The Minnesota Twins will reportedly promote pitching prospect Alex Wimmers to the major league roster this afternoon. At age 27 he's been on the radar for a long time, ever since he was the ace of The Ohio State University pitching staff in 2010. Here's a quick take.
First, the basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Alex Wimmers, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2011: Grade B+; 2012: Grade C+; 2013: Grade C; 2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C
It has been a long and difficult road for 2010 first-round pick Alex Wimmers. He was supposed to be in the Twins rotation by now but his progress slowed to a crawl thanks to injuries and inconsistency. There is still a little hope however. Wimmers opened 2015 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. However, Wimmers moved to the bullpen in August and the results were excellent: 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 he could be a decent middle reliever and that's better than nothing. Grade C.
The Twins finally gave in to the inevitable this year and Wimmers has spent the season in the bullpen for Triple-A Rochester, posting a 3.62 ERA in 50 innings with a 50/24 K/BB, 42 hits allowed, and 11 saves in 12 attempts. It's not a glorious statistical profile but he deserves credit for perseverance: he's had two significant surgeries including Tommy John and an operation to repair a nerve in his forearm. He still shows a four-pitch mix and relies on deception more than pure stuff, but his track record in the bullpen is consistently better than as a starter.
Wimmers' walk rate in Triple-A was higher than ideal and we'll have to see how he adapts to the majors but he could end up being a viable 11th man on a staff. And that's a lot better than getting released.