The Twins have been forced to dip into their minor league system for relief help and have come up empty. It's an example of another area of the farm system that needs to be addressed.
Actually, that's a little unfair. In many cases, starters end up converting to relievers as they move through a system or even after they reach the majors. Glen Perkins is an example of someone who was given a chance to start but has thrived as a reliever. Joe Nathan, former starter.
Still, you look at the Twins bullpen and you see players who didn't work out with other organizations, trying to find their niche. Only Alex Burnett and Anthony Swarzak currently are home-grown pitchers in the bullpen. (Not counting the injured Perkins.
Here's a quick look at some relief prospects, nearly ready or years away. This is not an exhaustive list.
Anthony Slama, RHP, Class AAA Rochester: The only Rochester reliever on the 40-man who hasn't been called up yet. I sense that some Twins folks aren't convinced he can get major league hitters out. They might have no other choice but to give him another shot.
Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, Rochester: The sinker is legit and he can touch 94 miles an hour with his fastball. Perfecting a slider has been his issue ever since he was drafted in the first round in 2008. I know for a fact Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been asking for him, but keeps being told he's not ready. He also needs to bring some of his pitches down in the strike zones.
Chuck James, LHP, Rochester: Upper 80's fastball, slider, curve. The numbers are pretty strong. With minor league director Jim Rantz watching, James retired all six batters he faced on Tuesday in his most recent outing. Not overpowering but might deserve another shot at the bigs.
Cole DeVries, RHP, Class AA New Britain: The former Gopher should be promoted to Rochester soon. He stopped throwing his slider because it was affecting his curveball. The curve is his out pitch, and he's rolling with it at New Britain. He's putting himself on the radar.
Dakota Watts, RHP, Class A Fort Myers: Watts has good size and an excellent fastball (clocked at 93-97 miles an hour) to go with a slider. He's still a work in progress in terms of command, but the tools are there. I watched him give it up against Clearwater last August. I was in manager Jake Mauer's office after the game when he stuck his head in the doorway and said, ``Skip, if that situation comes up again, I want the ball. I want another shot at these guys." They like his makeup.
Bruce Pugh, RHP, Fort Myers: He was a starter last year and was working on change up. But he's been moved to the bullpen this year, where several Twins officials think he can flourish. He throws a fastball and slider, but his fastball - that he runs up there up to 93 mph - has real nice movement and is a bat misser.
Andew Albers, LHP, Fort Myers: The Twins think they might have a sleeper here in Albers, a former Padres draft pick and Tommy John club member. He's working out of the bullpen but throws four pitches. And the Twins would like to get him to New Britain before the season ends. I found this story about him.
Ben Tootle, RHP, Class A Beloit: This year is all about recovery for Tootle. He hit 99 on the gun during Cape Cod League action a couple years ago but is recovering from shoulder surgery and is hitting just 87 on the gun at the moment/
Deinys Suarez, RHP, Extended Spring Training: The Twins signed the Cuban defector a few weeks ago. Suarez came over with Team Cuba teammate Yuniesky Maya in 2009 - 2009!. While Maya signed with Washington for a $7.4 million deal, Suarez has had to wait.....a while....for his deal. Heard he was seeking a seven-figure deal but the Twins talked him down. He's been working out at extended spring training and the Twins wan to get him to New Britain once he gets in shape. Not sure what he throws or how hard he throws it. But he's 27 years old, so he's got to get moving.
Top prospect Aaron Hicks, at Class A Fort Myers, might have to head for the disabled list because of a sprained thumb suffered a few days ago.
Righthander Jeff Manship will miss a few weeks with a strained rotator cuff. It's the first time he's ever missed games with an injury.
Class AAA Rochester Yorman Bazardo is out with a hip flexor strain.
Lefthander Dan Osterbrock is out several weeks because of shoulder surgery