Twins Top Pitching Prospect David Festa Joins MLB Rotation

Twins top pitching prospect David Festa showed promise despite a rocky performance in his MLB debut on Thursday afternoon.

Starter David Festa of the Minnesota Twins pitches during the first inning of his MLB debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 27: Starter David Festa #58 of the Minnesota Twins pitches during the first inning of his MLB debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 27, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Five earned over five innings probably wasn’t what David Festa was hoping for in his MLB debut. Still, thanks to a strong showing from the Minnesota Twins offense, the 24-year-old picked up the win as his team cruised to a 13-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Festa looked sharp over the first three innings of his debut outing, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced and getting through the third on just 36 pitches. Unfortunately, he had more trouble his second and third times through the D-backs order, giving up seven hits, including a home run and a double to star second baseman Ketel Marte.

Nevertheless, the 24-year-old showed impressive resilience and efficiency, making it through five frames on just 78 pitches despite a particularly rocky fourth inning.

Festa averaged 95.8 mph on his four-seam fastball, topping out at 96.9 mph. He also demonstrated good control on the afternoon, throwing 53 of his 78 pitches for strikes and walking only one D-backs batter.

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While all three of his pitches – a fastball, slider, and changeup – showed promise, Festa’s most impressive offering was the slider, which he used to generate four whiffs, three called strikes, and an average exit velocity of just 81 mph.

David Festa the Prospect

The Twins selected Festa out of college in the 13th round of the 2021 draft. Needless to say, he wasn’t a top prospect straight away, but he quickly increased his velocity in the minors, proving he could sit in the mid-90s with his fastball.

By the 2023 season, Festa was seen as one of the better arms in the Twins organization. His fastball, slider, and changeup all looked like above-average pitches, and he put up strong numbers in 2022 across Single-A and High-A. In 18 starts, he threw 103.2 innings with a 2.43 ERA and 108 strikeouts.

Festa spent most of the 2023 season at Double-A, with a brief appearance at Triple-A at the end of the year. His numbers weren’t quite as eye-popping (22 starts, 92.1 IP, 4.19 ERA), but the fact that he held his own against more advanced hitters was what mattered. He was a consensus top-10 prospect in the Twins’ system entering 2024.

The young right-hander continued to impress at Triple-A this year, putting up a 3.77 ERA in 14 starts and making his way onto Just Baseball’s midseason Top 100 Prospects list earlier this month.

Festa’s Future with the Twins

Festa earned his first call to the show to replace an injured Chris Paddack in Minnesota’s rotation. Paddack probably won’t be gone too long – he’s dealing with “fatigue,” not “pain or discomfort” – which likely means Festa will head back to the minors after two or three starts.

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Paddack has not played particularly well this season (5.29 ERA, 4.26 FIP in 15 starts), but Festa will need to pitch a lot better than he did on Thursday to usurp the veteran in the rotation.

That being said, now that Festa is on the 40-man roster, he should be the first man up in case of a future injury. Presumably, he has already passed Louie Varland (6.58 ERA in 26 IP this season) on the Twins’ starting pitching depth chart.

Aram Leighton ranked David Festa No. 85 on Just Baseball’s latest Top 100 Prospects list and No. 4 in the Minnesota Twins organization. For more on Festa, here is what Aram has to say about the 24-year-old pitcher:

85. David Festa – RHP – Minnesota Twins

Height/Weight: 6’6″, 190 | Bat/Throw: R/R | 13th round (399), 2021 (MIN) | ETA: 2024


A tall and lanky right-hander with three quality pitches, Festa could be a quality rotation piece assuming his feel to pitch continues to improve.


Standing at 6-foot-6, Festa has a unique windup with an inward twist before really getting down on the mound and driving with his lower half. Starting all of the way on the right side of the rubber, Festa creates a particularly uncomfortable angle for righties.

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After struggling with his command of his mid-90s fastball in 2023 (55% strike rate), Festa made some small adjustments to his delivery, maintaining his direction towards home more effectively rather than pulling towards his glove side as he had the tendency to in the past. The result has not only been more strikes, but also much more carry on his fastball and a bit more extension. Through his first eight starts of the 2024 season, his whiff rate was up 5% on his fastball.

Festa’s plus slider in the upper 80s is his best pitch with late gyro break. His command of the pitch and the action of it make it effective to both lefties and righties, picking up a swinging strike rate around 20% and high ground ball numbers. He can become overly reliant on his slider at times, throwing it at a 40% clip, but his improved fastball has helped hedge that.

The third pitch for Festa is an above-average changeup in the upper 80s. He found an improved feel for it in the second half of the 2023 season and has become his preferred secondary pitch against lefties, throwing it nearly as much as his fastball. With the improved characteristics and command of his fastball, the changeup should benefit from both a tunneling and separation perspective.


Festa emerged in 2024 looking much more like a complete pitcher who can turn lineups over multiple times rather than a slider-dependent five-and-dive arm. It’s a big league-caliber three-pitch mix with gains in the pitchability department that have him looking like a potential middle-rotation starter.