Tonkin could give Twins another power arm in the bullpen

The hard-throwing righthander could provide the Twins a second power arm in the bullpen.

Michael Tonkin certainly looks like a flamethrower, especially since he’s grown a mustache and beard to cover up that boyish face atop his 6-foot-7 frame.

Tonkin certainly has the equipment: a fastball that can hit 96 miles per hour and a slider sharp enough to finish off hitters.

This isn’t suggesting that the Twins should jettison closer Glen Perkins. It’s acknowledgment that they have someone who one day could be the last man standing for them. For now, he could be a power arm to help get the ball Perkins.

Tonkin, 24, began last season in Class AA New Britain but finished with the Twins, where he allowed one earned run over 11⅓ innings of work while holding opponents to a .205 batting average. It capped a six-year journey to the majors, as the Twins patiently waited for Tonkin to fill out and develop a second pitch.

“It was good for the kid,” Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said of Tonkin’s first glimpse of the majors. “He’s fearless, as you talk to him. Obviously he’s got the stuff. For all those guys who got the opportunities like him it was invaluable.”

Last year’s debut opened eyes. He was brought in with two runners on and two out July 11 at Tampa Bay — and Evan Longoria at the plate. After allowing Wil Myers to steal third base, Tonkin, on a 2-2 pitch, struck out Longoria swinging on a 96-mph fastball. Tonkin threw 1⅓ scoreless innings that game, with three strikeouts. Can’t have a better debut than that.

“I was more nervous when I fell behind 2-0 in the count [to Longoria],” said Tonkin, 24. “It’s not a good batter to walk and not a good situation to walk a batter in. That was bad, but once I got [the count] even I was fine.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire already calls him “Tonka Truck.” It never hurts when the manager likes you enough to give you a nickname.

Tonkin was sent down two days after his debut but was called up twice more before the season ended. That short stint also gave Tonkin confidence that he can get major league hitters out.

Tonkin has averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors and allowed just six home runs over his past two seasons. He always had a live arm, but it wasn’t until recent seasons that the slider became a dangerous pitch for him. One thing that will help his quest to win a spot in the Twins bullpen will be to keep mixing in his slider. He threw nothing but fastballs in the Longoria encounter, which won’t always work.

“We kept saying, ‘You just can’t throw 95 by these boys. You better spin it,’ ” Anderson said. “Some games we had to force him to, but when he started spinning it, he finished up really good.”

Tonkin’s chances of making the Opening Day bullpen increase if the club takes eight relievers north. In addition to Perkins, the Twins return righthanders Jared Burton, Ryan Pressly, Casey Fien and Anthony Swarzak and lefthanders Caleb Thielbar and Brian Duensing. Tonkin would give them a second power arm behind Perkins. But the Twins might use that extra spot to hold on to one of the three starters who are out of options — Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond or Vance Worley.

If the Twins decide to take seven relievers north, Tonkin faces an even tougher road.

“It was cool to get your feet wet, get little taste of it and leave you hungry for more,” Tonkin said. “I guess it kind of raises your confidence level that this is a possibility. I have the possibility of playing at this level, and if I go out there and do what I can do, I can be successful and contribute to the team.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 33 2nd Qtr 4:02
Cleveland 40
New Orleans 36 2nd Qtr 5:42
Washington 21
Milwaukee 12 1st Qtr 6:15
New York 15
Philadelphia 11 1st Qtr 6:10
Brooklyn 14
Charlotte 14 1st Qtr 4:42
Atlanta 17
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How confident are you the Twins will improve in 2015?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close