Kyle Gibson's race through the minor league system last season had him feeling like a kid again.

"It kind of takes me back to my childhood days, when it's first your dream to play major league baseball," he said. "At each level that you move up, there's kind of a realization that you're one step closer to that dream."

The lanky right-hander moved from Class A to Class AAA last season, going a combined 11-6 with a 2.96 earned-run average. It was his first year of professional baseball after three seasons at the University of Missouri. Gibson, 22, had suffered a stress fracture in his forearm the previous season, so the Twins capped his innings at 152, soon after his promotion to Rochester.

He started three games without earning a decision, but his ERA was 1.72.

"Even though I knew my innings (limit was) coming up, you're around a lot of guys who have been to the big leagues, and you can just kind of smell it and feel it a little bit, because you're one step away," he said of Rochester. "That was really exciting."

Gibson looked sharp in a bullpen session Tuesday at the Twins' Lee County Sports Complex. He said he's not expecting to make the big-league club out of spring training but acknowledged it's his ultimate goal.

His immediate focus, however, is "stretching myself out a little bit, trying to extend my innings and stay healthy."