One of the most surprising things to come out of spring training is who won the 5th starter role. With Ryan Vogelsong being granted free agency, Trevor May tearing his pitching elbow, and Tyler Duffey moving to the bullpen, the Twins options were limited. This was not ideal for a team who is trying to transform into a winner again. Life goes on, and on March 30, the club named Adalberto Mejia the lucky one.
Mejia came over from San Francisco just before last year’s trade deadline that sent Eduardo Nunez packing. After being signed as an amateur free agent in 2011, he spent six seasons in the Giants minor league system at various levels. Mejia’s best season in the minors was in 2012 at A+ San Jose, where he posted a 3.31 ERA, going 7-4 with 91 strikeouts in 17 starts. His overall minor league career has been above average, posting a 43-29 record with 487 strikeouts. The 23-year-old’s lone major league appearance came in a game last year when he worked 2.1 innings, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out no one.
Mejia, who is from the Dominican Republic, earned the 5th spot by pitching to a 1.88 ERA, while holding opponents to a .222 average and striking out 14 in 14.1 innings this spring. He should relish this opportunity because I do not think he would be a starter if May did not get injured or Duffey performed the way he should have in his spring outings.
If Mejia, who is scheduled to start for the first time Saturday against the White Sox, struggles out of the gate, Manager Paul Manager can not wait to reassess the situation, especially if the Twins tack on wins to Monday’s home victory. Plus, they don’t want to harm his confidence. Duffey or up-and-comer Jose Berrios could easily replace the rookie.
Mejia will pitch behind Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson, and Phil Hughes.
Written by: Michael L. Sack