Wednesday, February 18, 2015

TD Top Prospects: #3 Jose Berrios

Twins fans made an immediate connection with Berrios after his emotional video response to being drafted by the club in the 2012 MLB Supplemental First Round. As a teenager, Berrios made fans take notice of him by dominating the rookie leagues while striking out nearly 14.5 batters per nine.

There were some questions about Berrios after an up and down season with Cedar Rapids in 2013. He put many of those questions to rest in 2014 with a dominating performance across three levels of the Twins system on his way to winning the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year award. His stock rose more than any other prospect in the system last year and he now sits on the cusp of the major leagues.
Age: 20 (DOB: 5/27/94)
2014 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): 12-8, 2.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 139.2 IP, 118 H, 38 BB, 140 K
ETA: 2015
2014 Ranking: 6

What’s To Like

Berrios is only 20-years old and he’s already pitched at Triple-A (even if it was only one start). His work ethic might be one of the best in the Twins organization as he has let fans glimpse into his off-season routine through his social media accounts. His personality is infectious and he should be able to make the big leagues based solely on his work ethic and talent.

His fastball explodes out of his small frame and he can hit as high as 97 mph on the radar gun but usually settles in at 93-96 mph. To counter his fastball, he has a very good change-up that follows the same motion as his fastball. Last season he was able to make improvements with all of his pitches including increasing the movement. He’s also had plenty of exposure on the national stage by pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and starting last year’s Futures Game at Target Field.

What’s Let To Work On

One of the biggest knocks against Berrios has been his lack of height. At this point in his life, that’s something Twins fans are just going to have to deal with. Because of his lack of height, his fastball can stay on the same plane and he could run into some issues with this in the higher levels of the system. Out of things Berrios can control, his secondary pitches could continue to be refined.

He needs more consistency with his curveball and that should come with more use as he moves up the ladder. With his change-up, he needs to continue to keep it down in the zone so better hitters aren’t able to make solid contact. If he can make improvements to his secondary pitches, he should be able to continue to miss bats. In the past, he’s used his fastball up in the zone to strikeout batters. Over the next couple years he might have to start using it down in the zone to avoid giving up fly balls that can turn into home runs.

What’s Next

In 2014, it seemed likely for Berrios to pitch the entire season at Fort Myers but he dominated the Florida State League. He pitched only 40.2 innings at Double-A so that seems like the most likely starting spot for him in 2015. If he continues to pitch as well as last year, he’ll be on his way to Rochester with the expectation of him making his big league debut in the second half of 2015.

Some experts question whether Berrios will end up in the bullpen or continue to be a starter. After last year’s performance and this off-season’s workout regimen, the Twins are going to give him every opportunity to stay in a starting role. Minnesota had plenty of success with another 6’0” starting pitcher named Johan Santana and fans can only hope Berrios will be close to that good going forward.

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