2018 in the rotation
The easy start to reviewing the 2018 look ahead is that, barring a surprising trade, Santana, Berrios, and Mejia are locks for the 2018 rotation. Santana for his veteran presence and ability to eat innings, Berrios for his tremendous upside, and Mejia for his ability to throw quality innings with his left arm.
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From there, things get interesting. The team may decide that Gibson’s price tag will be more than they believe he is worth and put him out on the trade market. He would certainly draw interest based on the way he finished his season as a back-end starter, but he also may not draw the level of trade return that the team would like in order to make the move.
The Twins saw a number of young pitchers make an appearance in the major leagues from their minors in 2017, and guys like Felix Jorge or Aaron Slegers could do very well eating up league average innings as a 4th/5th starter. The team also saw a number of young pitchers make strides in the minor leagues that could jump to the major leagues in 2018.
Looking to the future
Don’t tell the Tennessee Smokies announcers this, but the reason the Chattanooga Lookouts were one of the best teams in the minor leagues last season had little to do with hitters that were older than league average (seriously, each game viewed against them had a multi-inning diatribe about this on the Tennessee broadcast). The reason Chattanooga was so good was their elite starting rotation.
Felix Jorge made a couple of starts with the 2017 Twins, and he could be an option at the back of the rotation. However, Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero each have higher upside, with mid-rotation upside from each, and both could challenge for a rotation spot in Minnesota at some point of 2018. Zack Littell and Lewis Thorpe pitched to AA, but they both started at high-A, meaning they’ll likely open at AA/AAA in 2018. Dereck Rodriguez has made progress as a guy who would fit well as a long reliever/5th starter type as well while Kohl Stewart seemed to take yet another step backward in his attempt to progress toward the major leagues.
Beyond that, the Twins have some very impressive young prospects to consider that are in the lower levels of the minor leagues, the most impressive of which to me is Brusdar Graterol, who threw between GCL and Elizabethton in 2017 and is one to watch in his first full-season league in 2018.