Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
  • Bring on Balazovic


    Cody Pirkl

    Jordan Balazovic had reached what the Twins hoped was rock bottom this spring after struggling in 2022 and getting a late start to 2023 due to an off-field injury. Since then he’s built himself back up. Does Balazovic deserve a promotion?

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter

    Twins Video

    What does it take for a starting pitching prospect to torpedo off of global Top 100 prospect lists aside from injury? Jordan Balazovic showed us in 2022, when he spent his entire season in Triple-A St. Paul allowing 2.55 HR/9 innings, and finishing with a 7.39 ERA in just over 70 innings. It was quite the uphill battle to regain the lost prospect status, and that was before he suffered a broken jaw during an off-field altercation at the beginning of spring training, resulting in him being the first player sent out of Major League camp. Fortunately, since returning to the mound, Balazovic has shown that he has the talent to wipe away the past.

    The Twins appear to have changed their view on their 2016 fifth-round pick. He began the season as a traditional reliever and has since moved back to making scheduled starts for the Saints. The Twins remain consistent in saying that they look at Balazovic as more of a potential bullpen piece for the MLB roster this season despite his starter’s workload thus far. If that’s the case, Balazovic is nearing the point where he’s more than deserving of a look. 

    It’s been a small sample thus far in 2023 for Balazovic, but it’s hard not to be impressed. In 18 2/3 innings, the 6’5 right-hander has posted a 33.8% K rate and a 2.89 ERA with matching peripherals. Most notably, he’s allowed just one homer after struggling with the long ball in 2022. His walks have been uncharacteristically high at 14.3%, but it’s the only real blemish on his otherwise dominant line to begin 2023.

    Balazovic is currently built up to around 70 pitches per outing and has been able to maintain his mid-to-high-90s velocity along the way. He has secondaries to face off against hitters on both sides of the plate between his slider and splitter, though it's worth noting that during his last outing hitters did a decidedly better job of staying on him in his fourth inning. It's possible he's just destined for a bullpen role at this point rather than starting.

    The Twins have been churning multiple bullpen spots to begin the season, and while the bullpen performance has been acceptable as a whole, they’ve had some relievers struggle mightily. Unfortunately, Jorge Alcala appears to be a husk of his pre-elbow injury self, as his velocity remains down 2+ mph, and he continues to allow a barrage of homers. Cole Sands had an opportunity to stake his claim to a bullpen role on Saturday and subsequently allowed five walks in mop-up duty. Simeon Woods Richardson and Brent Headrick likely need to maintain their Triple-A starting jobs at this point due to the injuries to the MLB rotation. Balazovic conveniently is on the 40-man roster already as well.

    There are a few ways the Twins could use Balazovic. He’s built up to fill a true bulk reliever role, but that spot has been rarely utilized so far this season and regardless of how well he pitches, it would remain a revolving door with whatever pitcher filling it being optioned immediately after each appearance. They also appear to be dead set on the struggling Jorge Alcala being a multi-inning reliever, and they’ve declined to send him right back to St. Paul following his outings so far. If they want to give him a chance to cement himself onto the big league roster, they could simply send Alcala down to see if he can right the ship while giving Balazovic a chance to snag that job. He wouldn’t be so stretched to fill multiple innings and can have a real opportunity to work his way up the bullpen hierarchy.

    Whatever the Twins decide for his role, Balazovic is at the doorstep of his Major League debut. His main competition if Sands or Alcala are optioned back to St. Paul is likely Ronny Henriquez fresh off a rehab assignment and Josh Winder who has been an absolute disaster since being moved to the bullpen. Having just thrown over 70 pitches Sunday, it may be a few days until Balazovic is available to throw again. When that day comes, should he get the call?

    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    — Become a Twins Daily Caretaker

     Share


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Featured Comments

    It's in interesting question. It does look like his future might be as a multi-inning reliever in MLB, but at the same time with us having already delved into our starter depth, there may be a need for a spot start (or more) still before Maeda comes back and right now the only real other options are Headrick and SWR. At the same time, the twins are still looking for another reliable bullpen arm. Interesting question. the good news is Balazovic seems to have righted the ship for himself and is pitching like a real prospect again, rather than a guy looking for a life raft.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Gotta leave him in the rotation as a rotation arm for the rest of the year.  Easy to translate to a bullpen arm if needed.  
     

    With rotation injuries the depth has been eaten up already.   SWR velocity keeps falling not sure he’s going to be effective in MLB at 90 mph with his fastball.  I do t want to see Aaron Sanchez again and Hendricks doesn’t impress me.  

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Not unless he demonstrates considerably better command for a reasonable period of time.  His lack of command would likely be a real problem against major league hitters.  I am excited he is pitching better but he has not demonstrated he is ready IMO.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    IIRC, Balazovic’s control problems develop after he’s thrown a couple of innings. As he fatigues a bit, he loses command of the zone. He might be a classic to convert to relief IMHO. 
     

    A starter that weakens after 3-4 innings is a bullpen killer, as we saw last year. I think Jordy Blaze has a real future as a reliever, not so much as a rotation piece. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    After the struggles he had last year, he needs to stay put in St. Paul and have some success. If he is still pitching well and throwing strikes in late June or July then is the time to bring him for a look see.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I think he is being groomed for the rotation He is still working his way through a "spring training" period. The last three games he pitched he has started.  His most recent game he retired the first 9 batters he faced. His fastball was 96-97 with some 99's thrown in. I thought his best off speed pitched was his slow curve ball about 80-82. I wasn't impressed with his change up or slider command. He only walked one in his last start. I agree that him starting through July would be good. He does seemed to be overwhelmed by 3A this year.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    7 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

    The #MNTwins, of course, have the 4th or 5th best BB/9 rate in MLB... 

    Pretty sure their bullpen has one of the worst BB/9 in baseball.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    53 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

    The #MNTwins, of course, have the 4th or 5th best BB/9 rate in MLB... 

    pagan Alcala Stewart sands and others say hello. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    49 minutes ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    Pretty sure their bullpen has one of the worst BB/9 in baseball.

    That could be... but Duran, Lopez and Thielbar (when healthy), along with Jax all have pretty solid control. The top guys. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    12 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

    That could be... but Duran, Lopez and Thielbar (when healthy), along with Jax all have pretty solid control. The top guys. 

    Confirmed, they're 28th in BB/9 as a unit. Jax and his above average walk rate are actually part of the problem. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    So I'm late to this OP, but anyway:

    1] SUPER ENCOURAGED by what he's done so far this year. Yes, the BB are too high, but the velocity is back, the K's seem to be there, and he seems to be looking like the top prospect he was entering 2022, and not the nightmare he was last season while struggling through his ankle and delivery issues.

    2] NOT going to predict how good he might become, but you simply DON'T take a top SP prospect and move him to the pen this soon when he's looking again like the top 100 prospect he was entering 2022! As good as he's looking right now, as pointed out above, he's still getting his legs under him after missing all of ST. He ABSOLUTELY needs to stay in the rotation and keep building up and harnessing his command for the future.

    3] The Twins have commented that they are sort of "grooming" him for a potential spot in the pen this year to help. They HAVEN'T said they are removing him from a potential SP role in the future. And this makes sense to me. At the drop of a hat, ANY SP from AAA can be brought up to throw 1-4 IP if and when needed. When you are a contending club having a good year, all hands are on deck and the AAA club having to fill in is just a circumstance they have to deal with in order for the parent club to have the best arms available to WIN.

    4] I think point #3 also applies to Headrick. He doesn't have the pure stuff of Balazovic. But BOTH are possible rotation pieces for the Twins this season due to injury, or even double headers at some point. Personally, I have a gut feeling Headrick is destined to be a quality BP piece, but I always believe in keeping SP prospects as starters for as long as possible. And the needs of a contending parent club come first. So keep them BOTH stretched out in the Saints rotation and use them as necessary. 

    5] Right now, the usage of Alcala is a moot point as he's on the IL. But I've watched him a lot. He's usually looked pretty good for 1 inning. He seems to lose control, or allow that 1 big hit, when asked to go 2 innings. Coming back from a missed 2022, what is wrong with using him for just that 1 inning for NOW while he gains confidence and control? THAT has been a big mistake, IMO.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...