5 Minnesota Twins Prospects To Keep An Eye On During Spring Training
Minnesota Twins Look To Use Youth To Bring Back Success
After stumbling to a 66-93 record and a fourth place finish in the American League Central Division during the 2013 MLB season, the Minnesota Twins went aggressively about remodeling their roster this offseason. That specifically meant targeting pitching, as the Twins went out to free agency and got Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and re-signed both Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia, in turn establishing a core four of consistent, if not spectacular starters. This group should vastly improve on the 62 quality starts and 5.26 ERA that Twins starting pitchers combined for last season, and make sure the team is kept in the playoff hunt throughout 2014.
Of course, these starters are not going to win games by themselves, and although the team has a good core of Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier, they still need guys to step up to fill out the lineup, the bullpen and the No. 5 starter spot. Luckily enough, Minnesota has a great farm system, which was ranked second in all of baseball recently by Keith Law, and is generally considered to be full of potential stars at numerous different positions and at all levels of the minor leagues.
And while development is good fodder for all hardcore fans of the Twins, the facts are that Ron Gardenhire and company want to win during the 2014 season, and will need guys to step out of minor league baseball and into productive major league players to do this. To this effect, I have identified five prospects that Gardenhire and the Twins coaching staff need to keep an eye on during Spring Training, and who fans should see on the 25-man roster either right out of the gates or sometime soon after.
5. Danny Santana
Danny Santana is a classic Ron Gardenhire middle infielder, as he plays great defense and is a bit of a slap hitter. During the 2013 season, Santana played in the AA Eastern League, compiling a slash line of .297/.333/.386 with two home runs, 10 triples and 33 stolen bases. Winning the starting shortstop position looks attainable for Santana, as he is already on the 40-man roster and incumbent starter Pedro Florimon is an absolutely atrocious hitter. With a good spring at the plate and equal defensive value shown, Santana should be the starting shortstop.
4. Trevor May
Trevor May will head into Spring Training with an opportunity to make the Twins' roster as a starter or long reliever, although he will first have to show some level of consistency. During the 2013 season, May repeated AA ball, compiling a frustrating 9-9 record with a 4.51 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 151 2/3 innings pitched. Blessed with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, an above average curveball and a great changeup, May has the tools to be a major league pitcher, but will have to perform great to make the Twins.
3. Alex Meyer
Alex Meyer is an absolute behemoth of a human being, as the right-handed pitcher is 6-foot-9, 220 pounds. Of course, this will bring comparisons to Randy Johnson, and a flash of his 97 mph fastball, sharp slider and above average curveball will only intensify speculation. After watching Meyer light up the Arizona Fall League during the offseason, it would appear that with a good spring training he will make the Twins roster, where he very well could become one of their best starters in 2014.
2. Miguel Sano
Miguel Sano is one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball, as the 20-year-old third baseman has off the wall power and could very well be the next big slugger to take MLB by storm. It would take a huge spring training for this to happen though, as Sano has only played 67 games of AA ball, although he did compile 19 home runs and 55 RBI during this time. Watch for Sano to take Spring Training by storm with a few mammoth home runs, and to come back up midway through 2014 to terrorize big league pitching.
1. Byron Buxton
While Sano is one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball, Byron Buxton just might be the best prospect in the game. The center fielder was named the best hitter for average, baserunner, athlete, defensive outfield and outfield arm in the Twins organization, and his minor league output backs this up. In 2013, Buxton split time between Low-A and High-A ball, compiling a slashline of .334/.424/.520 with 18 triples, 12 home runs, 55 stolen bases and 77 RBI.
Buxton will not be ready for the big leagues out of Spring Training, but he will take the Twins camp by storm and could very well be lighting up Target Field at some point.