Twins – Who’s That Guy? Michael Tonkin


May 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher

Michael Tonkin

(59) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Target Field. The Red Sox won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

As the long, difficult Minnesota Twins’ season winds down in its final month, we’ll take a closer look at some of the new (and some not so new) faces added to the roster with our new Who’s That Guy? postings. Our next entry: Relief Pitcher Michael Tonkin.

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Who’s That Guy?

  • Name – Michael Harvey Tonkin
  • Age – 24
  • Position – Relief Pitcher
  • Career stats (32 games) – 28.1 IP, 0-0, 3.18 ERA, 25 SO, 9 BB

Experience -Drafted in the 30th round of the 2008 draft, Tonkin lingered in the low minors the first 5 years of his career ending the 2012 season still with Fort Myers after posting a 4-1 record that year with a 2.08 ERA.  He struck out 97 batters that summer against only 20 walks.  Those numbers caught the attention of the organization and Tonkin was quickly on the rise, starting the 2013 season in AA New Britain and quickly moving up to AAA Rochester.  He made his major league debut on July 10th, 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays.  He appeared in 8 more games with the Twins after his debut last summer, most of them as a September call-up.

What he’s done in 2014 –  The 6’7″ power right hander stayed on the major league staff’s radar and Tonkin began the 2014 season on the major league roster.  He had a strong April, making 9 appearances and posting a 1.29 ERA.  He struggled in May, however, giving up 10 runs in only 5 innings and he was sent back down to Rochester before the Twins began interleague play at the end of the month.  He rebounded with the Red Wings, appearing in 39 games and notching 10 saves in a late-inning relief role.

September results & expectations – With Tonkin back up with the Twins for September, his goal is very clear:  Show that he can be relied upon as a full-time reliever.  With closer Glen Perkins getting shut down for the remainder of the season, there have been and will be opportunities for late inning work.  Tonkin has been solid during his recent call-up, posting 1.93 ERA in 9 appearances, striking out 6 and having yet to walk a batter.  He has been utilized mostly as a matchup pitcher, coming in to get 1 or 2 batters at most, and has excelled during his brief stint in September.

Looking forward to 2015 – As with Lester Oliveros, the Twins’ bullpen could have several openings for next season, so there’s no reason to believe that Tonkin won’t be in the mix for a full-time roster spot in the major leagues in 2015.  Bullpen stalwarts Jared Burton and Casey Fien have been constantly relied upon this season, and their productivity has suffered because of it.  If Tonkin can show that he can be someone the staff can feel confident getting batters out in relief, he can help take the load off an overworked bullpen in 2015.

Our last player to be spotlighted on Who’s That Guy? will be Aaron Hicks.

Until next time…