prospects: #4 Jordan Balazovic

    Ted Schwerzler

    Since they developed Jose Berrios, the Minnesota Twins have been looking for their next starting pitching talent. This time around, it may come from an arm that hails from north of the border.

    Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge (graphics by Thieres Rabelo)

    Age: 23 (DOB: 9/17/1998)
    2021 Stats: (Double-A): 97 IP, 3.62 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 102 K, 38 BB
    ETA: 2022
    2021 Ranking: 3rd

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: 85 | MLB: 95 | ATH: 43 | BP: 78

    What’s To Like
    Velocity has long been the name of the game on the mound, and it’s something the Twins haven’t seen from a starter they developed in a long time, maybe ever. Balazovic was sitting at 95 mph last year on his fastball, even after missing time to start the season due to injury. He pushed it up to 97 mph at times, and the electricity behind the pitch is something to drool over. With a starter’s mix, Balazovic also has a strong slider and has turned the changeup into an out pitch as well.

    Double-A was a new test for Balazovic last season, and he did take a slight step backward in terms of numbers, but the elite stuff is still all there. A rough three-start stretch at the end of July made things look more mediocre than they were. Over his final eight starts, Balazovic posted a 2.72 ERA allowing just a .672 OPS against.
    What’s Left To Work On
    It’s not to say that Balazovic is a finished product, but he’s very close. Even with the time missed due to the pandemic, the Canadian is knocking on the door to the big leagues. A return to Double-A could be in the cards at the beginning of 2022, but he should quickly move up to Triple-A St. Paul. Balazovic has done a good job repeating his delivery, and continuing down a path of sustained success is a must for him.

    Minnesota would probably like to see a trend back towards the 2019 numbers, but that’s also not a showstopper. The strikeouts were down slightly, and the walks rose, but both happened in minor increments. Settling back in with a clean bill of health should lead to more dominating performances than not.
    What’s Next
    It would be far from shocking if Balazovic was pitching for the Twins by mid-summer. He’s near ready as a prospect, and while he’s probably not the type to be called upon before ready in a spot-start role, he’s got the talent to force his way into sustained action. Minnesota should have a middle-of-the-rotation arm at worst here, and seeing him add even more would be a welcomed sight.

    The Twins have been longing for a guy that can mow down the opposition, and Balazovic has the makings of someone capable of doing just that. If he can be a staff ace, the organization will have its next piece to build around.


    Previous Rankings
    Honorable Mentions
    Prospects 16-20
    Prospects 11-15
    #10: Josh Winder, RHP
    #9: Chase Petty, RHP
    #8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
    #7: Jhoan Duran, RHP
    #6: Matt Canterino, RHP
    #5: Joe Ryan, RHP
    #4: Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    #3: Coming tomorrow

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    I just love how clean of a profile he seems to have. No major injuries, good stuff, steadily building innings, consistently good numbers and peripherals, and consistently young for the level. Obviously developing pitchers is hard and plenty of unforeseen things can go wrong, but he checks a crapload of boxes and I'm hyped for when he gets called up next year.

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    8 minutes ago, Otaknam said:

    I hope he has number 1 potential but I’d be very happy if he has Berrios’ ceiling, front of the rotation stuff if not a Verlander type ace. They have lots of quality arms coming up. Let’s hope several of them pan out as good starters. 

    Couldn’t agree more. Give us two-three solid #2-3 starter types (and Balazovic, Ryan, Ober and a few others could project as such), two-three solid #3-4 starter types and two-three dependable late inning reliever types out of the cadre of young, cheap, controllable approaching arms we have and we’d be in really, really good shape (in terms of both performance and committed cash).

    That means finding six-nine dependable pitchers (with four starters) out of the pitchers in our top twenty prospects and Ober, Dobnak and Jax on whom we can rely from ‘23-‘26.  It’s doable and appears to be the plan of the FO.  

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    With the top three all bats, there are 7 exciting pitchers in the top ten.  Six of them should arrive by the end of 2023.  These kids are fantastic prospects.  Could two, or even three turn out to be #2 starters...or better?  With the current lineup and those top three bats, should be one heck of a team two years from now.

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    When have the Twins ever had 7 of their top 10 prospects being pitchers with this type of combined potential?  And, there are several others that are not far behind these 7.  I can remember when we hoping on Stewart, Gonsalves, and Meyer, none of whom had anywhere near the arsenal that most of these kids have.  On the whole, all of these prospects have legitimate secondary pitches.  It will be fun watching them progress.  Let's pray for health! 

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    Agreed, if there was no lock out the AAA rotation should be Balazovic (23), Winder (25)/Strotman (25) (one in the majors), Canterino (24), Varland (24), Sands (24), these pitchers are all too old to be starting anywhere but AAA, I don't care about innings or injuries, unless the plan a head of time is to give them 3-5 in AA and bring them directly up to the majors.

    Duran should be in the majors pitching out of the pen. And if the Twins start Jordan in AA because of these other pitchers, #4 is too high.

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    For the second time in the last week, I feel like I'm looking at a guy that you could plunk into a major league rotation with no worries, other than the usual worries. Blaze has some beautiful stuff, including whatever that 94 mph sinker was. The tilt looked like a good slider, but at 94?? Like Ryan, Balazovic has very whiffable stuff. When you see guys missing by three or more inches, they are well and truly fooled. 

    Unless his "spring training" whenever that is, really sucks, Baldelli should fight to get this guy in the mlb rotation. No more trading the farm for mediocre rentals. Twins top pitching prospects are already better than that, even without a few more weeks of "seasoning" in AA or AAA. 

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    He looks good. I want to watch a full game. The stuff looks nasty, but seeing just strikeouts has me cautious. From those, I'd like to see more command - lots of catchers' mitts moving. Still, I only care so much without seeing how the game moves and batters react. So much potential. 

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    There's really only two questions Balazovic has left to answer to put himself in the rotation for ten years, IMHO: 1) can he stay healthy? (common refrain on our prospects after last season), and 2) can he master that split he's been developing to replace his changeup, because he's going to need it to handle lefties in MLB.

    The fastball is quality, the slider is quality, and if he can control that split as his primary off-speed offering for lefties, then he's going to be in great shape. I expect him to start in AAA and be up with the big club before the all-star break. 

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    That 3rd pitch coming together is the key. And it seemed like it was happening last year. I'm also encouraged by 97IP in 2021 when so many guys had sore arms at one point or another that held them back and limited them. 

    The AAA club is not just about prospect status. Sometimes a team wants to hold on to a couple AAAA guys as fliers and depth pieces for the parent club. Guys do get promoted from AA ball. So I wouldn't be shocked if he gets a month at Wichita just to put rosters in place and sort everything out. Now I think he's ready for St Paul and that's where I'd place him. But prospects and depth pieces, I wouldn't be shocked or angry if he got that 1st month lower. My hope is that he's in AAA to begin the season. He has the stuff and potential to be very good. And this FO hasn't been shy about promotions. I think he's more than ready to finish working on his stuff and gaining additional experience in St Paul. He could be a mid-season call up.

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    17 hours ago, jimbo92107 said:

    For the second time in the last week, I feel like I'm looking at a guy that you could plunk into a major league rotation with no worries, other than the usual worries.

    Love the optimism, it seems weird that the FO didn't think they could do that in September last year, but would be able to do it at the start of this year. I think Balazovic needs 10 - 15 big league stars this year at a minimum to, if there is hope he is Shane Bieber like. I believe Winder needs 15 or more since he is much older.

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    Balazovic verse Bundy getting major league starts.    I know who I would choose.   But Bundy might get one more win that Balazovic....and the front office needs to be a 500 team this year......

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