When Kyle Gibson failed to win a job in spring training, it wasn’t viewed as a failure.
Gibson was cut in mid-March after a couple of shaky outings, minor matters in the grand scheme of things, given his talent level.
No one in Twins camp thinks Gibson will need much time to be ready for the majors. When he’s ready, he’ll quickly be summoned to the big leagues, because he will be a distinct upgrade to their rotation — with the chance to be a dominant starter.
“I think the world of that guy,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s got great stuff. We had a hard time getting a catcher that could catch him. His ball was moving so much, with an angle.”
Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in 2009, would have debuted by now if not for elbow surgery in 2011 that cost him a season. His innings will be restricted in his first full season back from surgery, but he should make at least 20 starts.
“Healthwise I’m 100 percent ready to go,” Gibson said. “When I had the surgery, my goal was to be healthy for spring training. I’m not as worried about health as I was before. This spring training allowed me to say, ‘OK, I’m going to go after a job.’ Don’t worry about the health, it’s past, and it was time to compete for a job. That’s what I tried to do.”
His comeback trail consisted of 51⅔ innings last year between the minors and Arizona Fall League. That’s another reason why the Twins aren’t too sad about having him open the season at Class AAA Rochester: He’s thrown just 275⅔ innings in the minors.
Scouts had Gibson’s fastball at 96 miles per hour early in spring training. But his nasty sinking fastball, which is a few miles per hour slower, and good slider make him a top prospect. He’s more than the command-and-control pitchers the Twins have lived with in recent seasons, giving him the potential to be at the front of the rotation.
Gibson’s time is coming. The Twins will unveil their prized pitching prospect as the organization takes steps to return to the winning ways of the 2000s, when strong starting pitching was the foundation of success.
“We’re going to make sure we take care of him, but we’ll also give him an opportunity to develop,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “He hasn’t got that many innings as a pro, frankly, and certainly not up here at all. … Eventually he’s going to get a call to come and help us.”