March 28, 2009

Twins trade Nolte, keep Jones

Jason Jones will be sticking around in the Twins organization.

According to Phil Miller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minnesota Twins traded right-handed reliever Charles Nolte to the New York Yankees in exchange for keeping Rule V Draft pick Jason Jones. The move allows the Twins to re-assign Jones to the Twins Triple-A affiliate Rochester Red Wings instead of sending him back to the Yankees.

Jones is a 26-year-old right-handed starter who was competing for a spot in the Twins' bullpen. This move simply suggests that Jones won't be with the Twins, at least for the start of the season. In a sense, that leaves R.A. Dickey, Philip Humber and Brian Duensing for the last one or two bullpen spots (depending on whether the Twins carry 11 or 12 pitchers).

Jones has a 43-41 record in 637 innings with a 3.77 ERA since the Yankees drafted him in the 4th round of the 2004 draft. The Yankees pick of Jones was kind of a question mark considering he never posted very good numbers while he played at Liberty University. Jones will be starting for the Rochester Red Wings and will give the Twins depth in both the rotation and in the bullpen in case of an injury.

Nolte is a 23-year-old reliever who has been a pleasant surprise for the Twins since being drafted in the 24th round of the 2007 draft. Despite not pitching a lot with the San Diego State Aztecs, the Twins still took a chance on the former Tommy John surgery victim. Nolte has since posted a 7-3 record with a 2.01 ERA in 58 relief appearances since being drafted. Nolte has a problem locating the strike zone, but he gets hitters to ground out at an extremely high rate of consistency, which is something every team wants in a pitcher.

Nolte could emerge as a viable relief option within the next couple of years. He'll be heading to the Florida State League to play with the Tampa Yankees. Nolte will face many of his former teammates with the Twins eight times this season.