Kevin Jepsen spent 2009 and 2010 as a setup man for the Angels, throwing 114 innings with a 4.43 ERA and 109 strikeouts, but last night the 27-year-old right-hander was demoted to Triple-A for the second straight season.
This time around Jepsen earned the demotion by coughing up nine runs in seven innings, whereas last year he allowed 11 runs in 13 innings and wasn’t a whole lot better at Triple-A before undergoing knee surgery in September.
One of the main issues with his performance in 2011 was a drop in velocity, as Jepsen’s average fastball declined from 95.7 miles per hour to 93.7 mph, but that hasn’t been the problem this season as his velocity is back to 95.8 mph.
So what’s the problem, then? Mike Scioscia told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that “his command, his ability to pitch in, his ability to command a breaking ball for a strike, are all things that he needs to find.”
But other than that …
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.