It's been a long, long time coming, but Kyle Gibson is on the Twins' Major League roster with the hope that he won't need to return to the minors. Gibson hasn't flat out dominated Triple-A in terms of strikeouts and overpowering hitters, but he's posted a 3.11 ERA (2.96 FIP) with a 57 percent ground-ball rate through 92.2 innings for the Red Wings. He's probably more capable of retiring Major League hitters than some of the players who have already received starts for the Twins this year (sorry, Pedro Hernandez).
He's been held down as the Twins reportedly look to see more consistency, but it's not exactly shocking that his apparent consistency wound up manifesting shortly after the Super Two cutoff. Gibson, if he stays on the roster for the rest of the season, will accrue 98 days of Major League service time by my non-California-math (yikes -- don't think I've ever made a Bert Blyleven reference in one of these). That puts him on pace to earn just over $260K this season (not bad for a 25-year-old starting a new job), and should keep him to three years of arbitration eligibility.
As Twins fans, we're hoping for Gibson to help stabilize this rotation for at least the next six years (and ideally, longer than that). He's received plenty of love in the Minnesota media and in the national media as well. Baseball America ranked Gibson as the game's No. 68 prospect. MLB.com ranked him No. 49, and Keith Law ranked him No. 41. Looking back throughout those publications' past Top 100 rankings, there's a wide range of expectations that could be gleaned from players who ranked similarly from 2010-12.
Matt Harvey ranked similarly according to both BA and Law recently (54 and 38, respectively, in 2012), but then again so did Drew Pomeranz (61 per BA in 2011, 45 per Law in 2012). Wily Peralta ranked comparably to where Gibson currently does, but so did Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran in 2010. Often, the closer a player is the Majors, the easier he is to project. Miller and Teheran were far younger and far more raw than Gibson when they ranked in the middle of most Top 100 lists.
It seems that by now, most evaluators should have a fairly good idea of what Gibson can be. At 25 years old, he's unlikely to unexpectedly blossom into a Harvey-type ace, but he's also less likely to see the wheels completely come off as they have for someone like Nick Hagadone, who was 23 years old with fewer than 80 career innings when he ranked 44th on BA's Top 100 prior to the 2010 season.
The Twins haven't had a pitching prospect as highly regarded as Gibson since Matt Garza and Francisco Liriano nearly 10 years ago. It'll be interesting to see how his excellent minor league track record transitions to the Majors. Incredibly, the Twins haven't received more than six wins above replacement (per Baseball-Reference) from a pitcher they've selected in the first round. Glen Perkins holds that honor, and Mark Redman is second at 3.4. Matt Garza has more career WAR, but most of that value has been enjoyed by the Rays and Cubs.
Gibson has a great chance to become one the most valuable pitcher the Twins have selected in the first round. For the time being though, I'm content to set the DVR for Saturday and enjoy a start that I've been waiting for since sending excited text messages that Gibson fell to the Twins in the 2009 draft. After about four years of anticipation, there are only four days to go. Welcome to Minnesota, Kyle, and happy Kyle Gibson Day to everyone in Twins Territory!