Twins invite top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson to spring training

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The Twins announced a list of 19 non-roster invitees to spring training this afternoon, including top prospect pitcher Kyle Gibson.

Gibson was considered one of the most polished pitchers in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, but fell to No. 22 overall due to concerns about a stress fracture in his forearm. He made his professional debut last year and went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 26 starts between High-A Fort Myers, Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, averaging 7.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. The 23-year-old right-hander was recently ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Twins’ organization by Baseball America.

Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes that Gibson will be “knocking on the door” for a spot in the starting rotation, but with Carl Pavano expected to return, it’s more likely we see his major league debut during the latter part of 2011.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.