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Kinley out to prove he belongs in Majors

Rule 5 Draft pick turned in stellar performance in Dominican Winter League
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Tyler Kinley prepared to pitch in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, he still wasn't sure whether the Marlins would add him to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

But once Miami decided to leave Kinley unprotected, he wanted to show the Marlins they made a mistake. Kinley responded with an incredible performance for Tigres del Licey, throwing 18 consecutive scoreless innings and finishing with a 0.47 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 19 innings. It paid off for Kinley, as the Twins took him in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 14, and now he'll come to camp with a chance to compete for a spot in Minnesota's bullpen.

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Tyler Kinley prepared to pitch in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, he still wasn't sure whether the Marlins would add him to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

But once Miami decided to leave Kinley unprotected, he wanted to show the Marlins they made a mistake. Kinley responded with an incredible performance for Tigres del Licey, throwing 18 consecutive scoreless innings and finishing with a 0.47 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 19 innings. It paid off for Kinley, as the Twins took him in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 14, and now he'll come to camp with a chance to compete for a spot in Minnesota's bullpen.

"I went down there with a chip on my shoulder wanting to prove that they were a guy they needed to keep, and if not, I wanted to make my best job interview for somebody else," Kinley said. "So I went down there and pitched to my philosophy and my strengths."

Twins' depth chart

Kinley, 26, was in his hotel room in the Dominican Republic on the day of the Rule 5 Draft with his agent monitoring the results. Kinley's goal all along was to be added to a 40-man roster this offseason, and while it didn't happen with the Marlins, he's excited about his chance with the Twins, who have to keep him on their active roster all season or offer him back to Miami.

"It probably still hasn't hit me yet," Kinley said. "It was a great humbling feeling, because that was the goal, to put myself in that situation. It was the best-case scenario and for it to happen was pretty cool."

Kinley profiles as a hard-throwing right-hander with a fastball that can hit the upper 90s to go along with a power slider that reaches the low 90s and a changeup. He's been a reliever throughout his Minor League career, with a 3.83 ERA and 212 strikeouts and 80 walks in 204 1/3 innings. He posted a 3.54 ERA across Class A Advanced and Double-A last year with 72 strikeouts and 22 walks in 53 1/3 innings.

But Kinley will have plenty of competition to make the roster this year after the Twins signed veterans Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke and Addison Reed to bolster their bullpen. Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers are essentially locks to make the bullpen, while Ryan Pressly also figures to make the roster. It leaves only one or two open spots up for grabs, but Kinley said he's not focusing on what he can't control.

Last year, Rule 5 right-hander Justin Haley made the Opening Day roster, but he was sent back to the Red Sox during the season. Pressly is a former Rule 5 pick, and in recent years, the only Rule 5 Draft pick by the Twins not to make the Opening Day roster was Terry Doyle in 2012.

"I'm just trying not to put too much pressure, because it's the same game," Kinley said. "My goal is to build relationships in that clubhouse and try to fit in. And on the field, I'll put my best foot forward and let the rest take care of itself."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins