Name: Patrick Neshek
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: September 4, 1980
Patrick Neshek is one of the more underrated pitchers in the Twins organization, and he continues to put up numbers that are hard to ignore. This past season, he was one of the more dominant relief pitchers in the Eastern League, and he should tear up the International League in 2006. A big righty with a funky delivery, Neshek possesses the right blend of talent, and personality, to make him a legitimate prospect.
Way back in 1999, the Twins selected the righty in the 45th round of the June Draft. Instead of signing with the Twins, Neshek went on to attend Butler University, where he ended his career as the school's all-time leader in strikeouts. When the Twins came calling in 2002 during the sixth round, Neshek signed with Minnesota, and has put together a special Minor League career ever since.
He was originally assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League, where he would go on to be one of the better pitchers in the entire league. During his stint in the Apply League, Neshek appeared in 23 games, saved 15 of them, and posted an incredible 0.99 earned run average. It was clear to the Twins organization that he would get his first taste of full-season baseball in 2003.
The 2003 season would be a special one for Neshek, as he quickly rose throughout the organizational ladder. He started off in the Midwest League, which is a Low-A league, but showed he belonged higher. In the Midwest League, Neshek again was a dominant reliever, as he posted a 0.52 ERA and had a team-best 14 saves.
The Twins quickly promoted him to Fort Myers, and then on to New Britain, where he finished his 2003 campaign.
In 2004, Patrick 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA for the Rock Cats, but was demoted to Fort Myers in mid-July. For the Miracle, Neshek was the team's leader with ten saves,
Last season, Neshek was again a member of the New Britain Rock Cats, serving as the team's closer. He did not disappoint in his second year in Connecticut, as the righty was one of the more dominant closers in the Eastern League, as he continued to give right-handed hitters fits.
Recently, Neshek was placed on the Twins 40-man roster, and while he is slated to start the season with Triple-A Rochester, it is only a matter of time before he is in the Twin Cities. If you ever have time, you should log onto his personal website, where you can get quotes from him, and even interact with him.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider
Fastball.Neshek has a fastball that has been the subject of debate since he began his Twins career. During college, he usually pitched in the 88-90 miles per hour range, but it is said that he can get those numbers even higher now. This past season, Neshek topped out at 94 miles per hour, which is right where he needs to be. Most of the time, Neshek is throwing in the 90+ miles per hour range, as I witnessed during my trips to see the Rock Cats play during the 2005 season. Either way, when that heater is coming out of his hand at such a weird angle, it might as well be 100 miles per hour.
Other Pitches. Neshek relies on one other pitch to complete his arsenal, and it is definitely his outpitch. He possesses possibly the best slider in the Twins organization, as it is absolutely filthy. His slide-piece has a nice sweeping motion, and he uses a deceptive delivery to make it even harder on hitters to pick up both his fastball, and his slider.
Pitching. Neshek is a good overall pitcher, who uses a funky delivery, and uncanny fearlessness to enable himself to succeed on the mound. He is also a very confident pitcher, and has the guts to be a top of the line closer at any level. With his two-pitch arsenal, it is very important for him to be in complete control of both pitches, and he is exactly that way. One thing is for sure, he is definitely the number one Minor Leaguer you want on the mound if you need the final out of a ballgame.
Projection. With the great Joe Nathan in the Twins organization, it is hard to project Neshek as a closer in the Major Leagues. If Nathan were not in the organization then Neshek would definitely be the closer of the future, but for now will have to settle on being a set-up man. With the way he destroys right handed batters, and his ability to come through in the clutch, Neshek will be able to find a spot in most team's bullpens.
ETA. 2006. By the end of the 2006 season, Patrick Neshek will have made his Major League debut, that is something you can count on. He will be the closer for the Rochester Red Wings to open the season, but with how unsure the Twins are of their bullpen, it is only a matter of time before they give Neshek his first big break. Once he does get his chance to shine in Minnesota, he will succeed, and it will leave a gaping hole in the Red Wings bullpen. Being named to the 40-man roster was the first step for Neshek, now he just has to keep putting up good numbers, and things will fall into place.