The 2022 season did not end on a happy note for the Twins- especially considering they led the AL Central for most of the first half. However, there’s plenty of things to look at with a smile, both from 2022 and for 2023. Today’s topic: the rookies.
Part I: The Kids are Alright
The Twins can boast of an impressive collection of young players following 2022. This is an important reason why this season could be considered a success, and a good reason for 2023 optimism.
- Jhoan Duran has already established himself as one of best relief pitchers in all of MLB after his first season, featuring pure stuff the likes of which we haven’t really seen from a Twins pitcher since pre-TJ Francisco Liriano or Johan Santana.
- Joe Ryan put in a full strong season following his impressive cup of coffee last year. Nelson Cruz is the gift that keeps on giving, as Ryan looks to be a strong #3 or #4 starter already, with room for growth if he improves his secondary pitches.
- Jose Miranda built on his incredible 2021 season by making it to the bigs this year and entrenching himself as one of the Twins’ best offensive players, bar none. Miranda struggled in the beginning of the season, but at the end of the season boasted a triple slash of .268/.325/.426 with 15 home runs.
- Former top prospect Nick Gordon finally proved he belonged in the majors, playing a valuable utility role for a team that needed fill-ins all the time in many positions. After learning outfield on the fly last year, left field was his primary position. He slashed .272/.316/.427 with 9 home runs.
- Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Louie Varland, and Simeon Woods-Richardson all showed loads of promise in varying debut sample sizes. The Falvey Pitching Pipeline may not have churned out an ace yet, but things are certainly looking up.
- Bailey Ober pitched well in limited innings this year- here’s hoping for better health for the towering right-hander next year.
- Griffin Jax, after struggling in his opportunities as a starter last year, became a legitimate bullpen weapon this year. Jovani Moran also showed some promise in a bullpen role.
- Trevor Larnach & Royce Lewis looked like legitimately good everyday players in the small sample sizes they were able to play before getting injured.
- Matt Wallner got a cup of coffee, and if nothing else, looks to be passable Alex Kirilloff insurance if the latter’s injury struggles continue to sap his talents.
- Gilberto Celestino continued showing excellent defense, while also continuing to show his bat needs work. Still only 23, Celestino has developed a solid approach at the plate, but needs to develop more consistent contact and power.
- I’m not going to write anything about Ryan Jeffers.
It’s very easy to look at this past season and lament about how many injuries the Twins were riddled with. However, I don’t remember having so many young players to be actually excited about, and many of them only received chances due to those injuries. I’m eager to watch these kids grow up and see what they can do in 2023.
If you enjoy looking on the sunny side, come back next Wednesday for another silver lining post.