Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: August 24, 1982
Errol Simonitsch did not have the type of collegiate career that you would think a sixth round selection would have. After being named honorable mention Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America in his first season at Gonzaga, the left-hander put up some pretty bloated numbers during his sophomore, and injury-plagued junior seasons. Still, area scouts saw enough in Simonitsch to take a chance on him, and that chance has paid off.
He was taken in the sixth round of the 2003 June Draft, after shoulder tendinitis limited him to only eight starts during his last season at Gonzaga. He was then assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League, where he seemed to be a completely different pitcher than the one who put up ERAs over 5.00 during his last two collegiate seasons.
In his inaugural year of professional baseball, Simonitsch appeared in ten games, starting eight, and finished with an ERA under 1.80. That year, he was named Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Week for the week of July 19-25, as he went 2-0, and and did not allow a single run in 11 innings of work.
The following season the Twins placed Simonitsch in his first season of full-season ball, and he proved more than up to the challenge. The left-hander finished the season with a 2.56 ERA in 20 starts, and posted a 6-2 record. He also struck out 107 batters, while walking only 36, as he showed some pinpoint control. For his efforts, he was named to the Midwest League All-Star Game.
During the 2005 season, he continued his steady climb u the organizational ladder, as he began the season with Fort Myers of the Florida State League. He was incredible for the Miracle, as he went 8-3 in his 13 starts. He also posted a 2.69 ERA, threw two complete games, and held the opposition to a .236 batting average. He was then promoted to Double-A New Britain, where he put up modest statistics.
He started 14 games for the Cats, and and had an ERA of 4.12. However, he did not appear to be overmatched by the Double-A competition, and was one of the more reliable starters for the Rock Cats toward the end of the season.
During the 2006 season, Simonitsch stayed the whole season with the New Britain Rock Cats, and had a roller coaster season. His main problem was that he was too hittable, which led to his highest earned run average (4.48) of his career. He did throw two complete games, but he led the team in losses (14), and he really never got into a groove.
He was supposed to make his way to Rochester in 2006, but it looks like that will have to wait until 2007.
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball. Simonitsch does not have an overpowering fastball, but it can be deceptive at times. When Simonitsch first came to the Twins, he could only get it up to the 86-88 miles per hour range, although he was able to hit 90 this past season. He is more of a finesse pitcher, who uses his breaking stuff to set up his average fastball.
Other Pitches. When a guy only throws a high-80s fastball, it is imperative that he has some nasty off-speed stuff. That is exactly the case for Simonitsch, who incorporates an average changeup to go along with his plus-curveball. When he is using his changeup a lot, he is usually getting good results, because it makes his curveball and fastball look that much better. His out-pitch would have to be his curveball, one in which Denard Span says makes him the hardest guy he faces within the organization.
Pitching. The thing about Simonitsch is that he has tremendous mound presence. He has an air of confidence around him when he is toeing the rubber, and is an extremely confident pitcher. He has a nice, smooth delivery, and he makes pitching look almost effortless. He also has tremendous confidence in his pitches, which enables him to throw whatever he wants, in whatever count there may be.
Projection. Simonitsch projects to be a starting pitcher, but could make the move to the bullpen. Because he does not throw very hard, and because he has Francisco Liriano, and Glen Perkins ahead of him, a move to a long relief spot may be his ticket to the show. However, with his arsenal, he still makes for a good Minor League pitcher, and could start in the bigs if he can latch on with another organization.
ETA. 2008. As previously stated, Simonitsch does have a lot of higher ranking left-handed pitching prospects in front of him. However, while he does not have a high ceiling, he does seem to be a safe bet to reach the Major Leagues. He should be in the rotation in New Britain to start the season, but will most like finish the year in Rochester. After a sub-par season in 2006, the Twins will be keeping a close eye on Simonitsch in 2007. Another shaky season could land him off the team's 40-man roster, but he will likely have a successful 2007 campaign.