Graterol puts five zeros on board for Kernels

Sixth-ranked Twins prospect fans nine, gets support from Pearson

Brusdar Graterol has struck out 51 and walked nine in 41 1/3 innings this season. (Lakin Goodman/Cedar Rapids Kernels)

By Vincent Lara-Cinisomo / MiLB.com | June 24, 2018 7:27 PM

Brusdar Graterol followed arguably his worst outing of the season with one of his best.

The No. 98 overall prospect allowed two hits and struck out nine over five scoreless innings in Class A Cedar Rapids' 14-1 rout of Wisconsin at Perfect Game Field.

Video: Kernels' Graterol fans Harrison

Graterol throws a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup and all were in fine form Sunday, he said through interpreter Cibney Bello, the Kernels' pitching coach.

"I had all of my pitches working today. At the start of the game, I had my fastball and slider, and then later in the game, it was fastball and changeup."

Graterol (3-2) allowed five hits and three runs in four innings in a loss at Kane County on June 13. On Sunday, the Twins No. 6 prospect struck out two batters in each of the first four innings and fanned 19th-ranked Brewers prospect KJ Harrison to start the fifth. His nine whiffs were one short of the career high he set May 14 against Quad Cities. After walking nine over 51 1/3 innings, he issued three free passes.


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The key to his control, Graterol said, is all upstairs.

"The main thing was I wasn't focused about the pitches or the pitching," he said. "It was more about the mental side. When I do that is when I'm at my best. When I have a good approach and not overthink things is when I succeed. If I don't have the focus, then I pitch behind."

The 19-year-old right-hander allowed a hit to the first batter, Darren Seferina, but did not allow another until Kenny Corey doubled with two outs in the fourth. Graterol, who had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2016, threw 79 pitches -- 49 for strikes.

Bello said the Twins don't have Graterol on a pitch count for Graterol, preferring take their cues from the pitcher and watch his mechanics.

Scouts consider the Venezuela native's fastball one of the firmest in the Minors. He signed with the Twins in 2015 for $150,000, when he was thinner and throwing about 87-88 mph. Now approximately 60 pounds heavier after offseason workouts, Minnesota says Graterol routinely hits 100 mph with his fastball and shows a slider and curveball that scouts say project as potential above-average pitches.

"I'm always trying to attack," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's a base on balls or a hit, the main thing is to stay with the same mentality."

Graterol's fitness has helped him in many areas.

"It has been one of the keys," he said. "I've been working really hard and getting into a better eating routine, and it's starting to show the benefits."

Video: Kernels' Pearson homers

Graterol got plenty of support on offense, primarily from Minnesota's No. 23 prospect Jacob Pearson, who fell a double short of the cycle on a four-hit afternoon. Pearson dropped a fly ball single into center field in the first. He tripled to right to begin a 10-run fourth and later singled to center to bring home two runs in the same inning before homering to left in the sixth.

The four hits were a career high for Pearson, a third-round pick last June out of high school in Louisiana. He popped out to third in the seventh.

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Twins No. 27 prospect Jose Miranda doubled, singled and drove in five runs and 18th-ranked Andrew Bechtold hit a two-run homer during the fourth-inning outburst.

The organization's top prospect Royce Lewis did not play. Jordan Gore, who filled in at shortstop, belted a two-run homer.

Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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