The Minnesota Twins have lost 12 of their last 16 games but the looking at the big picture there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the team’s future. The farm system is flush with talent and can lay claim to two of the top-5, if not top two, prospects in the game.
Of course this organization has a lot more going for it than just the future stardom of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Kyle Gibson appears to have made it all the way back from Tommy John surgery and the related, and rigorous, rehab process to finally make his major league debut. Oswaldo Arcia, Ryan Pressly and Caleb Theilbar reached Minnesota ahead of Gibson and all three are in the midst of terrific rookie seasons. Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Josmil Pinto, Kennys Vargas and countless others are bolstering their stock and standing as prospects but one of the most promising stories to emerge (removing Buxton’s ridiculous season from the coversation) just might be 19-year RHP Felix Jorge.
Brad included him in his latest Prospect Octopus article as one of the top-8 teenagers in the system, he was featured in a piece on MiLB.com last week, and of course his starts have been included in On the Pond Daily.
You will often hear, and rightly so, that it’s wise not to get too amped up or too down on how a prospect does in the complex leagues. That said, excellent performance in the beginning levels can be precursors to future success as players climb the minor league ladder just as an impressive spring training can propel a player to a long and successful major league career. I am confident that Jorge is one of those cases where we will look back at his minor league track record in a few years and say “we should have known this was coming.”
After all, he’s been pitching in the system for two years, after signing out of the Dominican Republic back in February of 2011, and the results have been there from the beginning.
2011: 27.0 IP, 2.67 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 8.7 SO/9 (DSL Twins)
2012: 34.2 IP, 2.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.6 SO/9 (GCL Twins)
Felix Jorge has only pitched 12.1 innings with Elizabethton so far in 2013, the season is just a few weeks old for the Appalachian League, but the results have nothing short of stunning and smack of something out of a video game. Thankfully for us, his statline is very real.
2013: 12.1 IP, 0.73 ERA, 0.49 WHIP, 9.5 SO/9
He’s allowed just two hits on the season, one in each of his last two starts, and carries a 13-4 SO-to-BB to boot. The young man isn’t going to keep putting up numbers that ridiculous but he does have a great deal of ability. He entered the season as the organization’s #24 prospect according to Baseball America and #15 by Baseball Instinct.
Elizabethton pitching coach, Henry Bonilla offered up a little insight in the MiLB.com article (linked above),
"He’s so free and easy that you don’t think he’s got that much with the fastball, but he can run it up there anywhere from 90-95 [mph] some days. You see him and he’s tall, skinny and everything is working kind of slow. But his arm, once it gets to that fire point, it’s quick and it gets on you. The ball jumps out and surprises guys."
In addition to the fastball, he also features a curveball and changeup which have promise. Stuff aside, Felix gets positive marks for his feel for pitching as well as his willingness to learn and adapt. Toss in the fact that he has room to add more weight to his frame and it’s hard not to dream about him pitching in the Twins rotation.
Obviously a lot can go wrong between now and then. Jorge has his share of pitfalls in front of him, both this season and as he moves up to full season ball in 2014 and beyond. But in a system that needs pitching prospects to step forward and break out, Felix Jorge has already been a revelation and is someone we should all be tracking closely the rest of the 2013 season.