Heading into spring training there was a short list of players who many Twins fans wanted to see on the Opening Day roster, yet were long shots for various reasons. For some it was Max Kepler, others are waiting for Alex Meyer, but no Twins player had more support from the fanbase than Jose Berrios.
This morning it's been announced that he'll be among a group of players either optioned or reassigned to minor league camp today.
Just learned that J.O. Berrios has been sent out of big league camp. Willing to bet you'll see him this year at Target Field though.— Derek Wetmore (@DerekWetmore) March 18, 2016
Berrios had some nice moments this spring. While he only had two official appearances he also did some work on the minor league side, but didn't show enough to get him over the admittedly big hill of Ricky Nolasco, Tyler Duffey, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May. Milone and May's fates have been sealed for the time being, but the Twins still feel like Berrios isn't quite ready to go.
Starting his service clock (and adding him to the 40-man roster) is part of the issue at hand, but it's also fair to say that Berrios was a bit over excited in a couple of his outings and the Twins are justified in wanting to take their time. They don't need to force the issue considering their depth at the position, and allowing Berrios the opportunity to get fully tuned up before making his Major League debut is a luxury they have.
He’s getting closer [to being Major League-ready]. He had a little bit of a tough outing the other day on the minor league side, he just didn’t have very good command of his fastball. But he’s shown indications that he’s getting closer and closer. I’m not sure he’s quite ready, but I also don’t think it’s a reach to say that there’s a good chance he’ll pitch for us in the big leagues this year at some point. When we start needing guys, he’ll be one of the first guys that’s considered if he’s pitching well in the minor leagues like he was last year and pitching like he can. If he doesn’t make the club he’ll be one of the first alternatives, and right now it probably looks unlikely that he would make this club because he’d have to make it as a starter. We wouldn’t put him in the ‘pen.
Also trimmed from the roster today:
#MNTwins option Alex Meyer, Jorge Polanco & Kennys Vargas. Reassign Jose Berrios, Nick Burdi, Thompson, Turner, Garver and Benson— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) March 18, 2016
The impression I had from Antony yesterday was that Meyer might be sent down fairly soon to work on some things, and so it's not a big surprise that he's a part of this group today. Polanco and Vargas were expected to be optioned as well; Vargas because he's primarily a designated hitter and hasn't hit his way into a competition, and Polanco because there isn't a starting role available and he needs to play everyday. Minnesota had a long look at him this spring though, and there's a good deal of confidence there that he can be a regular part of the club's future.
Nick Burdi was in discussion to be reassigned during last week's cuts, but the decision was made to keep him around for a longer look. He'll head to Chattanooga or Rochester after officially filing three innings this spring, with one strikeout and one hit allowed. Like Berrios, Burdi is expected to be available to help the Twins out in the short term.
Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver are two of the more well-known catching prospects in the organization. Garver has more work to do and is behind Turner on the depth chart; Turner's defensive skills are well respected, but his bat needs to develop as he continues to be promoted. I'll be interested to see where he spends most of his time this summer.
Aaron Thompson didn't have a problem throwing strikes this spring, but the body of work wasn't there. Minnesota gave him a lot of looks, with six appearances to officially lead the staff, but with a lot of left-handers in camp to vie for one bullpen role it was going to take something special to see him break camp with the team.
Finally, Joe Benson was on the short end of the stick this spring. While other non-roster invitee outfielders like Carlos Quentin and Ryan Sweeney and Darin Mastroianni are playing pretty well, Benson was just 2-for-16 and didn't look like he was ready to take on Major League pitching.
Be sure the check with our "Who's still in camp?" post to stay up to date on how the roster is taking shape.