Spring training is here, and with it comes the many battles for roster spots, particularly in the bullpen. Only Joe Nathan, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares, and Matt Capps appear to be locks, which leaves five open spots and some 18 pitchers competing for them. However, not everyone has a realistic shot at earning those jobs. Here’s a brief look at a couple of fading prospects who will be lucky to land a spot on the 40-man roster.
Deolis Guerra: Guerra is just 21, and since he was part of the Johan Santana trade, the organization has been reluctant to give up on him. Once a highly-touted prospect in the Mets’ system, the right-hander hasn’t shown much progress in his three seasons in the Twins’ system. Last season, Guerra posted a 6.36 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 1.89 K/BB ratio between New Britian and Rochester. Guerra walks a lot of hitters (3.0 BB/9) while struggling to miss bats (6.0 K/9), and though he has already spent five seasons in the minors, isn’t anywhere close to being major-league ready. I have no idea how long the organization will remain patient with him (he is still a bit young for his level, after all), but with Kane Holbrooks, Billy Bullock, and Dakota Watts (as well as others I am probably forgetting about right now) all likely due for promotions next year, it appears his time with the Twins is nearing an end.
Anthony Swarzak: If there weren’t a billion of them out there already, I would write an article on why ERA is a poor indicator of future pitching performance. I would call it the Anthony Swarzak Story. Swarzak gave up just three runs in his first two starts, which lead some to prematurely call for the Twins to replace the then-struggling Francisco Liriano in the rotation. Of course, his poor strikeout rate combined with a high contact rate eventually caught up with him, and Swarzak was sent back to AAA after giving up 40 runs in his next 46 innings. He spent all of 2010 in Rochester, posting an unimpressive 6.21 ERA, 4.75 FIP, and 1.82 K/BB (however, it should be noted that Swarzak was hardly the only pitcher to struggle in Rochester, as the Red Wings’ infielders were very young and inexperienced).
Swarzak was the second-round pick in the 2004 draft, was ranked #100 on Baseball America’s prospect list prior to 2006, and may never pitch another inning for the Twins again.