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Is Twins pitcher Deduno on way to becoming staff ace?

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Samuel Deduno
Starting pitcher Samuel Deduno of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 27, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

For Minnesota Twins fans, there hasn't been a lot to cheer about on the field. But there is one player who's been quite impressive lately: starting pitcher  Samuel Deduno.

Howard Sinker, digital sports editor for the Star Tribune, talked about Deduno with MPR News Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

HOWARD SINKER: Deduno is really one of the pieces of good news for the Twins this year. He's really evolved into their most successful starter so far in 2013. He has a 7-4 record, he pitched seven shut-out innings on Saturday against Seattle.  He kind of came from nowhere. He was a minor league free agent who they signed before the 2012 season and then they didn't keep him on the roster last year, so any team in baseball could have signed him. None of them chose to do that. And he came back with the Twins, and after some injury problems early in the season, he's come up and been drastically better than he was in 2012. And he's really a fun pitcher to watch.

"He's kinda wild. His ball moves all over the place. Hitters don't know where it's going."

CATHY WURZER: Why is that? 

SINKER: He's kinda wild. His ball moves all over the place. Hitters don't know where it's going. Ryan Doumit, one of the Twins catchers, said it's like trying to catch a 92 m.p.h. knuckleball. He throws a fastball and you're not sure whether it's going inside, whether it's going outside, and once in a while, maybe even back to the screen. But at the same time he's only walked three batters per nine innings this year, which is a big improvement over last year when he walked over twice as many.  So while the pitches are crazy, they're crazy within the strike zone.  

WURZER: Can he keep it up?

SINKER: That's a good question. But the Twins don't have many options right now. And you've got to assume there are going to be times when the prowess that he has might disappear for a few starts.  But the trick will be for him to have enough of a track record that the Twins will believe in him to keep him in the rotation.  Right now they don't have a whole lot of choices.

WURZER: Was this the same guy that pitched pretty well in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year?

SINKER: By pretty well if you mean he was the hero for the Dominican Republic, yes, he was the guy who started key games throughout the tournament, including the title game.  One of the problems was, in the championship game he injured himself. He suffered a groin injury because they were playing on a wet field. He wasn't going to come out so he pitched his five innings and then he really wasn't available to the Twins for another month.

WURZER: Is he on his way to becoming an ace?

SINKER: I don't know whether you can predict that he'd become an ace. But as the Twins go after more pitching and as some of their young pitchers in the minor leagues mature he's certainly a guy who could be a solid second or third starter.  And you never know, the 7-4 over the course of a season becomes 14-8 and if he gets a little bet better, yeah, maybe he is an ace.

Howard Sinker talks sports Mondays and Fridays on Morning Edition.