Scouting Twin Prospect #41: Jose Mijares

Mijares could be a big bullpen guy in the future.

The Twins signed Jose Mijares when he was a 17-year old pitcher out of Venezuela, and he got his start with the team in the Venezuelan Summer League. After dominating the VSL for two seasons, Mijares would go on to star for the Gulf Coast League Twins, and is now a member of the Twins 40-man roster.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jose Mijares
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: October 29, 1984
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 220
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

The Twins signed Mijares when he was a 17-year old in 2002, and the product of Venezuela played his first two season of professional baseball in the Venezuelan Summer League. A young kid with electric stuff, Mijares was taken along slowly by the Twins at the beginning of his career. After pretty much dominating the VSL in both 2002, and 2003, the Twins thought it was time to promote him to their main teams.

In 2004, Mijares popped up on everyone's radar as a member of the Gulf Coast League Twins. Working exclusively out of the bullpen, Mijares went a perfect 4-0, and put together a nice 2.42 earned run average. In his 19 appearances, Mijares saved five contests, struck out 25 batters, and held the opposition to a .208 batting average.

The Twins saw enough during his first season in the Gulf Coast League to start the young lefty in the Midwest League in 2005, as he was given his first taste of full-season baseball. He did not falter at all, as he made the transition to the starting rotation, and still continued to throw his trademark blazing fastball.

For the Beloit Snappers, Mijares appeared in 20 games, while making six starts. While posting a 6-3 record, Mijares posted a 4.31 earned run average, and he saw a jump in his strikeout numbers. In 54 innings of work, he struck out 78 batters, giving him an average well over a strikeout per inning pitched.

Towards the end of the season, the Twins promoted Mijares to Fort Myers of the Florida State League, and Mijares continued to put up good numbers. He made five appearances, starting one, and really looked like he belonged in the FSL. He held the opposition to a .116 batting average, posted a 1.50 earned run average, and really cut down on his walks.

In 2006, Mijares was once again a member of the Fort Myers Miracle, and he was used from both the bullpen, and the starting rotation. He appeared in 27 games, starting five, and he posted a respectable 3.57 earned run average. He also finished six games, struck out better than a batter per inning, and held the opposition to a .221 batting average.

Mijares should get his first taste of Double-A ball in 2007.

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball. Mijares has an electric fastball, which he sometimes has trouble spotting. His heater sits in the 92-95 miles per hour range, and he uses it as his outpitch. Whenever he is in trouble, Mijares turns to his fastball, which can get him in trouble sometimes. He allowed a career-high ten home runs in 2006, mostly off his fastball. When you look at Mijares, and his keg-like physicque, it is often tough to figure out how he generates such speed on his fastball. The answer is in the legs, as he uses his entire body to rear back and fire the heater.

Other Pitches. His two off-speed pitches are the curveball, and the changeup. His curveball, which he is able to locate most of the time, is one of the better hooks in the organization. With some more experience, he should be able to have more confidence in his pitches. His changeup, which was once considered a low point of his repertoire, has now become more than solid, and it is a great compliment to his fastball and curveball. His three-pitch arsenal makes him a great choice for the bullpen, though the Twins are still hoping he can develop into a starter.

Pitching. One thing that worries the Twins is the fact that he cannot seem to keep off weight all the time. He has shown a tendency to pack on the pounds, which will eventually have a negative effect on his stamina. However, the youngster kept the weight off for most of the 2006 season, and showed an increased maturity on the mound. The talents that he brings to the mound are almost impossible to miss, as he has three pitches that he can throw for strikes in any situation.

Projection. Some believe he is still slated to be a Major League starting pitcher, but I for one, disagree with that assessment. I think he would be an above-average relief pitcher, due to his great arsenal, and his powder-keg frame. He may not look that intimidating, but with his changeup, and that mid-90s fastball, he could give batters a fit if he were to come in from the bullpen. With that said, he did not lose any velocity on his heater after he moved into the starting rotation last year, so maybe he has the stamina, and the guts to continue to be a starter.

ETA. 2009. Mijares is a member of the Twins 40-man roster, so it is obvious that they have some kinds of plans for him in the future. As a lefty, when you can throw a fastball as hard as he can, he will always be considered a Major League prospect, as long as he continues to work on his command. In 2006, he showed that he could be a positive option out of the bullpen, and it is always good to have a lefty who throws as hard as he does as an option. If he can work on his stamina and take care of himself better, then the Twins will definitely have plans for him. He should be worked from the bullpen in Double-A in 2007, and could even make it to Rochester next season. From there, it is all a matter of him getting an opportunity, whether with the Twins, or another organization.

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