The Twins are calling up one of many prime pitching prospects of their system, as they’ll choose the contract of right-hander Louie Varland to make his large league debut Wednesday night time at Yankee Stadium, per Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Twitter link).
Varland’s name to the Majors continues a pleasant improvement story for a North St. Paul native who’ll now swimsuit up for his hometown membership. He’s one among simply 4 gamers ever to be drafted out of Division-II Concordia College in St. Paul — older brother Gus Varland, at present within the Dodgers’ system, is one other — and the Twins grabbed him nicely down the board, within the Fifteenth spherical. (The Varland brothers, only one 12 months aside in age, confronted off towards each other earlier this season, when each began the identical sport for his or her respective groups’ Double-A associates.) The youthful Varland pitched simply 8 2/3 innings within the Twins group in 2019 after being drafted and didn’t pitch in 2020, when there was no minor league season.
A D-II Fifteenth-round decide with 8 2/3 skilled innings (all coming in Rookie ball) clearly isn’t going to hold a lot prospect fanfare, however Varland erupted with a 2021 breakout that noticed him named the Twins group’s minor league pitcher of the 12 months. Starting the season in Class-A Fort Myers, Varland got here roaring out of the gates with a 2.09 ERA and an enormous 38% strikeout fee earlier than being promoted to Excessive-A Cedar Rapids, the place he largely repeated that success. In 55 2/3 frames with the Kernels, he posted a 2.10 ERA with a 29.9% strikeout fee. Varland walked simply 7.1% of his opponents between the 2 ranges, and by the conclusion of the ’21 season, he featured prominently amongst Twins prospect rankings.
It’s been extra of the identical for Varland in 2022 — this time between Double-A (105 innings, 3.34 ERA, 26.4% strikeout fee) and Triple-A (21 1/3 innings, 1.69 ERA, 32.1% strikeout fee). The correct-hander defined to FanGraphs’ David Laurila this time final 12 months that regardless of throwing simply 90-92 mph throughout his faculty days, he’s now sitting 94-95 mph and peaking within the higher 90s after working with the Twins’ improvement workers.
“I might put it to our pitching coordinators and the pitching coaches with my groups,” Varland instructed Laurila. “But in addition Martijn [Verhoeven], our [motion performance] coach. He actually cleaned up my mechanics in order that I might pitch with an environment friendly arm path. That was actually the basis of all of it; every thing has stemmed from that.”
The outcomes communicate for themselves, as Varland has ascended from obscurity to the Main Leagues briefly order — and with a profession 2.61 ERA, 30% strikeout fee and seven.6% stroll fee within the minor leagues. MLB.com ranks him tenth amongst Twins prospects, whereas Baseball America has him listed sixteenth and FanGraphs at No. 25. Varland enhances a high-spin four-seamer that now attracts plus grades with a trio of offspeed choices: a changeup, a slider and a seldom-used curveball. Each the changeup and slider have potential to be above-average pitches, per that group of scouting stories, with MLB.com suggesting the changeup is already there. He’ll be controllable by means of at the least the 2028 season.
As soon as he’s formally chosen to the roster — which can not occur till tomorrow, if he’s certainly slated for a Wednesday debut — Varland will instantly be part of the Twins’ rotation combine for the rest of the season and for the 2023 marketing campaign as nicely. He’ll have a full slate of three minor league possibility years, which means he could possibly be moved up and down on an as-needed foundation for awhile he doesn’t instantly seize a beginning job. And, with the reworked arm slot and mechanics unlocking some extra velocity, it stays attainable that Varland might finally find yourself a hard-throwing bullpen piece, ought to a job within the rotation not pan out.