Minnesota Twins MiLB Weekly: Two Additions to Future Bullpen
The Minnesota Twins have two minor league pitchers who can provide solid relief in the future bullpen.
When it comes to rebuilding the Minnesota Twins bullpen, the front office should use the young talent in the organization.
Looking past next season to 2018, the Twins have two top relievers in the making.
Tom Hackimer and Trevor Hildenberger are worthy of a shot at the 2018 bullpen.
Both players have pitched exceptionally well this season and their stock is on the rise. I firmly believe both will be ready to contribute as effective late inning relievers in 2018.
It’s too far in advance to label one as the future closer, yet both pitchers served as closers for their respective teams.
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Hackimer, a 2016 draft pick, was thrust into action with the single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. In his first professional season, he displayed qualities everyone looks for in a late inning reliever.
In 26 1/3 innings he struck out 26 batters, and allowed seven earned runs. On the flip side, he walked 12 men, and gave up 21 hits.
Considering he just completed his first professional season and he’s 22-years-old, the stats aren’t terrible.
Hildenberger, a top-30 prospect, started the season with single-A Fort Myers but spent most of the season with double-A Chattanooga.
He pitched a total of 48 innings despite his season cut short due to an injury.
A relievers’ ERA can often misconstrue just how effective a reliever actually is. However, no one can misconstrue a 0.75 ERA.
Yes, you read it correctly.
Hildenberger allowed four earned runs in 48 innings, good for a sub 1.00 ERA.
Apart from his minuscule ERA, Hildenberger had a great statistical season across the board.
He struck out 53 and walked only six batters.
What Sets Them Apart
When it comes to identifying good late-inning relievers, strikeout and walk rates are stats I continue to reference, as well as home run totals and ground ball out percentages.
Hackimer owned a 8.9 S0/9 this season, which is close to his four-year college average of 9.9 SO/9.
Generally speaking, the pitchers with the higher SO/9 are the best in the league. It’s likely that Hackimer will float around 9 SO/9, which would put him in the top 25 percent in that category.
As stated before, Hackimer walked 12 batters in 26 1/3 innings, which translates to a 4.1 BB/9. At first glance, it seems a little high. However, plenty of MLB relievers can get away with high BB/9 and still be effective such as Craig Kimbrel, Zach Duke, and Kyle Barraclough.
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Keeping the ball on the ground and preventing home runs is one of the main factors that played into Hackimer’s success this season. Sixty-nine percent of the outs came on the ground.
While Hackimer has some key elements to improve on, Hildenberger has good numbers in all the important categories.
He has a career 10.5 SO/9 rate in 141 innings. Like he has done every season, Hildenberger struck out more batters than innings pitched. As previously mentioned, he struck out 53 batters in 48 innings this season.
His career 1.1 BB/9 is also impressive. This season Hildenberger walked six batters, one shy of his career high seven. He also threw strikes 73 percent of the time. As evident here, walks aren’t expected when he’s on the mound.
Nothing kills a team more than late inning relievers who give up home runs, and Hildenberger is exceptional at keeping the ball in the ballpark.
He gave up two home runs this season, and only three in his career 141 innings. Clearly, keeping the ball in the park is one of his strong suits, which bodes well for him in the future.
Like Hackimer, Hildenberger keeps the ball predominately on the ground. His 60 percent ground ball percentage isn’t as impressive as Hackimer’s ground ball percentage.
However, the majority of his outs are still on the ground.
Both pitchers have the strikeout ability necessary in today’s game and both do a good job of limiting walks and home runs.
Because of where they are at in their development stage, I see Hackimer and Hildenberger making a strong case for a spot in the 2018 bullpen.
Next: Minnesota Twins: Is Santiago Starting to Figure Things Out?
It may be too early, but it beats coming to grips with how bad the Twins’ season has been.