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Twins Spring Training 2017: The pitchers and catchers

Twins pitchers and catchers have officially reported to Ft. Myers, Florida! Here’s who they are, and what they need to show in spring training.

Minnesota Twins Workout Sessions
This is an old photo, but basically what spring training looks like.
Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Yesterday was the official report day for Twins pitchers and catchers, and today is their first full workout. A total of 31 pitchers and six catchers will be in major league camp for the Twins this year. Let’s look at who they are, and the important questions that’ll need to be answered before the season officially begins.

2017 Twins Pitchers at Spring Training

Uniform # Name Throws Age 2016 MLB Innings Pitched 40-Man Roster?
Uniform # Name Throws Age 2016 MLB Innings Pitched 40-Man Roster?
66 Hector Santiago L 29 182.0 Yes
54 Ervin Santana R 34 181.1 Yes
44 Kyle Gibson R 29 147.1 Yes
56 Tyler Duffey R 26 133.0 Yes
?? Ryan Vogelsong R 39 82.1 No
57 Ryan Pressly R 28 75.1 Yes
59 Michael Tonkin R 27 71.2 Yes
55 Taylor Rogers L 26 61.1 Yes
45 Phil Hughes R 30 59.0 Yes
17 Jose Berrios R 22 58.1 Yes
27 Brandon Kintzler R 32 54.1 Yes
9 Matt Belisle R 36 46.0 Yes
65 Trevor May R 27 42.2 Yes
62 Buddy Boshers L 28 36.0 Yes
61 Ryan O'Rourke L 28 25.0 Yes
60 J.T. Chargois R 26 23.0 Yes
?? Alex Wimmers R 29 17.1 No
?? Craig Breslow L 36 14.0 No
?? Nick Tepesch R 29 4.0 No
49 Adalberto Mejia L 23 2.1 Yes
15 Glen Perkins L 34 2.0 Yes
?? Justin Haley R 25 0.0 Yes
?? Felix Jorge R 23 0.0 Yes
74 Mason Melotakis L 26 0.0 Yes
?? Fernando Romero R 22 0.0 Yes
76 Randy Rosario L 22 0.0 Yes
?? Raul Fernandez R 26 0.0 No
?? Stephen Gonsalves L 22 0.0 No
?? Jake Reed R 24 0.0 No
?? Drew Rucinski R 29 0.0 No
?? Aaron Slegers R 24 0.0 No

Ah, yes, the Twins’ pitching. Always nice to get the team’s biggest area of weakness out of the way first, right?

While the pitching still looks bad for 2017, it should at the very least be better than 2016. Despite few new additions through the off-season, some injury returnees and improving youth give some reason to be more hopeful about the upcoming season.

Here are some of the major questions for the Twins over the next month and a half.

  • Will Phil Hughes return to form? Hughes saw limited time in 2016 due to injuries. After breaking his leg in June, doctors diagnosed Hughes with thoracic outlet syndrome in his shoulder, requiring season-ending rib removal surgery to correct. By all accounts, Hughes is now healthy and ready to go. If the rib-removal surgery helps Hughes return to anywhere near his 2014 form, it would be a huge boost to the Twins rotation. That would be the best-case scenario though, and not something we can just expect.
  • Is Jose Berrios ready to start in the majors? Although a highly-touted prospect, Berrios had a rough time when he debuted in the majors last year. His 8.02 ERA over 58.1 innings pitched is in no way representative of the stuff that he has, however, and I think anyone who actually watched him would agree. The fact of the matter is that he’s still only 22 years old. What the Twins will need to decide during Spring Training is if he’s ready to start the year in the major league rotation, or if he should get a little more time to work on his stuff in Triple-A before getting called up.
  • What will the Twins do with Justin Haley? Haley was the Rule 5 Draft Pick the Twins made this off-season (or more accurately, the Rule 5 Draft Pick they got after trading their Rule 5 Draft Pick to someone else). As such, Haley has to remain on the 25-man roster for the entire year. He has no previous major league experience. His highest level of experience is the 85.1 innings he spent in Triple-A last year, where he posted an 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP. The Twins have to decide if they are willing to give Haley a major league roster spot for the entire year, make a trade offer to keep him in the organizations and send him to the minors, or give him back to wherever the Angels claimed him from.
  • Will Trevor May move back to the starting rotation or remain in the bullpen? May was originally a starting pitcher, and was basically only moved to the Twins bullpen in recent years out of necessity. While he’s served a a solid setup man, he may serve the Twins even better by moving back to the rotation. He clearly prefers starting if he was the choice, and the more regular schedule may help some of the back issues that started plaguing May when he moved to the bullpen.
  • How will veteran starter Ryan Vogelsong contribute? The Twins signed Vogelsong to be a veteran presence, but exactly how (or if) he is going to contribute pitching-wise remains very much up in the air. His contract includes incentives both for making the major league roster, and if he makes 30 starts—so clearly, the Twins haven’t ruled out adding him to the rotation. He could also serve as a long-reliever out of the bullpen and/or a spot starter when needed. He could also not make the team and just go home.
  • Will Glen Perkins be ready to pitch again? Perkins only pitched two innings last season before he was shut down due to shoulder discomfort, and later diagnosed with a completely torn labrum—one of the most devastating injuries a pitcher can suffer. We’ve already talked a bit about Perkins’ chances of returning MLB. While initial reports sound promising, there’s still a long road ahead.

Roster chances:

Virtual locks: Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes (if healthy), Brandon Kintzler, Trevor May, Matt Belisle, Glen Perkins (if healthy).

Good Chance: Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, Taylor Rogers, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey, Ryan Vogelsong, Craig Breslow.

Maybe: Alex Wimmers, Buddy Boshers, Ryan O'Rourke, J.T. Chargois, Adalberto Mejia, Nick Tepesch.

Probably not: Mason Melotakis, Jake Reed, Aaron Slegers, Drew Rucinski, Aaron Slegers.

No realistic chance: Randy Rosario, Fernando Romero, Felix Jorge, Raul Fernandez, Stephen Gonsalves.

2017 Twins Catchers at Spring Training

Uniform # Name Bats/Throws Age 2016 MLB Games Played 40-Man Roster?
Uniform # Name Bats/Throws Age 2016 MLB Games Played 40-Man Roster?
?? Jason Castro L/R 29 113 Yes
?? Chris Gimenez R/R 34 67 No
12 John Ryan Murphy R/R 25 26 Yes
?? Mitch Garver R/R 26 0 Yes
?? Eddy Rodriguez R/R 31 0 No
?? Dan Rohlfing R/R 28 0 No

Since there are many fewer catchers in spring training than pitchers, there are fewer questions that the Twins need to have answered here—but there are still some.

What affect will Jason Castro have on Twins pitching?

Jason Castro—the Twins’ biggest off-season acquisition—is slated to be the starting catcher. That’s really not up for debate, barring some sort of freak accident where he loses a limb or an eye or something.

As you may have heard, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made the huge push to sign Castro because of his pitch framing skills. The hope is that these skills will actually help Twins pitching, which really needs as much help as it can get. It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable improvement during spring training, but in all likelihood we’ll have to wait much longer to see the impact.

Can John Ryan Murphy be a real major leaguer?

The Twins acquired John Ryan Murphy from the Yankees last off season to be their backup catcher, and potentially their catcher of the future. Unfortunately, things didn’t workout too well once the season started, and Murphy was sent packing to Triple-A, where he remained for most of the season.

Murphy looked much more ready to contribute at a major league level in 2015 with the Yankees, where he hit .277/.327/.406 in 155 at bats. The Twins need to see if Murphy can show any sign of returning to that progression, or if they need to stick him in the minors again.

Is Mitch Garver ready to make the jump?

Though he has no previous major league experience, it’s still possible that Garver could make the jump and start the season as the Twins backup catcher. He’s already on the 40-man roster, which may help his chances of making it over veteran Chris Gimenez. Although he only played 22 games in after being promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, in many ways he looked better than John Ryan Murphy, who is practically the same age.

If Garver can prove himself in spring training—and especially if Murphy and Gimenez look lackluster—it’s a very real possibility he could start the year with the Twins at Target Field.

Roster chances:

Virtual lock: Jason Castro.

Good Chance: John Ryan Murphy, Chris Gimenez, Mitch Garver.

Nope: Eddy Rodriguez, Dan Rohlfing.

What are you looking forward to in spring training? Who do you project to make the team?