After being drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft by the Chicago Cubs, left-handed pitcher Kyle Twomey never expected to be out of a job 21 months later when the Cubs released him this spring. But Twomey was given another shot to redeem himself by the Oakland Athletics, the club that drafted him as a third-rounder out of high school in 2012 before Twomey opted to attend USC.
After posting a 3.44 ERA in 73.1 innings for the South Bend Cubs in 2016, Twomey is repeating the Midwest League in 2017 with the Beloit Snappers. He says he is thankful to be in affiliated baseball with an organization with which he has some familiarity. In addition, another stint in Low-A has allowed him to slow things down and focus on executing each pitch.
“My whole experience so far as an Oakland A has been exceptional,” Twomey said. “I’ve been really privileged to have the opportunity out of spring training to get a chance. I had a pretty good experience in extended (spring training) with good instruction there. I was really excited to get a chance to come back up here, given I played here last year and am familiar with the league. It’s been awesome to get to know new coaches and teammates.
“I’m trying to fine-tune some stuff that I was working on coming into spring training. I’m doing a lot of the things that are going to help me be successful at the next level. I think that a lot of this development I’m getting here is helping me out. The instruction I’ve been getting from the coaches and coordinators has been awesome. I’m trying to get out there, make good starts and put pieces together to finish out strong.”
The sequence of events earlier this year left Twomey shocked. The left-hander said he was slow to come around in March for the Cubs in his second spring training.
Not only did he not break camp with an affiliated club, but he also wasn’t afforded an opportunity to redeem himself in extended spring training with the Cubs.
“I pitched pretty well last year with South Bend,” Twomey said. “Going into spring training, I was a little bigger and stronger, but the velocity may not have clicked as much as I was hoping it would have at that time. I didn’t pitch extremely well in spring training and was kind of blindsided by that move they made. It caught me off guard quite a bit.”
One of the teams to contact Twomey in the days following his release was the A’s. Special Assistant to the General Manager Grady Fuson reached out to Twomey.
“I went over to the complex and played catch with the one of the pitching coaches in front of Grady and [A’s Minor League Pitching Coordinator] Gil [Patterson],” Twomey said. “They asked me to come back and throw in an intra-squad camp day they had. I threw well in that and ended up getting signed.”
Twomey’s signing with the A’s came almost four years after he turned down an offer from Oakland to skip college and go pro in 2012.
“Things didn’t go through with signing out of high school, but it’s a cool feeling to be back getting a chance in the organization now,” Twomey said. “It was a special feeling when I showed up to the facility in spring training and got a chance to meet everyone I had talked on the phone with when I was 18. It really has come full circle.”
Although he was drafted by Chicago 10 rounds later coming out of college than he was by the A’s out of high school, Twomey said he has no regrets about taking advantage of the college experience.
“They obviously liked me out of high school and I was given a great opportunity picked where I was,” he said. “But I needed to mature a little bit physically and mentally. School did that for me. I couldn’t be happier now I get an opportunity to prove myself with them as a little bit older, mature and physical person. I feel like this is a great environment for me and I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I have.”
The results have been mixed thus far for Twomey in his two-month stint with Beloit. He enjoyed a four-start stretch of giving up just two earned runs on 14 hits in 20.2 innings and posted a 22:8 K:BB rate between July 30th and August 15th. However, Twomey came back to earth this past Sunday when he surrendered six earned runs on 12 hits in four innings at Cedar Rapids.
Twomey has started 12 of the 13 games he’s appeared in for the Snappers, compiling a 2-4 record and 4.51 ERA in 56.2 innings. He’s posted a 51:18 K:BB rate, but opposing batters are hitting .314 against him.
The 23-year-old says he is healthy and his velocity has gradually ticked back up since a slow start to the spring.
“I’m sitting back in a more comfortable spot, where I’m 88 to 92 [on his fastball],” Twomey said. “That’s where I’m pitching comfortably at and averaging out around 90. My breaking ball is going now and I didn’t really have that in spring training. I have my slider going now.
“I’m throwing four pitches up there. On good days, they’re all strikes and on the bad days I’ll have two or three going. It takes guys time in in the spring. Sometimes you don’t see it click as fast as you wanted, but I guess I didn’t have that timetable with Chicago. I’m happy I was able to move over here and it all started to click. I’ve been healthy and feel strong out there.”
Twomey will have at least two starts remaining this season and will hope to finish strong in order to finally earn that promotion to the High-A level.
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