MINNEAPOLIS—Rookie-level baseball is designed to teach young players proper technique, professional habits and attention to detail. And in some cases, how to forget.
That last one was important for lefthander Taylor Clemensia, who was almost unhittable as a 19-year-old in the Gulf Coast League in 2016. He held batters to a .176 average and allowed no home runs in his 11 appearances.
Clemensia recorded an impressive 2.47 ERA in 43.2 innings, but that number obscures the 12 unearned runs he allowed. His rate of runs allowed per nine innings balloons to 4.95.
“That’s just typical GCL some days,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. “The ball ends up on the ground a lot. It’s like some kids forget how to play, and the pitchers just have to learn to deal with it.”
Add that to the lengthy list of lessons the Dutch teen is trying to absorb. Pitching still is new to the Amsterdam native, who developed a love of baseball growing up in the Netherlands, a country that doesn’t pay much attention to the game. Clemensia pictured himself as an outfielder.
He was good enough to play on Dutch junior national teams and even in the Dutch major league in 2015. When the Twins first approached Clemensia about playing in America, however, he balked because they wanted him to pitch.
“He had some pop, but what interested us was a terrific left arm and a pitcher’s body,” Radcliff said. “We had to talk him into it. He was going to turn us down and go back to school to be a position player. I think he started to realize he wasn’t a good enough hitter. He was finally convinced, and he’s really taken to it.”
Clemensia signed for $60,000 in May 2015. In the GCL he threw in the upper 80s and eventually cleared 90 mph. He also throws a promising breaking ball and rudimentary changeup.
“That’s not uncommon for a (converted pitcher). Command usually takes time,” Radcliff said. “He’s making fast progress. And he doesn’t let the errors bother him anymore.”
• Righthander Ryan Vogelsong, 39, agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp.
— Phil Miller covers the Twins for the Minneapolis Star Tribune