Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waitin' With the Wings: Andrew Albers

With the trade deadline coming and going, there could be some changes on the horizon with the Twins roster. These might not be immediate changes but the club is on the way to their third straight losing season and different players should be given an opportunity at the big league level. In the next couple of weeks, I will look at some of the names on the Triple-A roster that could earn a call-up before the end of the season. 

This series called "Waiting With the Wings" will profile multiple minor league players and the journey each of them has taken to get on the brink of making their big league debut. For some of these players, their path to this point has been full of plenty of ups and downs. That's one of the things that makes following the minor leagues so intriguing. There are only 25-men on a big league roster at any one given time and some men work their whole lives to get a taste of baseball's highest level.

The first profile in the "Waitin' With the Wings" series is left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers.
Player Profile
Name: Andrew Albers
Born: 10/06/1985 (27 years old)
Acquired: Minor League Free Agent (2011)
HT: 6'1"---WT: 195
2013 Stat Line: 11-4 record, 2.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 112 SO, 31 BB, 124.1 IP

Andrew Albers was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft from the University of Kentucky. The San Diego Padres signed Albers and sent him to pitch with their rookie league squad in Arizona. He pitched in five games with the club for a total of seven innings but something wasn't right with his elbow. Albers had to undergo Tommy John surgery in April 2009. On his way back to the mound, he required another surgery to clean up some scar tissue. He made it back to pitching to hitters in the spring of 2010 but he was released by the Padres organization before he could make it back into a game.

The new path set out for his career would take him to independent baseball where he would pitch for Quebec in the Canadian-American Association. This was the same league where current Twins player Chris Colabello made his mark. Albers put up outstanding numbers over 40 games as he posted a 1.40 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He struck out 59 and walked 16 in 57.2 innings. He had made his own mark and he wanted to give affiliated baseball another chance.

To secure a spot with a club for spring training, Albers drove from Canada to Phoenix and then to Florida just to find a team to play with. In 2011, the Twins started him in extended spring training but he was quickly moved to Fort Myers and he finished the year in New Britain. Over 95.2 innings, he posted an 8-2 record with a 2.16 ERA and 80 strikeouts compared to just 14 walks. He was only asked to start seven games in the entire season and the Twins decided to change that approach for the future.

In 2012, the organization decided to shift Albers to the starting rotation on a full-time basis. This would be the first time since his Tommy John surgery where he would make more appearances as a starter than a relief pitcher. There were a few bumps along the way in his transition back to a starter. He would start 17 games at the Double-A level and he finished the year with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 103.0 innings. Some thought was given to sending him back to New Britain for the start of 2013 but he would get the opportunity at Rochester and he has made the most of it.

Albers has been the most consistent starter on what has been and up and down Rochester pitching staff. He leads the team in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and games started. His eleven wins make him the first Red Wings starter to reach that mark since Brian Duensing did it back in 2007. In his last ten starts, he has an 8-2 record with a 2.33 ERA and two complete game victories. There might not be much left for him to prove at the Triple-A level and the Twins might have to look at calling him up in the coming weeks if his performances continues at this level.

One thing hindering an Albers call-up is the fact that he isn't currently on the 40-man roster. If the Twins trade someone before the deadline, this could open a spot for Albers. The team could also remove some of the players on the edge of the roster that would be considered for removal from the 40-man at the end of season. Albers should at least be worth a September call-up to see what the left-hander can do against big league hitters. 

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