Minnesota Twins MiLB Weekly Roundup: Rochester Trio Off To Hot Start
Despite Rochester’s poor start to the season, three Minnesota Twins minor league pitchers are off to a hot start.
The Minnesota Twins triple-A team has a problem. No it’s not the 5-9 record. The problem is actually good one to have. The Rochester Red Wings have three pitchers with ERA’s under 2.00.
Tyler Duffey, Jose Berrios, and Alex Meyer own the top three lowest ERA’s on the team and sit in the top 15 among International League pitchers. Meyer leads the trio with a 1.04 ERA. Not far behind is Berrios with a 1.06 ERA. The last of the three, Duffey, has a 1.72 ERA.
Meyer started 2016 in the bullpen but has since moved into the rotation. Last season, he struggled with control issues and moved to the bullpen where he pitched better. Meyer seems to have limited his walks in the early going. In his first start since May 19, Meyer threw 60 of 92 pitches for strikes. He’s since started another game and has continued to wrangle with his control issues. In 17 1-3 innings, Meyer has walked four batters while striking out 19.
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There is a strong temptation to assume Meyer is back on track as a starter. Don’t give in just yet. While he is showing the Twins organization a small sample of what the team anticipated seeing when it traded for him in 2012, he isn’t guaranteed to stay in the rotation.
The likely path to an extended stay in the majors is in the bullpen. Meyer reached 99 mph during his first start. The velocity isn’t an issue now and in the future. What stands in the way is the blockade of MLB capable starters plus prospects like Berrios and Duffey that seemingly passed him over.
Thus far Berrios has pitched as well as expected. In 17 innings, he has walked eight while striking out a team leading 20. His strikeout ability shouldn’t go unnoticed. However, like Meyer, control remains an issue for Berrios. Eight walks in 17 innings may not seem crucial, but upon further examination it is.
In 2015, Berrios issued 14 walks in 75 2-3 innings, a walk rate of 1.7, with Rochester. The last time Berrios kept his walk rate that low was his first professional season in 2012 with the Gulf Coast League Twins. Obviously it’s still early on in the season, but the control issues are concerning. Berrios carries a lot of pressure from the front office and fans alike. All are ready for him to make the jump to the majors.
Duffey, despite his impressive ERA, is just starting to pitch consistent with last year’s run with the Twins.
In Duffey’s first start he threw 40 of 56 pitches for strikes. Quite impressive. In second start, he didn’t pitch nearly as effectively. His strike ratio was almost 50 percent. His third start was much better and indicative of his 2015 performances. He walked only one batter while striking out six in 7 innings.
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Many thought Duffey ought to have won a rotation job over Ricky Nolasco. Again it’s still early in the season, but so far Nolasco is the better pitcher. It will take an injury to Berrios or Nolasco for Duffey to return to the majors.