Back in 2004, a tall, lanky right-hander named Kyle Waldrop from Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee put together an incredible senior season. On the mound, he went 14-0 with a minuscule 0.15 ERA. He had an amazing 118:7 strikeout to walk ratio. But that wasn’t the full story. With the bat, he hit .493 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI. As you would expect, he was named the Tennessee High School Player of the Year. As that season came to a close, including leading the team to their second consecutive state championship, the Minnesota Twins selected him with their third first round pick of the year, 25th overall.
But would he sign with the Twins? Heading into the draft, the rumor was the he would not sign a pro deal, instead heading to Vanderbilt to play baseball. As he said, the decision was “Very difficult. A college degree and a chance to play in the SEC at a school like Vanderbilt was hard to pass up.”
But, the Twins took that chance and Waldrop signed quickly. He reported to the Twins and was terrific with the Gulf Coast Twins and quickly moved up to Elizabethton to finish that season. All told, he had 55 strikeouts and just seven walks in his 63 professional innings.
2005 was full of ups and downs for Waldrop. He showed flashes of brilliance and his 108:23 strikeout to walk rate was tremendous. However, he went 6-11 with a 4.98 ERA.
After Spring Training 2006, Waldrop was sent back to Beloit. Obviously he was rather disappointed in that decision, but by season’s end, he did understand. “I think they made the right decision. Even though I threw over 150 innings my first year in Beloit, my season was too much like a roller-coaster and I never got in a consistent groove to prove to them that I could handle the next level. I needed to get more consistent with my offspeed pitches and trust my stuff more and that's what I accomplished in my second stint with Beloit.”
He was promoted to Ft. Myers after a rough start against Quad Cities. “It was the fastest I had gotten over a bad game, that's for sure.”
He pitched well, going 3-2 with a 3.57 ERA in eight games for the Miracle.
So what is in line for Kyle Waldrop in 2007? This writer’s assumption is that he will likely start the season with the Miracle in Ft. Myers. If (or as) he continues to be more consistent and develop all of his pitches, a midseason promotion to New Britain is not out of the question.
Waldrop really seems happy to be in the Twins organization. He said that there is one thing that distinguishes the Twins from other teams, “Everyone from the top to the bottom truly cares for all of the players and their development. Whenever Terry Ryan, Tom Kelly, or any coordinator comes into town, they're not afraid to tell you what you need to work on. I think that's the best way to do it, be up front with everyone.”
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Twins have moved Waldrop slowly to this point in his career. His stuff, his control and his makeup make keep him prominent on any Twins prospect list.