The Minnesota Twins announced their second round of roster cuts for the 2013 season on Monday. Included in the cuts were: catcher Chris Herrmann who was sent to Triple-A Rochester, while pitchers B.J. Hermsen, Trevor May and Michael Tonkin, along with catcher Josmil Pinto and shortstop Danny Santana were sent to Double-A New Britain. The team still has 56 players in camp, but the time remaining for them to choose the 25 that will head north at the end of the month is beginning to dwindle.
The players on the list being sent down to the minors should not surprise anyone, nor should they alarm anyone who believes the young prospects being sent down have fallen out of grace in the organization. In most cases, these young players—like May, Tonkin and Santana—were invited to spring training to gain the experience of going through a big league camp, while also having an opportunity to go against big league caliber competition. This type of strategy allows for executives to see how their young talent grades out against big league caliber players, which can tell them how close or far those players are away from being ready to be called up to the majors; however, few—if any—ever make it to the big leagues out of camp, nor were there any intentions of having them make the roster during spring training.
If you base your judgments off of statistics and talent alone, Santana, May and Tonkin actually had very good springs with the Twins and could arguably have gotten a shot at the big leagues coming out of spring training based on their performances; however the intent was never there to have these players make the roster out of spring and instead the intent was to send them back to the minors for additional seasoning and development.
Santana is clearly a very talented shortstop who the Twins’ future will rely heavily on, but he isn’t quite ready to be an everyday shortstop for the big league club. Santana hit .333 with three hits and two RBI over nine at-bats this spring, but his athleticism and defense are what excites those in the Twins’ organization most in addition to his hitting ability. It wouldn’t shock me if Santana has a great season this year and moves his way up to Triple-A by season’s end.
May and Tonkin also put up solid spring statistics with May garnering a 2.70 ERA in three innings of work over three games and Tonkin putting up a 0.00 ERA in four innings of work over four games. Both pitchers have bright futures ahead of them, but both still need a little bit of additional work at the minor league level before they can stake a claim in the big leagues. May and Tonkin both could see a fast rise through the minors this season and could even challenge for a promotion when the roster sizes expand come September. Tonkin—out of the two—has the highest likelihood of seeing an earlier call up simply because of the fact that Alex Burnett continues to struggle and the team may need a solid right-handed option to take over his role.
The roster cuts are not complete and there is still a lot of baseball yet to be played before the final cuts are made and we know the makeup of the Twins for Opening Day 2013. With injuries always a possibility—especially early in the season—anything could happen to significantly alter the look of the Twins roster between now and the first game of the season. As for now, it’s time to sit back and continue to take in the sights and sounds of spring training baseball.