Friday, April 2, 2010

#2 Prospect Kyle Gibson

Starting RHP
Drafted 1st round (22nd overall) 2009, University of Missouri
Levels Played in 2009: Not available
Opening Day Age: 22

Kyle Gibson was third in line of number 1 starters taken from Mizzou,(Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow in the previous years.) Gibson may now have the overpowering fastball as Scherzer or Crow but he has front line mentality and is a strike thrower. He goes right after hitters and takes control over situations. Going into the 2009 draft Gibson was seen as the second best college pitcher (Stephen Strasburg was 1) and 4th overall prospect among draft prospects. An undefined arm injury hindered him down the stretch and most scouts thought that be big right hander would need Tommy John surgery. Luckily their was no damage in the elbow however Gibson had a stress fracture in his forearm. The problem was corrected in the off season and the Twins feel they go a steal at pick 22.

Gibson was still in his rehab stage after being drafted, so he did not pitch for a Twins organization in 2009. However his numbers at Missouri are something to look at. His freshman year, he was used primarily as a reliever. As a sophomore, he finished the year with a 9-4 record in 86 innings as a starter. He also had 96 strikeouts and a 3.84 ERA. In 2009, Gibson was the number 1 starter for the Tigers and dominated the Big 12. He finished 11-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 106 innings. He also showed impeccable control with 131 strikeouts and only 19 walks.

Gibson has also played for Team USA in the World Cup. He threw 17 innings and allowed on 2 earned runs. He struck out 25 batters to only 4 basses on balls. He knows what it takes to succeed. Going into his junior year he put on 30 pounds to be able to take on the work load of the front line pitcher at Missouri.

Gibson may not have the stuff of a Justin Verlander, but it is still very good. What scouts were seeing at the end of 2009 was an injured pitcher throwing threw pain and still getting by. Even though his fastball was topping out at 86, he was still pretty effective. When healthy Kyle Gibson works with a low 90 to 92 MPH 2 seem fastball that has a ton of movement and sink, a 4 seem fastball that he can run 93-94 MPH, a plus, plus slider that Baseball America ranks as the best in the system as well as a developing change up that could be a plus pitch. What the Twins love most about Gibson is his incredible control. In 2009 his K/9 rate was 11.1 and his BB/9 was 1.6.

In a short term since being with the Twins, Gibson has already shown signs that he will be put on the fast track. He showed in instructional league during the winter that he was fully healthy and gained most of his velocity back. In spring training he was overwhelming hitters with the incredible moment on his pitches. In a inter squad game, Jason Kubel went up to Ron Gardenhire and said he no longer wanted to hit against Gibson because he was getting "carved up".

Gibson has a very projectable frame, he is 6 feet 6 and 210 pounds. His mechanics have drawn mixed reviews. Some scouts believe that he has good mechanics and others believe that he does not put enough leg power behind his pitches which may have caused the arm injury. He fits the mold of a Twins pitchers. He pounds the strike zone, does not walk hitters and keeps the ball in the ballpark. Kyle Gibson will begin the year in A+ Fort Myers, but could be on the fast track. His time in the minors could resemble former top draft picks Kevin Slowey and Matt Garza. I expect him to compete for the 5th spot in the rotation in 2011 if the Twins decide to not bring back Carl Pavano. If he excels at the rate he has in the past we are talking about a guy who could start opening day in 2012 or 2013.

ETA: 2011
Projection: Not a true ace in terms of stuff, but could be the number 1 starter in Minnesota by the time he is 25 years old.
MLB Comparison: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Scott Baker, John Lackey.

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