Jose Berrios' Call-Up Should Make You Very Excited
For some people, the end of April and beginning of May means they get to watch the NBA and NHL Playoffs. For others, it means watching a new season of Game of Thrones. Many associate this time of year with the NFL Draft.
All of those things are awesome, but if you're a huge baseball nerd like myself, one of your favorite things to watch for this time of year is prospect call-ups. I'm sure you can imagine, then, the excitement I felt when I saw this tweet:
Jose Berrios reportedly being called up to #Twins from @RocRedWings. @MLB's #16/@Twins' #1: https://t.co/kuYEwFiPtP pic.twitter.com/4JQydPSHMu
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 26, 2016
In case you can't imagine, my colleague did a pretty good job capturing the collective feeling of the MLB prospect watchers in tweet form:
— Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) April 26, 2016
So, why is Jose Berrios such an exciting prospect? Let's take a look.
Minor League Performance
Last season, Berrios went 14-5 and posted a 2.87 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 9.47 strikeouts per nine innings. He also showed very impressive control for a youngster, with just a 2.05 walks per nine innings. He was so good, in fact, that there was talk about bringing the young flamethrower up to help the Twins make a postseason run last season, but Minnesota instead decided to take the safe route and postpone the debut of their ace in the making until 2016.
Berrios was actually more impressive at Triple-A than Double-A last season, posting a 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 27.7 percent strikeout rate, and 4.7 percent walk rate. To put those numbers in perspective, one Major League starter posted an sub-2.70 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP with a strikeout rate above 27 percent and a walk rate below 5 percent in 2015. His name is Clayton Kershaw -- perhaps you've heard of him.
Obviously Berrios' numbers were posted in the minors over a smaller sample size. That doesn't change the fact that they were ridiculous. He already has developed three plus pitches and has much better control than most pitchers his age. He also threw 166 innings last season, which is more than most big-time prospects. He is about as Major League ready as they come.
Berrios is a smaller prospect, but he makes up for his small frame with impressive athleticism and a lively and quick arm. His fastball regularly sits in the 95-to-97 miles per hour range, and he complements that with an ability to change speeds that is advanced for his age.
He already has a nasty curveball, which is highlighted several times in this video:
He also has a lot of trust in his changeup, which might actually be his best pitch. His ability to place his changeup and change speeds helps him to gain an advantage over hitters.
Both of his secondary pitches have a lot of movement and are used to put away hitters. His fastball doesn't have quite as much life as his off-speed stuff, but hitters can't sit on it because of the effectiveness of his secondary pitches.
What to Expect at the Major League Level
It has been known for some time that Berrios is the most talented starting pitcher within Minnesota's organization, and he should step in as their ace right away. He was called up a bit more quickly than most anticipated, due to injuries to Kyle Gibson, Ervin Santana, and Tyler Duffey.
Outside of those world-beaters, Berrios' competition at the Major League level includes the likes of Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, and Tommy Milone. It's safe to say that Berrios should be around to stay, regardless of what happens with Minnesota's injuries.
It remains to be seen how Berrios' game translates to the Major League level, but he is certainly one of the most polished pitching prospects out there. He has excelled at every level and could certainly be the spark-plug that the 7-14 Twins need.
Berrios hasn't been quite as hyped as Lucas Giolito or Tyler Glasnow among fantasy circles, and as a result, he is only owned in 8.3 percent of ESPN leagues right now. That number will certainly rise with his call-up, and if he excels against an average Cleveland lineup tonight, you likely won't get a second chance to pick him up.
He should be viewed as a top-50 starting pitcher the rest of the way in fantasy and has the potential for more. Get him on your fantasy roster if you still have the chance.