There’s only a little more than two more weeks worth of spring training games. Pitchers are starting to get stretched out a bit and the lineups over the past few days have been something more like two-thirds filled with regulars instead of one-third regulars and a bunch of minor leaguers.
While we all know that spring training game results don’t matter, the Twins are 7-6 with four ties through their first 17 games. That feels about right, doesn’t it? Any better and there could be some subconscious overconfidence, and any worse and there just might be some sky-is-falling nonsense out there.
If the Twins can head north to Target Field healthy, with a record right around the .500 mark and sufficient at-bats for everyone, then we’ll all feel good about the spring.
Let’s take a look at some individual winners and losers through the first two weeks.
Winners through Week Two
LaMonte Wade Jr.: .313/.476/.438 (5-for-16, 2 2B)
Wade is still somewhat of a long-shot for a fourth outfielder spot, as the slightly more versatile and more powerful Jake Cave is also having a strong spring to the tune of a .300/.364/.550 triple-slash line. Strangely, Cave and Wade have identical on-base-plus-slugging marks of .914, although they’ve gone about it in different ways.
Wade’s on-base skills and solid all-around game gives him a shot at making the roster, although he has two minor-league options left compared to Cave’s one.
Alex Kiriloff: .500/.529/.938 (8-for-16, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI)
Kiriloff was never going to break camp with the Twins, but he’s impressed nonetheless through the first two weeks of spring play.
The former first-round pick is a consensus top-50 prospect league-wide and has a huge upside. He may start the year at Double-A Pensacola for a second consecutive year, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make his major-league debut late this season.
Nelson Cruz: .529/.556/1.118 (9-for-17, 3 HR, 2B)
Cruz is having a nice spring and appears well on his way to ramping up to a good spot prior to real baseball. Nothing to see here besides Boomstick being Boomstick.
The Twins presumptive major-league bullpen has had a great spring. Taylor Rogers, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Duffey have combined to throw 24 innings and give up only 2 earned runs — an ERA of 0.58. They have a combined 31 strikeouts and only six walks on the spring so far.
Throw in Cody Stashak and Zack Littell, who have each thrown seven scoreless innings while only giving up three hits, and the Twins’ potential bullpen arms are living up to expectations.
Losers through Week Two
Luis Arraez: .136/.240/.136 (3-for-22, 2 R, 3 K)
It seems unlikely that anyone is worried at all about Arraez at this stage. His three strikeouts in 22 at-bats is almost twice the rate at which he struck out last year — but that probably says more about just how impressive his rookie season was as much as it does suggest that he’s struggling so far this spring.
Eddie Rosario: .050/.050/.100 (1-for-20, 2 RBI, 4 K)
Ditto for Rosario. The narrative with him is that his pre-All-Star-Break ankle sprain last year hampered his second half, and that having healthy legs beneath him this season will encourage a big bounce-back. Clearly, it’s taking Rosario a few spring games to get his swing back, which is probably to be expected.
Devin Smeltzer: 9 1⁄3 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 6 K, 0 BB
Smeltzer is working through a new slider this spring, and the results have made that clear. The Twins are in no rush with Smeltzer, so it’s hard to consider him a true “loser” in any sense other than he won’t likely win the No. 5 starter spot out of camp. Interestingly, Smeltzer has not walked anyone yet this spring but has simply been hit extremely hard.
Looking ahead to Week Three
The Twins went through their first round of cuts on Monday, sending seven players to minor-league camp. It included Lewis Thorpe, who was originally though to be competing for the final spot in the starting rotation until he missed nearly two weeks due to personal reasons.
Also sent down: infielder and former first-round pick Nick Gordon, outfielder Gilberto Celistino, and pitchers Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, among others. Thorpe is the only player who was cut that had a realistic shot at making the 26-man roster out of camp, so the moves won’t have a major impact on what to look for this week.
At this stage, the battle between Cave, Wade and Astudillo for the final position player spot and Randy Dobnak versus Jhoulys Chacin competition for the No. 5 slot in the starting rotation are the two biggest things to keep an eye on.