We’re less than two weeks away from real, live, regular-season baseball. We’re also roughly two-thirds of the way through the Spring Training slate.
While nobody should be drawing anything resembling a conclusion based on a couple of handfuls of Grapefruit League games, we have something of a sample size now and it’s always interesting to see who has stood out at the plate — as well as which players have simply received the most opportunity to this point.
Plenty of young players are getting their ABs in as they try to impress the Twins’ brass, but interestingly, the veteran bench types have been the ones producing.
The Twins’ most impressive spring performers
Let’s start with the spring studs among position players.
.360/.448/.720 in 25 at-bats, 2 home runs and 3 doubles
Kepler was frequently cited as the most likely Twin to be traded this offseason. It never happened, and he is on track to be the Opening Day right-fielder once again for Rocco Baldelli’s club. Kepler has put together a strong spring thus far, joining Joey Gallo and Jose Miranda as the only likely regular starters to tally more than 20 at-bats to this point in the spring. Speaking of the latter...
.273/.407/.773 in 22 at-bats, 3 home runs and 2 doubles
Miranda hasn’t simply gotten at-bats, he’s produced. Miranda has been limited to designated-hitter duties due to a shoulder issue, but as it turns out, that bat plays wherever he’s playing. The goal is for him to be the Opening Day third baseman with Alex Kirilloff at first base, but the combination of Miranda’s shoulder and Kirilloff’s wrist may alter those plans a bit.
Michael A. Taylor
.286/.333/.500 in 28 at-bats, 1 home run and 3 doubles
The Twins’ new fourth outfielder has not disappointed in extended run during spring training, no doubt making Baldelli feel even better about any Byron Buxton-less games that take place once the calendar flips to April. For his part, Buxton began playing in minor-league games on the back field this week and it seems reasonable to hope for a return to actual game action over the next few days.
.381/.407/.905 in 21 at-bats, 3 home runs and 2 doubles
The Twins’ newest super-utility player has had a strong spring. Farmer doesn’t have an everyday home, but he’s likely the primary backup at both shortstop and third base and will make appearances in the corner outfield as well.
.296/.367/.667 in 27 at-bats, 2 home runs, 2 doubles and 1 triple
After the late addition of Donovan Solano, the long-time Detroit Tiger probably sits fourth in the line of utility players and won’t make the Opening Day roster, but has impressed nonetheless and is a strong option to be stashed at Triple-A St. Paul in the event of injuries to Farmer, Solano, or Nick Gordon.
Performances of note at the plate
There are a handful of individual performances that we can’t glean too much from yet, but are notable regardless.
Last year’s first-round pick played at three levels of the minor leagues last year after his selection, finishing with a brief stint at Double-A Wichita. He’ll start the year there as well, but the Twins are giving him an extended look in big-league camp.
Lee leads the team with 33 at-bats through play on Friday, and while he’s slashed just .182/.229/.242, the praises have still consistently rolled in from teammates and coaches. There’s no question that he has a bat that’s already nearly big-league-ready, it’s just a matter of how he starts the year in the minors and what position he’ll stick at moving forward with Carlos Correa at short and Miranda at third base.
Another prospect and the likely second baseman of the future, Julien has impressed with his pop in limited run this spring. Julien has two home runs in 16 at-bats but has also struck out eight times. It’s possible that he makes his MLB debut this year, but the Twins also have plenty of short-term options at the keystone sack with Polanco as the starter and Gordon and Farmer as quality backup options.
Rosario was the Twins’ fifth-round pick during the shortened draft of 2020. He took a slight step back last year at Single-A Fort Myers after a solid season at rookie ball in 2021, but he’s shown power thus far in big-league camp. Rosario is 6-for-13 with three home runs and should have a shot at starting the season in Double-A Wichita.
What to watch over the final two weeks
Over the next couple of weeks, the Twins will likely try to integrate Buxton and Jorge Polanco a bit and find a few more ABs for likely Opening Day starters Christian Vazquez and Trevor Larnach. Larnach’s likelihood of starting is tied to Kirilloff’s health, which continues to be a question mark and something to keep a close eye on in the coming days.
Spring is a fun time to take a peek at the future, and Lee, Julien, Rosario, and others have given Twins fans an intriguing glimpse. But Baldelli and the front office have to figure out what the 26-man roster is going to look like, and there are still come definite question marks as we near the final stretch of Spring Training.