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  • Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month: April 2022

    Cody Christie

    April weather can be tough on hitters and pitchers, especially in the minor leagues. Here are three starters that shined even when the weather can get in the way.

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter (graphics by Thieres Rabelo)

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    Some might look at the Twins farm system and think this was an easy selection, but it turned out to be a two-person race. One starter didn’t allow a run the entire month, and it still wasn’t good enough to walk away with the top honors. Louie Varland, the reigning TD Minor League Pitcher of the Year, had a tremendous month but did crack the top three. Matt Canterino struck out 18 batters in 12 2/3 innings and didn’t receive a vote. Below you will find the top three finishers voted on by the Twins Daily writers. 

    Honorable Mention #2: Brent Headrick
    Minnesota selected Headrick in the 9th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Illinois State University. Last season, he made 15 appearances at Low-A and posted a 4.70 ERA with a 1.58 WHIP in 61 1/3 innings. He posted a 12.6 K/9, but he gave up more than a hit per inning. Things have started significantly better for Headrick in 2022. 

    In four starts (17 2/3 innings), he has posted a 2.55 ERA with a 28-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio. He has cut his H/9 rate from 9.3 last season to 4.6. His 14.3 K/9 is a total usually only seen by dominant relief pitchers, but he posted a 10.8 K/9 in his final collegiate season. All but 13 of his at-bats have come against younger pitchers as he is nearly a year older than the average age of the competition at High-A. Headrick is more than dominating the competition to start the year.  

    Honorable Mention #1: Simeon Woods-Richardson
    The Twins acquired Woods-Richardson along with Austin Martin as part of the José Berríos trade. Last season, the Twins and the Blue Jays were aggressive with Woods-Richardson as he pitched the entire year at Double-A as a 20-year-old. He struggled with an ERA close to 6.00 and a 1.54 WHIP. It made sense for him to repeat that level in 2022, where he is still over 3.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. There was also a potential for him to be a breakout player, which looks to be coming true. 

    Woods-Richardson made four starts in April and didn’t allow an earned run. In 21 2/3 innings, he posted an 18-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio with a 0.65 WHIP. He has faced a younger batter in only one game for two of his plate appearances on the year. In any other month, Woods-Richardson is the likely winner of this award, but one pitcher was able to outshine him. 

    Starting Pitcher of the Month: John Stankiewicz
    Stankiewicz pitched three collegiate seasons at Fordham University, but he went undrafted even though he posted a sub-1.75 ERA over his final two seasons. Minnesota signed him last July, and he made seven appearances at Low-A with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Those were outstanding numbers for a non-drafted player, but Stankiewicz wasn’t flying up any top prospect lists this winter. He may be getting a little more attention after his first month of the season.

    Stankiewicz made four April starts and finished with a 0.83 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP. He accumulated 31 strikeouts out of the 80 batters he faced. Before the month ended, Minnesota promoted him to Cedar Rapids. At the time of his promotion, he led the Florida State League in ERA, ranked second in strikeouts, and was third in IP and WHIP. It was a genuinely dominating month of April, and now he gets the opportunity to be one step closer to the big leagues. 

    If you were to rank your top 3 for the month of April, are these the three you would have ranked? In the same order? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    Happy they moved Stankiewics up earlier rather than later.  He is 23 already and will be 24 in September.  Would be nice for him to be on track for AA\AAA as a 24 year old.  He still might end up a reliever but he has the stuff to be a starter.  Very interested to see if he just keeps rolling at High A and finds his way to AA after the All-Star break.

    Headrick is the big surprise for me.  After last year I thought he might have peaked in college.  I had him pegged as a reliever but not so sure now.  Still not sure if I feel like he will sustain this level of success.  Do we know how hard he is throwing or if he has above average secondary's?  Hard for me to understand how he is putting up those kinds of numbers.

    SWR is a board favorite and I would have given him the number one spot  but I will say it is kind of nice for a guy who has been the Rodney Dangerfield of Twins affiliate starting pitchers to finally get some recognition.  SWR will have plenty more days in the sun.  This is a good time to give it to Stankiewicz IMO.

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    I for sure would have went SWR number 1.  As pointed out he is young for the league, A full 3.7 years below average and only 1 hitter was younger than him.  He did not allow a run, was at the higher level, better WHIP, Yes, Stankiewicz had the better K rate and K to walk ratio, but he is older than just about everyone he is facing, or at least close in age.  SWR is 2 years younger than Stankiewicz but two level above him. 

    It is close, but I would give SWR the edge overall as a more impressive month.  Both are pretty good though, hope Stankiewicz can do it at high A now. 

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    I’m not sure who I would pick as the top two both has outstanding months.  I do agree with several who mentioned age should not be a factor. After all, when voting for the Cy Young winner, for example, age is not taken into consideration. 

    To that point, to the powers that be at TD:  are their guidelines for player of the month that explicitly mention the criteria used for the selection?

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