The Twins like to accumulate “pitch-to-contact” starting pitchers. From Kevin Slowey to Nick Blackburn to new free agent Jason Marquis, there is a definite pattern to the type of starting pitcher this team targets. This tendency is so well-known that “pitch-to-contact” has become a notorious buzzword among Twins fans and writers.
Interestingly, the team has quietly started to take the exact opposite approach with the bullpen. Jim Hoey, Lester Oliveros, Esmerling Vasquez, and Joel Zumaya might not even know the meaning of the phrase “pitch-to-contact.” Neither does Luis Perdomo, who was signed as a minor league free agent this offseason. Perdomo will not bring a lot of control to Spring Training in Fort Myers, but he will bring his blazing fastball and his number 67 jersey.
Perdomo grew up in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. He was signed as a 19 year old by the Cleveland Indians, and he spent a few years at the team’s Dominican Academy before he pitched Stateside. Thus, he was already 22 years old when he made his Rookie League debut in 2006. But he played well in the minors, consistently notching high strikeout totals and low opponents’ batting averages. In 2008, Perdomo finished with a 2.36 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 72.1 innings between High A and AA. No team’s roster could contain him that year – he was traded from Cleveland to St. Louis, drafted as a Rule 5 pick by San Francisco, then claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. He made his MLB debut with the Pads and stayed the whole season, posting an unimpressive 4.80 ERA but striking out 8.3 per nine innings. Despite that somewhat encouraging performance, the Padres kept Perdomo in AAA for almost all of the last two seasons before he signed with the Twins.
The Twins must have been intrigued by Perdomo’s power pitching potential. According to Fangraphs, Perdomo’s fastball has averaged 93.4 mph in his career, but scouting reports from his Indians days peg him at 95 to 96. He also features a decent slider and a changeup. Control may be a slight problem for Perdomo; in his one full season in the Majors, he walked 5.1 batters per nine innings, and in his minor league career he had a sub-par 4.1 BB/9.
A little wildness isn’t such a bad thing in a reliever, though, especially if he doesn’t give up a lot of hits and can strike his way out of a jam. In a best-case scenario, that is the kind of pitcher Perdomo could be. He’ll be 28 in late April, so there is still time for him to establish himself as a Major League pitcher with an upside. The Zumaya signing may eat up another slot in the Twins bullpen (assuming Zumaya is healthy), but there will still be several of them up for grabs. Perdomo’s MLB experience and his exciting fastball could give him a shot this spring.
One observation that is unrelated to Perdomo’s fastball: a surprising number of the Twins’ non-roster invitees share names with minor celebrities. The other Luis Perdomo is a talented jazz pianist. In case you’re wondering, I’m pretty sure they’re related. The other Luis Perdomo is from Venezuela. Fellow Twins camp attendee Steve Pearce is also a Congressman, and Chris Herrmann is a Brazilian supermodel. You can read about those two, and the rest of the Twins’ non-roster invitees, here.