Wimmers Fits Twins Prototype





Most organizations are fanatics about the fastball. The Twins consider themselves connoisseurs of the change.

The franchise that rode the offspeed pitches of Brad Radke and Johan Santana into the playoffs over the past decade displayed its preference for the changeup once more on draft day by selecting Ohio State righthander Alex Wimmers with the 21st overall pick.

Wimmers has a fastball that reaches 92 mph and a curveball that's already a polished pitch. But the back-to-back Big Ten pitcher of the year attracted the Twins' attention with one of the best changeups they had ever seen in a college pitcher.

"He closes out hitters with it," said Mike Radcliff, the Twins' vice president of player personnel. "It could very well be a top-of-the-scale change. It can be a plus pitch now. And that's very unique."

Well, not for the Twins. Wimmers, who went 9-0, 1.60 despite missing three starts with a hamstring injury during his just-completed junior season with the Buckeyes, is a prototype Twins pitcher, closely resembling current starters Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn. He's smart, he has more than one pitch, and above all, he throws strikes.

"Don't walk batters—trust your stuff," Wimmers said of his pitching philosophy. "I feel like I fit perfectly into their organization."

So do the Twins. They sent eight different scouts to examine Wimmers, and all were enthused by his confidence in four different pitches. Special assignment scout Joe McIlvaine said Wimmer's change "is as good as any major leaguer."

Still, "he's not a soft tosser—he'll touch 92, 93 mph when he needs it," said scouting director Deron Johnson. "But with that changeup and a couple more, he's got a full mix of pitches."

And now he's got a new goal, too: To someday throw that changeup to Joe Mauer.

"That would be a treat, especially in the new ballpark," said Wimmers, whom the Twins feel confident about signing. "I'm absolutely thrilled. I'm at a loss for words."

TWIN KILLINGS

• After bringing Dominican shortstop Miguel Angel Sano to Florida for spring training, the Twins decided to place the 17-year-old from San Pedro de Macoris in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League to allow him to make the transition to pro ball more gradually. Sano, signed last year for $3.15 million, could return for the end of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League season.

• Former first-round pick Chris Parmelee was pressing under the weight of a five-week slump in Double-A New Britain, so the Twins sent the 22-year-old first baseman back to high Class A Fort Myers. The "little break," as Radcliff described it, seemed to work: Parmelee, batting just .186/.241/.333 in 28 games at New Britain, immediately went on a .342/.438/.474 tear for Fort Myers.