Yesterday we looked at the hitters in the Twins minor league system. Today, we will review the pitchers that are working their way up the ranks. Impressively, the Twins have used just six starters this season. That is unusual as in most cases a Major League team will get starts from ten or more pitchers. And now the team typically employs seven bullpen arms at any given time. Factor in injuries and that is why the cliché “you can never have enough pitching” became a cliché.
Below, you will see the pitchers in the Twins farm system. Be sure to note all of the names in parentheses are currently on the Disabled List. So today, I am going to look at the pitchers, breaking apart the starters and the relievers (Again, this does not include players at Extended Spring Training, although it is important to remember that several pitchers (Blayne Weller? Martire Garcia? Tyler Herr? Hein Robb?) could certainly potentially be good), and discuss the needs. So please be sure to check this out and offer any of your thoughts.

Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano,
Jeff Manship, Glen Perkins, Ryan Mullins, Matt Fox, Anthony Swarzak, (Charlie Zink, Mike Maroth)
New Britain
Kyle Gibson, Carlos Gutierrez, Deolis Guerra, Mike McCardell, David Bromberg, Tyler Robertson
Ft. Myers
Liam Hendriks, Dan Osterbrock, Shooter Hunt, Michael Tarsi, Adrian Salcedo (Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh, Brad Tippett)
Miguel Munoz, Michael Tonkin, BJ Hermsen, Brad Stillings, Edgar Ibarra (Tom Stuifbergen)
I realize it’s only mid-June, but it is actually quite remarkable that the Twins have had just six pitchers make starts for them this year. Jeff Manship made a spot start, and that is it. Manship, Anthony Swarzak and the suddenly-good-again Glen Perkins are all options for big league call ups if or when needed. There are some very good pitching prospects (Bromberg, Gutierrez) with New Britain, but the best is Kyle Gibson, the 2009 top pick. But Guerra has been impressive and gained control. Bromberg and Robertson both have high upsides. And Gutierrez will likely eventually move to the bullpen, but has pitched well. Liam Hendriks has moved fast up the prospect lists. Shooter Hunt has been a work-in-progress, but greatly improved. Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh and Tom Stuifbergen all are good pitchers who performed in April, but all three were hurt and missed May. Because of that, some pitchers, including Adrian Salcedo, BJ Hermsen and Michael Tonkin have had to be pushed beyond where they likely should be. The Twins drafted 21 pitchers (12 RHP, 9 LHP) in last week’s draft, and six more from the junior college ranks. Obviously the most notable name is that of Alex Wimmers, a control pitcher with an excellent changeup who could move quickly up the system. Pat Dean, the team’s third round pick could also advance quickly. They drafted just three high school pitchers. Hopefully they can find a way to sign 14th round pick DeAndre Smelter who has a scholarship to Georgia Tech.

Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Duensing, Ron Mahay, Alex Burnett, (Joe Nathan),
Anthony Slama, Kyle Waldrop, Jose Lugo, Tim Lahey, Rob Delaney, Pat Neshek, Brad Hennessey,
New Britain
Chris Province, Cole DeVries, Santos Arias, Matt Williams, Loek Van Mil, Michael Allen (Spencer Steedley, Steve Hirschfeld)
Ft. Myers
Billy Bullock, Joe Testa, Steve Blevins, Blake Martin, Tony Davis, Andrei Lobanov, Jose Gonzalez
Kane Holbrooks, Dakota Watts, Matt Tone, Jhon Garcia, Eliecer Cardenas, Peter Kennelly, (Ben Tootle, Matt Bashore)
The Twins learned how important a strong eighth inning guy can be in 2008 when Pat Neshek was injured. When Joe Nathan was hurt and needed Tommy John surgery this spring, there was a lot of concern. So far, Jon Rauch has been willing to bend, but has done a nice job as the Twins closer. Matt Guerrier has been good again, and Brian Duensing has been shockingly excellent in his role. Many of us thought that Alex Burnett was the best RP prospect in the organization, but I don’t think we realized just how ready he was. Meanwhile, Anthony Slama continues to toil at Rochester. Pat Neshek is back at Rochester looking to work his way back to the Twins. Kyle Waldrop, 1st rounder from 2004, has been the best story of the season, and he is the one reliever most ready for a big league promotion. Billy Bullock and Andrei Lobanov are very good bullpen prospects. Kane Holbrooks has been very impressive as the closer in Beloit. Injuries have really hurt the Twins minor league pitchers this year which made the drafting of several college pitchers make a lot of sense.
After the Twins drafted Alex Wimmers, a common statement was that the Twins drafted another guy that fits the typical Twins mold. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has good control of multiple pitches. He profiles similarly to Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Kyle Gibson. That is not a bad thing at all. Many fans want the Twins to acquire an Ace. Francisco Liriano has again shown signs that he can become an ace again. But are there other such prospects in the system? I would argue that Adrian Salcedo is probably the best example of a prospect with potential to be an ace, but he’s just 19. A sleeper from this past offseason who got off to a terrific start before an injury is Bruce Pugh. Outside of that, there are a lot of good pitching prospects, no doubt. The Twins have several good bullpen arms as well in the system. We hear all the time about Anthony Slama and wonder why he is not yet in the big leagues (see walks), but Kyle Waldrop is the one who is most deserving of a promotion. The biggest question will be if and when Carlos Gutierrez will be moved back to the bullpen.
The Twins system has several very good pitching prospects. Which are your favorite? Which do you think will be able to help the Twins the most? Leave your comments below.
Here are some more TwinsCentric notes for today:
·         John will be on KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show starting about 7:20.
·         Seth was a guest on the Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast last night. Because there will not be a Twins Minor League Weekly tonight, we had an extended show last night. The podcast went just over 1 hour and 45 minutes. The first half was discussion on many Twins topics. In the second half, they talked about many topics around the Twins minor league system.
·         Another reminder, join the TwinsCentric bloggers at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park on Saturday (June 19th) at 3:00 to watch the Twins and Phillies. Win prizes from Park Tavern and more, including Twins tickets.
·         Following the success of the Thome is my Homey t-shirts, Parker and DiamondCentric now have two new Twins t-shirts available. Be sure to order your Punto plays Dirty shirt, or a Cuddy is my Buddy shirt today!

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