The Twins announced following Wednesday’s game that they’ve optioned struggling righty Trevor Hildenberger to Triple-A Rochester. While no corresponding move was announced, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins are set to select the contract of right-hander Austin Adams from Rochester. SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson tweeted earlier in the afternoon that Adams was a potential replacement option. Because Adams is not on the 40-man roster, Minnesota will need to make an additional move to accommodate the promotion.
Hildenberger, 28, was a significant factor in the Twins’ 2017 Wild Card run when he emerged as a late-blooming rookie and turned in a 3.21 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against 1.3 BB/9 in 42 innings of work down the stretch. He largely maintained that pace with a 3.33 first-half ERA in 2018 before cratering in the season’s second half when he allowed 27 runs in his final 27 innings of work.
The 2019 has been a smaller-scale replica of that 2018 campaign; Hildenberger allowed just two runs on nine hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings in April but has been clobbered for 11 runs in just 4 2/3 innings this month. While he’s never thrown hard, it’s also not a good sign that the righty’s average fastball is down 1.2 mph from last year’s levels (dipping from 89.6 mph to 88.4 mph). In fairness to Hildenberger, he’s been plagued by a sky-high .460 average on balls in play, which certainly hasn’t helped his cause. For now, he’ll look to right the ship in a lower-pressure setting and return to help the club later in the season.
As for Adams — not to be confused with the former Nationals reliever of the same name whom the Mariners acquired earlier this month — it’ll be the 32-year-old’s first big league action since the 2016 season. Adams was a 2009 fifth-round pick of the Indians and spent parts of three seasons (2014-16) in the Cleveland ’pen, meaning Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, a former Indians AGM, is likely quite familiar with the righty.
He hasn’t had much success in the Majors outside of a 3.78 ERA in 33 2/3 innings with the 2015 Indians, but Adams is currently sporting a 28-to-6 K/BB ratio in 14 innings of work with Triple-A Rochester. He’s been tagged for three homers in that time and has a 4.50 ERA on the whole, but the K/BB ratio and Adams’ whopping 58.5 percent ground-ball rate are genuinely intriguing. Perhaps most intriguing of all is the fact that the Twins and Mariners will square off in a four-game series beginning tomorrow, thus setting the stage for an Austin Adams vs. Austin Adams bullpen showdown.