About a week ago I wrote a piece about three hitters the Twins should call up. This will be the second part of that series, three starting pitchers the Twins should call up.
The current rotation for the Twins isn’t exactly riddled with veterans. Out of Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax, Charlie Barnes, and Lewis Thorpe; Maeda is the only one over 26 years old. I think keeping Maeda, Ober, and Barnes in there is wise but I’d like to see Jax in a bullpen role and Thorpe back down in AAA. Let’s get into a few guys from the minors that could fill those rotation spots.
Honorable mentions: Jordan Balazovic, Austin Schulfer
Balazovic is probably the most well known pitching prospect in the Twins system but I’m not ready to call him up quite yet. He’s having a fine season down in AA with 3.74 ERA and 10.0 K/9 but he’s only 22 years old. The numbers don’t jump out at you but the stuff absolutely does. I’d love to see him get a shot in AAA and the majors next season.
#Twins No. 2 prospect Jordan Balazovic turned in his second straight gem for @WindSurgeICT.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 11, 2021
7 K pic.twitter.com/aZuBySxkWJ
Austin Schulfer is my other honorable mention, but that’s just because I wanted to have more than one honorable mention. He’s having an alright season, but he’s at the AA level with perhaps the most average stats of all time. He has a 4.36 ERA with a 1.42 ERA and 8.4 K/9. Figured I’d give him some recognition, but now let’s talk about the three starters the Twins should actually call up.
1. Joe Ryan, SP, 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 in 11 starts at AAA
Ryan was the headliner for the Twins in the Nelson Cruz trade. He instantly slots in as the 6th overall Twins prospect and their 4th pitching prospect. His numbers for the Rays AAA affiliate were outstanding as shown above and he just got done pitching in a big role for Team USA in the Olympics. He’s ready for the big stage and I fully expect him to be with the big league club soon.
As I write this, Ryan is coming off his St. Paul Saints debut and he looked great in limited innings.
Joe Ryan with an absolutely ridiculous Saints debut.— St. Paul Saints (@StPaulSaints) August 21, 2021
4.0 IP | 1 H | 1 R | 9 K's pic.twitter.com/KvZLVjJ98T
2. Cole Sands, SP, 2.83 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 in 12 starts at AA
Like Balazovic, Sands has spent this season in AA but he’s had a better season overall statistically and is 23 years old. Sands has been named the Twins 19th overall prospect and some would say he should be higher. This isn’t some breakout season as he had a 2.74 ERA in 18 starts at three different levels in 2019. I feel it’s only a matter of time until he gets another call up, but it’s yet to be seen if it’s to AAA or the majors.
Here he is in one of his best starts this season. His strikeout stuff is among the best in the Twins organization and if he can cut down the walks even more then he could be special for the Twins.
What an effort from Cole Sands in his start today!— Wichita Wind Surge (@WindSurgeICT) June 9, 2021
5.1 ip, 0 runs, 1 hit, 8 strikeouts! pic.twitter.com/NWKY5E2zXR
3. Josh Winder, SP, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 in 10 starts at AA and 4 at AAA
Winder was recently promoted to AAA for the first time and it’s been a bit of a speed bump, but nothing too concerning. He had a 10.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 at AA but the K/9 dropped to 7.8 once he got to AAA, although it’s only been 17 innings. The walk rate has stayed consistently at 1.6 which is very encouraging. It seems logical the Twins may want to keep him at AAA until he shows he’s mastered that level but there’s definitely a shot we see him with the Twins.
He has a nice fastball that has generated a lot of swinging strikes. He also uses his off-speed pitch to counter the fastball well. Here he is striking out a couple batters.
Josh Winder struck out the first two Triple-A batters he faced and needed just seven pitches to do so.#MNTwins pic.twitter.com/OeIyKcLiJk— Tom Froemming (@TFTwins) July 3, 2021
The Twins have already used 31 pitchers this season and their record for most in one season is 36. I’m all for setting records even if they’re bad records in bad seasons so let’s keep going! I’d love to see all these guys make their auditions for the 2022 rotations and I think the Twins are thinking the same. At least it gives us a reason to watch!