Armando Gabino is a 25 year old (will turn 26 this August 31st) Dominican RHP from Santiago, birthplace of major league notables Jhonny Peralta, Luis Polonia, and the Minnesota Twins' very own Carlos Gomez. Armando was signed as an 18 year old international free agent by the Cleveland Indians organization in April of 2001 and was later picked up by the Twins organization in December of 2004 in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
Armando has never been considered a strikeout pitcher, but he is a control pitcher. His career minor league line is 3.31 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.4 K/9 and 2.3 K/BB. He is featuring a low nineties 2-seamer, a very effective pitch when spotted with command, a decent slider and an excellent change up. Changing speeds and mixes pitches and locations is Armando's bread and butter. Before this season, Armando had only 4 starts in the Twins' organization with three of them coming in Elizabethton (R, Appalachian League) in his first year with the Twins' organization, 2005. He had another start with Elizabethton in 2006, before he was promoted to Beloit (A, Midwest League) later that season. This season, mainly because of the continuous shuttle of starting pitchers from Rochester to the Twins, Armando had 4 starts with Rochester (AAA, International League) and has been particularly effective.
Armando's numbers this season are 2.93 ERA (3.69 FIP), 1.01 WHIP, 5.9 K/9 and 2.7 K/BB. As a starter he has been very effective: 2.63 FIP, 0.91 BABIP, 6.39 K/9, 3 K/BB, in 4 starts. He held opponents to a .215 batting average for the season and only to a .198 average as a starter. He is equally effectively vs. LHB (.205 opponents' batting average) and RHB (.222 opponents' batting average). Are there any clouds in the horizon? Yes, there are two: This season, he has .245 BABIP against and 5.6% HR/F (percent of fly balls that go out for home runs. Overall hitters hit 35.6% ground balls, 20.% Line Drives and 40.5% Fly Balls. A huge 16.8% of these fly balls are infield flies. The low percentage of fly balls that go out of the park (usually the norm is around 10%) might be sustainable for Armando, because his career minor league number is 6.3% (Very close to his 2009 5.6%.) However, his career BABIP is .284, so I suspect that his WHIP will increase in the majors.
All in all is a great move for the Twins. Gabino has been on the 40-man roster for 2 seasons (to protect him from the rule 5 draft) and in 2011 when he has to be on the Twins 25-man roster or become a free agent. It would be a great opportunity to evaluate Armando in the majors, after his break-through season in Rochester this year. If I were to compare Armando to any current Twins' pitcher, he would be close to Carl Pavano as far as stuff and approach to the game.
Here is a 2007 interview of Armando with the New Britain Rock Cats press
Here is a video of Armando Gabino pitching for the Rock Cats in May of 2007: