Rule 5 pick Haley has a lot of competition
FORT MYERS, FLA. – Righthander Justin Haley was born in Sacramento, Calif., and drafted by the Red Sox in 2016. So when his agent texted him with the news that he had been selected by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft, it was time to rejoice.
Back in California. Spring training in Arizona. Closer to the family. Nice.
A few minutes later, his agent sent another message, this time saying that he had been traded to San Diego. No problem. Still on the left coast.
Then came word that he had been dealt to the Twins. Time to chuckle.
“We were right back to the exact same city we have been for the last five years,” said Haley, who had trained in Fort Myers with the Red Sox.
Making the team will be no laughing matter. Haley, 25, has to remain on the major league roster or be offered back to the Red Sox. He is one of 31 pitchers in Twins camp.
“I’m just going to stay about my business,” he said. “I just want to do what I know how to do, and I want to do it well. Anyone who goes into spring training, their plan is to stay where they are and improve as individuals to make the team better. I want to be the best I can be, so I can make this team better and hopefully help them win on the major league level.”
Haley’s fastball is in the low 90 miles-per-hour range. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. The Twins noted how Haley still can pitch up in the zone with his fastball, then use his other pitches to get strikeouts.
“I have no specific [out] pitch,” he said. “And I don’t want to be predictable.”
There are as many as 11 pitchers fighting for a spot in the rotation. So it would seem that Haley’s best bet is to stick as a reliever.
“Early on we will stretch him out,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins chief baseball officer. “He fits in the category of a guy, as we get tighter on innings, we can figure out a way to shift him into the bullpen.”
There are 28 new players and coaches in camp this year, but more than a few of the newcomers have found familiar faces in the clubhouse.
Righthander Nick Tepesch pitched at the University of Missouri with Kyle Gibson. Righthander Ryan Vogelsong knows Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins from Team USA. Righthander Matt Belisle played with bullpen coach Eddie Guardado at Cincinnati. Catcher Jason Castro and outfielder Robbie Grossman were teammates in Houston.
Outfielder J.B. Shuck lives in the Houston area and spent the offseason working out with Tyler Duffey.
“It’s kind of strange seeing him here,” Duffey said. “I’m used to seeing him walking out of a gym.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor said 12 position players were in camp Wednesday and were joined by eight more Thursday. That included Mauer, Eduardo Escobar, Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, Ehire Adrianza and Danny Santana. The Twins are now five players short of having a full camp.
Aaron Slegers RHP (starter)
2016 stats: 10-7, 3.41 ERA in 25 starts at Class AA Chattanooga.
Acquired: Selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft.
Role: Should open at Chattanooga again this season, partially because of possible logjam at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know: At 6-10, Slegers is the tallest player in camp. He was born in Long Beach, Calif., grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., and pitched at Indiana University. “I had to go where the scholarship was,” he said.
La Velle E. Neal III