As May has drawn to a close, I have named Kyle Gibson as the Fourth Strike Prospect of the month for May. It is an honor I know he will always cherish as much as his future Cy Young. There was a lot of excitement when he was drafted as people imagined a Matt Garza like quick move through the minors and impact. Well, he has certainly had a Garza-like first two months as a professional. In 7 starts at Fort Myers, Gibson was 1.87 ERA 43.1 IP 40 K 1.038 WHIP. Garza in 8 Fort Myers starts was 1.42 ERA 44.1 IP 53 K .857 WHIP. Gibson similarly has moved the domination train to New Britain. In 4 starts he is 1.37 ERA 26.1 IP 23 K .949 WHIP.
The excitement about Gibson is not just the domination but how he is going about it. He has a very good 8.1 K/9 rate but if they don't strike out they will ground out. His ground out / fly out ratio is 3.48 so far on the year. Keep in mind "ground ball" pitcher Nick Blackburn has a ratio of 1.56 for the year. So to put in perspective how good his potential think of a pitcher who strikeouts players like Liriano but also gets groundballs twice as much as Blackburn. He does this with a 91-92 mph sinking fastball, a plus slider at 82-85 and a solid changeup.
Gibson was drafted in the same class as Stephen Strasburg and Mike Leake. While he will be the last one to make the majors, he certainly appears to have all the makings of joining those two to make a very impressive trio. GM Bill Smith was stated recently that they are going to limit his innings this year ending any thought he would be a September call-up or likely see the Twins this year. If Garza can be used as an example of the plan for Gibson, after 8 starts at High A he made 10 starts at AA before finishing the year at AAA with 5 more starts. Garza ended up with 135.2 innings for the year at the 3 starts. Gibson has been pitching further in starts but that would seem to be a reasonable plan for the first year.
The Twins would never admit it but they already know when he will debut barring any injuries. He will be a call-up in mid-June next year so they can delay his arbitration so those that predict he will be an opening day start don't understand the economics of the game. Until then just enjoy the ride of watching his progress in the minors.