Phil Roof no longer manages the Twins' Class AAA team in Rochester, NY., but he still helps out in spring training. And it was during one spring morning when I had just parked in front of the minor league facility when he approached the car.
He didn't greet me, ``Hello La Velle, how's it going?''
Roof walked right up and said, ``You are going to be writing a lot about Kyle Gibson, and soon,'' he said.
The inch count starts today.
Gibson was magnificent on Thursday as he tossed a one-hitter at Jupiter in the Florida State League game. That hit was described to me as, ``a little 75-foot dribbler toward Nick Romero at second...Romero came running in and tried to scoop and throw and wouldn't have thrown him out...a typical scratch infield hit....''
What did Gibson do after that? He picked the runner, Isaac Galloway, off first base.
Gibson walked a batter and hit another. They both were erased on double plays. That means he faced the minimum 27 batters over nine innings.
That was enough for me to make a call.
``I'm not sure if I did that in college or not,'' said Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in last year's draft. ``The only way any pitcher is going to go nine innings with pitch counts (today) is getting a lot of ground balls, getting a lot of quick at bats and getting innings over and the offense back out there.''
He did that. His money pitch is a sinker and he used it to get 16 ground ball outs. He needed just 91 pitches to throw the gem, of which 65 were strikes.
Gibson remembered throwing a lot of fastballs and 11 changeups, ``I can't remember how many sliders i threw,'' he said. His pitching acumen, honed at the University of Missouri, is another reason he was a high pick. He said he established his sinker early, then mixed in four seamers when he thought they were looking for the sinker. He can cut the fastball and run it in on lefties, too.
Didn't get any radar gun readings, but he's been throwing in the 92-93 mph range, said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues
Gibson, 22, is 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in his first pro season. In four starts since his Opening Night loss, Gibson is 2-0, 1.00 with five walks and 22 strikeouts in 27 innings.
Twins officials have told me that they expect Gibson to be move fast through the system, and his start shows why they feel that way. He could push for the majors by next season, which is pretty quick for someone who didn't pitch for the club until instructional league because of a forearm injury that caused some teams to back off of him on draft day. There were concerns that the forearm would lead to a elbow problem, but the Twins did their homework and made sure that wasn't the case.
Here's the wire story on the game. And I'll have something in tomorrow's print editions.
Not good news for former Gopher Derek McCallum, a fourth round pick last year. McCallum is headed to the Twin Cities next week to have a wrist injury looked at. ``There's something going on in his wrist,'' Rantz said. ``It could be awhile.'' McCallum was batting .241 in eight games,
Class AA New Britain righthander Deolis Guerra might be starting to figure some things out.Guerra is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA for the Rock Cats - but he hasn't walked a batter in 18 innings. He's given up 17 hits (one homer) with 12 strikeouts. ``He's pitching ahead in the count, a lot of first pitch strikes,'' Rantz said, ``and his confidence is good. He falls in love with that changeup and we're trying to get him to work off his fastball.''
Class AAA Rochester lefthander Mike Maroth has been placed on the disabled list with an inflamed left elbow and will be out at least a week. It was another reason why the Twins signed knuckleballer Charlie Zink recently.
Rantz and Tom Kelly are headed to Class A Beloit this weekend. Rantz is anxious to see how top prospect Aaron Hicks has rebounded after a terrible start. Hicks is now batting .299 with three homers and seven RBI. He also has 15 walks in 18 games,
Catcher Jose Morales has been playing in extended spring training games during his recovery from wrist surgery (and a slight shoulder setback during camp). Indications are that Morales will be assigned to a minor league club early next week,