Cedar Rapids' Hermsen Ready For First Spring Training

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

(from left) Jeremy Hagerman takes a picture of Gayla Huston and John Huston (all of Cedar Rapids) with Twins Organizational Pitcher of the year, B.J. Hermsen at the 17th annual Hot Stove Banquet to benefit the Kernels Foundation on January 17, 2013 at the Cedar Rapids Marriott Hotel. This is the first year that the Kernels have been affiliated with the Minnesota Twins and also the first year that the banquet has sold out. (Kaitlyn Bernauer/The Gazette-KCRG9)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Ron Gardenhire and B.J. Hermsen met up Thursday night at the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ annual Hot Stove Banquet and had a nice little conversation.

They’ll be seeing each other again in a month or so.

The Minnesota Twins' manager is getting set to depart soon for Fort Myers, Fla., to prepare for spring training. One of the pitchers he’ll be checking out for the first time is Hermsen, a former West Delaware standout recently added to the Twins’ 40-man major league roster.

“A little bit of nerves, but I’m actually pretty excited,” Hermsen said. “Knowing a few guys helps out, as far as the whole being-comfortable process. We’ll see how it goes.”

Hermsen, 23, was a sixth-round draft pick of Minnesota in 2008 and has steadily climbed the minor league ladder. He had a breakout season in 2012, advancing to Double-A and being named the Twins’ top minor league pitcher.

That was enough to get him a coveted spot on the 40-man and a trip to Fort Myers. That’s on the major-league side, not the minor league side.

“What a great year, and he was rewarded for it,” Gardenhire said. “That’s kind of what it’s all about. He knows all about the Minnesota Twins, being from this area...He’s real close (to the majors). He’s going to get his opportunity, get a lot of seasoning in spring training. I know he can feel it, and he senses it. That’s what we’re looking for, we’re looking to develop our own people. He’s one that’s on the fast track.”

“He’s going to come to major league camp and get the opportunity to compete,” said first-year Twins farm director Brad Steil. “We’ll see where he winds up to start the season. We expect to see him in Minnesota at some point. When that will be will be dictated by his performance. We’re very happy with the year he had last year."

Hermsen was asked if it’s realistic to think he could make his major-league debut this season. The Twins have struggled with starting pitching the past two seasons and picked up some good, young arms in off-season trades that involved outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere.

But the opportunity for him would seem to be there and then some.

“I want to go down and compete. That’s all I can really ask for,” Hermsen said. “I’ll probably try and pick a few guys’ brains about certain things. Go from there, really.

“I’d love to start the season at Triple-A, but if I get sent back to Double-A, I have no problem with that. Whatever they decide is best. (Pitching in the major leagues this season) is certainly my goal. If all goes well, I think it could happen.”

The Hot Stove Banquet was a sellout for the first time, bolstered by the appearances of Gardenhire, bench coach Terry Steinbach and shortstop Brian Dozier.

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