CINCINNATI – Jose Berrios might have let the cat out of the bag a little early Tuesday, posting on twitter that he’s being promoted to Triple-A Rochester.
“The player is out in front,’’ Twins manager Paul Molitor joked. “That’s how it is.’’
But that is the plan for the third-ranked prospect in the organization. Berrios, 21, is headed to Rochester to take the place of righthander Ervin Santana, who will join the Twins on Sunday after serving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for the banned substance Stanozolol.
Berrios’ first start for the Red Wings is scheduled for Friday at Lehigh Valley.
In 15 starts at Class AA Chattanooga, the righthander was 8-3 with a 3.08 ERA. In 90 ⅔ innings, Berrios has walked 24 and struck out 92. Opponents are batting .232 against him. He has a mid-90s fastball, a good changeup and a good curveball. One thing the Twins wanted to see from him this season was increased use of his changeup, because he’ll need it when he faces better hitters. He will be in Cincinnati in a couple of weeks for the annual All-Star Futures Game; he and outfielder Max Kepler will represent the Twins while playing for the World Team.
Meyer takes lumps
So far, not good for rookie righthander Alex Meyer.
He has given up five earned runs over 2 ⅔ innings in two appearances since being called up from Rochester on Friday. Although his fastball has hit 96 miles per hour, he has struggled with command.
On Tuesday, he still was shaking his head about walking Billy Hamilton, perhaps the fastest man in baseball, on four pitches during Monday’s game.
“The one guy in the league you least want to walk,’’ Meyer said.
He said he’s learned a lot in two outings about how the margin for error is different in the majors.
“You don’t get as many swings and misses,’’ he said. “Especially when these guys are behind in the count. They are sitting on a pitch and they are going to get to it. So they are going to fight off and fight off until you miss one and they get it.’’
The Twins called up Meyer after he moved to the bullpen and posted a 0.53 ERA over 17 innings in Rochester. The Twins are looking to bolster their bullpen and likely are trying in-system candidates before exploring trades. While Meyer throws hard, the Twins were prepared to see him walk a few batters.
“The reports about his command out of the bullpen, that it was improving, I think that hasn’t been the case the first two [outings],’’ Molitor said.
“He’s had to get a little more fastball-reliant, and we all know up here the old cliché is it doesn’t matter how hard you throw, you have to have something to back it up. And most of the damage has been on his fastball.’’
The Twins have not been too shabby bunting for hits. According to www.fangraphs.com, they are tied for third in the majors with 14 bunt hits and their bunt hit rate of 40 percent is second best.
It doesn’t seem that way because Danny Santana has four bunt hits and no one else has more than two. Nine Twins have bunted for a hit so far.
Molitor believes the bunt can be a bigger weapon when executed properly, and he encourages certain players to look for the right situation to try. Santana tried to bunt for a hit in the sixth inning Monday and still sacrificed Shane Robinson to second.
“I think today’s game, for whatever reason, I don’t think it is used as effectively as it could,’’ Molitor said. “We’re talking about an era in which pitching has become more dominant and runs are hard to come by and strikeouts are at an all-time high.’’
• Catcher Kurt Suzuki was back in the lineup on Tuesday after taking a warm-up pitch to the throat late in Monday’s game. Chances are good that he will not start on Wednesday and Chris Herrmann will be behind the plate.