by user 15sports

So the Minnesota Twins have just reassigned left-hander Dennys Reyes to minor league camp. This move was clearly made in order to have super prospect Francisco Liriano on the opening day roster. Liriano will not open the season in the starting rotation, but we can only assume that he will be there eventually. He is currently valuable to the Twins pitching relief due to the fact that he will be the only left-handed pitcher in their bullpen. Some worry that the switch from starter to reliever could be problematic, but Liriano is the type of talent who should have no problem in terms of adjustment. The concept by Twins management might not be the best idea, but it should not be an issue.

Before we go into how great Francisco Liriano is, and will be, I figured that the Minnesota Twins deserved some credit. Did you know that Francisco Liriano was acquired in the A.J. PierzynskiJoe Nathan trade back in 2003? Not only has Nathan been a premier closer the past few years, but they got the golden child too? Francisco Liriano truly went underappreciated in his early years considering he was an undrafted free agent, and a “throw in” on the Pierzynski deal. At this point, let us start the idolizing of Francisco Liriano.

The Minnesota Twins’ 22-year-old Francisco Liriano possesses the golden arm that is required to succeed in the major leagues. His fastball, a thing of beauty I might add, hits the mid 90’s all day long, and has some nice zip to it. Along with the great fastball, Liriano has a nice breaking curveball and changeup to round out his repertoire. Word is, he is trying to develop a slider to take his pitching to a whole new level.

Now that we know Liriano has the talent to do anything he wants, how has his performance been? Well, lets just say that Liriano breezed through the minor leagues last year. In his short time in the majors, Liriano wasn’t exactly “extremely” effective, but he showed some serious signs of potential. Looking at last year, one could point out his 5.70 ERA and state that Liriano didn’t prove anything last year. I took a different angle and decided to look at what and how he pitched. The first thing that stuck out was the fact that even though Liriano had a high ERA, his WHIP was very solid. The idea that he only walked 7 batters in 24 innings is very encouraging for a young flamethrower. Even more impressive than his control, Liriano brought some serious strikeouts to the equation. In the 24 innings he pitched last year, Francisco Liriano struck out a whopping 33 batters. Most prime time strikeout artists garner about one strikeout per inning, but Liriano displayed the ability to surpass that benchmark.

Many people will begin to think that Francisco Liriano is simply in the bullpen awaiting Scott Baker’s downfall. Those who are banking on that event to propel Liriano into the starting lineup could wait forever. Scott Baker is legitimate pitcher who has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. Baker fended off the prospect Liriano, and won the 5th spot in that great Minnesota Twins rotation. In fact, I believe that it may be Kyle Lohse who will be either traded away from Minnesota or pushed out in order for Liriano to be a part of the starting 5. The Twins have contemplated trading Lohse before, and the more anxious ownership and upper management gets about starting their star prospect, the closer Lohse is to getting the boot.

In terms of fantasy value, Francisco being put into the bullpen could increase the likely hood that he could be a nice sleeper selection. Before I continue, I just want to make sure that every single fantasy baseball league that has a minor league system and keepers, no longer has Francisco Liriano available. Liriano went for $7 in my league last year, and is being kept at that price, so I have no chance to obtain him. Back to the people who can grab the super prospect Liriano. Do not be discouraged by the fact that Francisco Liriano is going to start off the year in the bullpen. In my honest opinion, I think that this is a positive to the savvy owner, considering Liriano could have went for extreme amounts of money if he made the Twins starting rotation. Now, if you are in an auction league, you can scoop Liriano for a buck or two. Often at the draft, fantasy owners do not have the foresight to see that the baseball season is not a sprint, but a marathon. Owners do not want to wait and sit around while Francisco Liriano goes out and pitches an inning or two every few days. Take advantage of those silly owners, and make the wise investment.

(To see the whole deal:


Thu 03/30/06, 3:55 pm EST

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