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The Minnesota Twins lost another starting pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, over the weekend, this one to a back strain. Pedro Hernandez filled in on Sunday, but the Twinkies aren't comfortable giving him a rotation spot, with good reason. As a result, Kyle Gibson has been called up, and he'll make his much anticipated major league debut this Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.
The former first-round pick was 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 28 walks in 15 starts (92 2/3 innings) for Triple-A Rochester in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He's proven to be fully healthy from elbow reconstruction. There's a caveat, though: the Twins will almost certainly limit his innings down the stretch, especially since he tossed 95 1/3 innings in his last minor league campaign before surgery.
Springer rising quickly
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound righty uses his height to his advantage to work downhill and keep his fastball down in the zone; he induced more than 50 percent grounders at Rochester. His slider and changeup can both generate K's.
Minnesota often is careful in developing their pitching prospects, and Gibson won't be any different. They've also typically stressed location over strikeouts, and that'd seem to be a point of emphasis for Gibson coming off major surgery. Limiting his walks in the bigs will be of utmost importance to his initial success.
Gibson, 25, should certainly attract interest in AL-only leagues now that he's reached the highest level. Remaining skeptical in deep mixed affairs is justifiable, given the haziness over his remaining workload. Gibson's greatest value comes in long-term keeper formats.
Much like the rotation of the Twins, the Seattle Mariners' doesn't boast many exciting arms past Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the moment. Jeremy Bonderman and Aaron Harang are merely veteran placeholders until Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen are ready. We've talked about both Walker and Hultzen in this space before.
A shoulder ailment for Hultzen has allowed Walker to leapfrog the lefty for a possible promotion later this year. After dominating Double-A Jackson (2.46 ERA, 96 K's in 84 IP), Walker was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma this week. He shined in his debut against Fresno, holding them to only three hits in six shutout innings.
Walker became the youngest starter to debut for the Rainiers since King Felix did it at 19 years old back in 2005. Walker is 20 years old and will legally be able to drink in early August. The athleticism and upside that Walker possesses is eerily similar to Hernandez, too, and if he continues to show poise beyond his years and pitch well at his new minor league stop, the M's will have a dilemma on their hands.
This right-hander has the stuff to become Seattle's next ace once Hernandez passes on the crown. His fastball could be one of the best on the minor league circuit, sitting consistently in the mid- to high-90s with late life. Finding consistency is the only task left for him, and once he's deemed ready, his strikeout upside will be through the roof.
It remains to be seen what the Mariners' plans are for Walker for the rest of 2013, but it's conceivable they'll give him a little taste of the bigs later this year if they continue to fall out of the AL West race. Walker should already be owned in AL systems and should be scooped up in most other leagues if he's called up.
Springer moving up, bad news for Bundy, plenty more
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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