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In a matter of minutes after Buster Posey caught the Brian Wilson pitch that missed a big Nelson Cruz swing and ended the World Series, eligible players started declaring their free agency. That list included World Series participants like Cliff Lee, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. In previous years, players (And their agents!) would have 15 days to file for free agency. This year, the clock has been moved up. Free agents have just five days from the completion of the World Series to file.
Names like Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford and Derek Jeter will likely dominate the headlines… But along with the Major League Free Agents, there are a lot of free agents that may not get as much publicity, the Six-Year Minor League Free Agents. 2004 is a big year as it relates to the minor league free agents. Those players drafted in 2004 are now six-year free agents. Most international players actually get a seventh year, so players like Deibinson Romero and Jose Lugo would also have to be added.
The Twins had three first-round picks (and two supplemental first-round picks) in 2004 thanks to the losses of Type A free agents Eddie Guardado (to Seattle) and LaTroy Hawkins (to the Cubs). With their third, first-round pick, the Twins drafted a right-handed pitcher from Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, Kyle Waldrop. In his high school career, Waldrop’s team finished second in the state his sophomore year, and won a state title the next two years. The team was 94-3 in those three years. Many passed on him because it was believed that he would not sign and accept a scholarship to Vanderbilt. But he signed quickly for a $1 million bonus and began his pro career.
So, why should we get to know Kyle Waldrop? As a 2004 draft pick, Waldrop would become a free agent if he is not added to the 40 man roster in the next four days. After a tremendous 2010 season in the Rochester bullpen, I expect that we will hear in the next couple of days that he has been added to the Twins 40 man roster. Also, Kyle is a terrific person who has overcome a serious shoulder injury. He has also been a participant in the NFL “Expert” Picks on this site for five years, winning the title once!
- Waldrop started his career in 2004 with a seven game stint with the GCL Twins. He went 3-2 with a 1.42 ERA. He walked just four and struck out 30 in 38 innings. He then made four starts at Elizabethton where he went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA. In 25 innings, he walked three and struck out 25. Just to recap… in 63 innings that year, he walked just seven hitters while striking out 55.
- In 2005, he was 19 and spent the entire season at Low-A Beloit of the Midwest League. On the season, he was 6-11 with a 4.98 ERA. He made 27 starts and threw 151.2 innings. He walked just 23 and struck out 108.
- In 2006, he went a combined 9-5 between Beloit and Ft. Myers. In 155.1 innings, he walked just 34 and struck out just 87.
- In 2007, he split time between Ft. Myers and New Britain, he was 7-5 with a 3.40 ERA at Ft. Myers, but went just 3-6 with a 5.34 ERA at New Britain.
- Then in spring of 2008, Waldrop had shoulder surgery. He had been unable to achieve a full range of motion and despite a successful surgery, he missed the entire season.
- He came back in 2009, and began the season in the Ft. Myers bullpen. It was a wise decision at the time because he could stay out of the cold of New Britain’s April, and to gradually build up his arm after missing a season. It appears it was a great decision for his career. After a 3.09 ERA through 35 innings with the Miracle, he moved up to New Britain where he was terrific. In 55.2 innings, he posted a 1.46 ERA.
- It was enough to earn him a big league spring training invitation, and Waldrop pitched great all spring. He was sent down to Rochester following the Twins exhibition games at Target Field in late March. He was about to go back to New Britain until Alex Burnett was summoned to the big leagues to open the season with the Twins. Waldrop had a tremendous season pitching out of the Red Wings bullpen. Through June, Waldrop’s ERA and WHIP were both hovering around 1.00. He threw a lot of innings, and wasn’t quite as successful in the second half, but still was pitching well. Overall, he went 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 87.2 innings over 59 games. He walked 20 and struck out 60.
Scouting Report – As you can see, Waldrop is not a strikeout pitcher. He doesn’t throw hard, and tops out around 91. He has a slider and a changeup, but he also has a good sinker that creates a ton of ground balls. In Rochester this year, he averaged 2.4 groundouts per fly out. In 9.2 innings in the Arizona Fall League, he has 3.8 Ground outs per Fly out. Again, Waldrop is a typical Twins pitcher in that he isn’t a big strikeout pitcher. He also doesn’t walk batters. He pitches to contact, but induces a ton of ground balls.
There are many who believe that Kyle Waldrop may have the most upside of any of the Twins minor league relievers who spent time in Rochester this year. That is not a knock on Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney and Alex Burnett, who are all good relief pitcher prospects. But Waldrop may be the best of them. Despite being drafted 6 ½ years ago, Waldrop turned just 25 years last week.
Why do I mention Kyle Waldrop today? Why did I post a long blog about him today? I fully expect that we will hear in the next couple of days that the Twins have added Waldrop to the 40 man roster before he can become a free agent. Of course, I don’t know. I don’t have any inside information. I would be very surprised if Waldrop is not added to the 40 man roster… but what do I know?
- Other players drafted in 2004 that would need to be added to the 40 man roster or could become free agents: Juan Portes, Tim Lahey
- Players from the 2004 draft that are already on the 40 man roster: Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Matt Tolbert.
- Players I project will be added to the 40 man roster by November 20th (learn more about each by ordering your copy of the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook), but would not be able to become a free agent for at least two years: David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Rene Tosoni, Tyler Robertson, Steve Singleton (I am probably alone in this one).
Any thoughts on Waldrop, the 40 man roster, six-year minor league free agents, or anything Twins-related, please feel free to e-mail me or leave comments here.