Who Will Be Crowned Sire of Fort Myers?
Image courtesy of Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (photo of Ryan LaMarre)It’s great to see the Twins back on the field, but let’s face it, these games are meaningless. Well, at least for the guys who are already established major leaguers.
There are very few spots up for grabs on the 25-man roster, but there are still guys who have a lot to gain from having strong showings down in Fort Myers. This is their chance to be seen by top members of the Twins coaching staff and front office. For the non-roster invitees who are in their mid to late 20s, this also represents an opportunity to showcase their skills to the other 29 MLB teams, not to mention overseas and independent leagues.
So who is eligible to be named Sire of Fort Myers? Anybody who’s not on the 40-man roster, even guys with several years of MLB service time, and anyone on the 40-man roster who hasn’t made their MLB debut also qualifies.
If you don’t think that crop of players is worth monitoring, I’d beg to differ. But, just to be clear, these guys' chances of breaking camp with the Twins are anywhere from remote to downright unthinkable. This isn't about identifying the player most likely to make the team, it's simply honoring the player who had the most impressive spring training performance.
Without further adieu, here are five pitchers and five hitters who have emerged as the early favorites for the title of Sire of Fort Myers:
Romero has gotta be the early frontrunner for the title. He’s pitched five no-hit innings, walked just one batter and has six strikeouts. In his first appearance of the spring, “El Toro” retired Caleb Joseph, Tim Beckham, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Trey Mancini in order, all of whom figure to be regulars in the Orioles lineup.
Littell is giving Romero a good run for his money so far. In five innings, Littell has given up a run on a pair of hits, but he’s also struck out eight batters and hasn’t issued a walk. He’s gotten the majority of his work late in games, once the MLB regulars have been replaced, but he’s been impressive nonetheless.
Gonsalves started against the Astros in his first official appearance of spring training (the exhibition against the Gophers doesn’t count), and faced a very recognizable lineup from the defending World Series champs. He gave up one run on four hits over 2.2 innings of work. In his other game, Gonsalves managed to pitch around a leadoff double to record a scoreless inning.
Reed went unprotected and then unselected in the Rule 5 Draft, but he’s off to a strong start down in Fort Myers. He’s racked up four strikeouts over three scoreless innings. Reed has primarily been working the later innings, so he hasn’t faced many hitters projected to be in the big leagues.
Being a Rule 5 pick, Kinley is easily the most likely guy on this list to break camp with the Twins. His overall numbers aren’t great, but he’s had to put in some extra work thanks to his defense misplaying a few balls. He’s struck out four batters in four innings while flirting with triple digits on the radar gun, but he’s also surrendered five hits and three walks.
Wade had his Arizona Fall League experience end with a scary outfield collision that resulted in him suffering a concussion. Just seeing him in camp and healthy is a great thing, but he’s also having no trouble tracking pitches so far this spring. Wade is 6-for-16 with four walks, a .500 on-base percentage.
This 29-year-old former outfielder for the Reds, Red Sox and A’s has made quite an early impression. LaMarre is 7-for-15 with a triple and a home run. There’s virtually zero chance he breaks camp with the Twins, even if he maintains his 1.342 OPS through the rest of spring, but it’s guys like him that make the late innings fun to watch. He’ll be playing his guts out.
Featherston, 28, has also played in the majors for three different clubs: the Angels, Phillies and Rays. He’s 6-for-17 with a pair of doubles and a homer. He fits into the same category as LaMarre, except he’s an infielder.
One interesting battle to watch this spring is the one for third catcher. Bobby Wilson is the favorite, as he has more than 300 major league games under his belt, but Sawyer is an interesting name in the mix. At the plate, the 26-year-old is 2-for-5 with a walk and he also threw out the only base runner who attempted to steal on him. Other contenders for the third catcher spot include Jordan Pacheco, Willians Astudillo and Brian Navarreto.
Gordon has had a few miscues in the field, but he’s flashed his extra-base power at the plate. Most of the remarks I’ve seen on Twitter from people seeing “G Cinco” play for the first time are about how skinny he is or how high he wears his socks, but in just nine plate appearances, he already has a double and a triple.
There are another dozen or so guys who are contenders for the title of Sire of Fort Myers, but this group of 10 has hit the ground running. If you’ve been following along with the early action, or better yet have already visited Fort Myers, please share your thoughts on anyone who has caught your eye.
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