Righthander Jose Berrios is getting his shot.
Berrios was called up from Class AAA Rochester on Tuesday after getting off to a strong start with the Red Wings. He will make his major league debut Wednesday against the Indians at Target Field.
Berrios, 21, is the Twins’ top pitching prospect and ranked as the 26th-best prospect in the game — and the ninth pitcher — by ESPN at the beginning of the season.
“Debut tomorrow, thanks to God,” Berrios wrote on his Facebook page around midday Tuesday after learning of his promotion.
Infielder Jorge Polanco joined Berrios on the plane ride from Rochester, giving the Twins sorely-needed depth after experiencing a run of injuries and a worn-out bullpen following a 16-inning game Sunday at Washington. Berrios will wear No. 17.
They arrived the park during the early innings of the Twins 6-5 walk-off win over Cleveland. Twins players greeted Berrios warmly when he appeared in the dugout in the bottom of the third inning.
"Everybody was happy to see me," Berrios said. "and I was happy to see everybody."
He expects to be able to calm his nerves in time for his first major league start
"Right now I feel excited. We win. We walk off," he said. "but tomorrow, three or four hours before the game I will try to calm myself and concentrate and do my best work out there."
Roster spots became available after the Twins placed righthanded starters Ervin Santana (lower back strain) and Kyle Gibson (shoulder strain) on the 15-day disabled list.
Berrios has been mostly effective at every stop he’s made in the minors. He went 14-5 with a 2.87 ERA last season between Class AA Chattanooga and Rochester. His solid second half fueled speculation that he would make his MLB debut last season. The Twins, however, decided not to call him up. They had an opportunity in August to give him a look, then didn’t give him a September promotion because he’d already thrown a career-high 166⅓ innings.
In three starts with Rochester this season, Berrios is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA. He’s walked eight, which is high, but has struck out 20.
In 85 minor league games, 78 of them starts, Berrios is 38-20 with a 2.91 ERA. He has walked 2.5 batters per nine innings in the minors while striking out 9.5 batters per nine.
It’s his strikeout potential that allows the Twins to dream they have a front of the rotation-type starter. His fastball can reach 96 miles per hour, although he’s usually between 92-95.
His sharp curveball and changeup — to go with good pitching acumen — contributes to his high prospect ranking.
Berrios’ arrival, however, came on a day the Twins put 40 percent of their starting rotation — their top two starters in their rotation at the start of the season — on the disabled list.
The Twins’ pitching depth will be tested this week. Righthander Tyler Duffey, who was called up as an emergency starter Sunday, will stick around and start Saturday.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said it is up to Berrios to prove he should remain in the rotation even when Gibson and Santana come off the DL.
“I would like that,” Ryan said. “That means [Berrios is] competing and faring well.”
Santana threw in the bullpen in Washington on Friday but felt discomfort in his back while bending over to field a ground ball in the outfield afterward and was scratched from his start Sunday. His back, however, has not made the progress he expected. He tried to play catch Monday and it didn’t go well.
He was placed on the DL retroactive to April 20, so he can return as early as May 6 against the White Sox in Chicago.
Gibson said he felt more than general soreness after his outing Friday, during which he gave up seven runs in three innings.
He underwent a MRI exam, which revealed the soreness. The earliest Gibson can return is May 9, and the Twins believe he won’t need much longer than that to recover.
“We’re not dealing with anything overly significant that’s going to require any type of procedure,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We’re just going to have to calm that thing down the best we can and try to get his strength back so he can pitch.”