The Minnesota Twins have all the tools to begin competing. With Jose Berrios pitching like a former MLB.com Top-100 prospect should, they will be. He’s only put in two starts for the organization this year and Minnesota took the W in each. There’s no sign this will cease any time soon.
Jose Berrios Pitching Nothing Like 2016 Performance
To start the 2016 season, 22-year-old Jose Berrios was listed among the top 20 prospects in the game at number 19. He made his debut on April 27 and lasted just four innings after allowing five earned runs. Berrios’ first stint in the majors was disappointing. After just four starts and a 9.82 ERA, Minnesota sent their young starter back to Triple-A Rochester.
Out of the spotlight of Target Field, the right-hander was given the chance to regather himself. He seemingly worked out the kinks in just three starts. With a 1.06 ERA, the club believed Berrios was again ready to show the league what his 2012 first round arm could do. He was never able to translate his Triple-A success to the MLB. He finished 2016 with an 8.02 ERA while touching the six-inning mark just once.
The 2017 season has been a different story. Berrios started off the year in Triple-A Rochester. He has been nearly unhittable. Six starts and Berrios had posted a minuscule ERA of 1.13. His WHIP stood at an excellent 0.807, with 39 batters seeing a third strike. Shortly after his last minor league start, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reported Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey as saying in regards to a potential call up, “We want to make sure he’s putting his fastball where he wants, when he wants to and then using his full complement of secondary (pitches).”
Getting the Call
Two days after Falvey made a statement of patience with the young hurler, Berrios was headed once again to Minneapolis, or rather Cleveland. His first major league start lasted 7.2 innings against the Cleveland Indians. With 104 pitches, he allowed two hits. He also hit a batter, walked one, and struck out four in the journey towards his fourth major league victory.
Berrios put together an even better 7.2 innings in his next shot at a winning decision. Taking on the first-place Colorado Rockies of the National League West, Berrios silenced the offense despite just two runs in support. He allowed two hits, walked only one, and racked up 11 K’s. He struck out the heart of the order in Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez twice, and Ian Desmond.
José Berríos (22 years old) is the youngest Twins pitcher with at least 10 strikeouts since Francisco Liriano in 2006.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 19, 2017
Through two starts now, the potential future ace owns a 0.59 ERA and a 0.39 WHIP in 15.1 innings.
The talk of the town is that the difference in baseballs used between the minor and major leagues was what caused so many ailments. Berardino offered some insight in a different piece. When asked, Berrios explained the MiLB ball “has seams that are a little bit higher than the big-league ball, but you have to play with both. You have to make adjustments.” Berrios made some adjustments.
Berardino broke down the changes Berrios has made, and it’s actually quite simple. Berrios “had been throwing his minor-league side sessions with an official major league baseball,” trying to get a feel for the big-league seams as much as possible outside game play. You could see in his first start the feel was familiar. His second start showed he’s got a sure feel for the ball now.
The Twins are currently three games above .500 at 20-17. They’re on top of the American League Central, though not comfortably. With the Indians and the Detroit Tigers lurking one game back in the standings, it’ll be all hands on deck until a firm lead is established. Berrios is a notable factor in the tight fight for the title.