FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins trimmed their Spring Training roster by nine on Friday as they reassigned top pitching prospect Jose Berrios to Minor League camp and optioned right-hander Alex Meyer, first baseman Kennys Vargas and infielder Jorge Polanco to Triple-A Rochester.
Minnesota also reassigned right-hander Nick Burdi, left-hander Aaron Thompson, outfielder Joe Benson and catchers Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver. Berrios, ranked as the No. 19 overall prospect and the club's No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is the highest-ranked prospect of the group.
Berrios, 21, was competing for a spot in the rotation and made three appearances this spring, including one in a Minor League camp, and he struggled with his command in two of those outings. In his latest start against Minor Leaguers on Tuesday, he gave up five runs, hit two batters and walked one. It leaves Tyler Duffey, Ricky Nolasco and Tommy Milone to compete for the rotation's final two spots, although Duffey's spot in the rotation is more certain.
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Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony had only positive things to say about Berrios, but he noted command would be the main thing he'll need to work on.
"This guy has a really good chance of pitching for us," Antony said. "We don't have any negative feelings about what he did. We're not disappointed. He came in competing for that fifth spot, but as we see it right now, there are people ahead of him."
Antony also said service time wasn't a factor in their decision, even though the club would retain an extra year of control of Berrios if he's in the Minor Leagues for shortly more than two weeks. Berrios didn't dominate this spring and was considered a long shot to make the club due to the club's starting pitching depth.
Antony pointed to calling up players such as Joe Mauer, Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton without regard to service time as examples of the Twins not worrying that issue when calling up top prospects.
"It's the same thing as guys out of options: If you're good enough to make our team better and you're the right person, we'll take you," Antony said. "We're trying to win, and we're trying to win now."
Meyer was another notable move, as he's regarded as the Twins' No. 12 prospect, and he was competing for a spot in the bullpen. But for the third straight year, he did not make the team out of Spring Training. The Twins are deciding whether the 6-foot-9 flamethrower will open the year as a starter or a reliever.
"You can look at it two different ways," Antony said. "You can put him in the bullpen and have him focus on throwing two pitches and throwing one or two innings at a time. Or the other school of thought is to start him to get him more innings and repetition to work on his mechanics and arm slot. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer."
Burdi, the organization's No. 9 prospect, turned heads this camp with his fastball that registered in the high 90s and allowed one hit over three scoreless innings. But his appearances came late in games against Minor League competition, and the Twins want him to work on his control while at either Double-A Chattanooga or Rochester.
"Everything is positive and trending in the right direction," Antony said. "But he didn't dominate Double-A last year and threw the ball well this spring. But you don't want to get too carried away with spring. But the biggest thing he did was he continued what he did in the Arizona Fall League and threw strikes."
Vargas wasn't considered likely to make the team after the Twins signed Byung Ho Park to be their regular designated hitter, but he didn't help his cause by going 2-for-24 at the plate.
Polanco, baseball's No. 97 overall prospect and the team's No. 6 prospect, played briefly for Minnesota in each of the past two seasons. But with Brian Dozier entrenched at second base and Eduardo Escobar at shortstop, he needs to play every day at Rochester to continue to develop, especially defensively.
Turner, the No. 23 prospect in Minnesota's farm system, batted .223/.332/.306 in 98 games for Chattanooga last season. The 24-year-old is known for his defense behind the plate, and played in the Fall League with Garver last year. Garver is regarded as the better offensive player, and hit .245/.356/.333 in 127 games with Class A Fort Myers last year.