The Minnesota Twins’ starting rotation has been discussed often in the last three months–especially the back end. Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and Kevin Correia appear to have the front end of the rotation locked down. If Mike Pelfrey continues to make progress rehabbing his surgically repaired elbow he will likely stake a claim to the fourth spot in the rotation. There has been much talk about who will occupy that fifth and final spot out of Spring Training. So far the guy making the best case wasn’t really on anyone’s radar before the exhibition games began: Cole De Vries.
De Vries is a Minnesota native who was a local star when he pitched at the University of Minnesota. The slow throwing righty hasn’t been particularly successful in his professional career. Throughout six minor league seasons he boasts a 34-43 record with a 4.03 ERA. And while De Vries doesn’t have the best stuff, he appears to have embraced the Twins’ style of pitching–he attacks the strike zone, changes speeds and, most importantly, doesn’t walk anyone. In 2012 AAA, he averaged a shockingly low 1.3 BB per 9 innings.
As a 27 year-old rookie, De Vries experienced moderate success at the big league level. He went 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 17 appearances. And while his results were acceptable, it seemed as if De Vries was a beneficiary of a perpetually injured big league staff–more of a place holder than a legitimate option for a big league rotation.
Because of this, most of the attention for the fifth rotation spot has been directed towards prospect Kyle Gibson and veteran Rich Harden. But it’s De Vries whom appears to be earning his spot through performance. In three outings the Minnesota native is yet to give up a run. His BAA is .077 and his WHIP is sitting pretty at .25.
De Vries’ most recent outing came against the St. Louis Cardinals where he worked an extremely efficient two innings on 23 pitches. He finished his outing facing the minimum six batters.
Obviously one shouldn’t put too much emphasis on Spring Training stats for several reasons. Regardless, Twins fans should keep an eye on De Vries. It will be interesting if he can continue to find success once he’s stretched out and has to face batters a second and third time through the order. But if the 28 year-old can continue throwing like he did on Monday, the Twins will be forced to consider him for the fifth spot in the rotation.
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