As the Minnesota Twins were in the process of losing to the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Thursday night, word broke that the team had honed in on who’d make one of the starts in Saturday’s doubleheader in Kansas City.
It’ll be righty Felix Jorge, who’ll be making his big-league debut, and making the jump from Double-A Chattanooga.
The move was first floated by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press early Thursday:
The move was then reported by Mariana Guzman, who covers the Twins for La Raza 95.7 FM — the Spanish language broadcast that features Tony Oliva on its telecasts.
That move was further confirmed by Berardino just minutes later:
The Twins have not confirmed the move, but that’s not atypical of this sort of thing. Most likely, Jorge — who is already on the 40-man roster — will serve as the 26th man on Saturday before being sent back to the minors.
The 26th man rule is a provision that came into being with the ratifying of the Collective Bargaining Agreement following the 2011 season. The player must be on the 40-man roster, and the game must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance. The player does not need to be a pitcher — though it almost always is — and can be added inside the 10-day waiting period for a player previously optioned. However, if a player is used with that provision, they must be immediately sent back to the minors. Any other player promoted can be kept up in the big leagues with another player taken off the roster.
Current Twins video scout Jeremy Hefner was the first player to benefit from the provision on April 23, 2012. That was his major-league debut.
Jorge may not head back to Double-A Chattanooga once he’s done with the start on Saturday. The 23-year-old righty — who was added to the 40-man roster over the winter — has posted strong numbers with the Lookouts, including a 3.26 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a WHIP of 1.30.
The strikeout numbers are uninspiring on the whole, but he’s looked markedly better on that front in June, as he’s posted a 2.91 ERA in five starts with 8.2 K/9 and a WHIP of 1.15 in 34 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .258/.290/.386 against Jorge in June, and he’s walked just five batters all month.
Jorge, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, frequently drew body comps to current Twins starter Ervin Santana from former Twins general manager Terry Ryan during his infamous dinner-time media gatherings at Target Field. Santana is listed at 6-foot-2 and has just five pounds on Jorge, so it seems to be a fairly apt comparison.
Jorge was the No. 21 prospect in the Twins system heading into this season from Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs. That was due to Jorge’s stuff not ticking up as previously expected, with Longenhagen suggesting the righty’s fastball had sat 89-92 mph range with “plane but no movement.” The pitch to watch from Longenhagen was the changeup, though he ultimately projected him as a fifth starter or swingman type. It’s hard to say if that has changed much, especially since his stuff was not spiking to start the season.
Baseball America has listed Jorge as a top Twins prospect in each of the last five seasons with the following rankings, starting with 2012: 24th, 17th, 28th, 24th and eighth. Jorge was also ranked the Appalachian League’s No. 14 prospect in 2013.
As the No. 8 prospect last offseason, Jorge’s control was singled out by the evaluators at BA. They had him working in the 86-94 mph range in the past and as high as 95 with sink last season. Again, they see him as a back-end guy with “feel and command beyond his years.”
Over at Baseball Prospectus, one of their evaluators had eyes on Jorge almost exactly a year ago with High-A Fort Myers. They had Jorge as high as 95 mph with his fastball with two-seam action when he kept it down, but flattening out when up — which isn’t terribly surprising. From their perspective, Jorge’s best secondary was his changeup (50 present, OFP of 55) with his curve and slider both fringy, average-type pitches. Ultimately, it was a back-end profile with “potential to take a step forward with the arsenal and become a solid mid-rotation starter.”