Down on the Pond, Twins MiLB Awards: The Pitchers


Who were the best pitchers in the Twins minor league system in 2012?

Earlier this week I took a look at my predictions from this spring for who I thought would be the best minor league hitters in 2012 and who actually was. Today I’ll look into the pitchers. See the predictions made by some of the other Twins bloggers here (position players) or here (pitchers).

Twins related news and notes from the minor leagues

Breakout Pitcher (Upper Levels)

Pre-Season Pick: Tyler Robertson. Robertson will be back in Rochester for the first time since getting moved to the bullpen at the beginning of 2011. Although Robertson doesn’t have any pitch that is outstanding, he commands his pitches well and I look forward to the lefty making big strides in his second full season working out of the pen.

Robertson had a solid year out of the pen in 2012, 3.77ERA w 33 strike outs and 13 walks in 33 games (28.2 innings), but he was by no means the breakout star that I had him pegged for this spring. Many of the quality arms from both AA and AAA were called upon this season by the big league club who struggled finding quality arms to put in the rotation making picking the pitchers for awards from the upper levels even more difficult.

Winner: Bruce Pugh (RP). Pugh started the season in Ft Myers where he put up great numbers out of the pen and was called up to New Britain where he performed even better. Pugh finished the season with a 1.94 ERA in 69.2 innings pitched between Ft Myers and New Britain. Bruce held AA hitters to a .182 average and struck out 48 in 42 innings of work giving up only 26 hits.

Best Pitcher (Upper Levels)

Pre-Season Pick: Alex Wimmers who moves up to AA New Britain this year after a season at Ft. Myers hopes to build off of the late season success from 2011. Wimmers who started 2011 by walking six batters is hoping that his control issues from last season remain in the past. Wimmers only pitched 40.2 innings in A+ last season in addition to the added competition of AA, Wimmers will need to log a bunch of innings. If Wimmers can get back to his 2010 form it’s not unreasonable to expect him to move up to AAA by the end of the season.

Alex Wimmers made one start for New Britain and was shut down eventually under going season-ending Tommy John surgery on August 2nd. The injury bug strikes again! So much promise for the 2010 first round draft pick who will miss most of, if not all of 2013 as he rehabs from the injury. What will become of Alex Wimmers who is already 23?

Winner: B.J. Hermsen was selected by the Twins as their minor league pitcher of the year, who am I to argue with the organization I know and love? I’m a blogger, disagreeing with the Twins is practically my main duty, but you’ll get no argument from me on this on. Hermsen had a good season, he made one start for Ft Myers and was called up to New Britain where he made another 22 starts. Hermsen finished the season with a 2.88 ERA to go with 87 strike outs and only 25 walks in 162.2 innings. Honorable mentions to Anthony Slama who dominated at the back of the AAA bullpen and Liam Hendriks who posted a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts for Rochester while striking out more than 5 batters per start.

Breakout Pitcher (Lower Levels)

Pre-Season Pick: Madison Boer. Boer is a hometown kid from Eden Prairie, MN and will be given a chance to start in Beloit this season and with a solid defense behind him and an offense that will impress, Boer should put up some eye-popping numbers in his first full season in Beloit.

Madison Boer put up some eye popping numbers, but not in a good sense. Boer started the season in Beloit where he posted a 3.58 ERA but was then called up to Ft Myers where he struggled. Boer finished the season, between both levels, with a 5.84 ERA 86 strike outs and 42 walks. Batters hit .309 off of him, .322 in AA.

Winner: A.J. Achter. Achter started the season in Beloit where he pitched 40 innings out of the pen before getting called up to Ft Myers where he walked only 3 batters in 34.1 innings of work and struck out 37, holding the high-A hitters to a .168 average. Achter was in the rotation last year for Beloit but moved to the pen this year where he thrived. A.J. finished the season with an ERA of 1.70 and 86 strikeouts to go with only 15 walks in 74.1 innings of work.

Best Pitcher (Lower Levels)

Pre-Season Pick: Adrian Salcedo. Salcedo was outstanding last year and although he’s moving up from Beloit to Ft Myers this season I look for him to continue to be a shining star in the lower levels of the Twins organization. Unlike most “classic” Twins style pitchers Salcedo is not a pitch to contact control guy, and while his control is above average, he also misses a lot of bats, striking out 281 while only giving up 56 walks since singing late in 2007.

Salcedo pitched only 30.2 innings in 2012 after getting hit in the face during a game in late April that broke his nose. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Salcedo going into 2012, but the injury bug took it’s toll on the lanky right-hander, hopefully he’ll be able to get back on track in 2013.

Winner: David Hurlbut. Hurlbut pitched 111.0 innings for the low-A Beloit Snappers in his first full season of professional baseball. Hurlbut was drafted in the 28th round of the 2011 draft out of Cal State-Fullerton. He ended the season with 85 strike-outs and only 25 walks to go with his 2.76 ERA. Hurlbut will most likely start next season in high-A Ft Myers. He doesn’t throw that hard, but he has good command and an above average change-up.

Breakout Pitcher (Extended Spring Training)

Pre-Season Pick: Hudson Boyd. Boyd was drafted out of HS last season and signed late so he’ll make his professional debut this season in EST. As a high school pitcher he is a raw talent, but he throws hard and has good control. If he can stay healthy and keep his weight under control he should put up good numbers in 2012.

Boyd led the Elizabethon Twins in innings pitched this season and had a nice 2.95 ERA for his 58 innings of work, however he only struck out 36 and walked 23. 2012 was a good season for Boyd but he gave up almost 2 home runs per 9 innings pitched (1.86 HR/9). He’ll need to keep the ball in the park and work on an out pitch as he continues to move through the Twins system. He is young and talented.

Winner: Joshua Burris. Burris finished his season a sparkling 7-0 with a 1.75 ERA, 40 strike-outs and 21 walks in 36 innings of work out of the Elizabethon bullpen. Burris has great stuff but has struggled with his command. He was drafted in the 17th round of the 2011 draft and signed late so 2012 was his first taste of professional baseball.  Burris is one of several very talented pitches in the lower levels of the Twins organization.

Best Pitcher (Extended Spring Training)

Pre-Season Pick: Steven Evans was drafted in the 13th round last year, signed quickly and put up eye popping numbers after he reported to Elizabethon. Coming back for a full season Evans will continue to impress against hitters in the Appy League. Already with an impressive arsenal of pitches, 2012 should be a successful season for the young lefty.

Evans pitched only 19.0 innings this season, 10 for Elizabethon and then 9 more after getting called up to Beloit. He was not dominant and ended the year with a 4.74 ERA to go with 12 K’s and 5 walks. The tall lefty will have to work hard this off-season and come back ready to make an impact in 2013.

Winner: Angel Mata. Mata signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2010. 2012 was his 2nd year in Extended Spring but his first with Elizabethon (he pitched for the Gulf Coast Twins in 2011) and he showed good stuff. Mata started 13 games for the E-Twins and struck out 55 in 53.1 innings of work, holding opposing batters to a .171 average. Mata is only 19, look for him in Cedar Rapids in 2013.