First-round pick: Ohio State’s Alex Wimmers fits Twins’ preferred pitching mold

The Twins' first-round draft pick, Alex Wimmers,  has been the Big Ten's pitcher of the year the last two seasons.
The Twins’ first-round draft pick, Alex Wimmers, has been the Big Ten’s pitcher of the year the last two seasons.

Typically the Twins choose a high school hitter or a college pitcher in the first round of the draft, and Alex Wimmers was frequently linked to them in various mock drafts, so their selecting the Ohio State right-hander with the 21st pick last night was anything but a surprise. Wimmers is the back-to-back Big Ten pitcher of the year, going 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 2009 and 9-0 with a 1.60 ERA this season.

He perfectly fits the Twins’ preferred pitching mold as a strike-thrower with a low-90s fastball and good off-speed stuff, as special assistant to the general manager Joe McIlvaine effusively praised Wimmers’ changeup in an interview with MLB Network immediately following the pick. Keith Law of called Wimmers one of the most MLB-ready prospects in the draft and Baseball America noted that “few pitchers in this draft can match the depth of his repertoire.”

Wimmers is 6-foot-2 and about 200 pounds, usually works at 88 to 92 miles per hour, and is said to have the potential for a great breaking ball in addition to the excellent changeup. He also must be a pretty good athlete, because he holds the school record for career batting average at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, which is a well-known baseball program that has produced the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.

Jim Callis of Baseball America noted that Wimmers “is not close to a finesse guy,” despite being a polished strike-thrower and he missed plenty of bats with 273 strikeouts in 215.2 innings at Ohio State, including an 83-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 73 innings this year. John Manuel of Baseball America — who specifically follows the Twins along with editor-in-chief duties — called him “the closest thing to Brad Radke in this draft” and “fairly comparable to Kevin Slowey.”

His upside definitely isn’t as high as last year’s first-rounder, Kyle Gibson, but the consensus seems to be that Wimmers projects as a mid-rotation starter and should move quickly through the system. Thanks to YouTube (and here are a couple videos of the 21-year-old righty in action for the Buckeyes this season:

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