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Twins' Gonsalves working to bring velocity back up

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Stephen Gonsalves (59) pitches in the second inning against the Detroit Tigers in a game last season. Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson has sent starter Stephen Gonsalves on a mission. They’re calling it “The Road to 95,” as they work to bring the lefty’s velocity back to 95 mph.

Gonsalves started and pitched two innings in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Phillies in Clearwater, giving up a run on three hits. He had a busy first inning, but ended with an efficient 1-2-3 second.

And, his velocity was up, a positive sign for the 24-year-old.

“This time last year (I was) 86, 87 and now I’m 93,” Gonsalves said. “It’s good to see 90-93, and hopefully (it will) keep climbing a little bit.”

This offseason, Johnson visited San Diego to see Gonsalves, where the lefty said they “messed with a couple grips” and got the ball a bit deeper into his hand.

“He just wanted to introduce himself and said he had a couple of ideas to increase the velo(city), get a little tilt in my hips and kind of drive harder down the hill,” Gonsalves said. “I was able to do that today and saw a couple of 93s up there that I was very happy with, and an 89-mph slider.

“As long as there’s no more 86 and 87 (mph) fastballs, I’ll be happy.”

Gonsalves also said he worked a lot on cleaning up his mechanics. “I’m more square to the plate and focusing the weight transfer to home plate instead of going across body to first base,” he said. “Everything I think was a little more on line.”

When Gonsalves was home, his father wanted to watch video from last season, an idea not met with excitement. Gonsalves made his major league debut last year, pitching in seven games — four starts — for the Twins, but put up a 6.57 earned-run average in 24M innings.

“I did not want to watch any of it at all,” he said. “I work so hard to kind of forget everything and clean everything up. I think it’s coming a long way.”

Twins system in top 10

Throughout the week, MLBPipeline is counting down its top 10 MLB farm systems.

Citing depth behind the top prospects, the Twins checked in at eighth of the 30 teams on the list. The system is headed by first-rounders Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff.

Rounding out the organization’s top five were right-hander Brusdar Graterol, shortstop Wander Javier and outfielder Trevor Larnach, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2018.

Brent Rooker, who hit a two-run home run in Wednesday’s game, was ranked the team’s No. 6 prospect.

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