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I didn't think it would happen so soon.
The Twins already couldn't fit late-season revelation Tyler Duffey into their starting rotation for the start of 2016, so why rush their top prospect, as good as he is?
But here we are not even four weeks into the season, and Jose Berrios is on his way to the majors, the second high-profile prospect call-up in the last five days.
That's right: It's Blake Snell, Part 2.
With one notable exception. Unlike Snell, Berrios probably won't be one-and-done. There's a chance he'll be two-and-done or three-and-done since neither Ervin Santana's nor Kyle Gibson's DL stint figures to be a lengthy one (the former is out with a stiff back and the latter a strained shoulder), but for now at least, the Twins have room for both Berrios and Duffey (who is himself recovering from a shoulder contusion).
Of course, there's also a chance Berrios sticks around forever after with Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco currently occupying rotation spots. And it's not like Duffey himself is can't-miss.
The bottom line is this: If Berrios shows over these next couple turns that he's one of the Twins' five best rotation options, they have ways to keep him around, and so you have to approach him as if they will so that you're the one who benefits instead of your competition.
Because chances are someone will benefit. While Snell's minor-league numbers were a more slap-you-in-the-face kind of awesome, Berrios' show a refinement that suggests he was overdue for this promotion. There was some talk as the Twins were making their playoff push last year that he might get the call even then. And why not? He only went 14-5 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings compared to 2.1 walks per nine in the minors, having actually improved those numbers with a midseason promotion to Triple-A.
In three starts this year, he has allowed just two earned runs for a 1.06 ERA. He two-hit Triple-A Pawtucket over seven innings in his last start. Here's him freezing Red Sox prospect Sam Travis with a curveball for one of his seven strikeouts:
So what if he's only 21? He's a strike-thrower with a fastball that touches 97 mph and two quality offspeed pitches. That's one more than Vince Velasquez.
But as the Twins know all too well from the Byron Buxton saga, prospects don't come with guarantees, so while someone in your league is sure to snag Berrios today -- and I'd prefer it be you -- it shouldn't be at the expense of a more proven asset like Julio Teheran or Jeff Samardzija. Or shoot, even Aaron Nola and Adam Conley are more proven, technically speaking, and with plenty of upside on their own.
For some context, here's a side-by-side comparison of where Al Melchior, Heath Cummings and I rank Berrios:
So my peers make me look like the low guy on him, but considering he has yet to appear in a game, No. 65 is still a vote of confidence. He was only my No. 10 prospect at the start of the year, for crying out loud, so yeah, I'm bullish. If you play in a league where every team rosters seven starting pitchers or more, Berrios deserves to be one of them, and judging by the guy I rank just behind him, that'll be case even if he's sent back down.
Because just like we have every reason to believe the Rays will go back to Snell the next time they need a fifth starter in May, we would have every reason to believe Berrios is the next in line in a rotation that's just begging for turnover.