These six Twins pitchers are most likely to make an impact for the Twins in the next few years.
When it comes to pitching depth, the Twins are loaded. I mentioned recently that three pitchers in AAA could see time sooner rather than later (Bonsor, Reyes, and Neshek). But this piece is about the six guys in the organization with the highest ceilings. A couple of them might take a while to get to the majors, but barring injury, they will get there.
1.Matt Garza. The Twins first round pick in 2005, Garza has silenced the critics who claimed he was a reach at 24 overall. With a 95 mph fastball that moves and command of three pitches, he could probably be effective right now in the majors. He projects to a Rich Harden talent. Even so, the Twins will be cautious with him and move him along no faster than they did Scott Baker, who ascended from Fort Myers to Rochester in his second year of professional ball. Garza is having a Bakeresque start to his first full professional season at Fort Myers (27 K, 3 BB in 18 IP, 0.65 WHIP).
2. Glen Perkins. Most scouts mark him as the top pitching prospect in the organization, but I think he projects as more of a #3 starter. Except for a couple of struggling months last year in AA, Perkins has done more than the Twins could expect when they drafted him in the first round in 2004. He has the stuff and control to be a Mark Mulder type of pitcher. He's followed a great Arizona Fall League performance with a dominating start to the AA season, though his walks are a bit of a concern (19 K, 7 BB in 15 IP, 0. 93 WHIP)
3. Kevin Slowey. His pinpoint control make his lack of raw stuff deceptive. He projects to somewhere between Brad Radke and Greg Maddux if he stays healthy. This second round pick in 2005 has put up marvelous numbers so far in his professional career and this year at Fort Myers is no exception. (29 K, 2 BB, 23 IP, 0.77 WHIP).
4. Eduardo Morlan. I wonder why this kid is still in Beloit. After pitching very well in the Midwest League last year, the Twins decided to send him back there for another stint. A third-round pick in the 2004 draft out of Puerto Rico, Morlan has the best fastball in the organization. Clocked at 100 mph, he's been almost unhittable so far in low A. (21 K, 4 BB, 11 IP, 0.86 WHIP).
5. Justin Jones. Before the season I predicted that Jones would be the next Liriano. Not that he has Liriano's stuff, but that, after starting his career with a variety of minor ailments, he would break out in a big way. A former second round pck out of the Cubs organizations, Jones is yet another find by the Terry Ryan brain trust, who acquired him for Doug Mientkievicz in 2004. So far my prediction is showing some merit, though his season is not as dominating as I expected when I watched him pitch (on TV) in spring training. (16 K, 8 BB, 14 IP, 1.5 WHIP).
6. Jose Mijares. This was supposed to be five to watch, but I decided to include Mijeras based on his performance in spring training. He's just ff the DL in Fort Myers, so he doesn't have any numbers this year. But he was described by Rick Anderson as the third best left hander in the organization after Andy saw him in spring training. You can probably guess who the first two are. But even mentioning Mijares in the same breath as Santana and Liriano is high praise. With his mid-90s fastball and hard slurve, at the very least he could be a solid LOOGY for the Twins for years to come. I can't wait to see him put up numbers in Fort Myers.
These six pitchers will at least advance one level this year if not two. That means that they will all be knocking on the door by the end of the year and some might even get a September call-up. Even if no other pitchers pan out for the Twins (honorable mention: Adam Harben), these six give them excellent depth at the lower to mid levels.