Aaron Blair was No. 1 on the first official Prospect Hot Sheet of 2016 and made his major league debut two days later. Jose Berrios was No. 2, and now will be called up by the Twins, according to BA correspondent Mike Berardino.
Minnesota’s No. 2 prospect—and No. 28 in the Top 100—is 2-0, 1.06 at Triple-A Rochester, with 20 strikeouts in 17 innings and just eight hits allowed. He has walked eight, but walked only one in his most-recent outing, with general manager Terry Ryan in attendance.
Berrios replaces Ervin Santana in the rotation, as he went to the disabled list with a back issue. The Twins are in the middle of the pack in baseball in ERA, both in terms of starters’ ERA and overall, and in strikeouts, though their 7.8 K/9 is below the league average. However, Tommy Milone has not gotten out of the fifth inning in three of four starts, while Kyle Gibson has a 6.10 ERA, so the Twins’ rotation needs help.
The youngest player in the Triple-A International League, Berrios was the No. 32 overall pick in 2012, the same year the Twins drafted Byron Buxton No. 2 overall. The Twins strongly considered calling him up in September in the midst of a playoff race, but decided to limit his innings, as he already had pitched a career-high 166. Berrios has a solid three-pitch arsenal, leading with a fastball that can reach 97 mph, but typically sits 93-95 with late life. He also throws a curve at 80-82 that he has work to sharpen, and a changeup that is an out pitch for him. Berrios also has a secret weapon, as Matt Eddy wrote about recently. An athletic pitcher who holds runners well, Berrios nullified the running game last season, allowing just eight steal attempts in 27 starts.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It’s difficult to project whether the Twins would keep Berrios in the majors. Blake Snell made his debut last Saturday against the Yankees and was sent down later that afternoon as the Rays needed a fresh arm. Blair made his debut Sunday and it appears he’ll stay for now. At 6-14 and already eight games behind in the AL Central, the Twins were looking to shake things up and sent down Buxton and Max Kepler. If Berrios pitches well and provides a spark, it could be that he’s seen the last of Rochester. Berrios led the minors last season with 175 strikeouts, so whiffs would be a primary fantasy category if you picked him up.