A lot can change in a week, as it turns out.
After Week One, which featured a piping-hot Twins outfield of Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and LaMonte Wade, a handful of guys have come back down to earth a bit while others have turned around their spring fortunes.
This week’s Winner and Losers will take into account spring training as a whole through roughly two weeks, not just Week Two. While some players have solid overall stats (Buxton’s .429/.500/1.143, for instance), they didn’t all necessarily play over the past week so they’ve been bumped in favor of some what-have-you-done-for-me-lately players.
All the stuff about sample sizes applies again, of course, but what are we doing if we aren’t talking about spring training performances?
Let’s kick things off with winners through Week Two.
Winners through Week Two
Jake Cave (OF): .292/.346/.417 (7-for-24, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB)
Jake Cave was probably never on the roster bubble and he isn’t quite crushing the ball so far this spring, but a solid start combined with his performance when pressed into duty last year should be enough to solidify his roster spot.
Cave can play all three outfield positions and was serviceable in 65 starts in center field last year. He also slashed .269/.316/.481 and clubbed 13 home runs in 309 plate appearances. With ample pop and a decent glove, Cave is a fantastic fourth outfielder, and his first two weeks of spring should help him land a job.
Luke Raley (OF): .278/.250/.500 (5-for-18, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBI)
While it was admittedly one awesome game that landed Raley on this list (Raley went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple in a 12-1 win over the Red Sox), the 24-year-old has shown that he has a bit of pop and might just be a surprise fringe prospect for the Twins.
While Cave’s spring has landed him a job in the big leagues, Raley’s simply trying to prove his worth to the organization, and a good camp would certainly make him a “winner” in that sense.
Raley was acquired in the Brian Dozier trade at last year’s deadline and was a borderline top-30 prospect in Los Angeles’ system prior to the swap. He hit .275/.350/.471 over 120 games split between Double-A Tulsa and Chattanooga as a 23-year-old, which was right in line with his 2017 campaign at High-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Raley hit 20 home runs last year as well, and while he may not quite have the pop needed to stick as a starting corner outfielder at the big league level, he just might be able to stick around as a bench bat and/or platoon option if he keeps up this trajectory.
Ronald Torreyes (IF): .333/.360/.417 (8-for-24, 2 2B, 3 RBI)
Ronald Torreyes was acquired in free agency this offseason after spending parts of the last three campaigns with the New York Yankees.
He figures to rank behind holdover Ehrie Adrianza in the utility infielder discussion, and now that Marwin Gonzalez is in the fold it is clearly a long-shot for Torreyes to end up going north with the club at the end of March.
But Torreyes is on the 40-man roster, and a strong spring could at least guarantee that he’ll stick around to head to Rochester and be one of the first phone calls the Twins make if and when the injury bug strikes. In part due to his versatility, Torreyes has seen plenty of playing time this spring to make his case.
Trevor May (RP): 5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Trevor May has a case to make for the open closer’s role, and he’s done a great job making that case even more compelling over his first five outings of the spring.
Outside of a solo home run, May has been flawless. Five strikeouts, no walks, and only one hit over five innings is a fantastic line, and the quality of May’s arsenal has been up-to-par as well. The changeup and curveball have been especially nasty, and as long as May can locate his fastball and handle the pressure of the late innings, you’re likely looking at the Twins’ next star relief pitcher.
Fernando Romero (RP): 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Fernando Romero was once one of the Twins’ top pitching prospects, and the early returns in his first handful of major league starts didn’t do anything to fight against that notion.
But manager Rocco Baldelli decided that Romero’s stuff will play better in the bullpen, and so far, that appears to be true. Romero has thrown five innings and given up three hits and two walks while notching five strikeouts.
While the numbers aren’t dominant, a smooth transition from starter to reliever would be a great sign for the 24-year-old, who still holds plenty of promise as a shut-down relief pitcher.
Losers through Week Two
Tyler Austin (DH/1B): .211/.211/.263 (4-for-19, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 7 K)
C.J. Cron will be the starting first baseman for the 2019 Twins. That means that there are two 1B/DH types battling for one spot that may or may not exist anymore following the addition of Gonzalez, who can play virtually any position.
Lucas Duda is a non-roster invitee, and while he averaged 29 home runs each season from 2014 to 2017, he had a subpar season last year split between Kansas City and Atlanta but doesn’t have the positional flexibility that Gonzalez or Austin, who can play some corner outfield, possess.
So far this spring, however, Duda has outperformed Austin, slashing .300/.440/.400 in 25 plate appearances compared to Austin’s disappointing .211/.211/.263 line. Complicating things is that Austin is out of options, so he’ll need to turn things around in a hurry if he’s going to make the squad.
Tyler Duffey (RP): 5 2⁄3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Tyler Duffey had a horrendous season as a starter back in 2016 and spent all of 2017 in the bullpen, where he was solid against righties but was crushed by left-handed hitters. The trend continued into 2018, when Duffey was poor in the majors (7.20 ERA in 25 innings pitched) and solid in Triple-A (2.90 ERA in 49 innings).
Duffey is looking like he’ll be a Triple-A guy again this year as he does have one option remaining and could bounce back and forth between the majors and minors depending on need.
Matt Magill (RP): 3 2⁄3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 K
After a solid first year in Minnesota last year, Matt Magill remains on the Twins’ 40-man roster. But a deeper dive into last season — which really just means to look beyond the 3.81 ERA — shows that Magill was a bit lucky, and his peripherals don’t leave much hope for the 29-year-old to be any better in 2019.
Magill doesn’t have a long track record of success in the minors, either, and with the additions of Blake Parker and Romero sliding the bullpen, Magill will need a strong spring to head north with the Twins. And so far, that hasn’t come to fruition.
Looking ahead to Week Three
After strong starts from the likes of Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and others, many of the regulars took it a bit easy this week.
In Week Three, expect more from them, as well as more from newcomers Jonathan Schoop, Marwin Gonzalez, and Nelson Cruz as they ramp up their participation.
Less than three weeks to go...