As the season opener creeps closer (19 days, but who’s counting?), the spring training roster will start to get whittled away. Pretty soon, most of the prospects will be assigned to minor league camp, and then to their respective minor league teams. However, it’s always exciting to see these young guns playing with the big-leaguers for at least a few weeks, and fun to see how they match up.
How have the Twins top batting prospects performed this spring? I’ll be taking a look at the top four batters (based on the voting on this site): Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach, and Brent Rooker. Keep in mind, though, that spring training stats are incredibly small sample sizes and aren’t nearly as useful as regular season stats.
22 Years Old
To put it simply, Kirilloff has impressed in his action this spring. He has gone 7-11 over the course of 7 games, including two dingers. The sweet-swinging prospect is healthy (which has not been the case for parts of the last couple years) and primed to make a big splash at AA and AAA this year. While Fangraphs estimates him to be a 2021 arrival, don’t be surprised if he makes a push to make the big-league roster in the second half of this year if corner outfield injuries present him an opportunity. In 2021, he could possibly take over for someone like Eddie Rosario, although he may be switched to first base in the long run.
20 Years Old
Royce Lewis is widely considered to be the Twins’ top prospect, although the opinions of Twinkie Town-ers have him second to Kirilloff. The 20-year-old struggled for most of last year before winning MVP in the Arizona Fall League. The young shortstop may be destined for a position change at some point; he played in centerfield for much of the Fall League and some of last year. However, the Twins have been giving him reps almost exclusively at shortstop this year. He could eventually push Polanco to second or third base, or may be the successor to Buxton in center. Lewis struggled to the tune of 0-11 to begin the spring, but has gone 3-8 with a monster home run since. One thing to watch for is Lewis’ exaggerated leg kick, which he has tweaked multiple times since joining the organization. He has been seen spending lots of time talking to Josh Donaldson, who, notably, also uses a big leg kick. Donaldson could be a huge positive for helping Lewis figure out his swing.
23 Years Old
Larnach has been a fast-riser in the minors so far, coming out of college at Oregon State in 2018. He mashed the ball at Single-A and Double-A last year, and is primed to do the same at Double-A and Triple-A this year. Larnach is having an excellent spring, going 6-18 with three walks and three home runs. The Twins likely will have a choice to make at some point, considering that Max Kepler and Miguel Sano appear to be entrenched at their respective positions, which only leaves one spot for Larnach, Kirilloff, and Brent Rooker (up next). Don’t be surprised if the Twins package one of these young hitters in a trade to bring back an impact pitcher by the trade deadline.
25 Years Old
Rooker has hit well at every level of the minors. He probably would have been called up towards the end of 2019 if not for an injury. However, he has been overshadowed by the two younger corner outfielders on the list, and this likely will continue to be the case. While he is the most likely to reach the majors in 2020, it would likely take multiple injuries or trades for a path to open into regular playing time at Target Field for Rooker. This is not an indictment of the big guy by any means, but more of an endorsement for the immense talent the Twins have assembled at the big league level as well as Rooker’s position in the minors. His spring has been just alright so far, going 3-13 with a double and a couple walks. He’s also an excellent follow on Twitter.
While these are certainly small sample sizes, it’s still exciting to see how the kids are doing this spring. Hopefully we won’t need them this year, but I’ll be thrilled when we see some of these names on the field on Opening Day in a couple years.