Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Rise (And Trade) of Andrew Albers

Ron Gardenhire slowly walked out to the mound at Kauffman Stadium for a move that he didn't really want to make. Andrew Albers pitched into the ninth inning without allowing a run and it was his big league debut. Unfortunately, his pitch count had run up to 109 and it was time to get the bullpen involved.

It was a tremendous debut and it was hard to imagine things getting better from there... but they would.

In his next outing, Albers was even more impressive. In front of the Target Field faithful, he pitched nine shutout innings by limiting Cleveland to two hits. His pitch count was barely over 100 and he didn't allow a walk. Friends and family were on hand to see what could have been the highlight of Albers big league career.

For the rest of the season, Albers struggled to recapture the magic of his first two starts. His ERA ballooned to 5.70 and he averaged a little over four innings per outing. There were few walks off of the hand of Albers but he allowed opponents to hit .324/.349/.497 including six home runs in eight games.

Albers had done some great things in the minor leagues in 2013 and the Twins awarded him with their minor league pitcher of the year. With Rochester, he went 11-5 over 22 starts with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. As a 27-year old getting his first taste of the Triple-A level, one would hope that he could find some success and that was exactly the case.

Albers will be in the Twin Cities this weekend to pick up his hardware for being the best pitcher in the Twins farm system. Many of the previous winners of this award have failed to live up to their hype. The four previous winners before Albers were Kevin Slowey, Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, and BJ Hermsen.

Word came out yesterday that the Twins could be close to trading Albers to a team in South Korea. The left-handed pitcher has already agreed to a deal with the Hanwha Eagles. The Twins and the Eagles have yet to come to terms on what the compensation should be for Albers. It sounds like he will be getting a one-year contract in the high six-figure range.

With the crop of free agent pitchers brought in and those already in house, there was probably little chance of Albers getting another taste of the big leagues this year. Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia, and Mike Pelfrey are likely locked into the rotation. This leaves one spot for the likes of Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and Kyle Gibson.

There is probably not a lot of room for Albers in that equation.

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