Kyle Gibson #79 – 2013 Top 100
Date of Birth: October 23, 1987 (Age 25)
Origin: 1st Round Pick (#22 overall) in 2009 out of the University of Missouri
Jeff Reese: Returning from Tommy John surgery has become increasingly mundane; all surgery carries risk, but the associated risk and recovery time continues to decrease. Kyle Gibson had the procedure in early September of 2011 after the elbow failed to respond to the rest/rehab course. He was pitching again by mid July, working at first over short stints before progressing to a starter’s workload in the Arizona Fall League. The best news is that his showing in the AFL was strong with stuff that seemed all the way back to where it was prior to the injury. Gibson always projected as more of a mid rotation starter so seeing little deterioration in ability was essential for reestablishing his stock as a top 100 prospect. Gibson is polished enough to graduate from this list next year. His fastball is generally in the low 90s with the gravity and movement to induce ground ball contact. The slider and change up add a pair of above-average secondaries to his arsenal; good command and pitchability tie everything together. As he continues to fill out his large frame, it’s not hard to envision him logging 200+ innings per season.
Evan Rentschler: If there’s a worry for me, it’s Gibson’s continued health. I’m not a fan of linking injuries to pitching mechanics, but I was a little down on Gibson in his draft year due to concerning front side mechanics, specifically a lack of proper stride and an exceptionally stiff front leg which forced his arm to do most of the work. I was a bit disappointed to see that this had not been ameliorated following the opportunity afforded by his Tommy-John rehab, but it’s always dicey to tinker with a pitcher’s delivery; we’ll trust that the Twins’ development staff knows best. Regardless, he should see significant time in the rotation this year, and, with a likely future as a #3, he is almost surely a better option than the team’s current back of rotation starters — Liam Hendriks and Mike Pelfrey.
Stephen Kuperman: I have always been rather cool on Kyle Gibson relative to the appreciation shown by many of my fellow prospect hounds. While he has an impressive pitch mix, I have consistently seen him as a strike-throwing innings-eater with the stuff balancing out to get average, to perhaps slightly above-average, results (health permitting). Then again, I also do not have much confidence in his durability; while his recovery from Tommy John seems to have gone well, his mechanics remain rough, and his frame is still on the thin side. When you add his relatively advanced age (he’ll be almost 25 and a half by the time the season starts) into the equation, I do not see much to get extremely excited about. I would think that he would be ideal for a late-inning role, but he’s always been used as a starter; and the Twins need starting pitching, so he’ll get his share of chances in that capacity with Minnesota. My personal prediction is that he ends up as something of a tease — an obviously talented pitcher who struggles with injuries and inconsistency but pitches a surprisingly long time after a move to the bullpen.
Fantasy Outlook by Alex Hume
Drafted out of college in 2009, Kyle Gibson seemed to be on the fast track to the big leagues. However, his development came screeching to halt after he underwent Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2011. He returned in late 2012 to pitch 28.1 innings between the Minor Leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Having yet to spend a full season at Triple-A, that is likely where he will end up to start the season. The Twins’ rotation, as bad as it may seem and likely will be, is a very crowded place. Vance Worley and Kevin Correia have locked down spots. Mike Pelfrey should be ready to start the season, and the injured duo of Scott Diamond and Anthony Swarzak should be back fairly early on. Meanwhile, Brian Duensing and Liam Hendriks will fill in, although Duensing likely belongs in the bullpen. The result of all this is four pitchers competing for two spots. This makes it highly unlikely that Gibson would get a chance in the big leagues until September, unless he absolutely blows away the International League.
The state of the Twins franchise also serves to muddy the picture, as they have little incentive to start his service clock in what will be likely another basement-dwelling season, where only the comically woeful Astros will spare them from having the worst record in the American League. Most likely, he gets a cup of coffee in September, but he could easily become a rotation fixture for 2014, becoming a fantasy #2 or #3 by 2016.
2013 Value: September call-up, possibly All-Star break; 2016 value: SP3