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07/10/11 8:50 PM ET
Prospects look to be part of Twins' future
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The participation of Twins pitching prospects Kyle Gibson and Liam Hendriks in the XM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday shows that not only can the organization successfully scout middle America, but also the other side of the globe. Gibson, an Indiana native and a first-round Draft pick in 2009 out of the University of Missouri, has been on the fast track at Triple-A Rochester. The 6-foot-6 right-hander earned two promotions last season that took him from Class A to Triple-A. There is an expectation that Gibson could be called up by Minnesota at some point in the second half of the season, but he hasn't exactly dominated the way the club hoped over the first half. The 23-year-old is 3-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 16 starts, but has 86 strikeouts to only 22 walks over 86 1/3 innings. "I think this year my breaking pitch and my changeup have gotten a lot better," Gibson said while at his locker in the U.S. squad's clubhouse. "Unfortunately, my fastball has gotten a little worse. My command isn't as good this year. Being able to throw my offspeed [pitches] the way I have has really helped me out."
The Twins, coping through a challenging season this year, have had a long and storied history of using their Minor League pipeline to plug holes. That should not exclude Gibson, if he makes progress."They've always told me that as soon as they think I'm ready, they want me up there," he said. "For me, it's just trying to refine the things I need to work on to be prepared and I'm also mentally and physically prepared for when I do get that call." Gibson pitched 1 1/3 innings during the 6-4 U.S. victory. He entered with two outs in the sixth and a runner on third and gave up an RBI triple to score the inherited run before getting an inning-ending flyout to center field. In the scoreless seventh, he gave up a leadoff single, but erased the runner with a pickoff to first base. Hendriks, who pitched the second inning for the World team and allowed one run and two hits, is yet another prospect who hails from Australia, where international scout Howard Norsetter has found pitchers Grant Balfour, Brad Thomas and Mike Nakamura and outfielder Trent Oeltjen. The native of Perth is 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts, at Double-A New Britain. The 22-year-old Hendriks missed the Futures Game last year because he had an appendectomy. "I'm pretty excited getting to throw today," Hendriks said. "Last year, I thought that was my chance and my window had closed. But I came back and had a decent start this year." In 90 innings this season, Hendriks has 18 walks and 81 strikeouts along with two complete games. He's hoping a promotion to Rochester is on the horizon. "I've been able to mix it up and get ahead and stay ahead with strikes. I'm not walking too many guys. And when guys do get on, I'm able to limit it. I'm throwing well out of the stretch this year and that's helped me a lot with damage control. When runners are on, I've quickened my look over there and keep runners in check a lot better this year. "Once they think I'm mature enough, I will hopefully get the chance to go up there and compete."