We recently looked at the mid-season rankings of all the pitchers in the system based on performance during the first three months of this season. We know that Kevin Slowey was the top ranked pitcher, however, he was ranked third last season so his ranking would be expected. Likewise, Matt Garza moved from number thirty to second, however, as last year’s top pick this type of move was also expected. What is important is that we identify those young pitchers have taken the biggest steps forward in their quest to become major league pitchers. Those pitchers who are becoming legitimate prospects based on their performance on the mound.
J.D. Durbin: (ranked #4 at mid-season 2006/#31 in 2005)
May have been the Twins top pitching prospect prior to 2005. A disappointing 2005 (5W-5L, 104.0ip, 4.33era, 90K/51BB, 1.42WHIP) caused the “Real Deal” to slide significantly in any discussion of top prospects. Durbin pitched himself back into consideration at Rochester this year (4W-3L, 89.0ip, 2.33era, 81K/50BB, 1.31WHIP), prior to being recently sidelined with another arm injury. It appears that J.D. will be on the disabled list for the remainder of the year which is unfortunate because with the Twins concerns regarding the last two spots in the rotation, Durbin may have gotten a call this September. Considering that this is his second consecutive year with arm problems and that he will be out of options next spring, Mr. Ryan will need to make a decision this winter regarding Durbin’s future with the Twins.
>Oswaldo Sosa: (#7/#60)
Sosa is a 20 year old native of Venezuela who was a starter on last year’s Elizabethton championship team (6W-5L, 56.1ip, 4.95era, 40K/21BB, 1.42WHIP). Although his performance last season was solid, it did not indicate that he would develop into a Midwest League All-Star who may be the top pitcher in Beloit’s starting rotation (8W-7L, 111.2ip, 2.74era, 90K/35BB, 1.19WHIP). Jumping from a number 60 ranking in 2005 to number 7 this season is the second largest move of any player in the organization.
Julio DePaula: (#5/#19)
DePaula has always been a solid pitcher in the organization. Last season DePaula was one of the most effective relievers in the Ft. Myers bullpen (4W-3L, 64.1ip, 2.24era, 51K/25BB, 1.19WHIP). He began 2006 at Ft. Myers, however, received an early promotion to New Britain after a nearly perfect start for the Miracle (1W-1L, 15.1ip, 0.00era, 10K/6BB, 0.91WHIP). He has continued to put up great numbers for New Britain (1W-2L, 41.2ip, 2.59era, 30K/17BB, 1.34WHIP). At 23 years old, DePaula could have a future in the Twins bullpen a few years from now.
Eduardo Morlan: (#11/#32)
Morlan is a hard throwing 20 year old who was a third round pick in the 2004 draft. Morlan split his 2005 season between Elizabethton (2W-0L, 22.0ip, 0.82era, 30K/6BB, 0.55WHIP) and Beloit (4W-4L, 51.1ip, 4.38era, 55K/31BB, 1.36WHIP). This season Morlan has been used as both a starter and out of Beloit’s bullpen (3W-4L, 70.2ip, 2.55era, 81K/29BB, 1.17WHIP). He is another All-Star who recently spent some time on the DL and we can expect that the Twins will be very careful to protect his young arm as he reportedly throws a fastball that approaches 100 mph.
Yohan Pino: (#12/#36)
Pino is another 22 year old Venezelan who may be developing into one of the most effective relievers in the entire organization. Last season Pino accumulated more wins than any pitcher on the Elizabethton staff, and he did so out of their bullpen (9W-2L, 67.2ip, 3.72era, 64K/13BB, 1.19WHIP). Pino was Beloit’s third All-Star pitcher, who again leads the team in wins out of the bullpen (9W-2L, 58.0ip, 2.13era, 69K/16BB, 0.97WHIP).
David Shinskie: (#14/#68)
Shinskie made the largest move of any pitcher in the organization while developing into one of the Midwest League’s most effective relievers (6W-6L, 67.0ip, 2.28era, 51K/15BB, 1.27WHIP). Shinskie, who was the Twins 4th round pick in 2003, is repeating this season at Beloit following an unimpressive 2005 (2W-8L, 77.1ip, 7.22era, 51K/24BB, 1.75WHIP).
Ricky Barrett: (#17/#49)
Barrett is a left handed reliever who the Twins hope will take that next step. Last season Barrett began the season at New Britain (1W-0L, 17.2ip, 0.51era, 25K/7BB, 1.02WHIP). Following his promotion to AAA, he struggled with a sore arm throughout the season and was often ineffective because of a high number of walks (4W-4L, 63.0ip, 6.71era, 64K/48BB, 1.87WHIP). He returned to Rochester this season where he has reduced his walks (5W-1L, 47.1ip, 3.42era, 49K/26BB, 1.20WHIP), however, is again dealing with a sore arm and was placed on the DL earlier this week. Barrett is an intriguing prospect because he is a left handed reliever who has shown the ability to consistently get more than a strikeout per inning.
While looking at those pitchers who have taken giant strides forward, it is also appropriate to look at a few who haven’t performed up to expectations this season. The starting rotation at the beginning of this season at New Britain included four pitchers who had wonderful seasons last year at Ft. Myers. This group should have been the base upon which the Rock Cats could have built a championship season. Glen Perkins (#16/#16) has pitched very well at times, however, has been inconsistent with several poor performances mixed amongst other good but few great outings. Following his excellent performance in the Arizona Fall League last year, many considered Perkins to be the top prospect in the system. Adam Harben (#19/#9) may have been the best starter to pitch the entire season last year at Ft. Myers. Harben began this season with a 0.42era during the first month of the season before a string of poor outings resulted in his move to the bullpen. Errol Simonitsch (#22/#10), who together with Perkins was promoted to AA last season, has likewise been inconsistent with some poor outings mixed with others that are very good. Nick Blackburn (#38/#5) began last season at Ft. Myers, was promoted to New Britain and eventually appeared in a few games at Rochester late in the season. His performance at New Britain was the best of this group, however, this season he has struggled in AA and like Harben, was recently moved to the bullpen.
As the season approaches the final six week run to the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if those pitchers who have stepped forward will continue to pitch well, and if some of those who haven’t performed as expected will turn it around.