Jose Berrios will be a fixture in the Minnesota Twins starting rotation at some point in 2017. It’ll just happen a little later than expected due in large part to Berrios’ decision to represent Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
On Saturday, the Twins announced Berrios would be optioned to Triple-A. The decision is not meant as punishment for Berrios. Instead, it was made out of necessity after Berrios was limited to two appearances totaling 6 2/3 innings during his 18 days away from Twins camp.
The lack of work prevented Berrios from getting properly stretched out, and also prevented the Twins from getting a good look before committing to putting him on the opening day roster.
It’s a possibility the top pitching prospect knew existed before agreeing to participate in the WBC, but he expressed no regrets on Saturday after being informed of the Twins decision.
“Playing for Puerto Rico is an honor; it makes me proud,” Berrios said through a translator Saturday afternoon. “I know this is my team, it’s my job. This is who drafted me. This is who I’m going to make it with, but you don’t get to play for Puerto Rico every day or every year. That’s not how it is.”
“I understand it might have hurt my chances to make this team, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t change that. If I had to do it again I would.”
It’s assumed Berrios’ time at Triple A will be brief, as there’s really nothing left for him to prove there. In 30 Triple-A starts over the past three seasons, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 16-8 record with a 2.79 ERA.
He was far less effective in 14 major league starts last season, posting an 8.02 ERA over 58.1 innings. But the only way he’ll seemingly adjust to that level of competition is by facing it consistently.
Berrios was up and down in the WBC as well. In Puerto Rico’s 8-0 loss to Team USA in the championship game, he impressed by striking out Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Lucroy and Ian Kinsler in succession in one inning. In the next, he lost his command, allowing three runs on a single, walk and hit batter.
So it goes with a young, dynamic pitcher, but once Jose Berrios put it together he’ll be around for a long, long time.
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