Turpen winding down minor league season with the Twins
By DAVID DRIVER
For the News-Register
BOWIE, Md. – Minor league pitcher Dan Turpen of McMinnville switched locations this season in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system.
But his main challenge remained the same: the ability to throw strikes on a regular basis.
The right-hander, a member of the Oregon State national title team in 2006, began the year with Triple-A Rochester of the International League and was 2-0 with an ERA of 6.93 in 21 games, with one save.
A 6-foot-4, right-hander, he gave up 13 walks and 34 hits in 24.2 innings with the top farm team of Minnesota.
Turpen was used in a variety of roles at Rochester, from the sixth inning to closer at times in the ninth. “It was a good situation,” he said. “I have good enough stuff to pitch up there (at Triple A). You can’t give them extra outs.”
But Turpen, who turned 27 on Aug. 17, was then sent down to Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League. In 22 games through Aug. 22 he was 1-1 with an ERA of 3.52 but had allowed 23 walks with 23 strikeouts in 30.2 innings of work.
“It has been up and down,” he said of this season. “I had a lot of struggles at the beginning of the year (with Rochester). It’s the same thing: I have to throw strikes. There would be days I would pound the strike zone and throw very well.”
Then there would be days that control was a problem. “It is the story on my career,” he said of control issues.
Turpen went five games without giving up a run for New Britain through Aug. 3 then gave up seven earned runs in his next five outings.
The New Britain pitching coach is Stu Cliburn, a veteran instructor in the Minnesota system and former pitcher in the majors with the Angels. “I had a chance to work with him a lot last year. He knows me pretty well,” said Turpen, who lives in Beaverton in the off-season.
New Britain began a four-game series here Aug. 22 against the Bowie (Md.) Baysox, a farm team of the nearby Baltimore Orioles. The Eastern League regular-season ends Labor Day and Turpen is hoping to find a team to play winter ball with, perhaps in Venezuela.
If that does work out he plans to work out with other pro players this off-season in Oregon with an eye on getting back to the Triple-A level in 2014.
He will be a minor league free agent for the first time and that process ends a few days at the conclusion of the World Series. Turpen could sign back with the Twins, or be picked up by one of the other 29 major league organizations.
Turpen was acquired by the Twins from the Colorado Rockies on Dec. 8, 2011 for pitcher Kevin Slowey.
Last year Turpen also split time between New Britain and Rochester, and he was named to the Eastern League All-Star game that was played in Reading, Pa.
Turpen was drafted by the Giants in the eighth round in 2007 out of Oregon State.
He was acquired by Boston from the Giants on July 31, 2010 and was then acquired by the Rockies on March 29, 2011 for catcher Michael McKenry.
“Most of the organizations are similar in terms of how they bring up their pitchers. The tough part is to have different coaches,” he said.
Notes: Turpen throws a fastball, slider and change … Turpen keeps in touch with former Oregon State teammates Joe Patterson, who was 2-1, 2.05 out of the bullpen for Triple-A Reno in the Arizona system through Aug. 22.
Editor’s note: Maryland resident David Driver has covered the Eastern League for 20 years and can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com