When the Minnesota Twins entered spring training this year, many fans and analysts agreed that there were a lot of question marks surrounding the pitching staff. As spring has progressed, those question marks have remained unanswered. This is nothing to be alarmed about because it is way too early to jump to conclusions at this juncture of the season. It is difficult to make judgments based on spring training performances, but the Twins’ executives must make their best guess as to which 25 players are the team’s best. These 25 players will open the season with the big league club against the Detroit Tigers on April 1.
The process of assembling a roster is very difficult in the sense that it is tough to predict how well a player will do once the team faces big league caliber players on a daily basis. During spring training, players will often face off against other players who are trying to win a roster spot and have no business being in the majors. Fortunately for Twins’ executives, some of their young players who were competing for roster spots this spring, got to see extensive time at the World Baseball Classic. Here, the players were allowed to compete against some of the best players that the game of baseball has to offer. This gave the organization a better grasp of the potential of these young players, while also giving them an idea of how well these players stack up to established big league veterans.
One of the players that got to see extended playing time in the WBC was Samuel Deduno. Deduno was projected as a candidate to win the last spot in the starting rotation this spring, but was not favored to win the job by any means. The pitchers who are believed to be “locks” to make the rotation are Vance Worley, Scott Diamond, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. That leaves one rotation spot open, possibly two if Diamond starts the season on the disabled list, for one pitcher out of the group comprised of Liam Hendriks, Cole DeVries, Rich Harden, P.J Walters and Deduno.
Hendriks and DeVries have received much of the praise so far this spring, but Deduno has been quietly having himself a dominant spring training as well. Deduno was selected to pitch for his native country, the Dominican Republic, in the WBC and has taken advantage of this great opportunity. In two starts at the WBC, Deduno has pitched eight innings, produced a miniscule 1.13 ERA, allowed nine hits and struck out 12 batters.
Deduno’s quiet dominance was very evident during the Dominican Republic’s 3-1 WBC victory over Team USA Thursday night. In that game, Deduno allowed five hits, over four innings, while striking out seven and walking two.
If the decision process on who is going to be the Twins’ number five starter didn’t include Deduno before Thursday night, it certainly did after. Deduno has been known to have electric stuff with the ability to strike hitters out at an above average rate. Deduno’s issues during his time with the Twins have been related to his ability to control his pitches and keep the ball down in the zone. So far this spring and in the WBC, Deduno has shown he can control his pitches and be an effective starter in a team’s rotation.
If the Twins are still concerned about Deduno’s ability to start in the majors, then the team should consider moving him into the bullpen as a reliever. Deduno has proven that he belongs in the majors, in some capacity or another, and to not include him in the Twins’ pitching staff to start the season would be a travesty. The Twins lack pitchers who can dominate a game and strike hitters out and Deduno possesses that talent.
While Deduno may still be a little rough around the edges in terms of his control and development, the Twins must take the bad with the good and let this kid develop. He has the potential to contribute with this organization at the majors and if he doesn’t stick here, he certainly will catch on somewhere else. The choice on whether or not Deduno belongs in the majors is no longer relevant. Instead, the choice comes down to this: does he start in the bullpen or the rotation?