Dakota Chalmers Awaits His Big League Chance
When Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey dealt closer Fernando Rodney to the Athletics late in the 2018 season, he probably surprised his Oakland counterpart, Billy Beane, with his trade request of wanting an injured pitcher with potential.
“It was a unique situation. We wanted to give Fernando an opportunity to pitch in the playoffs, so to be candid, you’re not looking at their top prospects in return,” Falvey said. “So we looked for someone who had upside, but maybe came with some risk. We found someone who we thought might have more upside than most guys.”
That someone was Dakota Chalmers, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound righthander from suburban Atlanta, the Athletics’ 2015 third-round pick. His resume was filled with strikeouts, control problems and a Tommy John surgery that abruptly ended his season in April 2018.
“Before he got hurt, we knew he had exceptional swing-and-miss pitches. He had raw major league stuff at 19—big velocity, mid-to-upper 90s, quick arm,” Falvey said. “He was walking guys at a pretty good clip, too. But there was a feeling that, if we stand back and let him heal, then help refine him a little bit, develop more command, he could progress quickly.”
The 23-year-old returned last July and proved the Twins’ wisdom correct. Chalmers embarked on a six-week audition between Rookie ball and high Class A in which he struck out 48 batters and walked 23 in 34.2 innings.
After that Minnesota sent him to the Arizona Fall League. His performance there was sometimes rough—a 5.09 ERA in six starts—but encouraging as well. His stuff was so encouraging that the Twins placed Chalmers on the 40-man roster after the season, and he made the team's 60-man player pool.
“It’s electric. You notice his velocity, but his curve just dives into the dirt—a great pitch," Falvey said. "There’s more work to be done in terms of strikes, but in our minds, he had to be protected.”
— Shortstop Nick Gordon missed all of the Twins’ summer camp after testing positive for COVID-19, and the virus threatened to end his season completely. Gordon, who was tested at home in Florida before he could report to camp in early July, developed some symptoms from the illness, Falvey said, and the 24-year-old shortstop had not yet fulfilled MLB’s protocols for returning to action by Opening Day. Gordon, brother of Mariners infielder Dee Gordon and son of former major league reliever Tom Gordon, was picked fifth overall by the Twins in 2014 but has yet to reach the major leagues.
— The Twins' taxi squad players were working out daily in a venue that is home to the St. Paul Saints, CHS Field, a 7,200-capacity stadium about 10 miles from Target Field that was opened in 2015. The Saints have been rumored as a candidate for a major league affiliation under a possible reorganization of the minors.