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Fresh-Armed David Festa Makes Good For Twins



As an athlete who played several positions in high school and who didn’t specialize in pitching until reaching college, David Festa had absorbed far less coaching and experienced far fewer innings than most draft-eligible pitchers in 2021.

The Twins found those unpolished qualities . . . irresistible.

“We saw him as something like a raw ball of clay, a fresher arm than most draft guys and someone who we felt would benefit a lot from our coaching,” said Jeremy Zoll, the Twins’ assistant general manager who oversees player development.

“He came to pitching later than most draftees, so not only was there less wear on his arm, but he had received far less coaching than a kid who’s been pitching for a decade. We saw plenty of upside.”

That’s why the Twins drafted Festa, now 22, in the 13th round out of Seton Hall, and it’s why they were elated when the righthander arrived in camp.

“The athleticism he showed from Day One, it was exciting. He’s 6-foot-6, but had a really skinny frame,” Zoll said. “Right away, we knew we could help him get bigger and add velocity.”

It worked. Festa quickly conquered Low-A Fort Myers with a 1.50 ERA in five starts and spent three months at High-A Cedar Rapids. In 103.2 total innings he posted a 2.95 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 34 walks.

One reason Festa advanced so quickly, Zoll said, is that he came to pro ball with the opposite arsenal of most draftees. Rather than pumping fastballs and trying to learn a changeup, Festa showed feel for a knee-buckling change right away.

Best of all, Festa’s approach keeps the ball in the park. He surrendered just six home runs all summer.

“His fastball is more of a carry fastball than one with a lot of sinking action, so he relies on command,” Zoll said. “He’s fun to watch. The quality of his pitches is so high, he’s able to induce a lot of weak contact.”

SHORT NOTES

— By promoting outfielder Matt Wallner and pitchers Ronny Henriquez and Simeon Woods Richardson to the major leagues in September, the Twins used 61 different players in 2022, including 13 who made their major-league debuts, both new franchise records.

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