Kyle Gibson has been biding his time and waiting. There have been hurdles to go over and hoops to jump through. Roadblocks and injury have delayed his arrival but the Minnesota Twins’ first round pick (22nd overall) in the 2009 draft will soon be making his major league debut.
As announced on Twitter by Dustin Morse, the team has optioned Pedro Hernandez back to Rochester and will call up Gibson on Tuesday with the intention of having him start Saturday’s game at Target Field against the Kansas City Royals.
While Hernandez is being optioned to Triple-A to make room for Gibson on the 25-man roster, this move is a byproduct of Mike Pelfrey‘s back strain. Pelfrey, who was slated to start today against the Indians, started having problems with his back during Saturday’s warm ups and has since been placed on the 15-day Disabled List.
Needing an emergency starter, the organization turned to Hernandez and he delivered today allowing just 3 hits and 2 runs in 5.0 innings of work. It wasn’t a thing of beauty as he walked six batters in the game but he got the job done.
The Twins were unable to turn to Gibson for today’s start since he pitched 7.0 innings on Thursday but given how long he’s waited, he can surely tolerate a few extra days of anticipation and excitement.
Speaking of waiting, when he was drafted back in 2009 there was a great deal of optimism that he would be able to reach the majors quickly if the stress reaction in his forearm didn’t cause a problem for the former University of Missouri starter. He made his professional debut in 2010 and moved from Fort Myers all the way up to Rochester in his first season. Gibson started a combined 26 games with the Miracle (7), Rock Cats (16) and Red Wings (3) with a 2.96 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 3.23 SO/BB in 152.0 innings.
He pitched 3.2 innings for the Twins in Spring Training to start the 2011 season. From there Gibson went to Rochester where he scuffled for 18 starts (4.81 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 95.1 IP) before being shut down with a sore elbow in late July. Rest and rehab did not resolve the issue. He went under the knife and had Tommy John surgery on November 7th, 2011.
On July 10th, 2012 – 19 months after his surgery – he took the mound in the Gulf Coast League to make the first of nine appearances in rookie ball. From the GCL he moved to Fort Myers where he made two short starts on August 14th and 19th before rounding out the regular season and month of August with two starts in Rochester. After the minor league season drew to a close the Twins sent Gibson to the Arizona Fall League to log some additional innings.
This season he’s been biding his time with Rochester and has made 15 starts with a 3.01 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 79-28 SO-to-BB in 92.2 innings pitched. Of his 15 starts, just four have been substandard with a Game Score (GSc) under 40. Five of his starts have been excellent with a GSc north of 70 with three of those coming in his last seven starts overall.
Reaching the majors quickly went out the window thanks to the elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery. As of today, 19 of the first 49 players taken in his draft class have made their MLB debuts and two members of the Twins 2009 draft – Chris Herrmann (6th round) and Brian Dozier (8th) – also beat Gibson to the big leagues.
Despite everything, the three-time Baseball America Top-100 prospect, still profiles as a #2 starter and should have little trouble establishing himself as a mainstay in the Twins rotation going forward if he stays healthy. After all he isn’t exactly facing stiff competition and his velocity and stuff have fully returned since his surgery.
Here’s hoping the wait was worth it, not only for the Twins organization and fans but for Kyle Gibson as well.