Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: Twins Sign Closer Rodney To One-Year Deal

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:46 AM
The Twins headed into the Winter Meetings with almost zero closing experience on their roster. They will exit with a wealth of it.On Thur...
Full topic ›

Kemp

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:35 AM
Would it be worth it to aquire Kemp for a C- prospect to be a DH if Los Angeles paid all but 2 or 3 million? They are rumored to release...
Full topic ›

What will it take to get Gerrit Cole?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:07 AM
The NY Post reported the Yankees are working on a deal to acquire a Gerrit Cole. Players mentioned include Clint Frazier and Chance Adams...
Full topic ›

OOTP Baseball -- Who Plays?

Other Baseball Yesterday, 09:44 PM
Who plays out of the park baseaball?   Personally, I love it and found out about online leagues. Is anyone else interested in joinin...
Full topic ›

Article: Twins Sending Relief Messages

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:37 PM
As the Winter Meetings came to an end, the Minnesota Twins found themselves mentioned often and making just a few waves. In signing Micha...
Full topic ›

ByungHo Park Tries To Catch Up By Slowing Down

Over the offseason, it came to light that Minnesota's slugging Korean first baseman wanted his first name written differently than it had been previously. No space. No dash. Just ByungHo.

It's not the only difference we've seen with him this spring.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily

*** I'll be handling this week's Write of Spring newsletter, a special in-depth report breaking down a particular topic from Twins camp, along with a notebook dump of quotes and rumblings. The only way to get it is by making sure you're on the mailing list. It's free! ***


Park went from hitting long shots last March to becoming a longshot this time around after losing his 40-man roster spot. But with Kennys Vargas away at the World Baseball Classic, the 30-year-old is taking advantage of his opportunity to pile up at-bats.

Sure, the thump has been there – he leads the team with three home runs (I mean, #ParkBangs). But that’s nothing new, as it was clear from the moment he arrived that his prodigious power was legit. Now, it’s the subtler things that are gaining notice.

He drew yet another start on Sunday and once again made the most of it. No, there was no 500-foot moonshot. But Park did fight off a tough pitch for a bloop single over the second baseman’s head, and laid off a borderline offering on a full count to draw a walk.

Therein lies the most conspicuous distinction between this spring and last. In his first camp, Park displayed plenty of pop but the ghastly plate discipline – evidenced by a 17-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio – was an unshakably ominous harbinger. This year, his improved approach at the dish is evident in a K/BB that stands at 6-to-4 following Sunday’s contest.

Manager Paul Molitor has certainly taken notice of this adjustment.

"I like that he’s swinging at a lot of strikes,” Molitor said over the weekend. "We haven’t seen the huge expansion of the zone, or the panic. It seems like there’s a lot more calmness to his at-bats and trust in his approach.”

While he’s not one to make excuses on anyone’s behalf, Molitor noted that the foreign import faced a variety of exacerbating factors as an MLB rookie. “The microscope was fairly intense," as he put it.

The Korean media throngs that swarmed through Hammond Field last year have now dissipated to a sparse contingent. The widespread attention and notoriety attached to a KBO superstar arriving in America have faded.

Park has been humbled, first by a midseason demotion to the minors that proved season-long, and then by a trip through waivers – unclaimed – during the offseason. Setbacks like these can be a driving force in self-actualization.

Add in the surgical repair of a finger tendon issue that hampered him for much of the summer, and there’s a strong basis for belief that some key circumstantial changes will make Park’s second go at it far more fruitful.

But one thing that’s not going to change is the speed of those major-league fastballs. The data on Park’s lackluster production against pitches buzzing in 93+ MPH, which he rarely if ever saw in South Korea, is stark.

"He was a little bit intimidated by last year,” bench coach Joe Vavra suggested. “The excessive velocity compared to what he’s used to, that was in his head.”

Now? The former Twins batting instructor detects an unmistakable shift. While the blazing heaters won’t cool off, a mellower mental state could make them more manageable.

"His mind has slowed down, if anything, and that really relaxes him at the plate,” said Vavra. "You don’t see him too anxious and overexcited in any one at-bat."

Molitor opined that the relentless speed of the game at its highest level, in conjunction with the team’s horrendous season-opening slump, contributed to sending the first-year big-leaguer into a spiral.

Park was one of five Twins appearing in an Opening Day MLB lineup for the first time last April, the manager pointed out, and "although he’s an experienced player, it was new for him.” The former KBO MVP had grown accustomed to carrying his club.

“That’s the kind of guy he is,” Molitor said. "I think it’s part of his makeup and part of his culture that they have a huge accountability factor.”

All the more reason to believe fierce efforts over the winter are playing into this early success. Park is visibly more comfortable in the batter’s box. But, then again, it’s spring training. When the games don’t matter and the pitchers aren’t going full bore, it’s much easier to manage emotions and stay on an even keel.

Can he do it in the regular season? Will he get the chance, with the non-roster barrier now standing in his way? Even if he keeps doing encouraging things on the field, the Twins can still easily justify sending him to Triple-A, where he failed to distinguish himself last year. This would enable the front office to delay tough DFA decisions involved with re-adding him to the 40-man.

He doesn't exactly have the largest obstacle blocking him though. Well, in the literal sense, yes, Vargas is a big man. But he isn't exactly doing much to stymie Park's advance. Vargas went 1-for-13 in Grapefruit play before reporting to Puerto Rico for the WBC, where he has started one of three games (and went hitless).

Either way, it's starting to feel like it won't be long before Park is back... with a bang?

  • ScrapTheNickname, mickeymental, d-mac and 1 other like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

20 Comments

Photo
HitInAPinch
Mar 13 2017 01:38 AM

Last season, Park was probably pushing too hard to prove he belonged in the MLB.I think he get's the call.I don't know what they'll do with Vargas.I'd probably give him the opportunity to catch on with another team.

    • mikelink45 likes this
Photo
ChiTownTwinsFan
Mar 13 2017 01:59 AM

Last season, Park was probably pushing too hard to prove he belonged in the MLB.I think he get's the call.I don't know what they'll do with Vargas.I'd probably give him the opportunity to catch on with another team.


Vargas has an option left I think?
    • d-mac likes this
Photo
HitInAPinch
Mar 13 2017 02:23 AM

 

Vargas has an option left I think?

Yes he does.

    • nytwinsfan and d-mac like this
Do we have any spots open on the 40 man? If May gets tommy John does that open up a spot?
    • d-mac likes this

 

Do we have any spots open on the 40 man? If May gets tommy John does that open up a spot?

It sure would, if he goes on the 60-day DL.  I question that they are going to be willing to do this, though, because they might have to keep him on the 40-man indefinitely because I don't know if he'd clear waivers again at this point.  Especially with the spring he's had.

 

As good as Park has been, I think they will decide to send him to Rochester and make him start raking there first.  The FO seem to have already committed to giving Vargas his chance for full-time at-bats.

    • hybridbear likes this

Unless Vargas catches fire or Park ends the spring poorly, I would bet on Park.  Even if the FO is different, the investment in Park is still there by the Twins and the rest of the FO would like to see it pay off.  

 

As good as Park has been, I think they will decide to send him to Rochester and make him start raking there first.  The FO seem to have already committed to giving Vargas his chance for full-time at-bats.

 

This approach is the least risk-averse. It gives Falvine a couple of months to evaluate Vargas, Mauer and the 1B/DH spots, while allowing Park to prove he can master AAA. However, if Park is not up by sometime in June, it's a bad sign for his long-term future as a member of the Twins.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, ThejacKmp, tarheeltwinsfan and 1 other like this
Photo
Taildragger8791
Mar 13 2017 08:14 AM

 

It sure would, if he goes on the 60-day DL.  I question that they are going to be willing to do this, though, because they might have to keep him on the 40-man indefinitely because I don't know if he'd clear waivers again at this point.  Especially with the spring he's had.

 

As good as Park has been, I think they will decide to send him to Rochester and make him start raking there first.  The FO seem to have already committed to giving Vargas his chance for full-time at-bats.

 

I'm confused at how the waiver talk came into play. I didn't think players were exposed to waivers just for going on the 60-day DL. They just come off the 40-man roster until they're removed from the DL, then they go back on the roster if there's room. If there's a roster crunch at that point then someone is probably going through waivers to clear room.

Photo
terrydactyls1947
Mar 13 2017 08:33 AM
When is someone going to volunteer Danny Santana as the person to be dropped from the 40-man roster? There are eight posts above mine and I haven't seen his name yet.
    • Mike Sixel, diehardtwinsfan, DJSim22 and 7 others like this

Good point Sir.I hereby second the motion.

Photo
diehardtwinsfan
Mar 13 2017 09:13 AM

 

I'm confused at how the waiver talk came into play. I didn't think players were exposed to waivers just for going on the 60-day DL. They just come off the 40-man roster until they're removed from the DL, then they go back on the roster if there's room. If there's a roster crunch at that point then someone is probably going through waivers to clear room.

 

The 60 day opens up another 40 man spot.Perkins will likely be 60 dayed.May definitely will.Both give an extra 40 man spot to put Park back on.There's no exposure to waivers for the 60 day (I believe).You cannot use 60 day DL in the offseason, which I suspect is why Park got moved, as they were confident he wasn't going to get claimed.

 

Otherwise, they'd have to DFA someone.

It could have been a big mistake for Vargas to have gone to sit on the bench for Team Puerto Rico rather than compete for a spot on the 25-man roster.  Park has definitely made some adjustments and is making the decision a lot harder on the Twins.  He's definitely got some ability and the right makeup, I'm hoping we will be pleasantly surprised by Park the year.

    • Dozier's Glorious Hair likes this
Photo
LA VIkes Fan
Mar 13 2017 09:45 AM

Park is ahead of Vargas if the competition started out even. I don't think it did; the spot (assuming there's one and only one) started out as Vargas' spot to lose. Even iwth that, Park has a real shot if he continues to hit like this. 

 

By the way, we all need to stop worrying about the "investment" in Park. That is a classic sunk cost and no well run business includes their sunk costs as a significant factor in making business decisions about future growth.  Park needs to win a job and what he is being paid only factors in to whether we keep him if he can't make a major league roster. Worrying about the sunk costs is exactly the kind of thing the old Front Office used to do and helps explain their ineffectiveness. Hopefully the new FO won't continue in that vein. We as fans all need to realize that the team will overpay some guys who don't perform to their contracts (cough, Mauer,cough) and see that as simply a cost of attempting to succeed. Good teams make their decisions based upon ability to help the team, not on contracts. I think one of the early tests of this FO will be if they can do that, along with their willingness to sacrifice short term wins for long term competitiveness by focusing on the younger players. . 

    • James, Ex-Iowegian, tarheeltwinsfan and 1 other like this
Photo
puckstopper1
Mar 13 2017 10:20 AM

 

I'm confused at how the waiver talk came into play. I didn't think players were exposed to waivers just for going on the 60-day DL. They just come off the 40-man roster until they're removed from the DL, then they go back on the roster if there's room. If there's a roster crunch at that point then someone is probably going through waivers to clear room.

The waiver talk has to do with Park, not May.  If they add Park to the 40 man, they would have to put him thru waivers (again) to remove him.  Thus I believe Respy was saying that the Twins better be darn sure that Park is in their future to add him to the 40 man.

    • ThejacKmp, Sconnie and Respy like this

It sure would, if he goes on the 60-day DL. I question that they are going to be willing to do this, though, because they might have to keep him on the 40-man indefinitely because I don't know if he'd clear waivers again at this point. Especially with the spring he's had.

As good as Park has been, I think they will decide to send him to Rochester and make him start raking there first. The FO seem to have already committed to giving Vargas his chance for full-time at-bats.

replacing May might mean adding a pitcher to the 40 man roster as well.
I, for one, am a ByungHo believer. I think he was coming around last year before he hurt his wrist and he's been swinging a good bat this spring. I would much rather see him on the 40 man than Danny San, and there will definitely be a spot with May going on the 60 day. With both Park and Vargas having options this gives the Twins the option of starting the season with the hot hand but shuffling as needed if that one cools too much. I am hoping the front office has the courage to give Park the shot.
    • USAFChief likes this
Park has hit the hard throwers heat this spring. Vargas' sluggin percentage last year can't be ignored.
I think Kennys is going to regret his decision to play or sit in the WBC.

This is what Molitor said last year. Park seemed to be ahead of pitches. When he tried to adjust, he was then behind. Usually this happened in the same at bat. His timing was just off.

 

ST won't tell us anything about Park. He exceeded my expectations last year in ST but then could not hit during the regular season. 

 

Park has hit the hard throwers heat this spring. Vargas' sluggin percentage last year can't be ignored.

 

Oh believe me. The Twins can ignore anything they want. :o


Similar Articles


by Cody Christie , 26 Nov 2017
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 14 Nov 2017
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 20 Sep 2017
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 10 Sep 2017
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 02 Sep 2017
Photo