Notebook: Twins might have found some value in Miguel Sulbaran
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Consider it one down, one to go as the Minnesota Twins consummated one of two player-to-be-named trades by acquiring left-handed pitcher Miguel Sulbaran from the Los Angeles Dodgers to complete the Drew Butera trade.
The 19-year-old Sulbaran won't have to go too far, as he'll move from the Great Lakes Loons (Midland, Mich.) to Low-A Cedar Rapids. The left-hander was having a rather nice season with the Loons, with a 6-4 record, 3.01 ERA, and 8.3 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Those numbers mask what was a rough start as well, as Sulbaran carried a 1.97 ERA and .594 OPS against in 13 appearances since June 1.
"His size is the biggest issue," Baseball Prospectus prospect guru Jason Parks told 1500ESPN. "The fastball isn't great, and he lacks a plus secondary (offering), but he can pitch. He's just really short."
Parks' size comment shouldn't go unnoticed, as Sulbaran stands a slight 5-foot-10 and weighs just 185 pounds. By comparison, the Twins 'slight' right-hander Jose Berrios stands 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. But similarly, the comment about his ability shouldn't be shrugged off either, as Sulbaran has fanned nearly a hitter an inning in his three professional seasons while posting a stellar 3.21 ERA.
According to a number of sources, Sulbaran throws a fastball which sits in the upper-80s, a curveball, and a slider. "He moves the ball around," Parks said. "He shows a good breaking ball and has plus pitchability. His ceiling is moderate, but he's a solid arm pitching at an advanced level for his age."
Regardless of his ceiling, it sounds like Sulbaran is a solid return on a catcher who hardly spent any time with the big league club this season, and wasn't likely to in the near future, either.
• Catcher Ryan Doumit (concussion) is making progress, and is expected to undergo ImPACT tests Wednesday as he attempts to gain clearance from MLB to return when he's eligible Thursday.
"It looks like he's going to be fine," Ryan said. "He should be pretty close (Thursday) but we'll have to wait to see how the tests go. He was out there today in right field going through pregame motions. It's tough to hold him back; he's not too thrilled to be on the disabled list."
• Non-roster starter Nick Blackburn will return to Minneapolis on Wednesday to have his knee examined by team doctors. Blackburn last appeared for the Rochester Red Wings on July 23. "He's got a knee issue," Ryan said, noting that Blackburn had a cortisone shot but the knee hasn't responded as hoped. Ryan was non-committal as to whether or not he felt it put Blackburn's season in jeopardy.
• Starter Jose Berrios was hit with a batted ball in his last start Saturday, and was placed on the seven-day disabled list at Low-A Cedar Rapids. "Don't worry about him," Ryan said. "We put him on the disabled list just because we'll have to push him back a couple days, but that's it."
Berrios is 7-5 with a 3.45 ERA, 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 1.38 WHIP for the Kernels this season. With Berrios on the shelf, and left-hander David Hurlbut being promoted to Fort Myers, the Kernels are still one player under the 25-man limit even with Sulbaran joining the team Wednesday as the club starts a home series with the Beloit Snappers.
• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni's 20 days are up on his rehab stint on Thursday. At that point, according to Ryan, the Twins have a lot of options. The club can activate Mastroianni (foot) from the 60-day disabled list -- thereby reinstating him to the 40-man roster spot vacated by the Jamey Carroll trade -- and either promote him to the big league club or option him to Rochester.
Ryan also noted that the Twins could petition for a few extra days of rehab, but that he ultimately isn't too worried about it. Mastroianni is 0 for his first 12 since moving from High-A Fort Myer to Triple-A Rochester.
• Prospect right-handers Alex Meyer (shoulder) and Kohl Stewart (foot) returned to action within the past couple days, and both are doing fine per Ryan. Stewart pitched on Friday for the GCL Twins, tossing two scoreless innings while picking up a pair of strikeouts. He had last pitched on July 22.
Meyer actually started the game Stewart appeared in, and recorded all five outs via the strikeout as he went 1 2/3 innings. Meyer walked a hitter, and gave up three hits and a run. Rehabbing left-hander Pedro Hernandez took the loss in the game.
• Prospect reliever Deolis Guerra (blood clot/shoulder) is currently throwing in the extended program with the GCL Twins, but has not yet progressed to in-game action. Ryan cautioned not to count Guerra out for the season, however. "He'll be on the mound before the end of the summer," Ryan said.
Guerra had rib resection surgery in March and hasn't pitched since Aug. 31, 2012 at Rochester.
Team Ranks in August
With August nearly halfway in the books, here's a peek at how the Twins rank among MLB counterparts in a few stats (all stats entering Tuesday):
• Home Runs - First in MLB (19)
• Walk Rate (Hitters) - First in MLB (11.6%)
• Strikeout Rate (Hitters) - Second-highest in MLB (25.5%)
• Isolated Power (Slugging Percentage - Batting Average) - First in MLB (.206)
• Batting Average on Balls in Play (Hitters) - Second-lowest in MLB (.262)
• Batting Average - Third-lowest in MLB (.221)
• Strikeouts per 9 innings (Pitchers) - Third-lowest in MLB (6.2)
• Strikeouts per 9 innings (Starters) - Lowest in MLB (5.0)
Miguel Sano homered again Tuesday for Double-A New Britain, his 30th of the season. Sano isn't on the 40-man roster, and doesn't have to be added until after next season as a matter of procedure, but Ryan wasn't outwardly dismissive of the potential for a late-season callup for the 20-year-old third baseman.
"It's always a possibility," Ryan said. "I will only bring up guys who deserve to come up." Ryan did make note of the fact that the Twins have brought players up from Double-A in the past, including Chuck Knoblauch, Joe Mauer, and most recently, Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson.
"He's doing OK," Ryan said with a wry smile. "I guess he's always a possibility."