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Twins To Promote Alex Kirilloff for Playoffs

No question, the biggest surprise on the Twins AL Wild Card series roster when it gets announced on Tuesday morning will be outfielder Alex Kirllloff.

The Star-Tribune’s Phil Miller tweeted that the “Twins may have a surprise in store on tomorrow’s playoff roster: They are discussing promoting former first-rounder Alex Kirilloff for this series.”

Twins Daily has confirmed that Kirilloff did receive The Call late on Monday night.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said before Game 1 on Tuesday. "It's a move that, once you get to know the player and the person, you're excited to make. He's a young guy. very mature guy." He added, "He doesn't seem to let very much affect him at all. A guy who worries about the things he can control, and that's it."

Baldelli was talking about Alex Kirilloff, the Twins first-round draft pick in 2016 out of Plum High School in Pittsburgh, the 15th overall pick that year. The day he was drafted, he led his team to the state championship game.



Kirilloff had committed to Liberty University, but he quickly signed with the Twins and went to Elizabethton where he made a strong first impression. In 55 games, he hit .306/.341/.454 (.794) with nine doubles and seven home runs.

Unfortunately, his season came to an end early when he hurt his elbow. In March of 2017, he had Tommy John surgery and missed that season.

Rehab went well, and he returned to the diamond in 2018. He hit like he hadn’t missed a beat. In 65 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, he hit .333/.391/.607 (.999) with 20 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. He was promoted to Ft. Myers, where he also played 65 games and hit .362/.393/.550 (.943) with 24 doubles and seven home runs. He helped the Miracle to the 2018 Florida State League championship. He jumped up prospect rankings nationally and was ranked as high as #9 on MLB.com’s rankings.

In 2019, he was invited to his first big league spring training and went 8-for-26 (.308). He played 94 games for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He hit .283/.343/.413 (.756) with 18 doubles and nine home runs. He also played 35 games at first base, a position he hadn’t played some he had done so on the national circuit during his summers in high school.

He was invited to Twins spring training this year for a second time. He went 9-for-21 (.429) with two doubles and two home runs.



Unfortunately, the global pandemic delayed the season. He was likely to head back to Double-A Pensacola for a short stint, or maybe even just would have started at Triple-A Rochester. Instead, he was added to the Twins 60-player pool for Summer Camp and has spent the past two months where he has continued to work in the outfield and at first base.

And on Monday night, Kirilloff got the phone call that every ballplayer dreams of. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called him and told him that he was on the Twins Wild Card playoff roster.

Baldelli said, "Chatted with him for a little while and also told him that he was going to make our playoff roster. The tone on the other end of the line did not change a ton. I think he said, 'Oh yeah. That's awesome.' And that was essentially it. That's exactly what I expected to get from him. If I had gotten anything different from him, then I would have been concerned. But that's Alex Kirilloff, a really, really talented young player, and a guy we're going to see out there. I can see getting him into these games and helping us win."

Kirilloff acknowledged, "Sometimes my emotions don't match up with my reaction. I was surprised, and definitely happy and excited for the opportunity. We've stayed ready all summer."

It will be interesting to see what role he will play through the Twins playoff run, regardless of how long it lasts.

Kirilloff added, "If there's an opportunity where I'm needed, my job is just to stay ready and to do my best."

As a star throughout his baseball-playing career, Kirilloff has really never had to pinch hit much. "Pinch hitting is, I can't really say, is something I'm too familiar with. I am familiar with what I do to prepare in my approach throughout my at bat. That's something that I will lean upon as called upon."



Derek Falvey noted before Tuesday's game that with using just 13 pitchers on the 28-man roster. "Thinking about how we could maximize some of the potential matchups and opportunities over the course of a two or three game series, just felt like he could fit with Josh being clearly down and the ability to play the outfield. Rocco has a lot of options now as he works through managing a game, and we have some protection in a few spots. Also, he is a good hitter, and he's someone we think can help us."

After the phone call, he called his parents and his wife. His wife, Jordan, and their daughter were in St. Paul for a little over a month.

If he were to play during the series, he would become the first Twins player to make his Major League debut in the playoffs. Let’s take a quick look at his journey to the big leagues.

More On Alex Kirilloff

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32 Comments

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the guy, but what on earth is this move? The Twins had plenty of chances to bring him up during the regular season with a lot of regulars going down with injuries, and now they're going to throw him in the lineup during the playoffs? 

    • denarded, notoriousgod71, mikelink45 and 8 others like this
This seems ominous. Maybe Buxton can't go. Whom else would he be replacing?
    • notoriousgod71, mikelink45, DocBauer and 3 others like this

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the guy, but what on earth is this move? The Twins had plenty of chances to bring him up during the regular season with a lot of regulars going down with injuries, and now they're going to throw him in the lineup during the playoffs? 

Is it service-time related, maybe?

    • gunnarthor and Dman like this

I don't think this is anything terribly concerning -- my guess would be that he's filling the Rooker role of bench bat that can be called on in an emergency. I doubt he'll get much playing time, but given the way Rooker came up an immediately mashed, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he did.

    • Dman, DocBauer, JoshDungan1 and 5 others like this
What are the chances he’s up for Sano? I mean, Sano can’t seem to hit right now...

What if Sano is gonna play 3B for Donaldson?

What if’s will get ya, interesting to see how this plays out.
    • denarded, nokomismod, Dantes929 and 1 other like this
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Old Twins Cap
Sep 29 2020 06:22 AM

Sano looks lost right now against RH pitching.

 

Other than that, if a someone gets injured during the series, I would assume MLB allows for a replacement to be named.

 

So, my bet:reward for being the best player with the best attitude over in St. Paul.

 

Who wouldn't want to sit on the Twins bench for the playoff run? 

 

And may it be long and interesting.

    • Dantes929, wabene, dex8425 and 2 others like this

These are all interesting thoughts. To put it bluntly, the guy should have been on the roster all season. He's shown he can hit at every level and deserved the chance from the get go. If he only hits .250 that's more than Sano, Cave, Wade, Kepler, and the greatly over-rated Marwin. 

    • mikelink45, Dman, JoshDungan1 and 2 others like this

Very interesting. Have to believe that it is related to some player(s) injury. Wouldn't surprise me to learn at some point that one of several Twins have been playing thru some nagging injury. Maybe Sano? Cruz? Could see Kirilloff getting at bats in either case. 

    • wabene likes this
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stringer bell
Sep 29 2020 06:34 AM

I've imagined Kirilloff to be a Joey Votto type of hitter, high batting average, relatively few strikeouts lots of extra base hits, but not a threat to win a home run championship. I've also seen him as the surest bet to be a major league regular of all of the Twins prospects. 

 

It's puzzling to see him called up now, but I guess the Twins must know what they're doing. The Twins have won the most regular reason games in the American League since Baldelli became manager. They are the only AL repeat division winner. Still waiting for postseason success.

    • gunnarthor, Dman, MN_ExPat and 2 others like this

 

Is it service-time related, maybe?

Shouldn't be. Kirilloff has been unable to earn a full season of service time since about August 13th. He probably passed the usual "super 2" cutoff by Labor Day.

    • Chachi, bighat, MN_ExPat and 2 others like this

Why not the entire last week to get used to being on the team.This is really strange.I have wanted him all year.Rooker and Jeffers showed that good young players can give your team energy.I would have Blankenhorn on the roster too. 

    • lukeduke1980 likes this
Welcome aboard! No pressure... You’re just making your MLB debut in the playoffs. Go get em.
    • gunnarthor, Dantes929, mikelink45 and 4 others like this

Question is:

 

Will the starting OF vs Righties be:

 

1) Rosario, Cave and Kepler

 

2) Rosario, Kepler, Kirilloff

 

If Kirilloff pulls a Rooker and comes out swinging, #2 might be a better option

    • nokomismod and blindeke like this

Holy shnikes!

Photo
Haunchy McGee
Sep 29 2020 07:56 AM

 

These are all interesting thoughts. To put it bluntly, the guy should have been on the roster all season. He's shown he can hit at every level and deserved the chance from the get go. If he only hits .250 that's more than Sano, Cave, Wade, Kepler, and the greatly over-rated Marwin. 

Nobody cares about batting average anymore. Wade isn't with the team, Sano is there for the occasional big fly, and Cave has been among the Twins' most important players in the closing weeks of the season.

Good effort, though.

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

Let the 28 man roster thoughts go wild now.  Kirillof better lefty power pop bat for pinch hit vs a guy like Avila in late game situation.  He has no history in bigs, opposing team will have no book on him.  Interesting move for sure.  

    • spanman2, Shaitan and Joey P like this

 

Nobody cares about batting average anymore. 

 

Speak for yourself. I still rely on it as an important indicator.

    • USAFChief, Dantes929, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

First, good for him. Second, I imagine next years Twins are going to look a bit different. 

 

Hope we win this series.

    • Vanimal46 and MN_ExPat like this

Huh. Definitely surprising. Sano has a nagging injury, so maybe he plays some at first. Otherwise, an upgrade over anyone on the bench to pinch hit. 

I made a case in another article that they should have called him up for the last couple of weeks of the season as he couldn't do any worse than Wade or Cave.I guess things are bad enough now that a fresh bat, a good contact bat is needed in this strikeout heavy offense.Honestly he would be a good replacement for a slumping Sano and if Buxton cannot go then he should be fine in the outfield.Personally I think it is a good move.

Who is coming off the 28-man roster? The 40-man roster? Any info? Thanks.

 

Nobody cares about batting average anymore. Wade isn't with the team, Sano is there for the occasional big fly, and Cave has been among the Twins' most important players in the closing weeks of the season.

Good effort, though.

 

Speak for yourself. I still rely on it as an important indicator.

Bases loaded, 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th tied or behind one. Do you want Sano or Arraez? I will take Arraez 100 out of 100 times and 100% because of batting average.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

 

Who is coming off the 28-man roster? The 40-man roster? Any info? Thanks.

Corresponding move not yet announced. Kirilloff was already postseason eligible, due to being included in their 40-player postseason pool last week, but they will need to clear a 40-man roster spot to actually add him to the 28-man active roster now. (And the 45/60 day IL is no longer an option to make room, since the regular season is over.)

I immediately thought of Kubel. because my memory was he came in a tough situation against Rivera in the playoffs with almost no at bats that year. I might be dreaming though cuz I can't find that game. Maybe thinking of someone else. Did discover he was 2-29 in his playoff career.Another big reason for the playoff losing streak.  

    • nokomismod likes this

 

I've imagined Kirilloff to be a Joey Votto type of hitter, high batting average, relatively few strikeouts lots of extra base hits, but not a threat to win a home run championship. I've also seen him as the surest bet to be a major league regular of all of the Twins prospects. 

 

Lot of work needed on plate discipline to compare to Votto's (one of the all-time greats in that regard, especially when accounting for eras), but I'll take similar batting averages!

 

I love this move, but also find it quite odd. He should have been here when Rooker went down to get his feet wet. If there's a player where the stage won't be too big, Kirilloff is a good bet, but there's a lot of volatility in how any rookie will respond so this could get weird, hah.

    • mikelink45 and MN_ExPat like this

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