Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Iowa pitching legend helped Hermsen's rise

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: March 2, 2013 - 8:07 AM

FORT MYERS, FLA. _ Cal Eldred was an Iowa legend. He starred as a pitcher for the Iowa Hawkeyes, then was drafted 17th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1989.

Eldred ran into numerous injuries during his big-league career, and still managed a successful run with the Brewers and the White Sox as a starter, and with St. Louis as a reliever.

He has remained a fixture in the Cedar Rapids area. B.J. Hermsen grew up on a farm near Masonville, an hour north of Cedar Rapids. A couple of years ago, Hermsen was early in his pro career with the Twins, and he had a few winter sessions with Eldred.

"He showed me the cutter and thought it would be a good pitch for me,'' Hermsen said. "It has helped quite a bit _ a good contrast to the 'slurve' that I throw as a breaking pitch.''

The Twins drafted Hermsen out of high school in the sixth round in 2008. He had committed to Oregon State, the back-to-back national champion.

"I signed with the Twins about an hour before the deadline,'' Hermsen said. "I think the rule that baseball has now _ that you have to sign by Aug. 15 _ is great. That way, the colleges have some notice on the freshmen that are going to be there.''

The Twins expected the lanky, 6-foot-5 Hermsen to fill out his frame and build on the 90-plus fastball that they saw from an 18-year-old righthander. He's now a solid 235-240 pounds, but the fastball has been sitting at 88 to 90 mph.

"I think it might be the workload when you go from high school to the pros,'' Hermsen said. "There's quite a difference in innings. I do know now that if you're not blowing hitters away, it makes you a 'pitcher.' You can worry too much about the radar gun.''

Hermsen added the cutter and used his worry on getting outs. The last two seasons have been outstanding:

He was 11-7 with a 3.10 ERA and 124 2/3 innings at low-A Beloit in 2011, then pitched 26 2/3 more innings at high-A Fort Myers in August.

In 2012, he was in Fort Myers for only four starts _ 1-0 with a 0.78 ERA _ and was advanced to Class AA New Britain. He was 11-6 with a 3.22 ERA. Combined, he pitched 162 2/3 innings, with 161 hits (that's good) and only 30 walks (that's Brad Radke-like).

Hermsen was named the winner of the Jim Rantz Award as the minor league pitcher of the year and was added to the 40-man roster. He could open the season back at New Britain, or with Class AAA Rochester. He also could pitch in Minnesota before the end of summer if everything goes well in the high minors.

"Patience is a virtue in pro ball,'' Hermsen said. "Wherever you wind up, you have to do the job.''

Hermsen was a football quarterback and a basketball player, as well as the hot pitching prospect, at West Delaware High School in Manchester. The school was a conglomerate of a handful of small Iowa towns that at one time were archirvals.

He broke his left collarbone in football as a senior. Did that make him nervous about the wisdom of playing football with the baseball draft 10 months away?

"Small school,'' Hermsen said. "If you have the ability, you're expected to play all the sports.''

Hermsen has stood taller than other pitchers for most of young baseball life. Now, the pitcher in the next locker in the Twins' clubhouse is 6-foot-9 Alex Meyer. Mike Pelfrey, 6-foot-7, and Kyle Gibson, 6-6, and Trevor May, 6-5, are also walking around.

"I feel like an average-sized pitcher in this clubhouse,'' he said.

Hermsen spent most of two seasons in Beloit, with its marginal (at best) facilities for a minor league team. The Twins have moved to Cedar Rapids for the 2013 Midwest League season.

"Cedar Rapids has a nice ballpark,'' Hermsen said. "It's a good move.''

 

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Minnesota 0 Bottom 1st Inning
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Philadelphia 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Mets 0
Miami 1 Top 2nd Inning
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Boston 0 Top 1st Inning
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Kansas City 0
Detroit 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Texas 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Houston 0
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
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Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
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Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
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UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
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Miami-Ohio 27
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(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 Delayed 9:55
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(16) Clemson 21 3rd Qtr
(12) Georgia 21
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(23) North Carolina 14
Ohio U 14 3rd Qtr
Kent State 7
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(4) Oklahoma 7
Stephen F Austin 0 1st Qtr 8:26
(20) Kansas State 0
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
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Miss State
Idaho 6:43 PM
Florida
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
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Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
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(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 10 1st Qtr 2:52
Indiana 16
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