Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 21, Eric Milton


The Minnesota Twins are just 21 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

As the decade of the 1990s waned, the Minnesota Twins were struggling. Their best player, Chuck Knoblauch, was among the elite players in the entire league and wanted a chance to play for a winning team. He made known his trade request, and the Twins worked out a deal with the New York Yankees that would end up being integral to sending the organization back to the playoffs in 2002. A key component of that trade was the man we’re remembering with #21 for his jersey while with the Twins, lefty Eric Milton.

Milton’s Twins career

Milton was a kid who came from cold-weather high school ball in Pennsylvania to showing himself as a standout with the University of Maryland in college. That collegiate performance earned him a selection in the first round of the draft, 20th overall, by the New York Yankees.

Milton signed too late to pitch in his draft season, so his first minor league experience came in 1997, opening with the Yankees’ high-A club. He threw tremendously well in 14 starts there, earning a bump up to AA Norwich. After another excellent performance, Milton was rated as the #25 overall prospect in the game by Baseball America going into the 1998 season.

In February of 1998, the Twins acquired Milton, along with Cristian Guzman, Brian Buchanan, and Danny Mota from the New York Yankees for Chuck Knoblauch. The Twins jumped Milton straight to the majors in 1998, and he did make 32 starts, but his numbers weren’t pretty, with a 5.64 ERA over 172 1/3 innings.

He settled into the rotation in 1999 (and his #21 jersey in 2000), with a 3-year run where Milton would throw 627 innings with a 108 ERA+ and a 2.86 K/BB ratio. He made an All-Star team and tossed a no-hitter.

Milton struggled with injury in 2002, missing a handful of starts, but throwing well over 29 starts. In 2003, however, he was limited to just 3 starts.

Over his 6 years in Minnesota, Milton threw 987 1/3 innings with a 4.76 ERA, a 269/715 BB/K ratio, and a 1.29 WHIP. He was noted for his performances in the playoffs, making three appearances, posting a 1.65 ERA over 16 1/3 innings with a 0.98 WHIP and a 3/9 BB/K.

Post-Twins career

After the 2003 season, the Minnesota Twins traded Milton to the Philadelphia Phillies for Nick Punto, Carlos Silva, and Bobby Korecky.

Milton had an up-and-down season with the Phillies, throwing to a 4.75 ERA and allowing 43 home runs, but also throwing 201 innings and striking out 161 hitters.

Milton signed as a free agent with the Reds after the 2004 season, but his pairing with the Reds was disastrous, with a 5.83 ERA over 3 seasons in Cincinnati and 73 home runs allowed in just 66 starts.

Milton had Tommy John surgery during the 2007 season and missed all of 2008. He was able to catch on with the Dodgers in 2009 and threw well for them, putting up a 3.80 ERA in 5 starts with a 6/20 BB/K ratio, but he couldn’t find a job after the 2009 season and retired.

Milton retired with 89 MLB wins, finishing with a major league ERA just under 5, which is a shame considering the excellent work he did early in his career.

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For 21 days to spring training, we’ll remember one of the players from the biggest trade of the late 1990s, Eric Milton!

Come soon, spring!!

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