When news broke that the Minnesota Twins had traded Ben Revere—their promising young center fielder and fan favorite—to the Philadelphia Phillies shortly after their trade of Denard Span to the Washington Nationals, many fans and analysts were left scratching their head as if to wonder, “What just happened here?” What had just happened was Twins’ General Manager Terry Ryan was in the middle of revamping the organization’s future by restocking the pitching cupboard with new and promising pitching prospects. One of those new and promising pitchers was Vance Worley who—out of all of the other pitchers acquired—was the only one with Major League experience who could be plugged in right away to help the Twins’ dire need of pitching. Worley was coming off a year in which he had arm problems that limited him to 23 starts and eventually led to surgery that removed a loose bone spur in his right elbow. Since joining the Twins, Worley has looked the part of being a solid pitcher that the pitching rotation can build around. It may be early in spring training, but it isn’t too early to officially name Worley the staff ace for 2013.
Worley doesn’t project to be the staff ace long-term like newly acquired pitcher Alex Meyer, but Worley does project to be a solid middle of the rotation—and possibly upper rotation—type of starter for the duration of his career with the Twins. Worley has had an average of nearly a strikeout per inning throughout his career in the majors, but that was in the National League when Worley was able to face a pitcher every ninth batter instead of a designated hitter. How Worley will transition and fair in the American League is to be determined; one thing is for certain however—Worley is definitely an upgrade over the pitchers the Twins had in the organization last year. It should be a given–in my opinion– that you see Worley emerge as the Twins’ opening day starter—partially by default—and emerge as their staff ace. Considering the pitchers Worley has to compete against—however—the title of staff ace isn’t as illustrious as it once was.
At any rate, Worley has done his part so far this spring training and after his first outing on Monday, Twins’ fans can optimistically look forward to watching Worley emerge in the rotation. Worley pitched two scoreless innings—giving up two hits and striking out one—against the Pittsburgh Pirates and looked sharp from start to finish. It may be too soon to proclaim Worley as a steal in any deal that the Twins have made this off-season, but I think it is fair to say that Worley will be a solid addition to the Twins’ pitching staff this season. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Worley wound up winning 15 games for the Twins this year and formed a nice “top-of-the-rotation” with Scott Diamond. Whether it is this year or down the line, Worley’s future looks bright in a Twins’ uniform; next on the list is to find three more starters, who likely are already waiting in the wings.