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Gonsalves making his mark on Twins camp

Lefty prospect has retired 10 of the 11 batters he's faced this spring
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves has been turning heads early this spring, as the left-hander has retired 10 of the 11 batters he's faced this spring.

Gonsalves, ranked as Minnesota's No. 2 prospect and No. 92 overall by MLBPipeline.com, has impressed manager Paul Molitor, showing off his poise in his first big league camp. Gonsalves, a classic 6-foot-5 lefty with a fastball that hovers around 90 mph to go along with his changeup, slider and curveball, has struck out three and walked one without giving up a hit in 3 1 /3 innings.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves has been turning heads early this spring, as the left-hander has retired 10 of the 11 batters he's faced this spring.

Gonsalves, ranked as Minnesota's No. 2 prospect and No. 92 overall by MLBPipeline.com, has impressed manager Paul Molitor, showing off his poise in his first big league camp. Gonsalves, a classic 6-foot-5 lefty with a fastball that hovers around 90 mph to go along with his changeup, slider and curveball, has struck out three and walked one without giving up a hit in 3 1 /3 innings.

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"He's not going to light up on the gun, but his ball gets on people," Molitor said. "I don't know if he hides it, I don't know if his release point is closer. I think there are a lot of metrics that support his style of pitching. He locks people up with that fastball that's 90 mph, [and] his changeup is really good."

As Molitor noted, advanced metrics paint Gonsalves in a positive light, as he and reliever Luke Bard possess the highest spin rates on fastballs among Twins Minor Leaguers. Gonsalves said he has a natural cut to his fastball that adds to the RPMs.

"With all the Statcast™ stuff, they say it's got a high spin rate," Gonsalves said. "I've heard my fastball at 90 feels like it's coming at 95."

Whatever the reason, Gonsalves has been effective throughout the Minors, including last year, when he posted a combined 2.06 ERA with 155 strikeouts in 140 innings between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga en route to being named the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Gonsalves credits his fastball command and changeup for his success, and said he's working to incorporate a better slider as an out pitch, while he described his curveball as "kinda loopy," and more of a pitch that gets a strike early in the count.

"I've been struggling with my slider a little bit," Gonsalves said. "I've been throwing it with two strikes and I've been bouncing it a little bit. I need to mix it in a little more as a strike. Show it as a strike one before it's a strike-two pitch. But I threw some good changeups yesterday and it's still my go-to."

Gonsalves, 22, figures to open the year at Triple-A Rochester, but could factor into Minnesota's rotation this season. He said he's using Spring Training as a learning experience, soaking up knowledge from veterans such as Kyle Gibson and pitching coach Neil Allen.

"I've just been watching everybody's routines to see what I can improve and how they go out about their business," Gonsalves said. "It's a long season so I'm trying to adjust to slowing it down a little bit."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves