MINNEAPOLIS – Young Twins pitcher J.O. Berrios went public with his goal to make the American League all-star team in February during the early stages of spring training in Fort Myers, Florida. Assuming he keeps a written checklist with his goals and his meticulous workout notes, Berrios can check one big goal off the list.
Berrios was named an all-star Sunday for the first time in his MLB career. The Twins and Berrios hope that it’s the first of many.
“It’s an honor for me,” Berrios said. “I feel proud to represent my organization the Minnesota Twins, and for my family and Puerto Rico. I’m excited to be there in [Washington] D.C.”
He’s pitched in the World Baseball Classic, in the MLB postseason, and one of the thrills of his life came this April, when Berrios pitched for the Twins in front of adoring fans in his birthplace Puerto Rico. Maybe now he’ll get to add pitching in a Midsummer Classic to his growing list of cool career moments.
“Amazing. … We know a lot of good players, stars, Hall of Famers, who have played there. And now I, Jose Berrios, am going to be there, too,” he said.
Berrios currently ranks 15th among American League starters in ERA (3.54), Wins Above Replacement (1.9, per FanGraphs) and strikeout rate (25%). He ranks 11th in the American League walk rate (5.7%). He’s deserving of all-star consideration by virtue of being among an elite group of his peers.
Every year the all-star team features a number of pitcher who throw the day before the break and thus take themselves out of consideration for the game. Right now Berrios is lined up to pitch Monday and Saturday for the Twins before the break, which would in theory allow him to pitch an inning or two in an all-star setting.
Assuming that he gets to pitch in the game – and even just being selected to the team – is remarkable when you consider that Berrios wasn’t even a pitcher growing up. The Twins drafted him at the end of the first round in 2012, when he was a shortstop and athlete with a great arm, and they immediately said that he’d be a pitcher. He started turning heads with strong numbers in the minor leagues, and he’s always been known for his attitude and work ethic.
When he started on the mound, he said, he would watch videos of guys like Pedro Martinez and the late Jose Fernandez. Both great pitchers, and two players to whom Berrios has been compared in the past.
Too lofty comparisons, for sure. But Berrios isn’t shy about his belief in himself.
“Trying to be like them,” Berrios said, “or better.”