Minnesota Twins claim Mike Strong and DFA Logan Darnell
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The Minnesota Twins have claimed lefty Michael Strong off waivers from the Miami Marlins. The Marlins designated him for assignment to make room for Wei-Yin Chen. The Twins’ 40 man roster was full before the move and so Logan Darnell has been designated for assignment.
Darnell, another lefty who was an outside candidate for a spot in the Twins’ bullpen this year, will likely be picked up by another team off waivers. Darnell has pitched in the majors and had a solid showing last year in AAA. Darnell is a swingman but mostly relieved in 2015.
Unlike Darnell, Strong hasn’t pitched in the majors. He split time in 2015 between the Marlins’ AA and AAA affiliates. This move may leave some scratching their heads wondering why the Twins let a more experienced pitcher in Darnell go to make room for a guy who’s thrown 16.1 innings above AA. 16.1 very poor innings at that. The answer is likely that Twins’ management thinks Strong profiles better as a relief arm. They throw about the same speed but Strong has shown ability to get strikeouts. Darnell has averaged 6.5 K/9 in his minor league career and Strong has averaged 9.6 K/9 in his. Strikeouts from the bullpen has been something the Twins have been stressing and coveting all winter long.
Strong did start one game last year in AAA but he should be viewed purely as a reliever. In AA Biloxi, he dominated with a 2.54 ERA, 0.926 and a 8.9 K/9. Later in the season he was promoted to AAA Colorado Springs and things went downhill: 7.16 ERA, 1.837 WHIP and 6.6 K/9. It should be noted that those AAA numbers occurred in the notoriously hitter friendly PCL league but at the same time, that shouldn’t have affected his K/9. It is a very small sample size of course.
In his own words:
Strong features a fastball, curve and a change up. He’s a native Minnesotan.
Strong figures to slot in to the conversation for a left handed reliever role with the Twins. With his track record and limited experience, however, it seems more likely that he’ll settle in at AAA for 2016.