Minnesota Twins: 3 Reasons Why the Hype for Joe Ryan is Real
By Otto Johnson
It’s official in Twins Territory: Joe Ryan mania has already taken over. After just two starts for the Minnesota Twins, one of the Twins’ top prospects has become the face of optimism for this team going forward.
Granted, his first start may not have been perfect, but his second start nearly was, so for long-suffering fans, this is an exciting development for a team that greatly struggles to develop any pitching talent (though the Rays did most of the developing).
Is the Joe Ryan hype real or is he just another flash in the pan for the Minnesota Twins?
Is the hype for real though? There have been plenty of pitchers with enormous amounts of hype put together a good start or two and then vanish, making Twins fans a little skeptical each time something positive arrives.
We’ve already talked about how Ryan is the start of the prospect train of pitchers on their way up to the bigs, but it’s time to talk about the fact that Joe Ryan could be the best of the bunch. Here are three reasons why Joe Ryan could be a stud for the next half-decade to come.
No. 3 Reason for Minnesota Twins fans to believe in Joe Ryan: Consistency through the Minor Leagues
There’s a reason that Joe Ryan flew through the minor leagues: consistency. The 7th-round pick started his minor league career in 2018 with a twelve game showing at Low-A Hudson Valley, posting a 3.72 ERA and a 51-14 K-BB ratio in 36.1 IP. That would qualify as the worst minor league season of his career.
In 2019, Ryan played at three levels and produced remarkable results:
- Single-A Bowling Green: 6 G, 6 GS, 27.2 IP, 2-2, 2.93 ERA, 1.084 WHIP, 47-11 K-BB ratio
- High-A Charlotte: 15 G, 13 GS, 82.2 IP, 7-2, 1.42 ERA, 0.714 WHIP, 112-12 K-BB ratio
- Double-AA Montgomery: 3 G, 3 GS, 13.1 IP, 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 24-4 K-BB ratio
- Total Line: 24 G, 22 GS, 123.2 IP, 9-4, 1.96 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, 183-27 K-BB ratio
Those are excellent numbers, good enough for Baseball America to rank Ryan as the No. 98 prospect in baseball prior to 2020. Covid-19 proceeded to wipe out Ryan’s age-24 season, but the Rays felt confident enough to start him at Triple-AAA to begin 2021.
He continued to put together a 3.63 ERA and a 92-12 K-BB ratio over 57 innings before serving as Team USA’s ace in the Olympics, helping the team earn a Silver Medal. Two starts and 17 strikeouts in St. Paul later, Ryan was called up to pitch for the Twins.
If Joe Ryan never makes another minor league start, here’s what his line over three years will look like:
- 50 G, 42 GS, 226 IP, 15-8, 2.67 ERA, 0.867 WHIP, 326-53 K-BB
Those are numbers that make you believe in both his stuff and in him as a pitcher. I see no reason for him not to continue pitching well at the next level, even if his major league numbers look a lot closer to his Triple-AAA numbers.
No. 2 Reason for Minnesota Twins fans to believe in Joe Ryan: His Sneaky Delivery
Joe Ryan doesn’t have the best stuff in the entire world, but part of the reason for his success is his ability to make batters miss with his delivery. Here’s what MLB.com had to say about the delivery:
“Ryan has a starter’s delivery and a three-quarters arm slot that creates deception. Combine that with his above-average command and the life on his fastball, and you can understand why hitters have struggled to do much damage against him”
That’s some pretty high praise. He does his damage using a four-seam fastball and a slider, both really good pitches, but he’s working on both a curveball and a changeup to help him remain in the rotation for a long time and keep hitters off balance.
Pitchers with odd deliveries often put together long careers, as the delivery can be an added bonus that makes it harder for batters to follow. Ryan’s delivery doesn’t offer too much extra effort, so it’s easy to understand why the Twins think he can remain as a starter long term too. He’s in a really good spot.
No. 3 Reason for Minnesota Twins fans to believe in Joe Ryan: The Hot Start
Now it’s easy to brush off two starts as luck, but luck had very little to do with Joe Ryan’s excellent first two games:
- Game One: 5 IP, 3 ER, 3 R, 3 H, 5-1 K-BB, 89 Pitches (60 Strikes)
- Game Two: 7 IP, 0 ER, 0 R, 1 H, 4-0 K-BB, 85 Pitches (61 Strikes)
That’s a hell of a start for a rookie, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning before losing it on a single one of the hottest bats in baseball. It was arguably the Twins’ best start of the season and it had everyone buzzing.
Normally, I’d agree that two starts like this is just luck, but with a track record like Ryan’s, this seems like he’s ready to continue his current pace at the biggest stage. If his final three or four turns in the rotation go like his first two, you’re looking at the second member of the Twins rotation for 2022 (Hi Bailey Ober!) and that’s a great thing.