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  • TD Midseason Top Prospects: #3 Jose Berrios


    Nick Nelson

    Jose Berrios ranked as the third-best prospect in Minnesota's stacked system when we put together our preseason list, and he has done plenty this year at Chattanooga to maintain a firm grasp on that spot. He will be one of two players representing the Twins at the Futures Game on July 12th.

    Image courtesy of Tommy GIlligan, USA Today

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    Age: 21

    2015 Stats (AA): 90.1 IP, 8-3, 3.08 ERA, 92-to-24 K/BB, 1.11 WHIP

    ETA: 2015

    2015 Preseason Ranking: 3

    What's To Like

    By now, most Twins fans are familiar with the merits of Berrios. He has pitched extremely well at every level since being drafted 32nd overall as a Puerto Rican high schooler in 2012, and has advanced quickly enough that he already has 23 starts at Double-A under his belt at age 21.

    Even though it's been nearly a full year since he was first promoted to Double-A, Berrios remains the second-youngest qualified pitcher in the Southern League, where he has excelled. One of the biggest question marks attached to the 6-foot-nothing right-hander was whether his lack of height (and thus, downward plane) might lead to hitters lifting the ball over the fence at the higher levels, but Berrios continues to minimize that concern by keeping it in the yard. He has allowed only six home runs in 15 starts for Chattanooga this year, and in total has yielded eight homers over 134 innings since moving up from Single-A.

    Just about everything in the young righty's game has been positive. He's missing bats, limiting walks, and holding his own even on days where he doesn't have his best stuff – just once in 15 starts for the Lookouts has he given up more than three earned runs.

    There was a general sentiment in spring training that Berrios had the most impressive stuff of any pitcher in camp. As usual, that has played out in his results this season. He has been one of the best starters in the Southern League and could probably get it done in the majors right now if a need arose.

    That's saying something, since as of now he'd be the youngest pitcher to make a start in the big leagues this year (Houston's Lance McCullers, who is six months older, currently holds that distinction).

    What's Left To Work On

    At this moment, not much. He hasn't been untouchable every time out and could possibly stand to show a little more consistency, but there isn't really a single thing in Berrios' performance that you can point to as a clear weakness, and that's what makes him the bona fide top pitching prospect in the organization.

    What's Next

    Under different circumstances, Berrios might be in line to debut sometime this summer, but with the present logjam in the major-league rotation, it's unclear when an opportunity will arise. The return of Ervin Santana next weekend will oust a quality starter, and Tyler Duffey is also pitching very well above Berrios in Triple-A.

    The Twins don't benefit a whole lot from letting their young stud cut directly to the front of the line unless they're convinced that he can absolutely blow away MLB hitters right now.

    Given that he has put in nearly a full season's worth of work at Double-A, the Twins might opt to promote Berrios to Rochester so he can be tested at one more level before reaching The Show. That would probably happen sometime within the next couple weeks – perhaps immediately after he makes his second straight appearance in the Futures Game.

    Unless things go awry in the Minnesota's starting corps, or the Twins trade a starter or two, Berrios will have a tough time cracking the rotation this year. If he keeps pitching as he has though – and especially if he keeps it going after moving up another level – he would be a candidate to make some bullpen appearances as a September call-up. He certainly will have done plenty to earn it.

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    IDK,  1 HR every 2-3 games seems like an awful lot.

    It actually isn't.  Max Scherzer, currently the best pitcher in baseball, allows .57 HR every 9 innings. Here are some more:

     

    Chris Sale:         .66

    Chris Archer:      .74

    Corey Kluber:     .73

    Sonny Gray:        .42

    Clayton Kershaw: .93

    David Price:         .65

     

    Jose Berrios in AA this year:  .60 

     

    That's actually a very good number.

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    IDK,  1 HR every 2-3 games seems like an awful lot.

     

    It actually isn't.  Max Scherzer, currently the best pitcher in baseball, allows .57 HR every 9 innings. Here are some more:

     

    Chris Sale:         .66

    Chris Archer:      .74

    Corey Kluber:     .73

    Sonny Gray:        .42

    Clayton Kershaw: .93

    David Price:         .65

     

    Jose Berrios in AA this year:  .60 

     

    That's actually a very good number.

     

    Meanwhile, Phil Hughes allows 1.55 HR/9. So, .60 is good- it's 39% of what Hughes has allowed this year. 

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    Yah, his homerun rate is fine.  another positive is his K/9 is back up over 9 during his second year in AA.  Hoping he gains enough velocity and/or better offspeed stuff to keep that up once he hits the majors. 

     

    I'd be interested to know what his groundball rates are too.  If he can be a 7-8 k/9 and a groundball guy that would greatly increase his outlook. 

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    I really hope Duffey is not in Jose's way

     

    Is it a pedigree thing? Because you really can't fault Duffey's results. 

     

    In any case, I don't think anyone's in anyone's way. If/when the need arises, they'll take stock of the situation as it is.

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    Is it a pedigree thing? Because you really can't fault Duffey's results. 

     

    In any case, I don't think anyone's in anyone's way. If/when the need arises, they'll take stock of the situation as it is.

     

    The stuff, age, and track record of results show me that Berrios has a much better future in the big leagues.

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    The stuff, age, and track record of results show me that Berrios has a much better future in the big leagues.

     

    While true, Duffey might have a more immediate future in the bigs. Why hold that against Duffey?

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    While true, Duffey might have a more immediate future in the bigs. Why hold that against Duffey?

     

    Unless you are talking about the bullpen, I disagree with your premise. 

     

    If you are speaking of the pen, it would not bother me to see Duffey in the pen shortly.

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    Unless you are talking about the bullpen, I disagree with your premise. 

     

    If you are speaking of the pen, it would not bother me to see Duffey in the pen shortly.

     

    I'll put it this way, if the Twins needed an emergency (or 2-3) tomorrow from the minors it would be Duffey, not Berrios. And rightfully so.

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    I'll put it this way, if the Twins needed an emergency (or 2-3) tomorrow from the minors it would be Duffey, not Berrios. And rightfully so.

     

    I should have clarified my comment.  If the Twins need are going to promote anyone to the rotation, I hope Duffey is not ahead of Berrios.

     

    If it is for 1-3 spot starts it would not bother me.  I do think Berrios would likely pitch better but I would be more concerned about control.  I am not concerned about when Duffey hits arbitration and free agency.

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    I should have clarified my comment.  If the Twins need are going to promote anyone to the rotation, I hope Duffey is not ahead of Berrios.

     

    If it is for 1-3 spot starts it would not bother me.  I do think Berrios would likely pitch better but I would be more concerned about control.  I am not concerned about when Duffey hits arbitration and free agency.

     

    And the Twins aren't concerned about Duffey either.

     

    The Twins are going to do right for Berrios, as they have so far. He'll get his shot when he is ready. I would say his biggest thing is he needs to build up innings.

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    I don't necessarily disagree with what you're saying and wouldn't put words in your mouth. But Duffey isn't that old, especially for AAA (24), his results are there, and it's not like he's some 38th round fluke.

     

    Longer term, I do think Berrios is probably better than Duffey. But I think both could be very good. If we're talking about a spot start tomorrow, I'd want Duffey. In any case, he's not chopped liver. He won't hold back the elite prospects, which it seems is a class Berrios belongs in, but it doesn't seem like we should assume he's AAAA cannon fodder either.

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