Twins grab pitcher Haley, lose catcher Turner in Rule 5 draft
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- History will show the first trade orchestrated by the new Twins regime was a perfect blend of scouting and analytics, just as they promised.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - History will show the first trade orchestrated by the new Twins regime was a perfect blend of scouting and analytics, just as they promised.
Finding what they hope will be another candidate for the back end of baseball's worst rotation, the Twins emerged from Thursday's Rule 5 draft with former Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Justin Haley.
"He's one of these guys who I think pitches very effectively in the top of the zone with his fastball and then pairs it up with offspeed pitches that are more at the bottom of the zone," Twins general manager Thad Levine said. "As a result, he's had great success on swing-and-miss percentages throughout his minor-league career and he's proven to be durable."
The 25-year-old right-hander landed with the Twins (along with cash considerations or a player to be named) as part of a three-way deal that involved the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Angels. Drafting first overall, the Twins selected right-hander Miguel Diaz out of the Milwaukee Brewers system on behalf of the Padres.
A former sixth-round pick out of Fresno State, Haley has an excellent spin rate on his low-90s fastball and draws scouting comparisons to a young Chris Young due to his tall frame (6-foot-5, 230 pounds), downhill plane, deception and pitchability.
Despite a career nine-inning rate of just 7.81 strikeouts against 3.61 walks, Haley is able to induce "a lot of awkward swings," Levine said, due to his pitch mix that includes a curveball and changeup that have a chance to be big-league average.
"Our scouts look at it as he has very good deception," Levine said. "When you're sitting behind the plate, he's one of those guys you don't see the ball well. You're seeing a lot of bad swings. That's what drew us to him in large regard."
Rated No. 28 in the deep Red Sox system in 2014, Haley went a combined 13-10 with a 3.01 earned-run average in 27 outings (26 starts) at the top two minor-league levels last season. That included an 8-6 showing with a 3.59 ERA in 15 outings (14 starts) at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he worked six innings or more with no earned runs allowed in four of his final eight starts.
The Twins believe he could be a multi-inning reliever if he fails to win a rotation spot next spring.
It probably helped, Levine allowed, that the Twins had plucked reliever Pat Light, Haley's former teammate, from the Red Sox system in the deal that sent Fernando Abad to Boston on Aug. 1.
"Our scouts were passionate about him," Levine said. "I have to believe it was kind of grounded in the conversations from the last trading deadline."
The Twins lost just one player in the Rule 5 draft, but it was former top catching prospect Stuart Turner, who went to the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds must keep him on their big-league roster all season or offer him back to the Twins for half the new $100,000 draft price. Turner, 24, was a third-round pick in 2013 out of Mississippi, but the Twins' ninth-rounder from that draft, fellow catcher Mitch Garver, was added to the 40-man roster instead last week.
"Guys come along at their own pace, right?" said Vern Followell, Twins pro scouting coordinator. "He's still young. He's still got a chance. He's a strong guy. He's got a chance to run into balls. He's got power. He's a good defensive catcher. It's hard to keep an extra catcher. There's still a chance we'll get him back."
Hard-throwing Class A reliever Yorman Landa, re-signed this week after being taken off the 40-man roster, managed to slip through the Rule 5 draft. He missed the final six weeks with a lat strain but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
Twins closer Glen Perkins, working back from June 23 shoulder surgery, remains on target to appear in spring training games by March, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said.
"With rehab protocols, you want to monitor each step of that, and we still have a decent amount of time between now and spring training," Falvey said. "But we expect him to contribute at some point in spring. That timetable seems reasonable at this point."
Fill-in closer Brandon Kintzler, 32, went 17 for 20 in save chances after taking over the role in June. He is projected to earn $2.2 million in his final year of salary arbitration. Perkins, who turns 34 in March, is due $6.5 million next season and has a $700,000 buyout on a $6.5 million club option for 2018.