Name: Adam Harben
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: August 19, 1983
Harben was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 38th round of the 2001 draft, but instead decided to attend Westark Community College in Arkansas. That decision turned out to be a blessing for the Minnesota Twins, as they took the young fireballer in the 15th round the following season. During his time at the community college, Harben roomed with Toby Gardenhire, who not only is the son of Twins manager Ron, but also was a Twins selection in last year's draft.
Harben began his professional baseball career as a member of the Gulf Coast League Twins, and quickly made the adjustment to playing on the professional level. In 12 appearances in the GCL, making three starts, Harben posted a 4-1 record, and finished the year with a 3.20 earned run average. He also struck out better than a batter per inning, and finished the year with eight walks in 25.1 innings of work.
The following year, Harben would make his first of two stops in the Midwest League. Playing for the Quad City Swing, Harben has his only season in which he lost more than he won (5-6), and his 4.33 ERA was the highest of his career. The Twins felt he needed another year of seasoning with the Swing, and it was definitely a good decision.
In 2004, Harben proved to be one of the better pitchers in the Midwest League. He won nine games, finished with a 3.09 ERA, and was third in the league with 171 strikeouts. During his 26 starts, Harben held the opposition to a .229 batting average, and his 3.09 ERA was good enough for seventh in the league.
Last season, Harben made the jump to High-A Fort Myers, and was undoubtedly the ace of the staff. He started 25 games, threw two complete game shutouts, and finished fourth in the Florida State League with a 2.66 earned run average. He anchored a Fort Myers pitching staff that led the league in ERA, and almost carried the Miracle to a playoff spot.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup
Fastball.Harben's fastball took a bit of a dip in 2005, as it dropped to the low to mid 90s range, but he still brings serious heat. He is tall, and he uses a downhill motion to really explode into his fastball. He sometimes relies a little too much on his fastball, and he has had command problems during his Minor League career. Still, it is an explosive pitch, that should get back where it was prior to this past season.
Other Pitches.This is an area where Harben struggles, as he sometimes loses faith in his off speed stuff. His slider seemed a bit off this past season, but it is a good pitch when it is on. The same can be said for his changeup, which he still needs to master if he is going to have success at the higher levels. He is the kind of pitcher who can get people out with all his pitches, and he needs to gain more confidence when throwing his off-speed stuff.
Pitching.After improving his off-season condition program, and his mechanics a bit, Harben appears to be molding himself into the consummate professional. He is a stellar pitcher, who throws downhill, and has great tenacity on the mound. Once he learns to rely on all his pitches, he should see a cut down on his walks, which have plagued him throughout his young career. An innings eater, Harben loves to complete a game, and was able to do so twice in 2005. He should bring that fiery attitude to New Britain this season.
Projection. Harben is a starting pitcher through and through, and will be an asset to the New Britain rotation in 2006. He loves being the ace of a staff, but will be behind a few incumbents on the Rock Cats roster. Still, he will pitch every fifth day for the Cats', and should put up solid numbers. With a rotation that feature Glen Perkins, Errol Simonitsch, and Nick Blackburn to name a few, he will be a part of one of the better rotations in the Eastern League.
ETA. 2008. Harben is going to need a full year of Double-A ball, and if he struggles, may be back in New Britain to start the 2007 season. He is still young, and we all saw what an extra year in the Midwest League did for him. I expect him to do very well this season, and he will be one of the bigger draws for Rock Cats fans. He'll be ready for Triple-A by the time the 2007 season rolls around, and should make his Major League debut the following year. A member of the Twins' 40-man roster, it is clear they have Harben in mind when they think about the future of the Minnesota Twins ballclub.