Jordan Balazovic Shines In Promising Summer
There’s no ERA to post on his career register, no strikeout rate to obsess over or WHIP to catch an analyst’s eye. But the Twins are confident that 22-year-old righthander Jordan Balazovic had a terrific summer, took another big step forward in his march to the big leagues and right now should be one of the stories of the 2020 minor league season.
If there had been a 2020 season.
“Some players lost the most important season of their development, that season that gives them the confidence they’ll need (at the highest levels) and convinces them—and us—about what’s to come” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.
“In Jordan’s case, it was a matter of continuing the success he already had, of showing the improvement that you already believe he’s capable of. We think he did, even though he didn’t face hitters until (September).”
That’s because the Twins invested in portable Rapsodo monitors and TrackMan radar systems and used them “to track bullpens and really keep an eye on what’s going on” with their top prospects, particularly those who, like Balazovic, were not invited to the team’s alternate training site.
With the technology to analyze bullpen sessions and apply some long-distance coaching, the Twins were so impressed that they brought Balazovic to their camp in September and added the 2016 fifth-rounder from St. Martin Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont., to their 40-man roster in November.
“He earned that spot with hard work this summer, and obviously it wasn’t an easy summer for anyone,” Twins farm director Alex Hassan said. “Even without pitching to live hitters, his stuff has taken a tick forward. And he shows the pitch mix that we’ve always really liked.”
Considering that the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Balazovic could touch 96 mph already, that increased velocity, combined with a slider that has heavy sink, makes the righthander, who has yet to advance past high Class A, the Twins' most promising starting pitching prospect since Jose Berrios.
— In addition to Balazovic, the Twins added righthander Bailey Ober and catcher Ben Rortvedt to their 40-man roster. Ober, 25, allowed just 10 hits and one earned run over 24 innings at Double-A Pensacola during a four-start promotion to end 2019. Rortvedt, 23, is considered the top defensive catcher in the Twins’ system.
— The Twins announced that St. Paul will become the organization's new Triple-A affiliate beginning in 2021. The St. Paul franchise had operated in the independent American Association.