Twins Reward Brent Headrick For His Resilience

The third pitch Brent Headrick ever threw at Double-A sailed over the left field fence. So did his seventh pitch. After allowing a couple of singles, so did his 30th pitch.

In all, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound lefthander retired seven Tulsa hitters in his debut for Wichita in July. He allowed seven runs, five of them home runs.

“He had been having such a nice year, earning that promotion,” said Jeremy Zoll, the Twins’ assistant general manager in charge of player development. “You definitely question, was it just High-A success? But he really dug in after that. It definitely did not mess up his confidence.”

Two months later, Zoll watched Headrick prove it.

The 2019 ninth-round pick from Illinois State started the final game of the Texas League championship series, and “he absolutely dealt,” according to Zoll. Headrick allowed three singles over seven shutout innings, retiring 19 of the last 20 hitters he faced while recording a career-high 11 strikeouts and no walks.

“Hitters just have a tough time squaring anything up against him,” Zoll said. “He worked really hard to keep improving himself, and it paid off this season.”

It paid off after the season when the Twins were so impressed that they added the 24-year-old lefthander to their 40-man roster on Nov. 15.

“He’s got the traits of a starter, long term, and the success he had this season, we feel, probably put him on some (other teams’) radar,” Zoll said. “We feel like he can be rotation depth for us as early as next year.”

That’s impressive progress for a pitcher who turned a Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the year season into a spot on the Twins’ draft board, but whose fastball registered only in the upper 80s at the time.

“His velocity has jumped noticeably, touching 94 (mph) at various points this season. And after working hard in a command program we put him through, he’s done a nice job of lowing his walk rate,” Zoll said.

“Steady, tangible improvement. It’s exciting when you see so much progress.”

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