Ripping another page from TG's book, here's a little introduction to the latest Twins pitching prospect to breach the majors.
Boof Bonser was aquired in advance of the 2004 season along with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in exchange for sending All Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants. In 2000 Bonser was the top draft pick for the Giants, and along with Liriano and Ryan Hannaman was expected to follow Kurt Ainsworth, Jesse Foppert and Jerome Williams to the majors to combine for a young, talented rotation. On Sunday, when Bonser makes his Major League debut as a Minnesota Twin, his two mates-in-trade will be in uniform with him.
In the spring of 2004, Bonser began his career wtih the Twins in AA affiliate New Britain. Carrying with him impressive strikeout numbers and a mid-90's fastball, he also carried some high numbers in bases on balls and some control issues. These assets and concerns have followed his rise through the Minnesota farm system as well.
Bonser made one start for Rochester at the end of 2004, spent all of 2005 with the Red Wings, and has looked sharp through the early season at AAA in 2006. He still carries heat, and from what I've been able to find he also carries (at least) a curve and a change. I've been unable to locate at what velocity the latter two come over the plate.
Numbers on Bonser through his career in the minor leagues
Year Age Lvl IP ERA K/9
2000 18 A- 33.0 6.00 11.18
2001 19 A 134.0 2.49 11.96
2002 20 A+ 128.1 2.88 9.75
2002 20 AA 24.1 1.11 8.51
2003 21 AA 135.0 4.00 6.87
2003 21 AAA 23.0 3.13 10.96
2004 22 AA 154.1 4.37 8.51
2004 22 AAA 7.0 1.29 9.00
2005 23 AAA 160.1 3.99 9.43
2006 24 AAA 49.1 2.01 8.61
In spite of decayed numbers at AA in 2003 for the Giants, he was nonetheless promoted to AAA and posted great numbers through just 23 innings. Things nearly mirrored this situation in 2004 when he appeared to have continued troubles adjusting to better hitters at the AA level with the Rock Cats, but was given one start at Rochester at the end of the season regardless. He looked good, but it was his performance in the spring of 2005 that gave him his first full season in the upper echelon of the minor leagues.
Now, replacing an embattled Kyle Lohse, Bonser gets ready to take his fastball, his strikout rates and his questionable control to the next and final level. Minor league numbers are never a guarantee for success or failure in The Show, but they're always good indicators of what you can expect. You can expect Bonser to post better strikeout numbers than Lohse, but this may be where his assets over the recently demoted pitcher end.
Don't expect too much from Boof this summer. He was once considered a better prospect that Liriano; but this was years past and is no longer the case. Having the potential to work into a solid #3 pitcher, you never know how things will go in the future, but he's likely to be mostly average in 2006. Tune in on Sunday to catch his MLB debut against former division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers.
Everybody now, one time: BOOOOOOOOOOOFFF!!!