Francisco Liriano will have an excellent spring, showing improved command of his fast ball. Although he clearly belongs on the major league roster, it will not be a huge surprise when he is one of the last two cuts and begins the season at Rochester as Scott Baker also has an excellent spring winning the #5 starting spot.
TRyan's conservative approach to this year's starting rotation is proven correct as one of the most successful and likeable Twins for the past decade, Brad Radke, goes on the DL in mid May...returns for a few starts in June, then goes back on the DL for the remainder of the season in late June. Liriano fills Radke's spot in the rotation winning 9 games (vs. 5 losses) while proving that all the optimistic projections of his future are correct. Radke remains with the Twins for all home games during the second half of the season and the playoffs, however, in late August announces his retirement from the game, effective following the season.
Jason Kubel is running with about 95-96% of his previous speed and proves many naysayers wrong as he wins the opening day starting right field spot, hitting 5th in the order between White and Hunter by May after hitting 7th the first month.
The three veteran's signed to battle for the LOOGY spot do not win that bullpen spot. Reyes and May are released, however, White accepts an assignment to Rochester. Jose Mijares shows everyone that his potential is real and pitches as well in spring as Liriano did in early 2005 when he was promoted to Rochester...surprising everyone and winning the lefty spot in the bullpen giving the Twins a reliever who by mid-season is pitching as well as JC Romero did, at his best. Although not a surprise, Willie Eyre wins the last spot in the bullpen with Nathan, Rincon, Crain, Guerrier and Mijares.
Alex Romero has an excellent spring and joins Liriano as one of the two last cuts when he is sent to Rochester. Jason Pridie puts his injury behind him and proves that he does have a future in the major leagues. The Twins are unable to work a reasonable deal with the Devil Rays and decide to keep Pridie on the roster for the entire season.
Although Luis Rodriguez is sent down to Rochester, he has an excellent spring confirming that he is a capable utility infielder. The Twins need to create a spot on their 25-man roster for Pridie. Feeling confident with Rodriguez should Castro be injured and having Cuddyer as a bench player for first, second and third, they trade Nick Punto for a prospect, creating a spot for Pridie. Their bench out of spring training consists of Redmond, Castro, Cuddyer, Ford, Pridie and White as their DH.
The biggest surprise of any minor league players is Alexander Smit who begins the season at Ft. Myers as their top set-up guy in the bullpen, moving to New Britain at mid-season.
What surprises do you think we will see this spring?