Ladies and gentlemen, we’re officially in the dog days of spring.
While it still has a bit more of an optimistic feel than, say, the dog days of August, as the third week of spring training turns into the fourth, it’s safe to say that guys are about ready to head north.
That said, there are still a few position battles raging, whether it’s the backup utility infielder role, the backup designated hitter/first baseman role, or the fringes of the bullpen. And it’s our duty, of course, to check in on those battles. So here we go.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of Week Three of Twins spring training.
All statistics current heading into play on Sunday, March 17.
Winners through Week Three
Ronald Torreyes: .289/.325/.447 (11-for-38, 1 HR, 3 2B, 4 RBI)
Adam Rosales: .333/.375/.833 (10-for-30, 4 HR, 3 2B, 8 RBI)
Ehire Adrianza: .393/.414/.786 (11-for-28, 2 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI)
Last week, Ronnie Torreyes was one of our winners of the week. He slipped just a bit throughout Week Three, and incumbent utility man Ehire Adrianza and non-roster invitee Adam Rosales got hot.
Adrianza holds the advantage, as he is out of options and has the familiarity of the organization. Torreyes will likely start the season at Triple-A Rochester.
Rosales, on the other hand, is a career journeyman who hit just .239/.313/.445 in at Triple-A Columbus last year in the Cleveland organization, and as a 36-year-old non-roster invitee, the mountain to climb is much steeper. It remains unlikely that he makes the team, but if nothing else he’s made a case to stick in the minors or perhaps be moved to another organization that is looking for infield depth.
Eddie Rosario: .400/.406/.800 (12-of-30, 3 HR, 3 2B, 11 RBI, 1 SB)
Byron Buxton: .423/.467/1.000 (11-for-26, 4 HR, 3 2B, 13 RBI, 1 SB)
Max Kepler: .360/.467/.680 (9-for-25, 2 HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 SB)
Again, obvious spring training caveats apply in spades here, but it’s impossible to ignore just how sky-high the upside of this trio still is.
Buxton and Rosario were hot early, with Buxton having another strong week in Week Three and Kepler coming on strong of late. Perhaps the most promising thing we’ve seen from Buxton is that he had a single game with three strikeouts, and instead of allowing himself to spiral back into old habits, he’s only struck out one other time over the course of the spring.
In true Eddie fashion, Rosario has only walked one time in 32 plate appearances, but there have not been any alarming strikeout trends whatsoever among the Twins’ three outfield starters.
Fernando Romero (RP): 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Fernando Romero stays on the “winner” list for another week.
Romero continues to make the move to the bullpen look like it could be a permanent one, pitching another four scoreless innings over the last week-plus. While he hasn’t been overpowering, five hits and three walks against seven strikeouts over nine innings a ratio that manager Rocco Baldelli will no doubt accept at this point.
Ryne Harper (RP): 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
You’re forgiven if you weren’t aware of Ryne Harper until this exact moment. He is exactly what his name might suggest: a 31-year-old bullpen arm who has scuffled mightily at the Triple-A level but has more or less dominated the young bats in Double-A.
Or, at least that’s what I pictured.
Indeed, Harper had a 2.54 ERA in 24 appearances at Double-A Chattanooga last season but gave up 16 runs on 24 hits in 24 innings in Triple-A a year ago, which landed him at a 5.19 ERA at Rochester.
But so far this spring, Harper has struck out 10 batters in seven innings and hasn’t given up a walk. And that makes him a winner.
Losers through Week Two
Jason Castro: .200/.292/.500 (4-for-20, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
Mitch Garver: .138/.194/.414 (4-for-29, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI)
Willians Astudillo: .237/.250/.421 (9-for-38, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
Calling the Twins trio of mostly capable catchers “losers” is probably unfair. Especially when them each carrying individual slugging percentages north of .400.
But the lack of ability to get on base has been disappointing. Castro gets something of a pass in his continued recovery from knee surgery last spring, and Astudillo has been mostly productive overall. Plus, his positional flexibility gives him an advantage overall.
Garver has been the most disappointing, as the Twins were no doubt hoping he could take the reigns of the full-time catcher job at some point early in the season with Castro entering the last year of his deal.
Jose Berrios: 11 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 7 K
Michael Pineda: 10 1⁄3 IP, 6 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 8 K
Jake Odorizzi: 3 1⁄3 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K
Martin Perez: 13 IP, 7 ER, 14 H, 3 BB, 10 K
It’s important to remind everyone that starting pitchers are typically a little behind hitters at the start of spring training, so there’s certainly no real cause for alarm.
But that said, it’s also true that there has been little to write home about regarding Twins starters so far in spring training.
Outside of Kyle Gibson’s five scoreless innings, the other four expected Twins starters all have ERAs north of 5.00, outside of Perez’s 4.85, which is relatively sparkling in comparison. Even likely Triple-A starters Stephen Gonsalves (5.63 ERA in eight innings) and Kohl Stewart (5.40 ERA in 6 2⁄3 innings) have struggled mightily.
No need to pull the fire alarm here. Let’s just pay close attention to the next couple of weeks.
Tyler Duffey (RP): 7 2⁄3 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 6 BB, 8 K
Poor Tyler Duffey was on this list last week as well, but had a couple of rough outings over the last few days to ensure that he was on the “losers” list once again.
While Duffey is looking like he’ll be a Triple-A guy again this year, it would be great if he showed some life so that Twins fans could feel confident about potentially having some bullpen depth heading into the regular season.
Looking ahead to Week Four
As spring training starts winding down, Twins fans will look to see more from the likes of Marwin Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz, who have taken things easy early and are a combined 3-for-26 at the plate this spring.
As mentioned, we’ll also hope to see more out of the starting rotation as some of the guys begin to get stretched out a bit.
With Opening Day just under two weeks away, it’s crunch time for the players who are hoping to sneak their way onto the roster.