Renowned for the way they are able to draft, sign, and develop prospects, the Minnesota Twins did not disappoint in 2009 after grabbing Missouri standout Kyle Gibson 22nd overall. Although he was projected to be a top-10 selection, Gibson slid after missing the last 6 weeks of his senior season due to a stress fracture in his right forearm.
Gibson’s two seam fastball only tops out in the low 90’s but his impeccable command allows him to stay low in the zone and induce timely ground balls. His changeup has looked better in 2011 than his slider, the second and third pitches in his repertoire. Although the slider bites exceptionally well when it’s on, Gibson will need to continue to develop the pitch and locate it effectively to make up for his lack of top-end velocity.
Despite a lack of run support to date, Gibson continued a string of solid efforts for the Rochester Red Wings (AAA) this afternoon against the Syracuse Chiefs. He did not allow a base runner in 5 of his 6 innings, punching out 6 and walking none to earn his first win of the season.
Although the organization would love to see Gibson continue to develop in the minors before a mid to late season call up, the utter depth of the Minnesota pitching staff proves to be a large obstacle. Even with Kevin Slowey on the DL (and set to make another rehab start at High-A Fort Myers on Monday), there is simply nowhere to put Gibson in the rotation.
A poor month of baseball has brought out much panic and speculation, leaving fans to guess as to when management will mix things up in Minnesota to jumpstart the major league club. A stagnant offense coupled with struggles from Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Nick Blackburn has the Twins sitting with the worst record in the majors. It seems very unlikely that management would rush Gibson merely for the sake of change, however, because there is far too much to lose. Stress fractures are often a precursor to Tommy John surgery and mismanagement could deal a significant blow to Gibson’s development and potential major league career.
With the historically fragile rotation that Minnesota fields, we can assume that Gibson will see the mound at Target Field before August. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see him in the majors by June 15th, though, if the Twins can’t start to put solid outings together through the end of May. It isn't quite time to push the Kyle Gibson panic button but GM Bill Smith must feel a little better knowing he has such a weapon waiting in the wings.