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Hermsen regroups in extended spring training

Former West Delaware prep sent there after Double-A struggles

**RESALES BY OWNER ONLY** ¬  ¬ B.J. Hermsen, a former West Delaware prep, delivers a pitch during a recent New Britain Rock Cats game. (New Britain Rock Cats photo)
**RESALES BY OWNER ONLY** ¬ ¬ B.J. Hermsen, a former West Delaware prep, delivers a pitch during a recent New Britain Rock Cats game. (New Britain Rock Cats photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS – B.J. Hermsen expected to be in the big leagues by now. At least be able to say he’d been in the big leagues.

But Friday saw him in Fort Myers, Fla., instead, part of minor league extended spring training for the Minnesota Twins. Not as the result of an injury, either.

“I wasn’t throwing very well,” the former West Delaware prep said, flatly. “The Twins made the decision, and I agreed, to come down here and get things straightened out.”

If rain falls in every professional baseball player’s career at some point, there’s a severe thunderstorm going on for Hermsen right now. The 24-year-old right-hander was the Twins’ minor league pitcher of the year after a breakout 2012 season and was added to the club’s 40-man major league roster, literally a call from Minnesota.

But he pitched poorly at Double-A New Britain last season, and the Twins took him off the 40-man. That made him available to every other MLB organization, but no one claimed him.

His first three appearances this season at New Britain were not good (four innings, nine hits, eight runs, two walks, no strikeouts), so the Twins sent him to extended to regroup in a non-pressure situation. He is working with minor league pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen and others to regain his mechanics, velocity and confidence.

“I’ve been throwing mid-80s, which is five to six miles per hour slower than the end of last season,” Hermsen said. “It gets to a point when you’re just trying to throw hard instead of pitching. That never works.”

Hermsen, 24, a sixth-round pick of the Twins in 2008, said there is no timetable for a return to Double-A. Specifically, he is working on his direction toward home plate and keeping his head more still.

This is a tough time for him, without question. But he sounds as if he has resolve to work through it.

“Obviously, there are going to be struggles sometimes, but I am frustrated, for the most part,” he said. “Honestly, though, I feel like I am just one pitch from being ready again.”

LINE DRIVES

- - Former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep Scott Schebler had three hits, including a pair of home runs, for Double-A Chattanooga (Dodgers) in a game Thursday night against Birmingham. After a slow start, the 23-year-old outfielder has raised his batting average .231, thanks to four multi-hit games in the past week.

- - Solon’s Derrick Loveless posted a six-game hit streak for low-Class A Lansing this week, raising hit batting average to .310 in 13 games. He was a 27th-round draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2010.

- - Cascade’s Colin Rea threw six shutout innings this week in a start for high-Class A Lake Elsinore (Padres) against Stockton. He is 2-0 in four starts for the Storm.

- - Andrew Hanse rebounded from a rough start to the Midwest League season by throwing three shutout relief innings this week for Bowling Green (Rays). The Linn-Mar grad is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five games.

- - Fort Wayne and West Michigan have a three-game Midwest League series that began Friday night. The clubs are led by Australian managers, former Cedar Rapids Kernels catcher Michael Collins (Fort Wayne) and Andrew Graham (West Michigan. It’s the first time Aussie skippers have opposed each other in a minor league game since 1999.

- - West Michigan had its home opener recently, just three months after a fire destroyed a large portion of Fifth Third Ballpark. A crowd of 7,128 fans celebrated.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@sourcemedia.net

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