2017 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections - The Outfielders
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA TodaySo today, let’s take a look at the outfielders throughout the Twins farm system.
Minnesota Twins - Eddie Rosario (25), Robbie Grossman (27), Byron Buxton (23), Max Kepler (24 on Friday), Danny Santana (26)
Center field will, hopefully, be covered by Byron Buxton for the next decade or more. After his strong September, the hope is that he will never spend another day in the minor leagues. His defense alone makes him incredibly valuable. Adding Jason Castro behind the plate helps the pitching and defense. Having Buxton patrolling center field is great for the pitching staff too. Max Kepler took over in right field at the beginning of June. He had an incredible weekend in Cleveland in early July, and he had some ups and downs throughout his rookie season. He also grew more comfortable in right field as the season went along. He was named the Twins top rookie.
Left field is where there could be some competition, or at least some platooning. Eddie Rosario is the great athlete with the ability to be above average defensively. He showed that he can fill a box score during his rookie season in 2015, and his complete lack of plate discipline was taken advantage of by good pitchers in his sophomore season. Robbie Grossman came to the organization in May, in a move that got Rosario sent to Rochester for a while. Grossman took off immediately and even when he came down to earth, he still destroyed left-handed pitching. The problem, of course, is Grossman’s defense. Danny Santana can be the fifth outfielder and a pinch runner, if he’s still on the roster.
Rochester Red Wings - Travis Harrison (24), Zach Granite (24), Daniel Palka (25), JB Shuck (29), Ryan Strausborger (28)
JB Shuck has spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues. He’s got almost 1,100 MLB at bats. He can play center, though he’s better as a corner outfielder. Ryan Strausborger hit .200 in 45 at bats (31 games) for the Rangers in 2015. He hit just .235 in the PCL last year, though he missed time with injury. But hopefully a new group of prospects will get a lot of playing time in AAA.
Zach Granite was the Twins choice for Minor League Player of the Year. He was the Lookouts leadoff man and center fielder almost every day throughout 2016. Like Buxton, Granite can play centerf ield due to his great speed. His speed can also wreak havoc on the base paths where he stole 56 bases in 2017. Daniel Palka was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year after a season in which he hit 34 home runs between Chattanooga and Rochester. Blessed with tremendous power, he’ll need to make more contact, but he has a chance to be a very productive hitter. Travis Harrison has spent the last two seasons in Chattanooga. It’s time to send him to AAA Rochester. (Did You Know: Harrison can fly!)
Chattanooga Lookouts - Leandro Castro (27), Jonathan Rodriguez (27), Tanner English (23), Edgar Corcino (24)
Leandro Castro is a 27-year-old who spent eight seasons in the Phillies system including a couple of seasons in AAA. The last two years he has played in independent leagues. This winter, he hit .347 in Mexico. Another 27-year-old, Puerto Rican Jonathan Rodriguez, signed with the Twins this winter after spending the last eight seasons in the Cardinals organizations. He got his first taste of AAA in 2016.
Tanner English missed two months of the 2016 season due to Lasik surgery and an ankle injury, but he came back with the Miracle, finished the season in Rochester and then played in the Arizona Fall League. He’s ready for the bump up to AA, and his defense is elite in center field. Edgar Corcino spent the second half of 2016. The tremendous athlete is very good defensively and puts together quality plate appearances.
Ft. Myers Miracle - Daniel Kihle (23), Austin Diemer (23), LaMonte Wade (23), JJ Fernandez (22), Max Murphy (24)
This is a group of outfielders who spent spent part of the 2016 season. Diemer began the season with the Miracle, getting time in each of the outfield positions before an injury curtailed his season. Minnesota native Max Murphy was promoted to the Miracle in late April. He also missed time due to injury. Daniel Kihle hit .259 in 49 games in Cedar Rapids before hitting .259 in 41 games with the Miracle. However, his on-base percentage and slugging percentages were better in Ft. Myers. He played all three outfield positions. LaMonte Wade got off to a fast start with Cedar Rapids in his first full season. He was a Midwest League All-Star and then moved up to Ft. Myers where he was even better. Unfortunately he missed a lot of time due to injuries. While Wade is probably best suited for left field, but he will most likely play a lot of center field again. JJ Fernandez has spent the last two seasons in Cedar Rapids. He hit just .225 and got on-base 29% of the time, but he hit 26 doubles and ten homers. 2016 was his first season without catching. He played a little first base, but he mostly played in the outfield.
Cedar Rapids Kernels - Jaylin Davis (22), Christian Cavaness (22), Casey Scoggins (22), Alex Kirilloff (19), Shane Carrier (20), Hank Morrison (22)
This group includes three players who spent time with the Kernels in 2016. It also includes four 2016 draft picks.
Jaylin Davis made his pro debut in 2016. He began the season in extended spring training before hitting seven home runs in 12 games for the E-Twins. He moved up to Cedar Rapids where he hit another nine home runs in 52 games. Casey Scoggins was drafted in the 39th round last year, and after just a couple of games with the E-Twins, he moved up and became a key cog at the top of the Kernels lineup and in center field. Christian Cavaness split time between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids.
Shane Carrier provides a bunch of power to the lineup. He was the eighth round pick last June and hit 14 doubles and six homers for the E-Twins. Alex Kirilloff was the top draft pick last year out of high school, and he got off to a fast start. He hit .351 through the first 42 games before his season ended with a .306 average. He had nine double and seven home runs before his season ended with elbow pain (which is fine now).Hank Morrison also could provide some power for the Kernels. He was limited to just 20 games in Elizabethton due to injury, but he has potential.
Extended Spring Training - Matt Albanese (21), Isaiah Aluko (23), Akil Baddoo (18), Lean Marrero (19), Aaron Whitefield (20), Roberto Gonzalez (21), Jean Carlos Arias (19)
Of this group, Roberto Gonzalez is the player who spent time in Elizabethton. He has immense power from the left side, though he’ll need to make more contact. Aaron Whitefield was one of the best players for the Twins GCL team in 2016, and he has been one of the best hitters in the Australian Baseball League this winter where he hit .338. Lean Marrero has five-tool potential, but he’s very young. He showed improvement in 2016 in the GCL and should move up to Elizabethton in 2017. Akil Baddoo was a comp pick in 2016 out of high school in Georgia. A tremendous athlete, he should move up to Elizabethton and get a lot of playing time. Jean Carlos Arias’s stateside debut didn’t go real well, but he has a high ceiling and will repeat the GCL. Matt Albanese was a 7th round pick last year out of college, but an injury cut short his season. He will make his pro debut in 2017. He’ll likely start in EST, though he could move up to Cedar Rapids before the short-seasons start.
1.) Alex Kirilloff
2.) LaMonte Wade
3.) Daniel Palka
4.) Akil Baddoo
5.) Zack Granite
6.) Tanner English
7.) Edgar Corcino
8.) Jaylin Davis
9.) Aaron Whitefield
10.) Matt Albanese
11.) Travis Harrison
Which prospects are you most excited about in 2017? Which prospects may be on a bubble? What kind of seasons do you think that Byron Buxton and Max Kepler will have, but can Eddie Rosario and Robbie Grossman be a quality platoon combination? Which other outfielders do you expect to see in a Twins uniform in 2017?
Please feel free to discuss and ask questions in the Comments below.