Minnesota Twins Roster Projection 2015 Version 2.0
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA TodayWhen a player becomes a “given” for the roster (in my opinion), I will highlight the player’s name in red. Trades and signings can happen at any time between now and opening day, but that just means that even “givens” can change. We will also be able to learn, over time, what it is that Paul Molitor will look for from his roster. Feel free to discuss below.
Catchers (2): Kurt Suzuki, Josmil Pinto
Kurt Suzuki is the clear-cut starter and deservedly so after last year. Josmil Pinto goes into camp as the favorite to be the team’s backup catcher, but it will be a competition. Pinto certainly has the ability to hit and hit for power. The defense remains the question mark. Chris Herrmann is also on the 40-man roster. He has the ability to play the corner outfield positions, and the corner infield positions, in a pinch. He’s a very athletic catcher with a strong arm. Offensively, he has been unable to hit much in his stints with the Twins. Eric Fryer remains in the organization, and Dan Rohlfing was again a non-roster invite to big league camp.
Infielders (7): Kennys Vargas, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez
We will likely hear that there may be competition for a utility infield spot, but I did change Eduardo Nunez to a given. Things can happen, of course. There could be injuries, or a shortstop could be pushed back to centerfield. Those things could alter the opening day roster. Mauer, Dozier and Plouffe will man the bases. There will be some competition for the shortstop position, but Santana and Escobar will both be on the roster to start the season. Nunez is the one question mark, but he does have the ability to play at least five positions on the field. He may not be great at any of them, but his versatility is valuable.
His competition for the job comes in the form of non-roster invites. Fair or not, guys like Eric Farris, James Beresford and Doug Bernier would have to play significantly better than Nunez to take the job. That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen, but it is a long shot at this point of the spring.
Obviously guys like Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano could factor into the infield situation by the end of the year.
Outfielders (4): Oswaldo Arcia, Torii Hunter, Jordan Schafer, Aaron Hicks
Torii Hunter will be the right fielder. Oswaldo Arcia will play left field. Center field will likely remain a question mark through much of spring training. I still believe that the number one option is likely for Aaron Hicks to take charge of the position and show the Twins brass that he is ready this time. Fans, of course and understandably, won’t care what kind of numbers he puts up this spring or how ready he looks, they won’t believe it until he’s had a solid month in the big leagues. Jordan Schafer will be on the roster, but will he be the starting centerfielder or the fourth outfielder? If Hicks starts the season in Rochester, I think Shane Robinson has a good chance to be the fourth outfield or a platoon partner in center field with Schafer.
If Byron Buxton has two doubles every time he plays this spring, he enters into the equation already, though it’s much more likely he will arrive late in the season or even in 2016. Eddie Rosario will also be given an opportunity to compete for the center field job, and he might be the first guy called up during the season if there were an injury.
Starting Pitchers (5): Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone
As we know, Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco and Kyle Gibson have the first four rotation spots. There are four or five candidates for the fifth starter position. Last month, I looked at five5th starter candidates (Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone and Tim Stauffer). My personal opinion right now is that Tommy Milone has a slight edge over Trevor May in that competition while Meyer and Pelfrey will also be given long looks. Stauffer will likely go to the bullpen. However, it will be a real competition and may not be decided until April.
Bullpen (7): Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing, Tim Stauffer, Caleb Thielbar, Mike Pelfrey, JR Graham.
The first five on the above list are givens. After that, there are a lot of arms who will compete for just two more jobs. Paul Molitor indicated earlier this week that he intends to start the season with 12 pitchers.
Of course, the “losers” of the fifthstarter battle play a large role in this decision. Mike Pelfrey, depending upon his velocity, could be a good option for the bullpen. Alex Meyer and Trevor May have the stuff to be very good out of the bullpen at some point, but I would think the Twins would want them to keep starting at this point. JR Graham was the Rule 5 pick, so he will need to be kept on the active roster or offered back to the Braves.
Michael Tonkin is at the point in his career where the Twins need to find out what they have. He throws hard, but will he ever take the next step and be a reliable late-inning option? Pressly was the Rule 5 guy two years ago. The Twins were able to keep him all year and then use his first option last year. Lester Oliveros throws hard and recorded a lot of strikeouts in his first year back after Tommy John surgery. AJ Achter has been one of the most reliable bullpen arms in the Twins farm system the last three years. Mark Hamburger is not only one of the most intriguing stories of the spring, but he throws very hard and has a good mix of pitches thanks to all the time he has spent as a starter.
What are your thoughts? What does your roster look like one month from Opening Day?
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