This is part of an off-season series on 2022's silver linings. Find part one here.
The 2022 season did not end on a happy note for the Twins- especially considering they led the AL Central for most of the first half. However, there’s plenty of things to look at with a smile, both from 2022 and for 2023. Today’s topic: the Falvey pitching pipeline.
Part II: The Falvey Pitching Pipeline
When Derek Falvey was brought aboard as President of Baseball Operations in 2016, the hope was that the whiz kid would be able to build a pitching development pipeline akin to that of his former organization, Cleveland. After a few years of mockery and doubt, things started to come to fruition in 2022.
- The Twins had 70 games started by hurlers drafted or otherwise acquired as prospects under Falvey’s regime. Of these 7 pitchers, only Josh Winder and Cole Sands posted ERA’s above 4.00.
- Joe Ryan broke the Twins’ rookie strikeout record, long held by Francisco Liriano (2006). Ryan looks to be rotation fixture for years to come after being sharp and durable this season, with a 3.55 ERA and 151 K’s in 147 innings pitched.
- Bailey Ober’s season was marred by injury, but the lanky right-hander pitched excellently in his 11 starts- posting a 3.21 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched.
- Louie Varland and Simeon Woods-Richardson were pressed into action ahead of schedule due to the numerous injuries, but performed well. At 21, Woods-Richardson was the youngest pitcher to appear not only for the Twins this year, but also for the Triple-A Saints!
- Josh Winder had a number of great outings, but had his season derailed by injury and a couple blow-ups.
- Cole Sands had some rough starts, but pitched excellently in some long relief outings down the stretch.
- Devin Smeltzer was key down the stretch for the Twins with some rock solid spot starts. He has elected free agency following the 2022 season.
- Jhoan Duran became one of the best relief weapons in the league in his first season, posting a 1.86 ERA(!!), 89 strikeouts(!!), and only 16 walks(!!!) in 67.2 innings pitched. Duran’s stuff is the likes of which Twins fans have never seen, and among the nastiest in the league.
- Griffin Jax developed into a legitimately good reliever as well after struggling as a starter last year. Jax led Twins relievers in innings pitched and had a 3.36 ERA.
- Ronny Henriquez, all of 22 years old, also made his debut this year. Part of the trade for Twins Legend Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Henriquez showed promise in his 3 appearances.
- Young Jovani Moran also showed promise, and along with the injured Jorge Alcala, could be a big part of a truly nasty Twins ‘pen next year.
- 14 of MLB.com’s 2022 Top-30 Twins prospects are pitchers. These 14 include Sands, SWR, Varland, and Henriquez, with names like Enlow, Canterino, and Balazovic coming soon to Target Field.
It's hard to remember a time when the Twins had so much young pitching talent, both in the majors and on the way. Falvey's pitching pipeline may not have produced a true ace starter yet, but in 2022, the pitching development that was shown definitely gained my trust.