Although the Minnesota Twins have had a disastrous 2013 season and appear to be committed to selling off many of their expensive assets in favor of young or inexpensive players, there are some good things that have come out of this season and few of them include the big-league team. The positives that I am referring to are the success of three of the Twins’ minor league affiliates including the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Low Class-A), Fort Myers Miracle (High Class-A) and the Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A).
Over the last few years, the Twins have not had success at their minor-league levels and it has been reflected in the overall talent that has made its way to the majors. Sure, there are a few examples of minor-league teams in the Twins’ organization that have had success over the past few years; but as a whole, it has been largely a group of career minor-leaguers or underachieving prospects that have comprised most of the Twins’ minor-league rosters. This, not surprisingly, is not a great recipe for success; however the Twins did find a way to succeed at Triple-A this season with a conglomeration of minor-league journeyman or big-league castoffs, including many of their own.
In addition, the Twins were carried this year by the emergence of some of their young talent that has garnered the organization recognition as one of the top—if not the top—farm systems in all of baseball. Much of that credit has to be given to the Twins having both Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in their minors, but only Buxton will be playing in the post-season this year as Sano is currently stationed at Double-A and New Britain did not qualify for the post-season this year. Could that mean that Sano is a candidate for promotion to the big-league club? That’s a whole other story for a different time.
At any rate, the fact that the Twins are sending three minor league teams to the post-season is a big deal to a rebuilding franchise that is committed to building from within. To some, the post-season in the minors is nothing to get excited over; but for the Twins, it is crucial for their continued development. The goal—more than anything else—for the Twins’ players performing in the post-season is for them to get experience performing in the playoffs and on the biggest stage of their level, but also for the players to get experience in what it feels like to win.
The ability to experience winning—on a franchise that is downtrodden with a lot of losing as of late—is paramount to this team turning things around. If players do not know what it takes to win or have not been part of a winning culture throughout the majority of their playing career, it is going to make it more difficult to succeed once they get to the majors. Is losing in the minors a guarantee that they will struggle in the majors? No, but it certainly develops a mindset that the Twins do not need from their young players: more concerned about individual achievement over team performance. When players come from perennial losing teams in the minors, they tend to gravitate towards worrying about how they can get better to make it to the show and little else. By gaining experience of working together on a winning team and contributing to an overall achievement goal, it helps develop the winning mindset that will carry these players through the rest of their career.
Again, it may seem like it isn’t a very big deal; but playing in the post-season and performing well is something that shouldn’t be looked over for the Twins’ minor league teams this September for this is the future the Twins are building with and without their continual development, there isn’t much hope. Good luck to the three teams performing in the playoffs this September and beyond! Hopefully you can achieve something that the Twins struggled to do all season: win.