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Gone too soon? Life after being a Twins pitcher

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A look at some former Twins pitchers that may have been pushed out of the organization too soon

J.T. Chargois throws faster than you.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, TeamCrazyMatt wrote about how John Curtiss was designated for assignment (and ultimately traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) as a corresponding move to the Twins signing Blake Parker (still never heard of him) for one year at $3.2 million. The move was a bit surprising considering that MLB.com had him as the #20 prospect for the Twins in 2017 and all y’alls voted him as #18 on our good site’s Prospect Vote last year.

Curtiss had a couple sips of coffee in the big leagues – 9 games in 2017 (I honestly don’t remember him pitching that year) and 8 games last season. Combining the two, he sported a 0-1 record with a 7.20 ERA, 15 IP, and allowing 12 earned runs. Additionally, his BB/9 was 3.6 and SO/9 was 10.2. So yeah, his stats weren’t super shiny during his stints in the bigs, but SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT and his numbers in AAA seemed pretty worthy of being kept on the 40-man roster.

In two seasons in Rochester (18 games in 2017, 38 games in 2018), Curtiss posted a 2-4 record with a 2.49 ERA in 79 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed 22 earned runs and sported a 4.6 BB/9 and a 10.6 BB/9. I was irked by the move the Twins made in DFAing Curtiss and letting talent like this take a chance going through waivers.

Later in the thread, James Fillmore brought news that our good buddy Buddy Boshers and Felix Jorge, both ex-Twins, signed with the Reds, which let to me making a smart-aleck remark that they will do well because former Twins pitchers always do well once they’re out of the organization.

Well, I got thinking and I decided to take a look back at some past pitchers that the Twins had (that were good) and were traded away, DFA’d, or let go, and see how their careers have ended up with other teams. Buckle up and join me for the ride of your life, but please keep your hands and face inside the vehicle at all times. Oh, and these are in no particular order. I just tried to remember some pitchers, investigated some, and went from there.

(All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.)

Francisco Liriano

If you recall, Liriano landed in the Twins’ hands after the 2003 season via trade. He came along with Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan from the San Francisco Giants while the Twins sent A.J. Pierzynski and cold hard cash. Looking back, I think it was a decent trade. I think we know how his time with the Twins went. Burst onto the scene in 2006, became an All-Star, went through Tommy John surgery, and then was pretty up and down from there, eventually ending his time with the Twins on the “down” part. He ended up getting traded in 2012 to the Chicago White Sox for Pedro Hernandez (???) and some guy named Eduardo Escobar.

He pitched okay for the White Sox for the rest of the 2012 season (3-2, 5.40 ERA, 56.2 IP, 1.518 WHIP) and then hit free agency, where he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Liriano did very well during the three-plus years with the Pirates, where he went 41-36 with a 3.67 ERA. He pitched 623.2 innings with a WHIP of 1.310. He started the Wild Card game for the Pirates in 2013, getting the win and moving Pittsburgh on to the Division Series. I also want to note that Liriano hit two home runs while with the Pirates, which is awesome because pitchers that hit home runs are awesome.

After a lost 2016 season for the Pirates, they traded Liriano to the Toronto Blue Jays in August. Although he made eight starts for the Blue Jays, he was relegated to the bullpen for their 2016 postseason run. Toronto was not in the running for any postseason fun in 2017, and so they traded Liriano to Houston, where he worked exclusively out of the bullpen the rest of the season (20 games, 4.40 ERA, 14.1 IP, 1.675 WHIP). He made five almost-clean postseason appearances en route to a World Series Championship with the Astros.

Liriano then hit free agency after the 2017 season and signed with the Detroit Tigers, where he went 5-12 with a decent ERA of 4.58. He pitched 133.2 innings across 27 games (26 starts), posting his lowest SO/9 rate since 2011 at 7.4 in his age 34 season. Liriano is now in free agency again this offseason.

Pat Dean

Dean was a home-grown product of the Twins, drafted in 2010. Listed as the #9 Twins prospect on MLB.com in 2011, he made his way through the minor leagues, making it to AAA after three years. He pitched in 49 games (306.1 innings) in Rochester with a 3.50 ERA, allowing 119 earned runs, and a WHIP of 1.244. He was protected from the Rule 5 Draft in 2015, and he did see major-league action in 2016 with a 1-6 record with a 6.28 ERA in 67.1 innings with 47 earned runs. However, the 2016 showing was not good enough as the Twins outrighted Dean off their 40-man and he landed in Korea, playing for the Kia Tigers. His career totals with the Tigers include 66 appearances (50 starts), 15-14 record, 5.04 ERA, 305.1 IP, 171 ER, and a KBO League Championship ring as the Tigers were the champions in 2017. Dean is currently a free agent.

Alex Meyer

Meyer was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Washington Nationals, selected 23rd overall. He came over in a trade from the Nationals for Denard Span after the 2012 season and was ranked #3 on MLB’s Twins Prospect List for both 2012 and 2013. Initially regarded as an elite starter, Meyer was moved to the bullpen while in the minors and put up a 4.79 ERA in 38 games (8 starts), pitching 92 innings, allowing 49 earned runs, and a WHIP of 1.620. He got his first call up to the majors in June 2015, appearing in two games, going 2.2 innings and allowing five earned runs. He also made a couple of appearances for the Twins in 2016, but was ultimately traded with Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz

Meyer made five starts for the Angels in 2016 (4.57 ERA, 21.2 IP, 11 ER, 1.385 WHIP) but also saw some time in the minors. 2017 came along and Meyer was bounced between the Angels’ AAA affiliate and the majors, where he did very well for the Angels (4-5, 3.74 ERA, 67.1 IP, 30 ER, 1.337 WHIP, 10.0 K/9). However, he landed on the disabled list in July due to a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder and has not seen action since. He signed a minor-league deal with the Angels this offseason.

J.T. Chargois

Chargois was another homegrown pitcher, drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2012 draft. Known for his ability to throw faster than a car with a North Dakota vanity plate going down I-94, he was ranked on MLB’s Twins Top Prospect list as #11 in 2015 and #7 in 2016 after having Tommy John surgery in 2013. He missed 2013 and 2014 due to the surgery and returned for the 2015 minor-league season. After putting up a 2-1 record with a 1.35 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched in 2016 (accompanied by a 2.5 BB/9 and a 10.6 K/9), and after being sent down after a single appearance in June, he was called up for good in August and was with the Twins for 25 appearances, posting a 4.70 ERA in 23 innings pitched. He allowed 12 earned runs and had a K/9 of 6.7. He made two appearances in 2017 with Rochester and was slated to be the team’s closer, but had a stress fracture in his elbow, which lead to season-ending surgery.

After the 2017 season, the Twins gambled and outrighted Chargois, but he was claimed by the Dodgers. He made the big-league club out of Spring Training, was sent down for about a month, and then called back up for the rest of the season, minus a stint on the 10-day DL. In the majors, he appeared in 39 games with a 3.34 ERA, 32.1 innings pitched, and allowing 12 earned runs. He struck out 40 batters, giving him a nice 11.1 K/9 stat.

Felix Jorge

Although Jorge did not leave the Twins until this offseason, I thought he was worth writing about. Jorge was signed by the Twins as an international free agent in early 2011 and spent most of his time in the minors, making MLB’s Top Prospect List for the Twins as #11 in 2014. In 2017, between Chattanooga and Rochester, Jorge went 10-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 25 starts, pitching 149 innings and posting a WHIP of 1.349. He had two appearances as a starting pitcher for the Twins is 2017, going 7.2 innings, allowing nine home runs, four homers, two walks, and four strikeouts. He was sidelined for most of last season with a triceps injury, then made a couple of rehab starts before being DFA’d, released, and resigned within the span of a couple of weeks. In early November, he elected free agency and, as aforementioned, recently signed by the Cincinnati Reds.

Those are the five that I chose to write about. I know that there was Dereck “Son of Pudge” Rodriguez, who was a outfielder-turned-pitcher in the Twins organization that is now kinda tearing it up with the Giants; Chih-Wei Hu who was mainly a starter in the minors and was traded to Tampa Bay for Kevin Jepsen (cousin to Jevin Kepsen); Nick Burdi, Liam Hendriks, Luke Bard, etc. …

Who do you remember that was pitching well for the Twins, just to be let go by the team and excel elsewhere? Leave a comment below!

Poll

Who do you think the Twins should have kept?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Francisco Liriano
    (159 votes)
  • 0%
    Pat Dean
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    Alex Meyer
    (49 votes)
  • 57%
    J.T. Chargois
    (425 votes)
  • 6%
    Felix Jorge
    (45 votes)
  • 8%
    Someone else (comment below)
    (60 votes)
743 votes total Vote Now