Friday, June 30, 2017

Get To Know: Felix Jorge

Photo Credit: Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
Felix Jorge will be making his big league debut on Saturday but he's probably a name that isn't familiar to a lot of fans. The 23-year old right-handed pitcher has been in the Twins organization since 2011 when he signed out of the Dominican Republic. I recently named him the ninth best prospect in the Twins organization. As with any pitching prospect, there have been some ups and downs during the professional tenure of Mr. Jorge.

Before he makes his big league debut, here's your opportunity to get to know Felix Jorge.

Rookie Leagues
Jorge made his professional debut as a 17-year old in the Dominican Summer League. In nine appearances (five starts), he allowed eight earned runs (2.67 ERA) with 26 strikeouts and nine walks. He'd come stateside in 2012 and pitch for the GCL Twins. Across 34.2 innings, he allowed nine earned runs while improving his SO/9 from 8.7 to 9.6. He moved up the ladder again in 2013 as he headed to Elizabethton where he combined for a 2-2 record with a 2.95 ERA. Jorge was establishing himself as one of the Twins' top pitching prospects.

2014 Struggles
The Twins organization continued to be aggressive with Jorge to start the 2014 campaign. He was sent to Cedar Rapids to start the season and he struggled for the first time in his professional career. Jorge was knocked around for 39 runs in 39 innings including nine home runs. The Kernels tried to move him to the bullpen to find some success but even that plan didn't work. By the end of May, he was sent back to extended spring training with plenty of question marks surrounding his future.

Bouncing Back
It would be an understatement to say Jorge bounced back strongly from his early season struggles. Jorge finally had something click when he returned to Elizabethton for the second-half of the 2014 campaign. He would be named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year as he went 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He posted a 61 to 14 strikeout to walk ratio over 66 innings. From this point forward, Jorge would become the most consistent starting pitcher in the Twins organization.

During the 2015 campaign, Jorge would spend the entire season at Cedar Rapids, the site of his biggest professional failure. While being almost a year younger than the competition, he posted a 2.79 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He posted career highs in innings pitched (142), strikeouts (114), wins (6), and starts (22).

Upper Minors
The 2016 season saw him take the next step as he split time between High-A and Double-A. Through his first seven starts, he posted a 2.00 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 45.0 IP. From May 26-July 5, he reeled off seven straight victories while averaging over six innings per start. During this stretch, he had a 1.13 ERA and held opponents to a .549 OPS. His impressive stretch meant he was named the starter for the FSL South Division All-Stars. His first six starts at Double-A saw him post an ERA north of 5.00. From there, he settled in with a 3.16 ERA while averaging more than seven innings per start in his last five appearances.

Jorge was added to the 40-man roster leading into the 2017 season. This is one of the reasons he will be making a start on Saturday as the Twins needed someone to make a spot start. However, he has been doing well in his second stint at Double-A. Through 14 starts, he has a 3.26 ERA and a 61 to 22 strikeout to walk ratio. His eight wins are the second most in the entire Southern League.

Scouting Report
The Twins list Jorge at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds so he doesn't exactly look overpowering on the mound. He can hit in the low 90s with his fastball which can surprise some hitters because of his size. He doesn't strikeout a lot of batters but he always stays around the zone. Jorge prefers to pitch in the lower half of the zone so he can coax ground balls from the batters. He also uses a change up and a late-breaking slider to help him get some more ground ball outs. Overall, the hope would be that he can develop into a mid-rotation starter that can help the Twins as they fight their way back into contention.

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