The Minnesota Twins made their second round of cuts on Tuesday morning prior to taking on the Baltimore Orioles in a Grapefruit League matchup. The following five pitchers were sent to the minors:
- LHP Stephen Gonsalves (Triple-A)
- LHP Adalberto Mejia (Triple-A)
- RHP John Curtiss (Triple-A)
- RHP Aaron Slegers (Triple-A)
- RHP Fernando Romero (Triple-A)
It’s a star-studded quintet of pitchers heading down to the minors — at least as far as prospects are considered — and it gives a little bit of clarity to what the Twins have planned at least as far as early-season pitching goes.
Mejia is probably the only real surprise of the crew, after he spent a large chunk of time in the big leagues last year, posting a 4.50 ERA in 98 innings with 7.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9. Sending out Mejia at this point likely points to Phil Hughes making the team in some form or fashion, either as a fifth starter — if that is how they go pitching-wise to open the year — or as the long man.
Curtiss had an outside shot to make the team as a reliever, but the odds were very, very slim. It was less about quality with Curtiss — though he didn’t pitch all that well in the big leagues last year — and more about him having to leapfrog quite a few pitchers to get his chance. With the Twins going through 34 pitchers last year, there’s still a good chance most, if not all, of these guys will get their number called at some point in 2018.
Gonsalves will get another look at Rochester after his brief stop there last year was a bit bumpy. The 23-year-old lefty joined the Red Wings in early August for the stretch run, but posted a 5.56 ERA in five appearances (four starts spanning 22.2 innings) with a 1.54 WHIP as Rochester ultimately fell short of the postseason. Gonsalves is the team’s top pitching prospect when considering proximity to MLB and ability to max out their physical skills. Gonsalves might not get the call to replace a starter in a spot start or doubleheader-type situation, but if a more long-term need came up, he’d probably be the guy.
Slegers is more or less big-league ready, but will need to really impress the brass at Rochester to get that chance. Slegers is 6-foot-10 and possesses a low-90s fastball that he uses to induce lots of grounders. He also possesses a good feel for pitching, and is better with command and repeating his delivery than many pitchers his size tend to be. He has a 3.50 ERA, 6.7 K/9 and a 1.19 WHIP in 601 minor-league innings.
Romero will get a little longer look at Double-A Chattanooga, where he posted a 3.53 ERA with nearly a strikeout (120) per inning (125) last year. He could certainly stand to work on his command a little bit (3.2 BB/9), but the reality is also that the Triple-A rotation is also bound to be very crowded.
A best guess at this point for the Red Wings rotation might be something like this:
- Mejia (LHP)
- Gonsalves (LHP)
- Slegers (RHP)
- Dietrich Enns (LHP)
- Felix Jorge (RHP)
That’s an impressive five-deep rotation at Triple-A — all are on the 40-man roster, for instance — and it also leaves Romero and potentially Zack Littell champing at the bit at Chattanooga. Littell was 19-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 157 innings (8.1 K/9) between High-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and then Chattanooga after he came over in the Jaime Garcia trade.
The Double- and Triple-A teams began spring action with inter-squad games against one another on Monday. Red Wings public relations guy Nate Rowan tweeted out the results from each of the games:
The @RocRedWings beat Double-A Chattanooga 9-6 today in the first MiLB spring action for both teams.
T.J. White: long solo HR
Zack Jones: 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 SO
Travis Blankenhorn: 2-for-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI (for CHAT)
— Nate Rowan (@njrowan) March 12, 2018
Dietrich Enns, DJ Baxendale, Mason Melotakis, Matt Magill and Tyler Jay combined on a 3-hitter as @RocRedWings beat Double-A Chattanooga 3-1 on the back fields today. Sean Miller had 2 hits including an RBI double.
— Nate Rowan (@njrowan) March 13, 2018
Per team release, the Twins still have 48 players in camp — 21 pitchers (three NRI), five catchers (three), 13 infielders (five) and nine outfielders (four).
The other move made Tuesday morning was the team officially inking righty Lance Lynn to a one-year deal worth $12 million. He addressed the media prior to making the start against the Orioles.
Lynn also talked to the media afterward, and was in his element as he fielded questions for a few minutes.
Lynn was terrific on the mound against the Orioles, striking out five of the 10 batters he faced in three hitless innings with just a walk on his ledger. Lynn leans heavily on his fastball as a general rule, and ran it up as high as 94 mph on Tuesday.
Lynn’s heater averaged 92.2 mph last year, though that doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story. Lynn throws a sinker, four-seam fastball and a cutter, with each touching and averaging different marks last year. His sinker averaged 91.2 mph and touched 96.1 last season, while his four-seamer averaged 92.2 and also touched 96.1. His cutter was much slower, averaging 87 mph but peaking at 92.1.
For what it’s worth — and it’s not much — Lynn’s peak velocity according to PITCHf/x on Fangraphs is 97.7 mph, which he hit in both 2012 and 2013.
MLB Trade Rumors posted its list of players who are “out of options” this season for every team. What that means is that player can no longer be sent to the minor leagues without first being subject to waivers.
The Twins have five players on the list:
- IF Ehire Adrianza
- IF Jorge Polanco
- DH/1B Kennys Vargas
- OF Robbie Grossman
- RP Ryan Pressly
In addition to these players, here’s a list of former Twins who also find themselves needing to break camp with their big-league club, or face a potentially uncertain future on waivers:
Former Twins out of options:
John Ryan Murphy
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) March 13, 2018