Minnesota Twins: 5 Players Who Need to Step Up in August

Minnesota Twins: 5 Players Who Must Step Up in August

Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
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The Minnesota Twins are nearing the end of another dismal season, with a 50-60 record entering Tuesday. But there is hope for the future with talent in the minor league pipeline, and the end of this season stands to bring the arrival of a few of those prospects.

With a wide variety of individual circumstances across the current roster, here are five Twins that need to step up in August.

5. OF Josh Willingham

Josh Willingham Minnesota Twins
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

5. OF Josh Willingham

Josh Willingham Minnesota Twins
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Willingham has 11 home runs in 206 at-bats this season. If he can get on a hot streak over the next couple weeks, he could still be traded for something of value before the end of the month.

4. 3B Trevor Plouffe

Trevor Plouffe Minnesota Twins
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4. 3B Trevor Plouffe

Trevor Plouffe Minnesota Twins
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Plouffe started the season solidly, with five home runs, 33 RBI and a .753 OPS through the end of May, but he struggled in June and July (.214, two home runs and 12 RBI). A nice start to August (9-for-14 with three RBI) brings hope for a strong final two months, and Plouffe may need a good finish to cement a role for 2015.

3. SP Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco Minnesota Twins
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3. SP Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco Minnesota Twins
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Nolasco is close to returning after missing the past month with an elbow injury, and he was not very good prior to being sidelined (5.90 ERA in 18 starts). He may never justify the contract the Twins gave him last winter, but Nolasco can start to establish himself as a stable veteran presence in the starting rotation with a solid finish to 2014.

2. OF Oswaldo Arcia

Oswaldo Arcia Minnesota Twins
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2. OF Oswaldo Arcia

Oswaldo Arcia Minnesota Twins
Marilyn Indahl-Getty Images

Arcia has struggled this season, particularly against left-handers (.180/.265/.295 over 68 plate appearances). A strong month of August, and a strong finish to the season, can re-establish him as a future fixture in the Twins' lineup.

1. 1B Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
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1. 1B Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Mauer has been out since early July with an oblique strain, but he has started a minor league rehab assignment and is close to returning. The final two months of this season could be a major turning point in his career.