As a general rule, allowing more walks than any pitcher at any level of the organization is the sort of summertime performance that will provoke a team into taking action once the season ends.
And sure enough, after watching Chris Vallimont walked 61 batters in 91 innings Double-A Wichita, the Twins made their feelings about the 24-year-old righthander loud and clear.
They added him to the 40-man roster.
“We like him a lot. We like his stuff. We like his poise, his intangibles,” Twins farm director Alex Hassan said. “He just needs to throw more strikes.”
Well, yes. Vallimont, whom the Twins acquired from the Marlins in a 2019 deal that sent Lewin Diaz to the Marlins, walked 6.0 batters per nine innings for the Wind Surge, more than double his walk rate in 2019.
But if that seemed extreme, Vallimont also struck out 12.9 per nine innings, the second-highest rate among starters in the Twins’ system.
Combined with a fastball that can reach 97 mph, that’s the sort of arm that gets swiped in the Rule 5 draft—despite a homer-inflated 6.03 ERA in 21 starts—a prospect that the Twins decided to avoid.
“He has such good movement on his fastball, it generates a high amount of swings and misses. And his slider really came along this year—it’s a strikeout pitch, too,” Hassan said. “He’s someone we see helping us down the road.”
Especially if Vallimont, Miami’s fifth-round pick out of Mercyhurst (Pa.) in 2018, can curb those freebies—and the Twins believe he will.
“It wasn’t his best year, but he had done a good job earlier in his career in throwing strikes. He’s shown the ability to do so,” Hassan said. “We think there are some things we can help him with to get him in the zone a little more. We’ve got some ideas about that.”
— Matt Wallner was hit in the face by a pitch during the Arizona Fall League, but after a couple of days off to recover, the 2019 first-rounder resumed punishing pitchers. Wallner, a corner outfielder who played last summer at High-A Cedar Rapids, posted a .303/.405/.606 slash line in 18 games for Scottsdale, hitting a team-high six home runs.