Mississauga native and former Twins’ top pitching prospect faces make-or-break season
Published February 22, 2023 at 10:29 am
Mississauga native Jordan Balazovic finds himself at a crossroads, at least as far as his burgeoning professional baseball career is concerned.
The once highly-regarded Minnesota Twins’ pitching prospect has had his MLB debut delayed the past couple of seasons by a combination of injuries and poor performance on the mound.
Now, as the 2023 season is set to unfold, the 24-year-old right-handed hurler has been temporarily shelved because of an off-field spring training altercation on Feb. 11 in Fort Myers, Florida that’s left him with a broken jaw, Twins officials announced this past weekend.
The St. Martin Secondary School grad, selected by the Twins in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft, underwent surgery on Feb. 12 to have his jaw wired shut, according to MLB.com. He’s expected to rejoin camp in a matter of days and work up to playing catch, but the baseball club does not yet have a timetable for him to ramp up baseball activity to prepare for the season ahead, which would likely begin in the high minor leagues for Balazovic.
Twins executives and manager Rocco Baldelli expressed disappointment at the latest setback for the young pitcher, who by all accounts faces a make-or-break season that will determine his baseball future.
A high-ranking club official told MLB.com that the team constantly talks to players, particularly the younger athletes, about situations they might come across off the diamond that could land them in trouble.
“We all have to be aware that the decisions we make, where we go, what we do at different times can have ramifications, and I think we just want to make sure here that we are being clear that we need to prioritize baseball and what’s going on going forward. That’s the message that we collectively delivered in this case,” the official told MLB.com.
Once the top pitching prospect in the Twins’ organization and a top 100 prospect in all of baseball according to some industry experts, Balazovic is currently ranked No. 16 in the Minnesota system by MLB Pipeline, a respected top prospects list.
In advance of the 2022 season last spring, the Mississauga native was placed on the 7-day injured list at Triple-A St. Paul (Twins’ minor league affiliate) with a left knee strain.
That injury set him back a bit, and when he did return to his minor league club in May, the on-field results from that point on were less than flattering.
He struggled with his control and home run rate, and his 7.39 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts) with St. Paul was troubling.
However, in his final five starts last September, Balazovic recorded an encouraging 3.43 ERA and struck out 30 batters in 21 innings.
Armed with what baseball “bible” Baseball America described last year as “a solid blend of three pitches and a north-south approach that could play up thanks to a funky delivery…”, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Balazovic carries “middle of the rotation” potential once he reaches and adapts to the major leagues.
Balazovic, who was born and raised in Mississauga, entered last season as the No. 85 prospect on Baseball America’s annual Top 100 Prospects list, widely recognized as the most credible such list in the industry.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising