Minnesota Twins: Have They Found Another (Scott) Diamond in the Rough?
Within five seasons, Johan Santana would win the American League Cy Young Award in 2004 and again two years later.
In his eight seasons in Minnesota Santana would compile a 93-44 record with a 3.22 ERA while averaging 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
From 2004 when he emerged as a full-time starter in the Twins rotation until he was traded to the New York Mets following the 2007 season, Santana was the most dominant pitcher in the American League.
His 70 wins, 134 starts and 983 strikeouts were tops in the league, while his 2.89 ERA was second and his 9.70 strikeouts per nine innings were third.
Yes, the Twins called that one right.
Can they do it again?
I compared the minor league careers of Santana and Diamond to see what answers that may provide as Diamond looks to make his mark as a member of the Minnesota bullpen in 2011.
For both pitchers they were selected after completing only three seasons in the minor leagues.
Both are left-handed pitchers that were groomed to start in the minors.
Incredibly, Santana would not pitch above Class A before making the Twins' major league roster in 2000. In 1999, Santana's last minor league season with Houston, he would start 26 games going 8-8 with a 4.66 ERA. In 160.1 innings he would strike out 150 batters—an average of 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Including an 11-game stint at Class AAA in 2002 for the Twins, Santana would have a 1.38 WHIP.
In 2010, Diamond finished the season making 10 starts at AAA Gwinnett in the International League for the Atlanta Braves. Between AA and AAA he had an 8-7 record with a 3.46 ERA in 158.2 innings and averaged seven strikeouts per nine innings, and a 1.37 WHIP.
Not a bad comparison for Diamond considering he was pitching one level from the majors.
The key now is to be patient and let manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson work their magic. The plan will be to bring Diamond along slowly, putting him in situations that will make him successful in 2011.
With any luck Twins fans will be getting a glimpse at the possible 2015 Cy Young Award winner.
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