The Minnesota Twins announced their first set of cuts from Fort Myers Spring Training camp on Monday, as six pitchers were either re-assigned to minor-league camp or optioned to the minor leagues.
Left-handed pitcher Mason Melotakis was sent to Triple-A Rochester and fellow lefty Randy Rosario was sent to Double-A Chattanooga. Righties Felix Jorge and Fernando Romero were also sent to Double-A Chattanooga.
Left-handed starter Stephen Gonsalves was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was righty Aaron Slegers.
Melotakis will be seeing his first action at Triple-A this season after spending the bulk of 2016 at Double-A Chattanooga. The left-handed reliever posted a 2.97 ERA and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but battled an oblique injury early this spring that prevented him from getting into any Grapefruit League action. He’s on the 40-man roster and with a fast start could see his way to the big-league bullpen before too long.
Rosario had thrown four scoreless outings (spanning 3.1 innings) with the Twins this spring with three strikeouts, no walks and just two hits allowed. The 22-year-old lefty is also on the 40-man roster, but has only pitched four games above the High-A level. He’ll return to Chattanooga, where he gave up seven earned runs in six innings (10.50 ERA) over a two-week span to end the 2016 season. Rosario also had a so-so showing with the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 4.26 ERA in 12.2 innings with 11 strikeouts, five walks and a 1.82 WHIP.
Jorge was added to the 40-man roster over the winter, but had made just two appearances so far this spring, allowing two earned runs over two-thirds of an inning while allowing a home run (27.00 ERA). The 23-year-old right-hander made 25 starts between High- and Double-A last year with a 2.69 ERA. His strikeout rate dropped precipitously (3.9 K/9) when he moved to Chattanooga after posting a respectable 7.5 K/9 in 93 innings at Fort Myers. Jorge has drawn body and stuff comps to current Twins righty Ervin Santana, which would probably be a best-case scenario for his career.
Romero is starting to draw some national acclaim as the pitching prospect with the highest ceiling in the team’s system, but he has not yet pitched at Double-A heading into his age-22 season. That’s in large part due to him missing all of 2015 for Tommy John surgery. In 11 starts at High-A Fort Myers, Romero posted a 1.88 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning and a sub-1.00 WHIP. In one year’s time, he could be atop the Twins’ list as well as rocketing up national lists, too. Romero made three scoreless appearances for the Twins this spring (spanning three innings) with two strikeouts, one walk and just two hits allowed.
Gonsalves made a couple top-100 lists before the season and pitched very well this spring — no earned runs over 3.1 hitless innings with 3-1 K/BB ratio — but realistically was not a strong candidate to break camp with the team and has battled some shoulder soreness of late that has taken him off his throwing program. He’ll open the season either at Chattanooga — where he won Southern League Pitcher of the Month honors in August — or perhaps even Triple-A Rochester. A lot will depend on how crowded the Red Wings’ rotation will be.
Slegers was not added to the Twins 40-man roster in the offseason and is coming off a respectable season at Double-A Chattanooga. He made 25 starts there in 2016 with a 3.41 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He’s made 82 appearances in the minors (73 starts) with mostly so-so stuff, but his velocity has spiked a bit this spring. With a 6-foot-10, 245-lb. frame, there’s a decent chance his stuff could play up in the bullpen, with the recent velocity spike also intriguing. Keep an eye on him this season.