There has been a lot of back and forth among fans, bloggers and writers about their expectations for the Twins offseason. The Twins obviously need to add pitching through any means possible, but how might they do so? I am strongly against investing a bunch in the free agent market, and the trade market is best approached with caution. The best way to piece together a pitching staff is to do so in house, just as it always has been.
If the Twins are really interested in improving the pitching staff, a good first step would be, I would imagine, to see what is coming up through the system, and who might be able to take a spot in the rotation next year. John Sickels with SBNation released his team by team top 20 prospect list just last week, and there are indeed a few names that might bear watching with ETA’s of 2018.
Stephen Gonsalves is regarded as a middle of the rotation prospect, who throws strikes on everything. As a lefty, he is always valuable, but he likely projects a little bit better than Adalberto Mejia, who will own a spot in the rotation from the outset next year.
Fernando Romero is fighting a shoulder tweak that he picked up towards the end of last season, but he was mentioned with Gonsalves as one of the top prospects the Twins had for most of the season last year. He is a righty that also projects towards the middle of the rotation, which is good, because if they have a bunch of mid-rotation guys, that means the back of the rotation is better.
Zach Littell was acquired from the Yankees, and Sickels views him as a potential surprise, thanks to his deep repertoire, if not his velocity. He hasn’t rated as highly on other prospect lists because he isn’t a flame thrower, but given the Twins defensive depth, all he needs to be is a strike thrower. If he matches one of the guys Sickels compares him to – Dallas Keuchel and Kyle Hendricks — that is a top of the rotation projection. Let’s conservatively call him a middle of the rotation arm.
If you are optimistic, then you might believe that in 2 years, a rotation with Jose Berrios, Mejia, Gonsalves, Romero and Littell is tenable. If not, you have to believe at least one or two of these guys will work out and be serviceable. That means there are three spots accounted for in that rotation two years out. Do you think that the front office can’t develop another arm in that time, either an overlooked castoff, or someone not currently on our radar? I’m not that pessimistic.
There is talent in the system, and Derek Falvey and Thad Levine now have their full season assessment and their own hires in place. The rotation can be built through prudence, and perhaps a lot more soundly than it can be with dollars.