The Twins will promote right-hander Jose Berrios to step into the rotation this Saturday, manager Paul Molitor told reporters after tonight’s game (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger). While no longer a prospect in the technical sense of the word after pitching enough to lose his rookie eligibility last year, the 22-year-old Berrios remains one of the more promising young arms in the game.
Berrios reached the Majors around this time last season, but he struggled through multiple Major League stints in significant fashion, logging an 8.02 ERA through 58 1/3 innings. Berrios, however, was a mainstay on top 100 prospect lists following his selection with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2012 draft and has continually turned in dominant results in Triple-A.
After logging a 2.51 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 with a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 111 1/3 innings there last season, Berrios has delivered 39 2/3 frames of 1.13 ERA ball with Rochester in 2017. His outstanding 39-to-8 K/BB ratio through those six starts also creates cause for optimism.
Berrios will step into a murky Twins rotation that has Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago and Phil Hughes in the top three spots, with journeyman Nick Tepesch currently holding down the fifth slot. Given the uncertainty in their starting corps, Berrios looks to have every opportunity to lock down a permanent rotation spot if he can get off to a good start this time around.
Certainly, the Twins are counting on Berrios to do just that and to help to anchor their rotation for the next several years. He’s controllable through the 2022 campaign and doesn’t stand to be eligible for arbitration until the completion of the 2019 campaign. Those timelines, of course, could change if Berrios is optioned back to the minors, but with 74 days of big league service entering the year, he needs just 98 days in the Majors to reach a full year of service time and remain on pace for those targets.