30 November 2009
12. BJ Hermsen, RHP, 20 years old
2009 stats: 1.35 ERA, 53.1 IP, 42/4 K/BB, 0.675 WHIP at GCL (Rook)
Last year’s rank: Not ranked
Acquired: 6th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2008 draft
BJ Hermsen exploded onto the scene this past year, his first in professional baseball. The 20-year old right-hander from Iowa doesn't boast the velocity you'd expect from a 6'6'', 230-pound former three-sport athlete. Attending West Delaware High School in Iowa, Hermsen was among the state leaders as a 25.7 points per game basketball player, quarterback, and right-handed pitcher. Being a big, athletic guy, Hermsen's delivery is understandably slow, but remarkably smooth.
Hermsen's fastball currently sits at around 91-92 mph, but he also claims a plus changeup and slider in his repertoire. The right-hander has the potential to develop his 10/4 curveball into a plus pitch, but based on what I've heard Hermsen started throwing that pitch as a teenager. The 10/4 curveball wreaks havoc on a young pitcher's arm, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Hermsen go down with an injury in the near future.
Besides an unfortunate football injury during his high-school career (to his collarbone, I believe) Hermsen has remained relatively healthy and appears to be capable of adding a few miles per hour onto his already deadly fastball.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Hermsen's pitching, though, is his impeccable control. During ten starts this summer in the Gulf Coast League, Hermsen walked just four batters while striking out 42. Hermsen doesn't strike out many per nine innings of pitching (just 7.1), but his strikeout to walk ratio of 10.5 is extremely impressive.
This summer, Hermsen didn't do an exceptionally good job at missing bats, and relied on the GCL Twins' defense for his 1.35 ERA. Still, Hermsen didn't surrender a single home run in the 50+ innings he pitched, and he limited his number of baserunners very well.
Some projected Hermsen to go in the first round of the 2008 draft, but his collarbone injury and the fact that Oregon State had offered him a full-ride held some teams back. The Twins grabbed him in the 6th round, and paid him above-slot. So far, Hermsen appears to be worth every penny.
Ideal scenario: Hermsen thrives with the Beloit Snappers and gains some velocity on his fastball. He keeps his walk rate down, and misses more bats than he did in 2009.
Path to the majors: Hermsen has the makings of a potential ace, and has an already-developed repertoire of pitches. He could advance a few levels at a time for the next few years and conceivably land in the Minnesota rotation in 2012 or 2013.
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