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Twins prospect Alex Wimmers finds niche in bullpen

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Alex Wimmers
Alex Wimmers
Bruce Kluckhohn, Getty Images

Remember Alex Wimmers? He was the ace of The Ohio State University pitching staff in 2009 and 2010. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round in '10 and was expected to reach the major leagues within two years on the strength of his impressive curveball and change-up, sharp command and strike-throwing pitchability. His fastball was just in the 89-91 range but he commanded it well. Nobody thought he would be a number one starter, but he projected well as a number three.and was supposedly a "safe" pick.

But you know how baseball goes. There is no such thing as a safe draft pick.

Wimmers' command, previously his best attribute, vanished in 2011. He missed most of 2012 and 2013 trying to work back from a non-automatic recovery Tommy John procedure. He finally got back on the mound in 2014 and performed well enough in High-A and Double-A (3.96, 97/31 in 84 innings) to put some hope back on the picture, albeit of the "Grade C prospect" variety.

What about 2015? Wimmers opened this season in the Double-A Chattanooga starting rotation. He ended up making 18 starts with spotty results, pitching well at times but having enough bad games to post a 4.90 ERA in 94 innings, with a 77/37 K/BB and 101 hits allowed. Not impressive.

Wimmers moved to the bullpen in August and the results have been much better: 2.91 ERA in 22 innings, 23/6 K/BB, 16 hits allowed. This is not the first time he's done well in relief: he pitched 29 bullpen innings in High-A in 2014 with similar results: 3.10 ERA, 39/7 K/BB. His K-rate is higher in the pen, he holds his stuff better, his command is better, everything is better.

This seems rather clear and obvious: Wimmers needs to move to the bullpen and stay there. Sure, he's not the number three starter the Twins thought they drafted, but there's solid evidence he could be a decent middle reliever and that's better than nothing.

Wimmers will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings so the Twins have to decide if he's worth a 40-man roster spot. If they say no, perhaps someone else will say yes.