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Twins 2018 Season Preview: Opening Day roster snubs

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With the Opening Day roster set, let’s take a look at the guys that should have made the team.

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It appears the Twins are set with their Opening Day roster, which was summarized succinctly by Aaron Gleeman early Tuesday evening.

As the front office pared down the spring training roster, I felt that there were only two surprises; neither Zack Granite nor Tyler Duffey made the roster. Duffey’s cut was announced last week, while Granite made it to the second-to-last day before learning that he too would start the season as a Red Wing.

Regarding the pair, I think each of them had an argument to board the flight to Baltimore, but instead they will have to hope for their own success along with ineffectiveness/injuries to strike the major league roster. Below, I’ll take a look at each player, why they were cut, who earned their roster spot instead, and what needs to happen for them to force their ways back into the picture.

Tyler Duffey

Why he was cut: 7.11 ERA with 7/4 K/BB in 12 23 innings this spring, inconsistency over the past two seasons

Who beat him out: Gabriel Moya, Tyler Kinley, and Phil Hughes (though he hit the DL after Duffey was sent to Triple-A)

How he earns a promotion: We saw the best of Duffey in 2015 when he aided a surprisingly good team with a 3.10 ERA (3.24 FIP) over 10 starts while primarily throwing two fastballs and a wicked curve. The following season was poor as he had a 6.43 ERA due to being extremely hittable and giving up too many home runs. Last year, he fell in between those two years as he spent the entire season in the bullpen. He has the stuff to be a good pitcher, but he hasn’t put it all together. While the lack of a useful change-up could be to blame, it’s interesting to note that lefties have hit .257/.311/.399 against him, while he’s been battered by righties (.304/.350/.525). He’ll have to pitch well at Triple-A to earn a call-up, but I also think he (or Alan Busenitz) is first in line for the bullpen once there’s an opening.

Zack Granite

Why he was cut: Hit .122/.217/.147 this spring, his competition was far better, he has options

Who beat him out: Ryan LaMarre

How he earns a promotion: Once it became clear that non-roster invitees Chris Heisey (who has significant major league experience) and Nick Buss weren’t making the roster, I thought Granite was a lock. Unbeknownst to me, though, it turned out that LaMarre had “simplified” his swing and his spring training stats reflected that (.475/.500/.775). Like Duffey, Granite should be the first minor leaguer called up if the Twins need an outfielder. However, unlike Duffey, Granite doesn’t need to ramp up his performance to justify a promotion. He’s shown that he can hit at least .300 in the minors while racking up stolen bases, so he just needs to keep doing what he’s done to stay on the major league club’s radar.

Other Players

I wouldn’t necessarily call the following players snubs, but I’ll mention them anyway. Busenitz and John Curtiss likely would have made the team but their spots were snatched away with the signings of Zack Duke, Fernando Rodney, and Addison Reed. Likewise, the same could be said for Adalberto Mejia when Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn were acquired. Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero are the future, but they never had a shot of making the team. Finally, I believed that veteran Bobby Wilson had a nonzero chance of beating out Mitch Garver as the backup catcher, but ultimately the Twins were impressed with Garver to pair him with starter Jason Castro.