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Twins rookie John Curtiss: Can he duplicate minor league dominance?

Minnesota right-hander blew away minor league hitters this year. Will this happen in the majors?

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Earlier today we checked in on Minnesota Twins rookie reliever Gabriel Moya. Another bullpen arm having a September trial in Minnesota is right-hander John Curtiss. Like Moya, Curtiss had an excellent 2017 season in the high minors and could be a significant part of the Twins bullpen in upcoming campaigns. Let’s take a look.

A college pitcher at the University of Texas, Curtiss had a solid freshman season in 2012 but missed the 2013 season with a double-whammy of Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome. He returned in 2014 and pitched well enough to earn a spot in the sixth round of the draft with the Twins.

Curtiss struggled in 2015 (6.07 ERA in Low-A) but improved in 2016 (2.66, 85/25 K/BB in 61 innings in Low-A/High-A). His 2017 season was even better, with a 1.28 ERA in 49 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with a 68/22 K/BB and only 23 hits allowed.

So far in the majors he’s given up nine hits and eight runs over 3.2 innings, walking two but fanning five. No one is judging him on that given his overall ‘16 and ‘17 performance.

Curtiss is 6-4, 200, age 24, born April 5th, 1993. He has classic bullpen stuff with a 93-98 MPH fastball and a slider. The breaking ball is inconsistent; observers back in 2015 and 2016 described it as mediocre-to-average but it is reportedly sharper this year. He had a fringy change-up in college but doesn’t use it much now, instead varying speeds on the breaking ball between 79 and 87 MPH to give hitters different looks.

He made strides with his command this year and mowed down upper minors competition. Curtiss will be in the bullpen mix going forward, projecting as a short and middle reliever. He might get a shot at closing eventually if his breaking ball holds up.