This week we will be selecting the Twinkie Town Twins organization Pitcher of the Year. You will be voting on one of the thirteen young pitchers I have chosen as candidates for your selection.
Our voting for Player of the Year was an exciting race. After receiving few votes last Saturday, voters made a strong push for Nate Roberts. His candidacy was likely helped by the publicity he received when he was featured at Target Field during a Twins game. After mid-week, a new group of voters were heard from as they made a push to get Chris Colabello into consideration. He moved from seven votes on Wednesday to more than sixty at yesterday’s cut-off. The one player who was strong throughout voting was Oswaldo Arcia, who was your final selection as this year’s Twinkie Town Player of the Year. In an extremely close battle, Arcia was selected Player of the Year with 29% of the 414 votes cast, five more than Nate Roberts. Colabello was third with 62 votes, Chris Parmelee fourth (49 votes) and Miguel Sano fifth (38 votes).
Next week we will select the organization’s Rookie of the Year. A brief summary of how each of the nominated pitchers did this season follows the jump.
Had he pitched another 9.1 innings, Liam Hendriks would have had enough innings to qualify as the top pitcher in the International League. He finished with a 2.20 ERA in 106.1 innings compared with the League ERA champ, Tyler Cloyd, who had a 2.35 ERA in 142.0 innings. At 9-3, Hendriks had the best record on the Red Wings staff. In sixteen starts, he posted a 0.98 WHIP, 82 strikeouts and 28 walks. With his first major league win behind him, he appears to be making progress in his drive to return in the spring and claim a spot on the Twins 2013 starting rotation.
The most successful starter for the New Britain Rock Cats was B. J. Hermsen. Hermsen began his season in Fort Myers, where he had a 1-0 record in four starts (23 innings) with a 0.78 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 5 walks. He moved up to New Britain in early May where he had a 11-6 record in 22 games (139.2 innings) with a 3.22 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 75 strikeouts and 25 walks. Can this young man, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of West Delaware Iowa High School, take those last two steps next year and join the Twins?
Was Beloit lefty Jason Wheeler the most successful starter in the organization? His fourteen wins (14-6) were the most in the Twins organization and also the most in the Midwest League. Taken in the eighth round of the 2011 draft out of Loyola Marymount, the 6’8" Wheeler was the anchor for the Snappers team that finished second in both halves of their season. Wheeler made 27 starts for Beloit, pitching 156.2 innings with a 3.45 ERA, 115 strikeouts and 43 walks.
Another successful Snappers starter was David Hurlbut. Hurlbut was drafted by the Twins in the 35th round of the 2009 draft. After not getting him to sign, they drafted him again in the 28th round of the 2011 draft out of Cal State-Fullerton. Hurlbut didn’t do anything to separate himself from other starters at Elizabethton in 2011 where he finished with a 3-6 record in 66 innings with a 4.50 ERA. He began 2012 in Beloit’s bullpen before moving to the starting rotation in June. He dominated as a reliever, going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in ten games (20 innings). As a starter, he had a 4-6 record with a 3.07 ERA in fifteen starts (91 innings). Finishing with a 2.76 ERA in 111 innings with 85 strikeouts and 25 walks, Hurlbut put himself into the conversation when the Twins discuss promotions for next spring.
The Twins selected Boston College lefty Pat Dean in the third round of the 2010 draft. He was solid at Elizabethton (2.59 ERA) in five starts in 2010 before pitching at Beloit, Fort Myers and one start at New Britain in 2011. He began this year at Fort Myers and stayed there the entire year. In 28 starts, Dean posted a 10-8 record (153.1 innings) with a 3.99 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 33 walks. His performance was so good that he was selected as a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star.
At 2.95, Houston Boyd had the third best ERA in the Appalachian League. The Twins 2011 supplemental round pick began his professional career in Elizabethton, where he posted a 2-5 record in 58 innings with 36 strikeouts and 23 walks. Although it is difficult to place a pitcher from a short season into competition with those on teams with twice as many games, a nineteen year old pitching in a league with a lot of college hitters with an average age of over twenty years old must be noticed. When he finishes amongst the best in the league, he has earned inclusion in today’s voting.
Matt Hauser began his season in Fort Myers, where he posted a 4-2 record with a 2.88 ERA in 31 games. In 72 innings, he struck out 58 batters while walking 28. Hauser, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 draft out of the University of San Diego, moved up to New Britain in late July where he worked exclusively out of their bullpen. Hauser posted a 3.38 ERA in ten games (16 innings) at AA, with eight strikeouts and four walks.
Ricky Bowen was one of the top relievers in the Florida State League during the first half of the season, posting a 2.70 ERA with five saves. That was good enough to earn him a spot in the FSL All-Star game, a game in which he was the winning pitcher. He wasn’t as good in the second half however, finishing with a 4-6 record and 2.95 ERA in 46 games (76.1 innings) with 67 strikeouts and 29 walks.
For several years, most Twins fans have considered the hard throwing Bruce Pugh as one of the top relievers in the organization. Yet, he struggled in 2010 and again in 2011 when he posted a combined 5.91 ERA in 43 games at Fort Myers and New Britain with 4.5 walks/9 innings. He finally got over whatever hurdle he was dealing with to have the best season this year of his five year professional career. In 17 games in Fort Myers, Pugh posted a 2.60 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 8 walks in 27.2 innings. He moved up to New Britain where he dominated with a 1.50 ERA in 31 games (42 innings) with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks to earn nine saves. With this year behind him, Pugh appears to be back on track towards someday pitching off the mound at Target Field.
Perhaps the most effective pitcher in the organization was a young man selected in the 46th round of the 2010 draft out of Michigan State University, A. J. Achter. After posting a 5-8 record and 4.52 ERA in nineteen starts at Beloit in 2011, Achter began this year in the Snappers’ bullpen. In eighteen appearances, Achter posted a 3-1 record with a 2.48 ERA in 40 innings with 49 strikeouts and 12 walks. He moved up to Fort Myers in June where he allowed only three earned runs in 18 games (34.1 innings) which gave him a 0.79 ERA. He allowed 21 hits, struck out 37 and walked only 3 batters, which resulted in a miniscule 0.70 WHIP.
Another former starter turned reliever is Michael Tonkin. Like Achter, Tonkin began this season in Beloit where he posted a 3-0 record with a 1.38 ERA. In 22 games (39 innings), Tonkin struck out 53 hitters while issuing only 9 walks. He also moved up to Fort Myers in June, where he had a 2.97 ERA in 22 games (30.1 innings) with 44 strikeouts and 11 walks. Twenty walks in 69.1 innings is excellent and 97 strikeouts (12.6k/9 innings) is flat out ridiculous.
Perhaps the reliever with the best ‘stuff’ in the entire organization is Beloit’s Corey Williams. Taken in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out of Vanderbilt University, the Twins had to go over the recommended slot to get Williams signature on a contract. Williams led the organization this year with 17 saves while posting a 3.47 ERA and 4-4 record in 47 appearances (62.1 innings). He struck out 68 batters while yielding 33 walks. He also committed several errors on pick-off attempts, one of which cost the Snappers an important game against Wisconsin late in the first half as they were trying to catch the eventual first half champs. Williams is certainly someone who has what it takes to make it to Minneapolis someday, but first he must improve his control both to home plate and first base.
Our last pitcher is another reliever who began his season in New Britain and is now pitching for the Twins. Luis Perdomo was one of more than a dozen minor league free agents signed by the Twins last winter. In 26 games (39.1 innings) with the Rock Cats, Perdomo posted a 4-4 record with a 2.75 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 16 walks. He moved up to Rochester where he had a 4-1 record and 2.43 ERA in 19 games (33.1 innings) with 25 strikeouts and 6 walks. The 28 year old right hander, who was added to the Twins 40-man roster as a September call up, has allowed six earned runs in nine appearances with the Twins (10.2 innings).