Could the pitching-starved Minnesota Twins have a former Burnsville High School star on the team before the end of the season?
It’s probably the longest of long shots. At the same time, left-hander Aaron Rozek is now in Class AA – two levels below the majors – after pitching in independent pro baseball just last month.
Rozek, a 2013 Burnsville High graduate, recently was moved to the Wichita Wind Surge, the Twins’ Class AA affiliate. He has appeared in just one game so far for the Wind Surge, pitching three scoreless innings.
In June the Twins signed him from the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League, where Rozek had a 2.13 earned-run average in 25 1/3 innings. He made two appearances with the Twins’ rookie-league team in Fort Myers, Florida, followed by two appearances with the low-Class A team, also in Fort Myers. Then he was sent up to Wichita.
Rozek, 25, was a four-year letter-winner at Minnesota State Mankato, going 20-5 with a 3.25 earned-run average before completing his college career in 2018. Not regarded as a hard thrower, Rozek went undrafted and took the independent baseball route in the Frontier League, first with Southern Illinois and then with Schaumburg.
As a pro, he has started and worked out of the bullpen. Rozek’s changeup is considered to be his best pitch, although he has been reported to be throwing a little harder.
Another former Burnsville player working his way through the minor leagues is Sam Carlson, the 2017 Minnesota Mr. Baseball award winner. Carlson, 22, is pitching for the Modesto Nuts in the low-Class A California League. He has made 11 starts for the Nuts this season after going almost three years without pitching in an official minor league game.
After leading Burnsville to the state tournament as a senior and winning the Mr. Baseball award, Carlson was drafted in the second round (55th overall) by the Seattle Mariners. He signed and reported to the Mariners’ rookie-league team in Arizona but pitched only three innings before encountering elbow trouble that eventually required Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons while recovering, and the pandemic canceled the 2020 season.
Carlson is 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA in 57 innings at Modesto. The biggest issue has been control; Carlson has walked 34 batters in 57 innings. But in his most recent start he pitched seven innings (the longest outing of his pro career), allowing four hits, one walk and one earned run. What’s more, people who have watched him pitch reported that his velocity is approaching the mid-90s level he showed consistently at Burnsville.
Northern Nationals fastpitch
The North American Fastpitch Association brings two of its Northern Nationals tournaments to Dakota County the next two weekends.
The 12U tournament returns to its traditional sites in Eagan, Northview Park and Lexington-Diffley Fields, Thursday through Sunday. A full field of 104 teams is expected, mostly from Minnesota and other Midwest states.
Lakeville and Prior Lake will share hosting duties for the NAFA 14U tourney July 29-Aug. 1. Lakeville games will take place at Aronson Park.
For more information about the tournaments, visit nafasoftball.com.