For anyone who has been watching the World Baseball Classic, Samuel Deduno has clearly been one of the most valuable players for the soon to be champion Dominican Republic. I have seen enough to firmly believe that he deserves the fifth spot in the Twins rotation. He definitely has plenty to work on, but I think that his upside is simply too good to ignore. Let's weigh the pros and cons.
Why he should not be in the starting rotation
1. He has a very concerning lack of control. Last year he posted 53 walks in 79 innings, good for a 6.04 BB/9. Despite a respectable ability to keep these walks from scoring, this walk ratio is certainly not sustainable over the course of an MLB career. This comes from a lack of control over his fastball(s). He has two fastballs that tail off violently in opposite directions. While potentially dangerous, for the time being he has no idea which one is coming. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed.
2. International competition is not treated with the same sort of prostration and reservation that we see in a MLB game in June. Throughout the WBC, we have seen a very emotional Deduno that has resulted in displays including but not limited to fist pumps, arms in the air, and 360's. I think we can assume that if we saw this sort of behavior against the White Sox, there would be a lot of Twins with sore ribs. Not only is this sort of emotional display frowned upon in Major League Baseball, but it is also not the kind of behavior that is sustainable over the course of a long season.
Why he should be in the starting rotation
1. His stuff is absolutely ridiculous. Period. I will be the first to tell you that nasty stuff can only get you so far. Just look at Francisco Liriano. With that being said, if Deduno can get it over the plate, he has made hitters look absolutely foolish. Today he held Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Mike Aviles, and Alex Rios to a combined 2 for 12 (.167). This is a list of all-stars and World Series champions.
2. For as many walks as he allows, he does a good job at stranding runners. Especially after watching him pitch today, trouble did not make him desperate to find the zone. He was able to find the zone when he needed to, and he did so in a manner that made him look like he always had two strikes on someone. That is a veteran characteristic that cannot be taught. Puerto Rico did not get a single hit off of him with RISP.
Given the current state of the Twins, I say that he deserves that fifth spot as much as anyone. He has shown throughout the WBC that he can throw the ball against anyone. His room for improvement is his best quality. His curveball was his best pitch today, and if Rick can help him find a way to control those fastballs, I really think he could be something special.