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  • “It felt great.” Balazovic Reflects on First Start of 2022 and What’s Ahead.


    Theo Tollefson

    Jordan Balazovic made his first start of the 2022 season with the St. Paul Saints this last Saturday coming off of a knee injury that set his season start back. Balazovic is currently on an 80 pitch count limit, so what are the expectations for him this month?

    Image courtesy of Theo Tollefson

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    The Twins' top pitching prospect in the minors, Jordan Balazovic, made his 2022 debut last Saturday against the Iowa Cubs in St. Paul. Balazovic's stat line for the game was 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched, five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts with 79 pitches thrown.

    Balazovic’s start on Saturday was an improvement from his rehab appearance on May 1 with Fort Myers where he went two innings and gave up four earned runs on four hits, two walks, and only one strikeout. 

    After Saturday’s game, Balazovic spoke about the improvement he had felt in his knee and in his performance compared to the rehab start. “Sunday was a tough one, but otherwise I feel great. It felt good to be back out here and back to natural adrenaline and body-wise I feel great,” said Balazovic. 

    As of now, Balazovic is set up to make regular starts with the Saints every five to six days. Saints manager Toby Gardenhire shared the current plans that he, Balazovic, and pitching coach Virgil Vasquez have for Balazovic’s pitching limits.

    “Today he threw the ball really well, and we’ll work on him being more efficient. He's got great stuff, and he will learn to be more efficient with it. That's going to keep his pitch count down and that's the big thing. He threw some really good sliders and some not-so-good sliders. He threw some really good changeups and not as good changeups. Those are the little things that the longer he goes, hopefully, they'll be able to iron out because once he gets up there, all those things get magnified a lot,” said Gardenhire. 

    A common theme in Balazovic’s start on Saturday was having the Cubs hitters foul a lot of balls off him which had raised his pitch count to 79 by the fourth inning. Currently, Balazovic is on a pitch count limit of 80 pitches.

    “They battled, when I was up in the count I couldn’t finish them off. It was one of those starts, but for the first one of the season, it’s definitely one I want to build off of for the most part. There's stuff we're gonna work on,” said Balazovic. 

    Last season, Balazovic made 20 starts, all with the Wichita Wind Surge. He averaged 5 2/3 innings pitched throughout those 20 starts and averaged 84 pitches per start. Balazovic also posted a 3.62 ERA in 97 innings pitched. He had 102 strikeouts (9.5 K/9) and a 3.5 BB/9.

    Balazovic is scheduled to make his next start for the Saints on Friday, May 13, in Columbus against the Clippers. 

    What would you like to see from Balazovic over the course of his next few starts, and then over the remainder of the season? Leave your COMMENTS below. 

     

     

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    There is a real chance he could play a big role for the Twins the last couple of months of the season. Even with good health for the current staff, IP could be a factor. With no setbacks, Balazovic could be a real factor come August/September after 2 1/2 months to ramp up and iron a few things out. 

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