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Twins Blogosphere


Celestino Looking to Impress this Spring, Debut this Summer(?)

In an organization with such great corner outfielder depth, the Twins may also have a center field prospect to compliment them. The Twins acquired Gilberto Celestino in a 2018 trade with the Astros, and he is developing into a very intriguing prospect.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
The same day that the Twins signed infielder Wander Javier (July 2, 2015), the Astros signed Gilberto Celestino to a $2.25 million signing bonus. Celestino ranked as a top ten international prospect. At the time, he was known for his defense but also had a polish to his game.

A great athlete, the Twins acquired him along with reliever Jorge Alcala in exchange for reliever Ryan Pressly. Alcala has made his mark already after a strong rookie showing in 2020. It’s entirely possible that Celestino will join him at some point in 2021.

Celestino has already impressed many throughout the organization in a number of ways including his spring training manager.

Rocco Baldelli spoke glowingly of the 22-year-old, “Celly’s an easy guy to say some positive things about on both sides of the ball. I’ll start though with talking about him and his makeup and his character. He’s a young man, but he has some wisdom to him. I would say he’s wise beyond his years. He’s got a great relaxed heartbeat. He’s got great feel. He’s a sharp young man, too. There’s a ton in the clubhouse that I think his teammates respect and enjoy about him.”

Celestino was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November of 2019. That season, he had played in 117 games at Low-A Cedar Rapids before finishing the season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. Combined, he hit .277/.349/.410 (.759) with 28 doubles and ten home runs. He also had 14 stolen bases.

But, let’s start with the defense. Celestino has made his mark on an international level. After the 2018 season, he represented the Dominican Republic in the U23 World Cup. He made a couple of incredible highlight-reel plays in center field.




Celestino noted, “I think I take pride in my defense. It makes me proud. Not just here, but any team that I am playing with, I take pride in my defense as well. I consider myself a good outfielder.”

The following catch is the one that caught the attention of a huge audience, and it is the one that he considers his favorite catch to date.




He recalled the play, “The leap, going back. When the ball left the bat, I knew it was over my head, and I just put a lot of effort and concentration into catching that ball. At the end, I had to leap and it was in my glove. It was a great feeling, having that opportunity to make that play and represent my country.”

Wearing the uniform of the Dominican Republic is something that Celestino has done going back even before signing a professional contract. It’s something he doesn’t take for granted.

“It feels really good. It’s pride. One always is proud when you go out there and represent your country.”

Here is one more great defensive play by Celestino. This one was from November of 2019 at the Premier12 tournament.




Baldelli, who was a very good center fielder in his playing days, said of Celestino, “Defensively, he can play all three outfield positions. You have no hesitation putting him in center field. Once again, he’s got good feel out there. He looks like a very good outfielder with his movements, with his actions. And he’s very comfortable on a baseball field. He never looks like the game speeds up on him.”

And in spring training, Celestino gets to work with Gold Glover winner Byron Buxton. “I talk to him every day. I try to pick his brain. He’s obviously a great defender, so when I go out there with him, I ask him questions. One of the things that impressed me is his first step defensively, reading the ball. The first step is the most important one and he does a great job at that, and that’s why I think he’s a great outfielder. So I pick his brain on that, and I want to be like that too. Looking forward to that and keep learning from him.”

Offensively, Celestino has been a little more streaky, but he has a lot of potential with the bat too. In 2019, he began the season by really struggling in the cold weather of Cedar Rapids. In April, he hit just .203 with a .506 OPS. In May, he hit .229 with a .644 OPS. He hit .240 in June, but he started hitting the ball with more authority, posting a .694 OPS thanks to ten extra base hits.

Then in July, things clicked. Celestino hit .369/.430/.563 (.993) with seven doubles, two triples and three home runs. In August, he hit .327/.396/.500 (.896) with eight doubles and three homers. That included his final eight games in Ft. Myers.

Celestino describes himself as “a line drive hitter that is developing more power in the future.”

Baldelli agreed, “At the plate, he’s got really good contact skills. He can have a really good at-bat, the kind of at-bats you might expect a more veteran player to have. But he has those kinds of at-bats. I’d call it a line drive, doubles type bat. There’s some pop in there. He really does find a way to put the bat on the ball.”




His offense was something that Celestino focused much of his time working on, especially at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul last summer.

“During summer camp last year, I was focused on hitting, my mechanics, slowing down the movements and recognizing pitches. Those were my main focus last summer during that camp.”

The time spent in St. Paul last year wasn’t easy, but it was time that Celestino appreciated and took advantage of. He said, “The way I looked at it, it was a great opportunity for me for growth, and taking advice from veteran players that were at camp as well. Learning a little bit from those guys and picking their brains. It was a good opportunity for me to be there.”

Celestino is now in his second big-league spring training.

He said, “I think last year I came into camp, and I wanted to do things right and learn. This year, I want to keep learning obviously and leave a good impression.”
His goals for the upcoming season?

“It doesn’t matter where I start, but I want to end up in the big leagues in 2021. Rather than thinking about any statistics, that will be my main goal for 2021, to make the big leagues.”

Like most of us, getting to the big leagues is something Celestino has dreamed about.

“I’ve imagined it before. I’ve been thinking about it. If it happens, it’ll be a dream come true, not just for me, but also for my family and the people who have surrounded me in my career and the people who have been there for me. It will be important for them too. It’s not only my dream, but it’s also their dream. Like my parents, they’ve always been there supporting me. It’ll be a dream come true for me. I’m looking forward to it ”

Baldelli sums it up well, “We’re excited about Celly.”

Twins fans should be excited about the potential impact that Gilberto Celestino can have on the Twins.

Special thanks to Elvis Martinez (Twins Communications Coordinator and Spanish Interpreter) for translating the interview with Celestino.

For more information on Gilberto Celestino:

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23 Comments

He looks better at the plate than I thought he might.If the offense is there they could certainly call him up this year.I sure hope he is ready soon as he seems like best centerfield prospect that we have.

 

I hope Buxton stays healthy but if not it is nice to know there are options.

    • mikelink45, Major League Ready, dbminn and 5 others like this
Baldelli’s nickname for Celestino gave me a Gardy flashback.

Celly in LF, with Buxton in CF and Kepler in RF would certainly make for a good looking defensive outfield. Combine that with Donaldson and Simmons on the left side of the infield, Jeffers (or Garver) behind the plate. I’ve heard some say they expect Polanco to be good at 2B. Sano can hold his own at 1B. Best defense ever?
    • flpmagikat, Channing1964 and Doctor Gast like this

Thanks, that was very fun.

I have been pushing my idea that if Buxton goes down I want Celestino in CF no matter what offense he brings.Kepler and Cave were fill ins but I do not want to see them in CF again if Buxton has another extended period where he cannot play. 

 

I really like the idea of contact batters, speed, and defense.

 

Of course in the playoff losses what we have missed is runs.I am not sure how that gets addressed, but contact is one of them, speed is another.

 

When you look at the big power guys like Sano who is 2 for 19 in the playoffs it is easy to see that the best pitching will shut them down.I remember Canseco and McGwire with all their power looking terrible in the WS. Then there was KC who won their last WS with speed, defense, contact, and pitching.We are getting to the place where we can match that formula and add in power.

    • Twins33, big dog, Ben Noble and 3 others like this
The window for multiple championships is wide open for years. The last decade of painful losses should finally be behind us!
    • wabene likes this
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Doctor Gast
Mar 04 2021 08:03 AM
I've always liked Celestino and have high hopes for him. I expect he'll be called up this year, I'm surprised that I haven't heard any criticism about his few games at high A and his high leg kick.
    • mikelink45, Ben Noble, wabene and 1 other like this
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Channing1964
Mar 04 2021 08:23 AM
its nice to know that if and when Buxton gets hurt, we wont have to watch Rooker play rf anymore.
    • mikelink45 likes this

When Buxton gets hurt this year I hope we see this kid.If he can be close to Buxton's defense and hit average.I would strongly look at shopping Buxton in trade market.As much as I love Buxton when he is healthy and hitting well, that is just not often enough to want to commit large money to him for a few years, when you have possible replacement.  

    • mikelink45 and jrod23 like this

It will be very interesting to see how celestino's hit tool has progressed as this season goes along. His defense plays right now, but he's definitely a guy who can use as many ABs as we can throw at him as he works on refining his approach and recognition at the plate.

 

With his speed, if he can get on base consistently he'll be a very valuable player and you can be patient in developing the power, especially as he seems to have good doubles potential to the gaps. rack up 30 doubles along with a few triples and a handful of dingers and that's enough slugging to have his bat play in CF if he gets on base.

 

I don't think we see him in 2021 (I think he would have been a sept call-up in previous years, but with the change in rules on roster expansion, it's less likely) absent a major injury to Buxton and him hitting the lights out in the minors. But I like his attitude and his skill set and if he stays on this developmental path, that's looking like a fine trade for the twins.

    • Dman and Heiny like this
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Major League Ready
Mar 04 2021 11:19 AM

 

I've always liked Celestino and have high hopes for him. I expect he'll be called up this year, I'm surprised that I haven't heard any criticism about his few games at high A and his high leg kick.

 

I too have high hopes for Celestino but recognize we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. He has 33ABs at A+. It's great he is creating a buzz. There is a good chance he is pushed but the young man has barely scratched A+. My hope is that he can be ready sometime next year so he can get enough time to determine if he can take over for Buxton when he becomes a FA at the end of 22. Anything beyond that would be a bonus.

    • jkcarew, SteelDodo, Melissa and 1 other like this
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drivlikejehu
Mar 04 2021 11:54 AM

I'm a huge Celestino fan. He of course has a ways to go, particularly on offense, but he has a broad skill set and has performed well in the lower minors. He definitely could be a 2.5 - 3 WAR guy in CF. There's an outside chance his power improves and he's even more than that in his prime. 

 

Given the risks inherent to prospects, the most likely outcome is probably 4th outfielder, but I have a good feeling.

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nicksaviking
Mar 04 2021 12:12 PM

I'm a big leg-kick fan, if he can keep that good contact rate with that swing, it looks like he's got plenty of room to develop more power. That's a real fun looking swing.

    • Doctor Gast likes this
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yeahyabetcha
Mar 04 2021 12:29 PM
It might be a good idea to see him perform at the AA level before calling him a replacement for Buxton when he gets injured

 

I too have high hopes for Celestino but recognize we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. He has 33ABs at A+. It's great he is creating a buzz. There is a good chance he is pushed but the young man has barely scratched A+. My hope is that he can be ready sometime next year so he can get enough time to determine if he can take over for Buxton when he becomes a FA at the end of 22. Anything beyond that would be a bonus.

 

I think that is very much more realistic. Had there been a season in 2020, he would have started in High-A and maybe moved up to AA at the end of the year. There's a chance he starts this year in AA, but he could go to High-A for a little while too, if needed. 

 

I think his big-league opportunity for 2021 is a Buxton injury, just a 10-day variety where they don't want to add anyone (or subtract anyone) from the 40-man roster. He can play defense and bat ninth. 

 

But yeah, mid-2022 is his much more realistic timeline. 

    • Danchat, DocBauer, wsnydes and 3 others like this

I think that is very much more realistic. Had there been a season in 2020, he would have started in High-A and maybe moved up to AA at the end of the year. There's a chance he starts this year in AA, but he could go to High-A for a little while too, if needed.

I think his big-league opportunity for 2021 is a Buxton injury, just a 10-day variety where they don't want to add anyone (or subtract anyone) from the 40-man roster. He can play defense and bat ninth.

But yeah, mid-2022 is his much more realistic timeline.

Agreed. It is nice to have another option though. Especially if Kiriloff gets the LF gig and struggles. Or if there are other injuries in the outfield and Cave is already starting every day.

 

I too have high hopes for Celestino but recognize we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. He has 33ABs at A+. It's great he is creating a buzz. There is a good chance he is pushed but the young man has barely scratched A+. My hope is that he can be ready sometime next year so he can get enough time to determine if he can take over for Buxton when he becomes a FA at the end of 22. Anything beyond that would be a bonus.

Not everyone needs 1000 ABs in the minors.I remember a guy named Griffey who did pretty well with no minor league experience.

 

It might be a good idea to see him perform at the AA level before calling him a replacement for Buxton when he gets injured

Why?Did Ken Griffey need that?Acuna and Soto seemed to do well as young inexperienced players.Sometimes the goods ones are just ready.

 

 

Not everyone needs 1000 ABs in the minors.I remember a guy named Griffey who did pretty well with no minor league experience.

Most prospects do... and I don't think Griffey hit around .600 OPS his first few months at A+. Celestino's bat has a long ways to go to be major league ready.

    • ashbury, DocBauer and jkcarew like this
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yeahyabetcha
Mar 04 2021 08:20 PM

Why?Did Ken Griffey need that?Acuna and Soto seemed to do well as young inexperienced players.Sometimes the goods ones are just ready.


Because he is not Grifffey, Acuna or Sota. While some are ready earlier, most are better served gaining experience in the minors.
    • DocBauer likes this
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Major League Ready
Mar 04 2021 09:19 PM

 

Not everyone needs 1000 ABs in the minors.I remember a guy named Griffey who did pretty well with no minor league experience.

 

You are absolutely correct that there have been a number of superstars who got to the ML level with less than 1,000 ABS. I would not be shocked if he got some playing time at the MLB level this year much like Polanco did for a few games. However, if you are suggesting it's reasonable to expect the same path for a guy drafted 1/1 who became a 1st ballot hall of famer and a 22 yo that has never been on a top 100 list and has a total of 33 ABs above low A , you are probably reAAAAAAAAly reaching. 

    • DocBauer likes this
Excited for the potential of this kid NEXT year. Why does every prospect have to be the "next" whoever? Oh yeah, we want the next future MVP and Cy young to debut at 21yo. I lost the memo. How about this talented kid gets a chance to play a full season of ball and work forward and get called up when even close to ready?

 

You are absolutely correct that there have been a number of superstars who got to the ML level with less than 1,000 ABS. I would not be shocked if he got some playing time at the MLB level this year much like Polanco did for a few games. However, if you are suggesting it's reasonable to expect the same path for a guy drafted 1/1 who became a 1st ballot hall of famer and a 22 yo that has never been on a top 100 list and has a total of 33 ABs above low A , you are probably reAAAAAAAAly reaching. 

No - I went out of the way to make a point.When I look around MLB right now I am seeing a trend towards younger, less experienced players getting promoted and starting.Celestino may not be a star, but I am not afraid to see him in the majors. 

We all realize this is a guy who barely made A+ and didn’t do much there. He’s likely two years from the bigs if he makes it at all.
    • Danchat and yeahyabetcha like this