MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Falvey's eye for pitching key for Twins

Newcomer will have No. 1 overall Draft pick in first year as chief baseball officer

Falvey's eye for pitching key for Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Derek Falvey had one foot out the door while fully engaged in his job last fall. He couldn't be in two places at one time, but he was doing two jobs at the same time.

On the last Monday of the 2016 season, Falvey, who turns 34 on Sunday, was selected as the Twins' executive vice president and chief baseball officer following an extensive search. He was officially hired the day after the season ended, but Falvey was granted a chance to stay with the Indians throughout the postseason.

Who knew that would include 136 innings of baseball, including a 10th inning in Game 7 of the World Series?

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Falvey worked with the Indians' scouts, pitching coaches and catchers to develop plans of attack against hitters from the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Cubs. In his spare time, he studied the Twins and tried to develop a rebuilding plan after the 103-loss season that led to the firing of long-time general manager Terry Ryan.

"It was surreal in so many ways,'' Falvey said at Minnesota's Spring Training complex. "I don't know if you could have ever planned or scripted a month like that in job transition.''

Falvey, Levine join Twins' ranks

It was while walking back down to the Indians' clubhouse after the Cubs' historic victory in Game 7 of the World Series that the former Division III pitcher was struck by an awareness that he really was leaving Cleveland -- 10 years after he had joined the teams as an intern.

"I remember briefly running into Theo [Epstein] as they were going to their clubhouse,'' Falvey said. "I remember congratulating him and going into our clubhouse. It was mixed emotions, I'll say that. Trying to take it all in while realizing the next step was coming.''

Falvey's appeal for the Twins was tied largely to his work helping the Indians identify, develop and prepare pitchers. It was the depth of Cleveland's pitching staff -- and throughout the organization -- that allowed manager Terry Francona to maneuver his team to within one run of a World Series championship despite losing two of his top three starters -- Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco -- along the way.

Minnesota hasn't ranked higher than 10th in the American League in staff ERA since 2010, and in '16, it ranked last with a 5.09 mark. Finding arms to build around seems like the first priority for Falvey.

It would be somewhat surprising if the Twins didn't use the first overall pick in the upcoming Draft on Florida's Alex Faedo, Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright or another talented, polished college pitcher. But Minnesota also has the 35th and 37th picks overall, so Falvey could go with a hitter with the top pick and then use the next two on pitchers he'd fallen in love with while joining scouting director Sean Johnson on forays around the country in April and May.

2017 Draft: Alex Faedo, RHP

Falvey says the Draft process will be a "team effort'' involving staffers at many levels of the organization. He and Thad Levine -- who was hired away from the Rangers to serve as general manager -- are working to change the feel of what has seemed like a traditional front office.

"We're changing a little bit of the culture here,'' Falvey said. "We're trying to embrace working across the markets, lot of horizontal interaction, between scouts, pro staff, our front office, interaction in the clubhouse.''

Levine on Statcast

Shoulder problems limited Falvey's career at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. He graduated with an economics degree but opted to scout players in the Cape Cod League rather than pursue a job. That led him to Falvey's internship with the Indians, who allowed him to dive even further into the study of pitching and pitchers.

Falvey inherits a 40-man roster that includes intriguing position players including Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, along with second baseman Brian Dozier, who Ryan shopped but did not deal at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last summer. Falvey discussed deals for Dozier with the Dodgers and other teams this past offseason but held onto him, believing the market for him will be even better in July than it was after his 42-homer season.

"I can tell you I'm happy to have him here, because he's a meaningful part of that clubhouse,'' Falvey said. "I commend Terry for really being thoughtful about that. We'll continue to be thoughtful and make decisions that benefit the long-term future of this franchise.''

Falvey also faces a decision on manager Paul Molitor, the popular Hall of Famer who replaced Ron Gardenhire after the 2014 season. Molitor was third in the AL Manager of the Year Award voting after '15, when the Twins went 83-79, improving by 13 wins. But he's in the last year of his contract, and Falvey says the team needs to play better this season.

"We've talked a little bit internally about [how] at times last year we beat ourselves,'' Falvey said. "It was not a fundamentally sound team.''

Time to start doing something about that.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.