clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Poll: Twins minor league starting pitcher of the year

New, comments

Who gets your vote?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to our community minor league award series. So far you've voted Mitch Garver as Minor League Catcher of the Year, Nick Gordon as Infielder of the Year by a single vote, and Max Kepler absolutely has run away with Outfielder of the Year.

Catcher of the Year: Mitch Garver (49%)
Infielder of the Year: Nick Gordon (32%)
Outfielder of the Year: Max Kepler (78%)
Starting pitching of the Year: Thursday, November 12
Relief pitcher of the Year: Monday, November 16
Newcomer of the Year: Thursday, November 19
Player of the Year: Monday, November 23

For your voting pleasure, we've selected five players to consider for Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Mat Batts, LHP
2015 Age: 23
High Level: Fort Myers (A+)

GS IP ERA K% BB% WHIP LOB%
24 141.1 2.61 22.2 4.8 1.10 72.1

Four pitchers in Minnesota's minor league system made 27 starts in 2015, which was the high water mark this year. Batts wasn't far behind, logging 24 starts between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. His 2.61 ERA, strikeout rate, control, and innings total are all among the organization's best for starting pitchers. Then again, that's going to be the case for most of the players on this list.

His performance as one of the best starting pitcher prospects this year makes it all the more notable that he chose to retire in October. While applauding the integrity Batts demonstrated for knowing what will make him happy, could you also give him your vote as the Twins' best minor league starter?

Jose Berrios, RHP
2015 Age: 21
High Level: Rochester (AAA)

GS IP ERA K% BB% WHIP LOB%
27 166.1 3.03 26.2 5.7 1.05 76.5

With 15 starts at Double-A to start the year, the Twins had seen enough. They promoted Berrios to Triple-A. The rest is history. A player who was considered a possible Top 100 prospect in baseball heading into 2015 has solidified himself as one of the best right-handed starters in the entire game coming out of 2015.

Berrios and Batts actually have the same strikeout-to-walk ratio, which might give Batts a bit more consideration that he already is getting. But over his 166 innings, Berrios barely allowed a base runner per inning. The strikeout rates continue to be impressive, regardless of how young he is for his level (he was six years younger than his average competition while in Triple-A).

Will Berrios be the ace that the Twins have been looking for? Will he be a mid-rotation guy? It hardly seems to matter, at least not yet. Right now, all you have to decide is whether or not he was the Twins' best minor league starter this year.

Pat Dean, LHP
2015 Age: 26
High Level: Rochester (AAA)

GS IP ERA K% BB% WHIP LOB%
27 179.0 2.82 13.7 5.0 1.15 76.4

Six years into his professional career, Dean has quietly climbed the ladder to the point where he can no longer be ignored. A peripheral prospect at the best of times, he now owns a 2.67 ERA in 219 innings at Triple-A. Granted he's not young enough to have a great ceiling, he doesn't throw with phenomenal stuff, but he's a left-handed starter who is starting to put together a pretty good track record.

The Twins have a decision on their hands. They could opt to protect Dean and add him to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft, but there's also little chance that he would get a legitimate shot at a spot in the rotation. If Dean wants any shot at a Major League career he probably needs to find a better situation, and I doubt the Twins would stand in the way of that.

Dean is as Major League ready as he's going to get. He had a great year. Will you vote for him?

Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
2015 Age: 20
High Level: Fort Myers (A+)

GS IP ERA K% BB% WHIP LOB%
24 134.1 2.01 24.3 9.8 1.10 81.2

A fourth-round pick in 2013, Gonsalves has been a revelation since his debut. The strikeout numbers have been outstanding, hitters rarely are able to square up on him, and the ERA has been a reflection of how effective he's been at run suppression.

Scouting reports have consistently taken a "stats ahead of stuff" stance on Gonsalves. Normally the numbers that the young lefty have been putting up would make people take not of him as a potential ace in waiting, but that hasn't happened. If Gonsalves can pitch in Double-A at any point in 2016, during his age-21 season, and if he continues to put up those ridiculous numbers, "stats ahead of stuff" won't fly anymore. To be fair, it's worth noting that his strikeout rates dipped hard in his 15 starts for the Miracle.

Felix Jorge, RHP
2015 Age: 21
High Level: Cedar Rapids (A)

GS IP ERA K% BB% WHIP LOB%
22 142.0 2.79 20.3 5.7 1.06 73.4

This was the fifth year in the system for the Dominican right-hander, after signing for a $250,000 bonus in 2011. With a good frame and three workable pitches, Jorge is projectable - a magic word in scouting. But what sets him apart this year is his performance, which was more than good enough to heal whatever damage was done to his prospect status by a somewhat disappointing 2014.

Jorge turns 22 just after the new year. Maybe he'll start the season back at Cedar Rapids and maybe he'll move up to Fort Myers, but more important than where he starts next year is where he finishes. A good year could see him wind up in Double-A Chattanooga.

It wouldn't be a push to say that Jorge is the second-best prospect on this list, behind Jose Berrios. But did he have a year good enough to earn him Minnesota's starting pitcher of the year?