Friday, November 5, 2010

Profiling Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson, a product of the University of Missouri, was drafted by the Twins with the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft. The Twins, depending on how you look at it, were fortunate to get him considering he was touted as a Top 5 pick prior to reporting forearm discomfort during his final year at Mizzou. That pain scared a lot of teams away from drafting him and he fell to the Twins. Gibson started his Twins career in the Instructional Fall Leagues and eventually that forearm pain was diagnosed as a stress fracture. The Twins shut him down for the off-season, he healed up, and then started the 2010 season with the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle.

According to Baseball Prospectus, Gibson features a 91-94mph fastball which is decent, but is augmented by plus-plus control of that pitch as well as a plus Slider and above average changeup. At his 1st minor league stop, he started 7 games for the Miracle recording 40Ks in 43.1 IP while giving up 33Hs and 12BB. (Full Minor League stats available here) On the strength of that showing, the Twins promoted Gibson to the Double-A Rock Cats where he spent a majority of last season. With the Rock Cats, Gibson started 16 games with 77Ks in 93.0 IP, pitching to a 3.68 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. That's not bad considering the kid had been pitching for a college team the year before, but the concerning thing about Gibson's 2nd minor league stop was a declining K rate (he was at 10K+/9 in college). He went from 8.3K/9 at Fort Myers to 7.5K/9 a Double-A New Britain. The Twins promoted Gibson again after 16 starts and he finished the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. In 3 starts at Rochester, Gibson pitched 15.2 innings, striking out 9 and walking 5. On the season, he pitched a total of 152.0 innings, striking out 126 and walking 39. It could have been because of fatigue, but Gibson's K rate again declined, down to 5.2K/9 at Rochester.

Gibson's first professional season gives Twins fans a lot to look forward to. In 152 innings, Gibson pitched to a 2.96 ERA and 1.15 WHIP and showed the type of control that the Twins organization demands of it's pitchers. In late September, the Twins awarded Gibson with the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award, a sign that they like what they saw as well. Said Rock Cats manager Jeff Smith,

“Kyle's the type of kid you get excited watching even if he's throwing batting practice to the hitters, and he's a true professional in every sense of the word. [The Twins' front office] did a heck of a job getting Gibson [at 22nd overall]. He fits perfectly into a Twins' role. He's just a great kid.”

 It would probably be premature to expect to see Gibson at the beginning of next season, but a mid-season call-up would not be out of the question, especially if Gibson dominates at the Triple-A level. At the very least he could blossom into a mid-to-front end starter and will be under team control for a number of years to come. I'll leave you with a video of him pitching, at 6' 6" he's got quite a presence on the mound, something that is obvious even in this video which was taken 3 years ago.

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