Earlier today, Wayne Cavadi explored the pros and cons of promoting Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Corey Seager to the major leagues for September. That's a good theme for more articles, in this case regarding Minnesota Twins pitching prospect Jose Berrios. Berrios was not among the first group of Minnesota recalls, although yesterday Mike Berardino at the Pioneer Press noted that the front office has yet to rule it out.
Let's do what Wayne did for Seager and break down the pros and cons.
REASONS TO PROMOTE BERRIOS
***He's really good. Berrios has been excellent at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels this year, combining for a 13-5, 2.90 record with a 170/37 K/BB in 161 innings, allowing just 133 hits. He's been especially effective lately, posting a 35/1 K/BB ratio over his last 26 innings with just 18 hits allowed. The stats are excellent and he has little left to prove in the minors.
***The scouting reports match well with the numbers; he's made substantial progress refining his curveball and change-up this year and he already had good fastball command. He has the pitchability and stuff to be a long-term above-average workhorse starter and perhaps more.
***Although the Twins are 12 games back of the Royals in the American League Central, they are just one game behind in a tight wild card race. Phil Hughes is on the DL and having an additional talented arm on staff can only help.
***Even if he doesn't pitch much, a promotion would give Berrios some exposure to the major league environment and might make it easier for him as he looks for a rotation spot in 2016.
***He's not on the 40-man roster, but he's clearly ready for a big league trial and waiting until he must be protected in the fall of 2016 isn't realistic. Nobody sees him spending all of 2016 in Triple-A for roster reasons. If he's ready, promote him.
REASONS NOT TO PROMOTE BERRIOS
***He's not on the 40-man roster and won't need to be added to it to protect him from Rule 5 until the fall of 2016. Adding him right now means probably losing someone else in the Rule 5 draft this December. If he makes the 2016 club in spring training, add him then.
***He's pitched 161 innings, and while his recent outstanding performance indicates that he's not presently tired, there's no sense in pushing him too much. He is too valuable to overwork.
***You could stick him in the bullpen and maneuver around the season workload issue, but Berrios hasn't made a relief outing since rookie ball in 2012. He is physically and mentally conditioned for starting and relief use would add an element of uncertainty. Twins manager Paul Molitor himself acknowledged this yesterday:
"If you’re going to ask him to come here potentially and pitch out of the bullpen, it’s not something he’s ever really done," Molitor said. "You can’t assume that’s just going to be a smooth transition, that’s going to be a slam dunk for him to come in here and help us."
So, what should the Twins do?