5 Questions The Minnesota Twins Must Answer During Spring Training
5 Questions To Answer During Spring Training
After a disastrous 2013 season, the Minnesota Twins made quite a few offseason moves to improve the team. Aside from moving players around on the diamond, the Twins brought in some new faces that figure to play key roles in the upcoming season.
The most notable names brought in this offseason were pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, catcher Kurt Suzuki, and former Twin Jason Kubel. While on paper it appears the Twins made smart decisions this offseason, Spring Training will be the first true signs as to whether or not 2014 will be a successful year.
Players for the Twins won’t be reporting for spring training for another couple of weeks, but just seven days after position players report, they will be playing their first game of the new season. While not much stock should be put into spring training games, it can help answer some questions and give insight into what the ball club will look like during the coming season.
The Twins have plenty to prove during spring training and the 2014 season, but the following slides outline the five questions that must be answered in-order to accuracy assess this team.
5. Is Byron Buxton Ready For The Majors?
Byron Buxton has only played one year of pro baseball, but he’s already drawing comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr., and at just 20 years old, is widely recognized as the top prospect in all of baseball.
After the way Aaron Hicks infamously collapsed last season after an impressive Spring Training, I highly doubt the Twins would consider putting Buxton on the Opening Day roster. However, Buxton did hit .334 with 12 home runs and 55 steals between two minor league levels last season, so don’t be surprised if he shines during the clubs Spring Training games and makes a bid to be the Opening Day center fielder.
4. Will Miguel Sano Be The Opening Day Third Basemen?
Just like Buxton, Miguel Sano is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. His power is already developed enough to be a four hitter for the Twins this season, but a lingering elbow injury could not only keep him off the Opening Day roster, but force a move away from third base as well. Between High A and AA last season, Sano smacked 35 home runs and 103 RBI’s while holding a .280 batting average, so while it’s clear he has all the tools to succeed, whether or not he can do it at the major league level is another question.
3. Can Kyle Gibson Stick In The Majors?
Before having to undergo Tommy John surgery, Kyle Gibson was the brightest prospect in the entire Twins organization. Now as a 26 year old with 10 unimpressive major league starts under his belt, Gibson is looking to be a career minor leaguer. While that may be jumping the gun a bit, Gibson no longer has spectacular stuff and had a 6.53 ERA while with the Twins last season. Gibson has a lot to prove this season, and with the Twins already seven deep in the starting rotation, he appears to be on the outside looking in.
2. Who Will Starting Outfielders Be On Opening Day?
The only starting outfield written in pen at this moment is left fielder Josh Willingham. Although Willingham had a noticeably bad season in 2013, no other outfielder played well enough to deserve the playing time they received. Hicks began to show signs of improvement as the season went along, and Oswaldo Arcia surprised me with his 14 home runs and .251 batting average in 97 games.
The outfield in general is full of question marks for the Twins, meaning every candidate has an equal opportunity to earn a spot during spring training.
1. Which Pitchers Will Round Out Starting Rotation?
Aside from Nolasco, Hughes and Mike Pelfrey, nobody knows who else will make up the starting rotation for the Twins in 2014. Pitching was the team’s weak spot in 2013, and with only three quality starters on the roster, they appear to be in a similar situation now. The last couple spots of the rotation will likely be filled by two of the following players -- Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley or Trevor May. The list is long, and while nobody jumps off the page right now, that will hopefully change when Spring Training draws to a close.