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Only One Call Away

I had a discussion at work the other day with a friend asking who would be called up when or if the Twins make the move from 13 pitchers to 12 pitchers. It got me thinking well beyond just that singular question. Looking around the diamond, if a certain player or a certain position had an injury or needed a demotion, who would be the player to be called up next?

Most players promoted to the big leagues come from AAA, but occasionally we will see a player promoted directly from Double-A. So, let’s look at each position and think about who might be the logical player promoted if there was a need at that position.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Trevor Hildenberger)
In many cases, we will lump together some positions where it makes sense. I’d certainly welcome your feedback on each. Of course, circumstances in the big leagues and in the minor leagues can alter any of this thinking from day to day.

PITCHING

The Twins are already at 13 pitchers, and as Nick noted it would probably be good if they can drop down to 12 pitchers in the near future. Obviously that change would happen in the bullpen as opposed to dropping to a four-man rotation.


Starting Pitcher

Who would be the next starting pitcher up if the Twins need a new starting pitcher? What if Adalberto Mejia struggles for three or four more starts? What if one of the five starters got hurt?

One option, of course, would be to move Tyler Duffey back into the starting rotation. That isn’t a terrible option, but frankly, I’ve enjoyed watching his performance and how his stuff plays out of the bullpen.

Jose Berrios threw six shutout innings in his first outing of the Rochester season. He will be back on the mound on Thursday afternoon. He’s been there, and maybe if he had not gone to the WBC, he would be in the rotation now. No real way to know that with certainty.

40-Man Roster Options: Two starters at AA Chattanooga are on the 40-man roster. Felix Jorge and Fernando Romero could be options for spot-start scenarios now. Maybe by season’s end, they will be ready for more.

Non-Roster Options: Nick Tepesch was one of the last pitchers sent back to the minor leagues, so he is an option. Aaron Slegers made his first AAA start on Tuesday and threw six no-hit innings. Paul Clemens made 16 MLB starts last year (between the Padres and Marlins). He struggled in his first start for Chattanooga, but he could be an option as well.


Left-Handed Relief Pitcher

The Twins currently have two relief pitchers, Taylor Rogers and Craig Breslow. Ryan O’Rourke is on the 10-Day disabled list. Glen Perkins is on the 60-Day D. As of today the guy who would be called up would be Buddy Boshers.

40-man Roster Options: Mason Melotakis is healthy, and he’s pitched well so far in Chattanooga. He should surface sometime in 2017. Randy Rosario was just promoted to Chattanooga. We saw what he can do in spring training. Both of these guys throw in the mid-to-upper 90s with very good sliders.

Non-Roster Options: Tyler Jay is the name to watch but as you know, he’s on the DL with some biceps tendinitis. Still, he could be in the equation later in the year.

The other option is to go with one left-hander in the bullpen and select a right-handed reliever.


Right-Handed Relief Pitcher

The Twins currently have six right-handers in the big league bullpen. That includes Rule 5 pick Justin Haley. But if there were an injury, who would be called up? The answer for who I think would be called up now might be surprising. I think they call would go to Trevor Hildenberger. The side-winding right-hander is again off to a great start, this time in AAA. He is not on the 40-man roster

40-Man Roster Options: It was a surprise when JT Chargois was optioned late in camp. For those who follow the daily minor league reports, you’re aware that although he isn’t on the DL, he has yet to pitch. It isn’t believed to be long-term.

Non-Roster Options: Jake Reed is on the DL due to his side injury. Alex Wimmers lasted late into spring training. His first outing of the year was rough, but he is capable. One name not often talked about is Alan Busenitz. He came from the Angels in the Ricky Nolasco trade. While he’s not a big man, he does throw very hard.


Outfielders

The Twins outfield is currently playing great defensively, but all three have struggled with the bat to start the season. So has fourth outfielder Danny Santana. And Robbie Grossman has only DHd, but he could play both corner spots.

Right now, I think that Daniel Palka would be the guy called up if any of the three starting outfielders went on the D. He plays right field and can play left field (as well as DH), and both Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler can play center field.

40-Man Roster Options: Zack Granite started the season on the DL with a strained oblique, but once healthy and with a few games under his belt, he could certainly be an option as well.

Non-Roster Options: Ben Paulsen had a good spring training, and he’s off to a fast start in Rochester. He’s primarily played left field, but he can play first base too.JB Shuck was one of the last cuts from big league camp too.


Third Base/Second Base/Shortstop

Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier and Jorge Polanco are going to play most every day. Eduardo Escobar has spelled Sano a couple of times, and Polanco once. Danny Santana can also play at any of those positions. I think if there was a short-term (maybe 10-day DL) situation that the Twins would call up Engelb Vielma. If it was more of a potentially long-term injury situation, I think that Tommy Field would likely be added to the 40-man roster and called up. He can be a backup at all three spots, plus has spent some time in the outfield too.

40-Man Roster Options: Ehire Adrianza is on the DL. Since he is out of options, the team will need to make a decision on him when he is ready to return. Or, they would need to make a decision on someone else.

Non-Roster Options: Niko Goodrum chose to stay with the Twins organization this year rather than test free agency. He made a good impression during spring training, and he’s off to a fast start in Rochester, playing a lot of shortstop but also second base and center field so far. Matt Hague might be a possibility at third base. Bengie Gonzalez also had a terrific showing in big league camp. Nick Gordon? Probably not yet, but maybe by the end of the season.


First Base/Designated Hitter

Joe Mauer is at first base most days with Chris Gimenez as his backup. Robbie Grossman has been the main DH, particularly against left-handers.

Right now, the easy choice for call up is Kennys Vargas. He’s on the 40-man roster. He lost time due to being in the WBC (and hardly playing). He recently hit his first home for the Red Wings.

40-Man Roster Options: I mean, the option is Vargas, though I think there is another good option. Mitch Garver has always been a hitter. And, he’s off to a fast start in Rochester. But he’s a catcher, right? Sure, but he’s played quite a bit of first base in his career, and he can DH, plus he can get time behind the plate.

Non-Roster Options: Byungho Park may have been the choice at the end of spring training, but he went on the DL with a hamstring injury on Tuesday. Matt Hague was strong in spring training and has a long track record of success in the International League. Ben Paulsen is also a candidate for first base, DH and can play the corner outfield spots too.


Catcher

The Twins have had fast starts from Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez both at the plate and behind the plate. But if one of them was to get hurt, who would come up?

Truthfully, I think it depends on which player got hurt. I think that if Chris Gimenez were to go on the DL, the Twins would call up John Ryan Murphy to be the backup to Jason Castro. I think if it was Castro was the one to get hurt, we could see Mitch Garver so that he can be the primary starter.

Those are the two options right now on the 40-man roster, and both are at AAA Rochester. At AA are Dan Rohlfing and Jose Gonzalez.

So there you have it, a lot of words to cover the What Ifs that the game of baseball can present. As we know, there will likely be eight to ten pitchers who will make starts at some point this season. It’s also likely that up to 15 relievers will pitch for the Twins. Even for position players, there will be injuries, maybe some demotions, and then September.
What are your thoughts on who will surface in the big leagues and the scenarios it could happen?

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35 Comments

The 40-man roster debate!

 

You have Danny Santana, Michael Tonkin and Justin Haley who could all disappear if they don't put up decent numbers...because there are adequate replacements in the wings. And you have Boshers in the minors holing up a spot.

 

And you have to decide on Kennys Vargas.

 

Of course, having people like Park on the disabled list never helps matters.

 

Dilemma #1. What to do when O'Rourke and Adrianza come off the DL. O'Rourke could go to the minors. Adrianza needs to stay (even though he could probably pass thru waivers at this point).

 

Dilemma #2: The rotation. Can you trust Gibson and Hughes in the long haul? Is Mejia ready? Is it better to keep Duffey in the bullpen (yes). Can the Twins get six innings out of each of their pitchers the next go around?

 

What about the outfield? Do we panic? Who lays out there. Looks like Santana is basically a fourth wheel getting stuck in the mud and your true 4th outfielder is still in the DH land. You gotta play Buxton, Kepler and Rosario to see what you have. But someone will be on the bubble and hopefully Palka and Granite are in the wings. Also, remember, Palka is a designated hitter possibility...someday.

 

I don't see the Twins jumping anyone from AA ball to the majors. I also don't see them adding anyone of note to the 40-man. At best, we see them shuffle thru any of the variety of minor league free agents they signed, jettisoning them when the time comes and they move prospects into play at each level.

i'd like to see Adrianza or Goodrum on the team for no other reason than it would likely mean Danny Santana is no longer on the roster. 

 

Adrianza can't hit and Goodrum definitely isn't a long term solution.  But they both have one thing going for them... they aren't Danny Santana

    • ScrapTheNickname likes this

I've been wondering the same thing about Hildenberger.  Though perhaps less flashy as a prospect, he seems like somebody who has consistently taken care of business, and is once again.  Burdi seems to be off to a good start.  Don't want to waste to many of those bullets, as they say.

 

I've always been hopeful for Goodrum, and remain so.  His two error game at 2B notwithstanding, it seems like he could be a poor man's Javy Baez/Ben Zobrist doppleganger.  He's still pretty young, isn't he?

 

With what depth there is at SP, we may get a chance to see Romero debut this year.

 

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN, bluechipper and 1 other like this

I like the speculation, but most options are not very inspiring.  I think Garver is in a really tough situation.  I understand that they love Giminez and Garver sits, but when Giminez goes into the field it is ridiculous.  

 

Right now Berrios is really the only interesting SP prospect until the younger guys get established through the season and relief pitching is completely confusing since we have been reading about all the great minor leagur relievers for years and all we have so far is Tonkin and Rogers from the minor league pool.  I do not count Pressly as one of our minor league developments.

 

I keep looking for 3B because I do not believe Sano is long for the position and I am not seeing the next player to fill that spot.

On Garver "playing every day".....that won't happen this year, if Castro is healthy, or next year, if Castro is healthy. Keeping him in AAA just to "catch every day" makes no sense given Castro's contract. That said, I'm good with another month or so in AAA, but if he continues to hit, he should be up and in the lineup.

 

Did I miss it, or was Gonsalves not mentioned? Can't recall if he's hurt or what.

 

Putting a bunch of old players in the bullpen, w/o options, makes it really hard to make moves. Why? Because you are scared you might lose a mediocre old guy who isn't part of the future. It was a mistake, given where they are, and it remains a mistake. They have no flexibility. 

    • Oldgoat_MN, bluechipper and rghrbek like this
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clutterheart
Apr 13 2017 07:57 AM

I’ve liked Goodrum too.If he stops striking out a lot and if he could play 3B at the MLB level I think he could have a shot.
But he is 25 and probably he is what he is at this point.

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ashburyjohn
Apr 13 2017 08:12 AM

Niko Goodrum chose to stay with the Twins organization this year rather than test free agency. He made a good impression during spring training, and he’s off to a fast start in Rochester,

With the bat, perhaps, but what about the glove? Seems to me his defense continues to be far too inconsistent for someone like Molitor to put up with. He'll make a difficult play, and then on an easier one, mess it up. I'm dealing with small sample size in my observations, but it seems to me he finds a different way to mess up each time (misjudge, wide throw, overthrow, etc), so it's not just one correctable thing either.

 

/ edit - with regard to the fast start in Rochester, I looked at b-r.com and I don't see a line for him in 2017 at all. His line is on Fangraphs. Guess I need to file a bug report.

 

With the bat, perhaps, but what about the glove? Seems to me his defense continues to be far too inconsistent for someone like Molitor to put up with. He'll make a difficult play, and then on an easier one, mess it up. I'm dealing with small sample size in my observations, but it seems to me he finds a different way to mess up each time (misjudge, wide throw, overthrow, etc), so it's not just one correctable thing either.

 

The same Molitor that plays DanSan 40% of the time is the guy you think is worried about defensive consistency?

    • ashburyjohn, Thrylos, beckmt and 1 other like this

 

With the bat, perhaps, but what about the glove? Seems to me his defense continues to be far too inconsistent for someone like Molitor to put up with. He'll make a difficult play, and then on an easier one, mess it up. I'm dealing with small sample size in my observations, but it seems to me he finds a different way to mess up each time (misjudge, wide throw, overthrow, etc), so it's not just one correctable thing either.

 

/ edit - with regard to the fast start in Rochester, I looked at b-r.com and I don't see a line for him in 2017 at all. His line is on Fangraphs. Guess I need to file a bug report.

 

Goodrum had two errors yesterday, but they were at second base, the position he's probably played the least. But if he's destined to be a utility option, it's a position he's going to need to be able to play so they need to keep putting him out there. 

    • ashburyjohn, DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this
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ashburyjohn
Apr 13 2017 08:27 AM

The same Molitor that plays DanSan 40% of the time is the guy you think is worried about defensive consistency?

*shrug* We'll see what backhanded comments Paul makes, if and when Niko is promoted. :)

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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ashburyjohn
Apr 13 2017 08:31 AM

Goodrum had two errors yesterday, but they were at second base, the position he's probably played the least. But if he's destined to be a utility option, it's a position he's going to need to be able to play so they need to keep putting him out there. 

He botched a ball as a late-inning substitute in a game I watched in Sarasota for the big-league team, and that was at shortstop. And I think a butchered play I saw on one of the backfields was also at short, because Vielma was at second. Your observation means he qualifies as a Utility Mishandler, although I haven't seen him at third. :)

 

Goodrum had two errors yesterday, but they were at second base, the position he's probably played the least. But if he's destined to be a utility option, it's a position he's going to need to be able to play so they need to keep putting him out there. 

Typically that would be true, but not on this team.

We have Dozier, Polanco and Escobar who can play that position. While a true utility infielder should play all 3 positions it is not as important to this team, even if one goes down to injury or trade.

    • USAFChief, Tom Froemming and MN_ExPat like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Apr 13 2017 08:46 AM

 

I like the speculation, but most options are not very inspiring.  I think Garver is in a really tough situation.  I understand that they love Giminez and Garver sits, but when Giminez goes into the field it is ridiculous.  

 

Right now Berrios is really the only interesting SP prospect until the younger guys get established through the season and relief pitching is completely confusing since we have been reading about all the great minor leagur relievers for years and all we have so far is Tonkin and Rogers from the minor league pool.  I do not count Pressly as one of our minor league developments.

 

I keep looking for 3B because I do not believe Sano is long for the position and I am not seeing the next player to fill that spot.

I think Dozier is the next 3B when Mauer is done in the next year or two and Sano moves over to 1B.  Dozier is not a great 2B because of his minimal range. Moving him to 3B next year or the year after keeps one of the few established MLB hitters we have in the lineup while minimizing his defensive issues. Polanco can then move to 2B (or stay at SS if the experiment works) and there's room for Adrianza, Gordon or Vielma at SS.  

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Pardon My Dinger
Apr 13 2017 09:06 AM

I think Dozier is the next 3B when Mauer is done in the next year or two and Sano moves over to 1B. Dozier is not a great 2B because of his minimal range. Moving him to 3B next year or the year after keeps one of the few established MLB hitters we have in the lineup while minimizing his defensive issues. Polanco can then move to 2B (or stay at SS if the experiment works) and there's room for Adrianza, Gordon or Vielma at SS.


Dozier' looking great at 2b so far this year. Polanco' more likely to shift to his right when Gordon grows up.

HAWT taek:

The OF replacement is a person who's currently not in the organization... Think of a David Murphy type that doesn't decide to retire the day before getting a call-up. 

    • Mike Sixel and HitInAPinch like this

 

 

    • Vanimal46 likes this

I hope that the new Twins executives the more familiar they get with the teams' assets both at the majors and the minors are starting to make each and every personnel decision based on future and long term success.

 

If the team is competing this season and (lets say) Phil Hughes is out for a couple months, mr Tepesch will not cut it, as replacement, and they better go out there and get a pitcher who can help them win.

 

If they are not competing this season, I hope that the replacements are players who are having some future with the organization, so mr Tepesch should not cut it either in that scenario.  And in the team is not competing, there is zero point of having anyone (other than Mauer who you cannot give away for free) who will not be part of future success, so a fire sale should happen.

 

Still disappointed that Dozier is a Minnesota Twins palyer right now...

    • Mike Sixel and Oldgoat_MN like this

Great article.It shows great depth of thought and gives us lots to think of.Jokingly, the article could be entitled "Twins 2019-2020 Roster"

 

If I had only a little criticism, it would be that Palka's strikeout rate would not help a team that already strikes out a lot.

 

Again, thank you for a thoughtful piece.

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FormerMinnasotan
Apr 13 2017 03:08 PM
Well Berrios is definitely making it hard to keep him in AAA for much longer. In his second start today he went 8 innings (on 84 pitches) gave up 4 hits and 1 unearned run striking out 6 and walking none. Most impressively of the 84 pitches 64 were strikes. I think even if Mejia has a repeat performance of his season debut tomorrow Berrios might be coming back to Minnesota as he has looked much more in control this year than he did last year.
    • Vanimal46 and MN_ExPat like this

 

Well Berrios is definitely making it hard to keep him in AAA for much longer. In his second start today he went 8 innings (on 84 pitches) gave up 4 hits and 1 unearned run striking out 6 and walking none. Most impressively of the 84 pitches 64 were strikes. I think even if Mejia has a repeat performance of his season debut tomorrow Berrios might be coming back to Minnesota as he has looked much more in control this year than he did last year.

 

Glad to hear the good news about Berrios! 

    • flpmagikat likes this
Great talking points Seth.
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HitInAPinch
Apr 14 2017 02:24 AM

Not really sure what Twins management is doing here,but can't really expect big changes in there first year.....

 

Basically, I'm on the side of dumping the middling set of veterans the Twins have and aggressively move to the future.It would be very ugly, and many have not shown to temperament for such a thing.

 

I believe the everyday lineup is pretty good, but definitely needs better defense.Any trade the Twins make forDozier or Santana should include both a starting and relief pitcher.Berrios still needs to prove himself as a MLB pitcher. 

 

 

 

 

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twinssporto
Apr 15 2017 10:42 PM

 

Not really sure what Twins management is doing here,but can't really expect big changes in there first year.....

 

Basically, I'm on the side of dumping the middling set of veterans the Twins have and aggressively move to the future.It would be very ugly, and many have not shown to temperament for such a thing.

 

I believe the everyday lineup is pretty good, but definitely needs better defense.Any trade the Twins make forDozier or Santana should include both a starting and relief pitcher.Berrios still needs to prove himself as a MLB pitcher. 

I agree that there may not be a lot of changes this year with the new FO still figuring things out but from a defensive aspect I think we are on the right track. The outfield from a defensive stand point looks really solid.  Behind the plate we are good, Mauer is doing well defensively at first base.  Dozier is actually doing well so far this year too.  Polanco and Sano are the bigger question marks.  7 out of 9 isn't bad.   

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diehardtwinsfan
Apr 16 2017 07:20 AM

I'm not too worried at SP.Mejia hasn't been bad (though he hasn't been good either) and needs time, but two starts in, he's held his own for a 5th starter. Some one will falter or get hurt, and Berrios will be there to take over.He's got to be the top one on the list. Right now, though, I think Sleegers is the next guy I bring up if they need someone, but that's a 40 man move.We have some 40 man fodder, so no worries yet.I'm not against trying Duffey out as a starter again, but that's going to likely mean a trip to Rochester at some point.As long as the starters are healthy and producing though, I'm fine with 2017 being Duffey's year in the pen. He can decide in 2018 if he wants to start or not.

 

Offensively, I've got to wonder when one of Vargas/Park comes up, but that will move Grossman to the OF full time, and honestly, while the defense has been good, the offense in the OF has not been so much, though for now I'm fine being patient. Rosario's peripherals continue to improve, and Kepler just needs at bats. It's Buxton that needs to get his head screwed on straight at the plate.

 

Goodrum is the next Santana, though I think his bat will play up better in the bigs (though that is not a certainty). He's a bat first utility guy. His defense is pretty bad.I'm not against him replacing Santana at some point, but I'm not convinced that Goodrum is a better defender than DSan... 

As of this morning, (4/17), there are seven position players at Rochester with slash lines at or above .290/.360/.550/.900.

 

(Very) Small sample size, but its nice to know.


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