If you’re not a huge nerd of a baseball fan, or have been living under a rock (or huge pile of snow), Spring Training is finally getting underway! The light at the end of the tunnel? That’s baseball season, thank goodness, and I thought it would never come. Most of the Twins’ pitchers and catchers have reported as of Thursday and the full squad will start arriving this weekend in preparations for their first full workout on Monday.
As many teams do, the Twins have some spots to fill on their Opening Day roster with many players competing for those spots. Below is a breakdown of who’s going to be in camp in each general position group along with who is most likely to make the big-league out of camp. (Names with an asterisk - the fancy star thingy - are players that are non-roster invitees.)
Most Likely: Jason Castro, Mitch Garver
Maybes: Willians Astudillo
Dark Horses: Tomas Telis*
Nopes: Ben Rortvedt*, Wynston Sawyer*, Brian Navarreto*
Teams will bring in a good amount of catchers to camp because there’s a helluva ton of pitchers in camp as well. The Twins are no different as they have three catchers on the 40-man as well as four non-roster invitees.
Castro is coming off of an injury-shortened 2018 campaign and Garver took over main catching duties in his absence. Astudillo could make the 25-man roster if either Castro or Garver fall to the injury bug. Rortvedt is a prospect and in camp for the experience, while Sawyer and Navarreto are with the Twins for depth. Telis is a possible dark horse candidate, but Castro, Garver, and probably Astudillo are ahead of him on the depth chart.
Something to keep in mind is that Garver does have two options left. Although it’s a very small chance, he may not break camp if he does not do well this spring, giving Astudillo and/or Telis a chance to break camp with the big-league team.
Infield (and Designated Hitter)
Most Likely: Jonathan Schoop, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron, Tyler Austin, Nelson Cruz
Maybes: Ronald Torreyes, Ehire Adrianza
Dark Horses: Lucas Duda*, Randy Cesar*, Adam Rosales*
Nopes: Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez, Royce Lewis*, Dean Anna*
The Twins’ infield is the most interesting part of the team’s position-player roster questions this year. The front office went out and signed Schoop and Torreyes, picked up Cron off of waivers, and signed some minor-league deals with Duda and Rosales. Around the horn, Sano, Polanco, Schoop, and Cron/Austin look to be the starters. Cruz will come out of camp as the team’s DH.
The main question marks are the bench spots for the infield. Adrianza does not have any options left while Torreyes does have one remaining option. Although unlikely, if Sano does not show improvement in Spring Training this year, Cesar could serve as a call-up. Duda and Rosales are also dark horses that could emerge if they excel greatly during camp – or if any of the aforementioned players do not perform well – although first base is pretty stacked for Duda and utility spots are hard to come by for Rosales with Adrianza, Torreyes, and possibly Astudillo ahead on the charts.
Gordon will have a chance to participate in big-league camp again after attending as a non-roster invitee last year and looks to gain experience. Lewis, the first overall draft pick of the 2017 draft, will get his first bite of major-league camp along with Arraez. Anna does not seem to have a shot to make the big-league club and will be organizational depth, but I also predicted that Chase De Jong would not make it through waivers — and look what happened.
Most Likely: Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler
Maybes: Jake Cave, Zack Granite
Dark Horses: Michael Reed
Nopes: LaMonte Wade, Alex Kirilloff*, Luke Raley*, Brent Rooker*
The outfield is pretty settled for this year. Rosario, Kepler, and Buxton (with a slight hesitation) are locks for starting outfield spots.
Cave and Granite will vie for the fourth outfielder spot with a possibility that Reed, picked off of waivers from the Braves this offseason, could make the club instead. If Buxton, or Rosario or Kepler for that matter, does not make it out of Spring Training for any reason, a combination of those three will make the team. Wade, Kirilloff, and Rooker are invited for the experience while Raley will have a lot of work to make it up the depth charts.
Most Likely: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Martin Perez
Maybes: Fernando Romero, Adalberto Mejia
Dark Horses: Stephen Gonsalves, Chase De Jong*
Nopes: Lewis Thorpe, Kohl Stewart, Zack Littell
With Pineda (he’s a Twin, remember?) and the signing of Perez, it seems the Twins’ rotation is pretty set as of now. If those two; or Berrios, Gibson, or Odorizzi are injured, Romero and Mejia are waiting in the wings. Gonsalves and De Jong both have seen the big-league field in their careers and make decent dark horse candidates while Thorpe, Stewart, and Littell are gaining experience in major-league camp. Romero, Mejia, Gonsalves, and De Jong also have a small chance to make the bullpen corps out of camp if something goes wrong on that end.
Most Likely: Taylor Rogers, Addison Reed, Trevor Hildenberger, Trevor May, Blake Parker
Maybes: Tyler Duffey, Matt Magill, Gabriel Moya
Dark Horses: Andrew Vasquez, Tim Collins*, Justin Nicolino*, Jake Reed*
Nopes: Ryan Eades*, Preston Guilmet*,
Bryce Ryne Harper*, Mike Morin*
The bullpen is pretty cemented – Rogers, Reed, Hildenberger, May, and Parker look to be locks. Duffey and Magill have no options remaining, so they are the most likely to join those five in the bullpen, but Moya is also a strong possibility for a second lefty arm with Vasquez, Collins, and Nicolino as dark horse candidates. Note that Rogers and Hildenberger do have options left.
As mentioned with the starting rotation, the Twins could move a younger “traditional” starter to the bullpen. Jake Reed also has a small shot of making the roster, as Eades, Guilmet, Harper, and Morin seem to be organizational depth at this point in the game unless the bullpen really falls apart early in the year.
What does your Minnesota Twins 2019 Opening Day roster look like? Who makes the cut and who gets sent to the minors? Talk it out in the comments!