Crowning the 2018 Sire of Fort Myers
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Fernando Romero)So, what the heck is the Sire of Fort Myers? Well, it’s my ripoff of the Mr. Mankato moniker people who covered the Vikings invented to acknowledge the unheralded player who had the most impressive training camp. Good luck coming up with a new name for 2018, by the way. Mr. Eagan just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Anyway, how do we define unheralded? Well, I decided that anyone who was either not on the 40-man roster or hasn’t played in the major leagues yet qualified. And just to be clear, this is all about the player’s performance in spring training. It’s not about who is most likely to break camp with the team or who has the most potential.
Without further adieu, here are the four players on the Sire of Fort Myers ballot:
This guy has been a beast. He’s hitting .487/.512/.795 (1.306 OPS) in 43 plate appearances and leads the Twins in virtually every offensive category.
The starting outfield is obviously set, plus Robbie Grossman and Zack Granite are also on the 40-man roster. Over the winter, the front office brought in Chris Heisey, a veteran of nearly 700 MLB games, and Nick Buss, who was the Pacific Coast League batting champ last year. As if that wasn’t enough competition, they also recently traded for outfielder Jake Cave, who ranked second in the International League with a .554 slugging percentage (min. 250 PAs) last season.
And yet here LaMarre is, still in camp with the big club. Seth wrote an excellent piece profiling LaMarre and his quest to crack the Opening Day roster.
El Toro’s time in big league camp as short, but oh boy was it sweet. Romero threw eight no-hit innings, struck out eight batters and issued just one walk before being optioned to the minors to get stretched out for the season. Romero, Twins Daily’s No. 2 prospect, recorded strikeouts against MLB regulars Caleb Joseph, Tim Beckham and Adam Jones in his first appearance and just kept rolling from there.
Speaking of the crowded outfield situation this spring, Wade was another guy in that mix and he arrived at Fort Myers as advertised. Despite ranking 18th on the team in plate appearances, the notoriously-patient Wade led the Twins with eight walks this spring and hit .304/.469/.391 (.860 OPS) before being sent over to minor league camp.
Gordon’s never going to be the biggest guy on the field, but there was nothing skinny about this kid’s slugging percentage while he was in big league camp. He slugged a healthy .636, which was bested by only LaMarre and Miguel Sano among Twins hitters with at least 10 at bats. He had some sketchy moments at shortstop early on, but made some slick plays at second base prior to being reassigned to the minor league side of camp.
D.J. Baxendale was a surprise candidate for the crown who emerged. Baxendale pitched five shutout innings and racked up six strikeouts this spring. Among his punchout victims were MLB regulars Josh Harrison, Gregory Polanco and Trey Mancini. Baxendale, the 2017 Killebrew Award winner for the Rochester Red Wings, gave up just three hits and did not walk a batter. Tyler Kinley showed impressive stuff and struck out 12 batters in 11 innings. Zack Littell gave up just one run over five frames to go with eight strikeouts. Jake Reed also surrendered just one run over six innings and had eight Ks. Brock Stassi hit .375/.464/.417. Willians Astudillo ... did you see that no-look pickoff throw?
What about (this guy)? Remember, the players who are both on the 40-man roster and have already played in the majors (like Gabriel Moya and Ehrie Adrianza) are not eligible.
Now it’s time to vote!
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