MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins promoted top pitching prospectJose Berrios on Tuesday, and he is set to make his Major League debut in a start against the Indians on Wednesday.
The Twins announced the callup about an hour before Tuesday's game as right-handers Ervin Santana (back spasms) and Kyle Gibson (right shoulder strain) were placed on the 15-day disabled list. They also recalled infielder Jorge Polanco along with Berrios, who had to be added to the 40-man roster. But the club had an open spot after it lost catcher John Hicks on waivers to the Tigers on Saturday.
Berrios, who is ranked as the No. 16 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was off to an excellent start at Triple-A Rochester, going 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts. He struck out 20 and walked eight in 17 innings.
Berrios said he was given the news by Triple-A manager Mike Quade while getting off the team bus in Buffalo, and flew through Chicago to get to Minnesota in time for Tuesday's game, a 6-5 walk-off victory for the Twins.
"He told me congrats and that I was going up, so I started to cry a little bit," Berrios said. "Now I have the opportunity to play at the beautiful level. And it will be great. Finally, I have my first start in the big leagues. I'll just try to do my work and try to help the team win like today."
Berrios was the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, when he posted a combined 2.87 ERA at Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester. His 175 strikeouts led all Minor League pitchers, but he wasn't called up late last season, as the Twins decided to protect his arm after he threw a career-high 166 1/3 innings.
"Berrios is a guy who spent his time in the Minor Leagues to get prepared the last few years, and now it's his turn," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "He's got pitches, he's athletic, he's got command. He's gone up our system at a very rapid rate for a 21-year-old. We wouldn't have called him up if he wasn't ready. We had to purchase his contract. This is an opportunity for him."
Santana, Minnesota's Opening Day starter, saw his scheduled start on Sunday pushed back because of back spasms, and he's now on the DL retroactive to Wednesday. The Twins are hopeful he'll be able to return once he's eligible on May 5. Tyler Duffey, who left Sunday's start early after being hit in the right shoulder by a line drive, is tentatively scheduled to start in Santana's place on Saturday.
"He was having discomfort yesterday playing catch," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's April, so we're trying to protect him and think a little bigger picture here. We're optimistic of him being ready once eligible."
Gibson, meanwhile, said he felt something in his shoulder during the first inning of his start on Friday. He remained in the game, giving up seven runs over three innings, but Gibson said he felt pain in his shoulder the next day and wasn't able to throw his scheduled bullpen session on Sunday.
Gibson called his injury a general shoulder strain, and said he's hopeful he'll also be ready to return once he's eligible on May 8.
"The doctor said it was pretty minor, which was relieving," Gibson said. "I had never felt a pain like that, and on Sunday, it was pretty severe. So to have that kind of pain lightly throwing a baseball and find out it was something minor was pretty relieving. It feels a lot better today. Hopefully, I'll be feeling better before two weeks, but after 15 days, I'll be ready at the end of it."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Sitting at 6-14, the Twins made a wise decision to add Berrios' impact arm to their rotation. The youngster ranks sixth among pitching prospects according to MLBPipeline's Top 100 list, a spot well earned with a 2.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 as a Minor Leaguer. Set for an extended rotation look before other top prospects such as Lucas Giolito, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, Berrios could be the most valuable fantasy asset among pitchers who opened 2016 in the Minors. Owners in all formats should clear the necessary roster space to pick up Berrios right away. The arrival of the 21-year-old should also serve notice to owners that they should stash the likes of Giolito and Glasnow, who could debut in the coming weeks.