Twins' Berrios exhibits early dominance

First-rounder fans 11, allows two hits in five scoreless innings

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | August 17, 2012 7:34 PM ET

You could say Jose Berrios was thrilled to be taken in the first round of this year's Draft. You could say the moment hit him pretty hard. In fact, you wouldn't have to say anything. His arms raised high above the embrace of loved ones and the tears that were streaming down both cheeks said enough.

"It was a great moment for both me and my family," Berrios said through a translator Friday night. "It's something I'm never going to forget. It was a very emotional moment for me."

Following that fleeting instance of pure joy, there always comes the time to perform on the field. Thankfully for the Twins and their first-round pick, that part has been pretty exciting as well.

The 32nd overall pick in the Draft recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and allowed two hits over five scoreless innings in Rookie-level Elizabethton's 5-1 win over Kingsport.

Berrios (1-0) lowered his ERA to 0.70 and his WHIP to 0.55 in 10 appearances (three starts) between the Appalachian and Gulf Coast leagues.

With numbers like those, the 18-year-old right-hander has made his debut season look easy. According to him, however, it's been the opposite.

"It hasn't been easy," Berrios said. "I've been working really hard just to do well here so far. Everything I do goes toward my goal of making it to the big leagues someday."

While the Puerto Rico native already has his eye on Minnesota, the Twins might want to keep their collective eyes on him, especially after Friday's dominant start.

Berrios' only serious speed bump came in the opening inning when he gave up a leadoff single to Yeixon Ruiz and uncorked a wild pitch. The pitcher's reaction? He struck out the next three batters, all swinging.

The right-hander, who throws a mid-90s fastball with a plus slider and average changeup, struck out the side again in the third and worked around a fifth-inning single and stolen base by Anthony Chavez with two more punchouts. The 11 strikeouts nearly doubled his previous of six, achieved in each of his final two starts for the GCL Twins.

"I thought I located my fastball pretty well," Berrios said. "It was the pitch I used most of the night, although I used the off-speed pitches to strike people out or get important outs. If I get the sequencing right, I'll try to locate the pitch and get a strikeout. But mostly, I'm just trying to not make a mistake."

While the miscues have been few and far between so far, the teenager knows he still has plenty of learning to do if he wants to go from happy draftee to Major League star.

"The hardest part for me so far has been taking in all the information that comes to me here," he said. "They give you all this information here about your pitching, the competition, and I have to adjust to everything based on that. When it comes to the training and the working physically, that's no big deal. I'm used to that."

Rory Rhodes provided support for Berrios with a homer, double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Adam Walker added a two-run blast.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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