MINNEAPOLIS—Felix Jorge’s ability to retire hitters consistently has had its share of doubts. Not in the minds of Twins scouts and coaching staffs, though. In Jorge’s.
“He sometimes gives the league a little too much credit, especially at first,” vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said. “He’ll try to nibble too much, won’t throw it over. He turns a little afraid of contact. But once he gets comfortable, he’s a strikethrower. His stuff is plenty good enough.”
It happened in 2014 at low Class A Cedar Rapids, a cold-weather slump that got him demoted back to rookie ball. And it happened last July, when Jorge was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga and had his ERA balloon to 4.12 in 11 starts.
The Twins hope the skinny Dominican righthander can conquer those jitters soon, because they expect him to be pitching to major league hitters in the next year or two. Jorge, 22, was placed on the Twins’ 40-man roster in November, a reflection of the confidence that the team, if not always the pitcher, has in his four-pitch mix.
“He’s advanced. His changeup has more movement, his breaking pitch a little more snap, and he throws harder now, sometimes 94 mph,” Radcliff said. “I’m not sure anyone projects him as a No. 1 or 2 yet, but he elevated his game this year.”
He also answered some questions about his wiry frame, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound whip of a body that sometimes wore down late in the year, by throwing a career-high 167 innings. “His body isn’t problematic anymore,” Radcliff said. “He just needs maybe that last 10 pounds of bulk.”
The command and velocity convinced the Twins not to take a chance on losing Jorge in the Rule 5 draft, even though he’s probably another year away from Minnesota.
“He’s improved enough that we might have had a hard time keeping him,” Radcliff said.
• Second baseman Luis Arraez, 19, was continuing his momentum from a strong season in low Class A by hitting .335/.382/.445 through 45 games for Magallanes in the Venezuelan League.
• Former general manager Bill Smith, who after being fired in 2011 stayed in the organization as an assistant to oversee construction projects in Fort Myers and the Dominican Republic, will leave the Twins in January.