Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 8/2/12
MINNEAPOLIS In a season filled with disappointments for the Minnesota Twins, pitcher Scott Diamond has consistently been a bright spot on the mound. Fans may not have known what to expect from Diamond when the left-hander was called up to the majors in early May, but the Twins had a good idea of what they were getting from the former Rule 5 draft pick. Still, Diamond has exceeded the organization's expectations through 16 starts. "To say you sat there and saw this a long time ago, it's not the way it works," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "You see something in a pitcher, but you hope that they can develop it and become what people project, and Scott's on his way. Is he over the hump? No. He's still a young pitcher. But he's on his way to becoming a solid pitcher at this level." Diamond made his big league debut last season with Minnesota, but the results were nothing spectacular. In seven starts in 2011, he was 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA and 19 strikeouts to 17 walks in 39 innings. While the Twins liked what they saw from Diamond this spring, he began the year with Triple-A Rochester. After an impressive start to the 2012 season with the Red Wings, Diamond's numbers were eventually too hard to ignore. He was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA in six starts. He struck out 26 batters and walked just seven in 34-23 innings. Soon enough, that yielded a call-up to the majors. From his first start with the Twins this season, Diamond was brilliant. He pitched back-to-back outings in which he threw seven scoreless innings. Even then, though, who could have predicted that Diamond would maintain that high level? "It's no surprise any longer, but after the first couple, everyone was like, 'Holy crap, this guy's carving everybody up,'" said right-hander Nick Blackburn. "Obviously it was just a great thing to see. I don't think anybody really expected that to happen whenever he came up. I'm not saying the potential wasn't there, but I don't think you ever expect someone to come up and just immediately start carving 'em up." Since those first few starts, Diamond has remained a model of consistency. His worst outing of the year came on July 16 in which he allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings against Baltimore, but he still earned a win as Minnesota's offense put up 19 runs. Through all of his 16 starts, in only one did Diamond leave the game with his team down by more than three runs. While he earned the loss Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox, he allowed just three runs and kept the Twins in the game. "We've had a chance to win pretty much every time out that he's pitched," said reliever Glen Perkins. "He really hasn't thrown any clunkers, knock on wood. He's pitched well." In the clubhouse and the dugout, Diamond keeps an even keel whether he's preparing for a start or just finishing another impressive outing. Those who know Diamond credit his pregame preparation as a partial reason for his success. A frequent visitor of the film room, Diamond studies opposing hitters perhaps more often than any other Twins pitcher. "He's very good at it," Gardenhire said of Diamond's preparation. "He comes and gets the lineup card. He's an intelligent young man. He studies it and goes over it and has a pitch plan and tries to stay with it out there. ... "But more than anything else, we always say you can pitch to hitters' weaknesses, but really, pitch to your strength too. He does very well at understanding what a hitter can and can't do, but also pitching to his strength too." Diamond's strengths are numerous. While he doesn't possess overpowering stuff, he's not afraid to attack hitters. He consistently pitches down in the strike zone. When he misses his pitches, he misses down in the zone. And Diamond rarely walks batters. His walknine innings ratio of 1.4 is lowest among all current Twins starters and behind only Carl Pavano, who is currently on the disabled list. "He's conscious of staying within himself and staying with his strengths," Perkins said of Diamond. "It comes down to location. He locates the ball as well as anyone we have." After a very shaky 2012 for Minnesota's starting pitching, 2013 is very much a question mark for the Twins' rotation. Scott Baker will be coming off Tommy John surgery and isn't guaranteed to be on the Twins' roster, as the club has a team option on his contract. Carl Pavano, an innings-eater over the past few seasons, will be a free agent. Francisco Liriano, who would have been a free agent at the end of the year, was traded last weekend to Chicago. Yet amid all the uncertainty, Diamond has emerged as a steadying presence for Minnesota. He may not have the overpowering stuff of an ace, but Diamond has proven in 2012 that he deserves to be a key part of the Twins' rotation in 2013. "He's definitely shown that he can pitch here. There's no question about that," Perkins said. "He's faced teams one, two, three times and done well in repeating against teams. ... Everyone knows what he's going to do. If he executes his game plan, I don't see why he can't continue to have success." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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