2021 Sire of Fort Myers Preview
Image courtesy of Tom Froemming, Twins DailyWhat is this?
The whole idea behind Sire of Fort Myers is to inject some more fun into Spring Training by manufacturing another storyline to follow. That’s it, really. Have fun and don’t overthink it.
This honor is bestowed upon the player who performs the best, not necessarily the one most likely to break camp with the big club. It just so happens that the previous two winners — Ryne Harper and Ryan LaMarre — did end up making the Opening Day roster.
Who is eligible?
1. Anybody who’s not on the 40-man roster, regardless of prior MLB experience.
2. Anyone who hasn’t made their MLB debut.
These rules are dictated by ancient scrolls discovered during the founding of Fort Myers back in 1885. Sorry if you have any complaints, it’s outta my hands.
Edwar Colina, Travis Blankenhorn and Alex Kirilloff are all ineligible because they appeared in one game with the Twins last year. Kirilloff’s performance this spring might be the biggest spring storyline as is, so even though there was a possibility to use his postseason debut as a loophole, the committee (myself and five very agreeable Twins bobbleheads) has ruled him to be ineligible.
Who are this year’s top contenders?
A lot of guys who were mentioned in Nash Walker’s projected St. Paul Saints roster. So, if you’re excited about the Triple-A club being in St. Paul this year, that’s all the more reason to keep an eye on these guys.
The player who sticks out to me as the top candidate is outfielder Keon Broxton, who has more than 1,000 MLB plate appearances to his credit. He put together one great season, it just happened to be between two actual seasons. From the second half of 2016 through the first half of 2017, Broxton hit .250/.338/.481 (113 wRC+) with 22 homers and 33 steals in 132 games for the Brewers.
I could see Broxton stringing together a hot month in Florida, but it’s worth pointing out frontrunners have not impressed in years past. Last spring it was Jhoulys Chacin, who gave up six earned runs in eight innings pitched before camp was shut down. Utility man Tzu-Wei Lin and catcher Tomás Telis stick out to me as other minor league veteran hitters who could impress. They should both see plenty of playing time.
With Royce Lewis out due to a torn ACL, Trevor Larnach is the highest-profile prospect eligible this year. He was building a strong case for the crown last spring, hitting .333/.467/.708 in 30 Grapefruit League plate appearances. I think there’s a lot of incentive to give Gilberto Celestino a lot of looks this spring, so he too could emerge as a candidate. If you’re looking for prospect info, check out our 2021 list.
One of the most difficult things to project is who is going to get enough playing time to impress. I don’t suspect any of these guys will log enough innings to build a strong enough resume: Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Bailey Ober, Charlie Barnes, Griffin Jax, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder. It’s quite possible I’m way off-base here, we’ll see, I just expect teams to be very careful with their starting pitching prospects this year.
I'd love to see Nick Gordon build a strong case. After dealing with injuries and illness the past couple years it would be nice to see him gaining momentum again. MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park reported the team will be easing Gordon back in, however, so it seems unlikely he'll be a top contender.
Dakota Chalmers is another prospect who’s been through a lot. I could see the Twins converting him to the bullpen and giving him a lot of looks this spring. I guess another way to put it is I could see him being this year’s Jorge Alcala.
Speaking of which, the bullpen probably represents the biggest area of opportunity for a player to build a Sire of Fort Myers resume. The Twins snuck Ian Hamilton, Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell all through waivers this winter. Fellow former major leaguers Glenn Sparkman, Derek Law, Danny Coulombe, Juan Minaya, Andrew Albers and Luke Farrell will also be in the mix (those names are ordered by the MLB innings they have to their credit, by the way).
I’m going with Hamilton and Law as the two guys I find most intriguing in that bullpen group, but I wouldn’t bet against any one of them breaking out. This Twins regime has had a lot of success with these types.
Chances are pretty good the eventual winner comes out of nowhere. Nobody saw LaMarre or Harper coming. Last year, Caleb Thielbar was shaping up to be a finalist prior to the shut down.
For more info on all the non-roster invitees, check out Seth’s article on the Spring Training non-roster invitees.
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