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Adalberto Mejia earns fifth starter spot for Minnesota Twins

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23-year-old Dominican southpaw opens year in rotation

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins announced that rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia would open the season as the fifth member of the major league starting rotation. Lets take a look at what he offers.

Mejia was originally signed by the San Francisco Giants as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2011. His track record in the Giants system was inconsistent, with solid seasons of pitching in 2013 and 2015, but struggles in 2014 as well as a PED suspension on his resume. He was in the midst of a solid campaign in 2016 when he was traded to the Minnesota Twins last summer for Eduardo Nunez.

Mejia ranked seventh on the 2017 Twins Top 20 prospects list with the following comment:

7) Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Grade B-: Acquired from Giants for Eduardo Nunez over the summer, posted 3.00 ERA with 126/30 K/BB in 132 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; heater is a tick above average with average slider, curve, change-up, throws strikes, has had trouble controlling his weight in the past and was once suspended for using a banned stimulant. Projected as a number four starter but could be more dominant if used in a bullpen role; age 23, ETA 2017.

He earned his way into the rotation by posting a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 innings with an excellent 14/4 K/BB. He has a full arsenal at his disposal and is willing to use any of his pitches at any point in the count. His velocity this spring was up a tick, topping at 95 rather than the 93 he’s shown previously. Everything plays up due to his command, so even this slight improvement in his fastball can take him a long way.

Keys going forward will be maintaining his command, staying in physical shape (with his body build he’ll always fight that) and proving his durability; the 132 innings he threw last year were the most of his career. If all that holds, he should be a solid number four starter.

Here’s a brief clip from his 2.1 inning MLB debut last August.

And some bullpen work alongside Ervin Santana this spring