Brusdar Graterol Helps Twins Join Velocity Generation
Outfielder Alex Kirilloff has played at three levels as a professional, and his performance at each one has been better than the last. It’s a career path that makes the Twins wonder how fast to move him.
"You want to challenge a guy. He’ll let you know with his bat when he’s ready to move up,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "It doesn’t always look like a challenge to this kid.”
The 20-year-old Kirilloff missed the 2017 season after having Tommy John surgery, dampening early expectations. But 2018 was a bust-out season for the 2016 first-round pick.
Kirilloff led the low Class A Midwest League with 13 home runs at midseason to earn a promotion to high Class A Fort Myers. All told he hit .348/.392/.578 with 20 home runs and 101 RBIs in 130 games.
The Twins have been slow to join the high-velocity revolution in baseball. Righthander Brusdar Graterol may some day help them catch up in a hurry.
Signed out of Venezuela in 2014, Graterol needed Tommy John surgery almost immediately and missed 2016. Once healthy, he resumed threatening triple digits with his fastball, a speed that overwhelmed Rookie-level hitters in 2017.
The 20-year-old Graterol didn’t slow down at either Class A level in 2018, racking up 107 strikeouts in 102 innings. Most encouraging of all, his slider, which he can throw at 90 mph, has become almost as feared as his four-seam fastball.
The Twins are understandably limiting Graterol's s workload, but he will be unleashed on Double-A hitters next spring.
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In Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers sent four pitchers to the mound who touched 98 mph or harder.
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It wasn’t easy for the Twins to trade third baseman Eduardo Escobar, the major league leader in doubles. But when the Diamondbacks included righthander Jhoan Duran in the July transaction, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said, "Our scouting department got pretty excited.”
Imagine their mood now. Duran, a 20-year-old Dominican, immediately went on a tear for his new organization, allowing just 19 hits over 36 innings in six starts for low Class A Cedar Rapids, striking out 44 and walking just 10.
"He’s got a mid-90s sinker, and three strong pitches. He isn’t particularly well known, but our guys had seen him and liked him a lot,” Falvey said. "He’s got a really high upside, a track to the majors. You don’t take trading major league talent lightly, but he’s a guy who we could see in the mix before long.”