When the Minnesota Twins put together their Opening Day roster, Scott Diamond was nowhere near the top of their plans.
The left-hander went undrafted out of Guelph, Ontario, in 2007, and he came to the Twins as a Rule 5 pick in 2010 after the Braves gave up on him.
He made seven major league starts for Minnesota in 2011, but he was in the first round of cuts this spring as the Twins constructed a rotation of Carl Pavano, Jason Marquis, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn.
Three months later, Baker is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Pavano is on the disabled list, Marquis is with the Padres, Blackburn is coming back from a quadriceps injury, and Liriano is three starts removed from a stint in the bullpen. And Diamond is the Twins' ace.
The 25-year-old continued to confirm that status with his start Saturday, when he pitched six shutout innings in the Twins' win over the Cubs. Diamond is 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in seven starts, and he has walked just four batters in 44 2/3 innings. His fastball barely touches 90 mph, but Diamond's curveball is sharper than it was last year, and he has thrown first-pitch strikes 61.2 percent of the time.
"He works ahead so much in the count, and he's able to throw his first-pitch breaking ball over or throw a changeup every once in a while for the first pitch so they can't just sit on one pitch," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But the location of his fastball has been unbelievable. A hitter might be looking out over the plate, and here he pumps a fastball inside and locks him up. So that's what's impressive."