Minnesota Twins: Jose Berrios Won’t Be Waiting Much Longer

The Minnesota Twins are young. Many of the top prospects they’ve collected in recent years have graduated. They’re primed to start bringing wins to the Twin Cities again, and Jose Berrios is the next to lend a hand.

The American League Central standings currently reflect a tight competition for first place. The defending AL champion Cleveland Indians own the top spot with a 14-10 record. One of the biggest sellers of the winter, the Chicago White Sox, are second at 13-9. The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins each sit two games back in third at even 12-12 and 11-11 marks, respectively. Jose Berrios‘ return to the City of Lakes may be the difference between third and first.

A short stay in Triple-A. This was the choice Jose Berrios made when he committed to competing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico went deep into the tournament, costing Berrios some much-needed innings with his organization to get ready for 2017. This solidified a start to the season with the Rochester Red Wings.

It wouldn’t have been the worst idea regardless of the WBC. The former top-100 prospect didn’t have the greatest start to his major league career. His first stint at the top level consisted of 14 starts and an abysmal 8.02 ERA. A waver in command cost him.

The right-hander walked 35 batters through 58.1 innings in 2016, a big difference compared to the 38 he walked in 166.1 innings the year prior. Berrios was hit hard, and gave up nearly two home runs per nine innings.

His performance in Minnesota doesn’t come as a surprise. He was just 22 years old. He had gone from Advanced-A to Triple-A in one year in 2014, and split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015 at just 21 years of age. A hot start in Rochester prompted the organization to make the move and bring him up.

It was an excellent learning experience. Jose Berrios is through four starts in Rochester so far. The lessons he’s learned have guided him to a dominant 1.44 ERA, with 28 strikeouts in 25 innings. The 2012 first-rounder is just waiting for the call at this point to jump on the next plane to Minneapolis.

That call is sure to come soon. Off days have afforded the Minnesota Twins the ability to option a struggling Adalberto Mejia and carry four starters. With Trevor May‘s UCL tear, the only other logical choice right now will be calling up Jose Berrios.

The Minnesota Twins are slated for a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics starting May 2, immediately followed by a three-gamer against the Boston Red Sox. They’ll need a fifth starter in that span, unless they elect to go with a spot start on behalf of a hot Tyler Duffey. The 26-year-old reliever has been steady so far, and has logged more innings out of the pen than the rest of the staff. Minnesota could also get more creative than using a former starter.

The one question on Jose Berrios getting the call for the coming week comes after comments made by Assistant General Manager Rob Antony. According to Derek Wetmore of 1500espn.com, Antony stated Minnesota is in no rush to have him back.

“We want him to gain some confidence, be comfortable and really believe in himself the next time he comes up. Hopefully it’s the last time he’s up and down. So we’re going to be patient with him.”

The decision is understood. We need to remember Berrios is still quite young, and he launched through the lower minor leagues. He’s a great, raw talent that will still benefit from said patience and a steady hand to guide him in his last days in the minor leagues. Minnesota has options. Jose Berrios doesn’t have to be the solution yet, but he will be in the near future.

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