The Twins did just that, selecting right-hander Terry Doyle from the White Sox. On the surface, Doyle owns an impressive minor-league resume; over four seasons, he's posted a 2.94 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 381-to-97 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 422 2/3 innings. He also excelled in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League this year, going 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.66 WHIP over eight starts.
Those are great numbers, but they lose much of their luster when you consider his age. Doyle pitched well enough in Double-A this season, going 7-5 with a 3.24 ERA after being promoted in May, but it was his first time reaching that level and he was 25. He turned 26 in early November and still hasn't sniffed Triple-A.
Doyle's gaudy 8.1 K/9 rate in the minors is misleading, since it is heavily weighted by his dominant efforts in the lower levels. His strikeout rate has dropped precipitously as he's climbed the minor-league ladder thanks to an arsenal that could hardly be described as dominant.
Kevin Goldstein, a prospect guru for Baseball Prospectus, offered the following assessment to White Sox blogger JJ Stankevitz earlier this offseason:
Big, big dude. Classic frame, but not much stuff. Upper 80s fastball that scrapes 90-92 at times, better pitch is a mid-80s cutter with some bite. Average curveball and change. He succeeds by hitting his spots and working low in the zone, but there are plenty of questions, and understandably so, about his ability to miss the bats of more advanced hitters. Perfect world is probably middle relief.Remind you of anyone? Because, to me, it sounds an awful lot like Nick Blackburn. The two share plenty of commonalities, ranging from their size (both are 6-foot-4 and around 230 lbs) to their middling stuff to their late arrival in the majors.
The best-case scenario is that Doyle develops into a Blackburn type -- a pitch-to-contact righty who peppers the edges of the strike zone with cutters and keeps the ball on the ground. One thing he's consistently done a great job of is limiting home runs, as he's allowed just 27 in 422 career innings.
Sure, it would have been nice for the Twins to take a flier on someone with higher upside, especially since they may very well have the luxury of allowing that player take his lumps in a lost season (a la Johan Santana in 2000), but there aren't many guys with big arms that are remotely close to the majors sitting outside of 40-man rosters.
Doyle has a chance to be useful next year as a long reliever and swing man, and as things currently stand he'd only be nudging a player like Anthony Swarzak or Scott Diamond off the 25-man roster.