Minnesota Twins: Road to the Show, Alan Busenitz Edition
Alan Busenitz has been on fire this season for the Rochester Red Wings; with his success and the Twins bullpen struggles, his road to the show is paved.
In June of 2013 a pitcher from Kennesaw State University was waiting to hear his name called. He finally did in the 25th round when Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Alan Busenitz. Busenitz was more of a reliever than a starter for Kennesaw State University.
He was quick to sign his contract with the Angels and got right to work. At the age of 22 he began his professional career in rookie ball with the Orem Owlz. In 21 relief appearances he pitched 38.2 innings with 27 strikeouts to four walks. Busenitz finished 5-2 with a 2.33 ERA and would start the next season in low-A ball with the Burlington Bees.
With the Burlington Bees, Busenitz had a 1.94 ERA in 49 appearances; he continued to show he wasn’t an ordinary 25th round selection. Despite his stellar numbers he remained with Burlington for the 2014 season but did take over the closer role and recorded seventeen saves.
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Busenitz was assigned to the double-A Arkansas Travelers to start the 2015 season. At the start of the season they tried him out as a starter but the success just wasn’t the same. After eight starts he switched back to relief pitching but still hadn’t fully adjusted to hitters at the double-A level. At the end of June 2015, he was sent down to high-A ball with the Inland Empire 66ers.
After posting a 6.75 ERA in double-A Busenitz settled back into his relief role with the 66ers. In 21 appearances he posted a 3.30 ERA and averaged just under a strikeout per inning. His success earned him a roster spot in the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Busenitz first experience with top prospects didn’t go well.
The Solar Sox featured several players who have played in the MLB including Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, Marlins shortstop J.T. Riddle, and A’s pitcher Sean Manaea. He struggled in the competition with top prospects from across the minor leagues as he posted an 8.74 ERA with more walks than strikeouts. He was assigned to double-A to start the 2016 season, but wouldn’t stay there.
In his second go around with the Arkansas Travelers he was ready. Busenitz posted a 1.93 ERA in 24 relief appearances. His stellar numbers earned him his first call up to triple-A with the Salt Lake Bees. However, he wasn’t quite ready for that level as he posted a 7.62 ERA before being traded to the Twins.
The Minnesota Twins packaged Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer for Busenitz and Hector Santiago. After looking at his numbers for Salt Lake the Twins assigned him to double-A Chattanooga. He quickly showed the Twins he was above double-A ball and just needed more opportunities at triple-A. In five outings in Chattanooga he posted a 3.52 ERA with only one outing where he allowed runners to score.
The Minnesota Twins have seen Busenitz blossom this season.
To finish out the 2016 season he was called up to Rochester to pitch for the Red Wings. In his first time in the International League he posted a 3.52 ERA in six games proving he was ready for the triple-A level. Busenitz would begin this season with the Red Wings after his strong finish to 2016.
This year he has been stellar this season in Rochester. In 29.1 innings he has been the most consistent bullpen arm for the Red Wings. He has a 2.15 ERA with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings and only nine walks. His arsenal of a fastball, curveball, and changeup give him pitches to mix and throw off hitters. The Minnesota Twins have called him up for the second game of their doubleheader against Cleveland on Saturday.
Next: Twins: Adam Wilk Called Up To Start Saturday
Alan Busenitz has proven he is ready for his first shot at MLB hitting. Saturday night he could make his debut as the Twins try to reclaim sole possession of first place in the Central Division. Hopefully Busenitz can be the answer to the bullpen’s struggles but a congrats is in order for him completing his road to the show. Congrats Alan on going from a 25th round pick to a major league reliever.