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Alex Kirilloff Should Make his Twins Debut in 2020

Alex Kirilloff, the Twins No. 2 prospect and a top 15 prospect in baseball, has been pushing to make it to the big league club over the last two seasons. There were a lot of rumors last September about a potential call-up that never occurred. Could 2020 be his year to finally debut with the Twins?
Image courtesy of © Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Kirilloff experienced an up and down 2019 campaign compared to his stellar 2018 at A/A+ where he hit .348/.392/.578 (.970) with 20 home runs. The 2019 season was riddled with injuries, resulting in only 94 games played and 150 fewer plate appearances. He still put together a pretty average line of .283/.343/.413 (.756) but the .
165 point drop off in slugging is a bit concerning. Along with the drop off in plate appearances, Kirilloff had 26 fewer doubles, five fewer triples, and 11 fewer home runs.

Nonetheless, Kirilloff has shown he has the ability to be an excellent hitter and he was still solid last season despite constant injuries and being one of the youngest players at AA. His final month was great as he slashed .311/.351/.500 (.851) in 26 games and tacked on his final five home runs.

Could Kirilloff make the opening day roster?

Alex Kirilloff will likely enter spring training fighting for a roster spot depending on what takes place this offseason. Will C.J. Cron be coming back? Could the Twins trade a starting outfielder? I don’t know, but if Cron or any of the three outfielders aren’t here to start 2020, then Kirilloff could win a starting spot on the roster. I doubt he makes the roster as a bench player because the Twins would rather have him get consistent at-bats in the minors so it's starter or minor leagues.

He could take Cron’s spot because it appeared he was being groomed to do just that last season. The Twins began experimenting with him as a first baseman, and he played 35 games there while still playing 49 in the outfield. At first base he did fine for his first season with five errors in those games to give him a .981 fielding percentage. He will never be an elite fielder so if he is going to be a star then his bat will have to do most of the work.

When is it most likely he makes his debut?

If I had to project when I think Kirilloff will actually be up with the Twins, I would say late August or early September. If Cron or an outfielder is gone for the 2020 season I would expect the Twins to find a veteran placeholder like Avisail Garcia rather than immediately rely on a rookie. If Alex Kirilloff is performing well enough in the minors during the season to the point where he just has to be called up, I don’t think the Twins will hesitate to do so. They know the type of player he could become if everything breaks right. There is a reason he has earned some comparison to Joey Votto.

He may not make it until late in the season, but I definitely expect we will see Alex Kirilloff wearing a Twins uniform before the season is over. When do you hope to see Kirilloff make his debut? What do you expect from him when he does finally make it to the majors? Leave a comment below.

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32 Comments

Way too early to say he will never be an elite fielder. He has minimal experience at 1st base.
    • scottz, milldam, ChrisKnutson and 8 others like this

Since when .756 OPS in AA makes anyone MLB-ready?These are not the late 1990s Twins...

    • adorduan and Tomj14 like this

I am not looking for him, unless Rosario is gone and Buxton is back on IR.Then it would make sense, but otherwise the roster looks full at his positions.At 1B I expect Cron back, but it could be Sano, Garver, Gonzalez, or even Rooker. 

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Matthew Lenz
Nov 07 2019 08:01 AM

Because of his struggles in 2019, I'd have to imagine that he will start 2020 in the minors unless he just blows the team away in spring training. But even if that happens, where is there room for him in the line up if we have Rosario and Cron back?

 

I think we see him up in September if he has proven that he is ready for the call.

    • bighat and MN_ExPat like this
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LimestoneBaggy
Nov 07 2019 08:21 AM

 

Since when .756 OPS in AA makes anyone MLB-ready?These are not the late 1990s Twins...

 

I think there's something to be said about his track record through the minors and how he finished the season. 

    • raindog, Danchat, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

I think he has a pretty high chance to debut in 2020, but probably not before July unless there's a long-term injury and he's outperforming everyone else they could call up. I'd call September the most likely.

 

Have to remember there is still Rooker, Raley, and Wade around, as well as already MLB rostered fill-ins at both 1B and OF (Marwin, Cave, Sano, etc...)

    • SQUIRREL, Yoke, birdwatcher and 9 others like this

I am not expecting Cron back.I also think there are too many bouncing balls of players who could be up by midseason to pay Cron, and then to have to cut a player or two from the position players.Lewis, Raley, Kirloff, Larnach, Gordon could all be here in 2020. Being totally locked in will not be good if one of them forces there way on the club.Would like to see some trades for better players/pitchers with some of the minor league excess. Would also like to see the money from not having Cron and 1 or two others back pumped into the pitching staff.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
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SF Twins Fan
Nov 07 2019 08:59 AM

I would assume he will start the season in AAA after playing 94 games last year in AA. In all honesty, if he starts in AAA, he's potentially an injury away from being called up. If he's healthy going into next season and gets off to a good start I see no reason not to call him up when an opportunity arises.

    • goulik and chinmusic like this

 

I think he has a pretty high chance to debut in 2020, but probably not before July unless there's a long-term injury and he's outperforming everyone else they could call up. I'd call September the most likely.

 

Have to remember there is still Rooker, Raley, and Wade around, as well as already MLB rostered fill-ins at both 1B and OF (Marwin, Cave, Sano, etc...)

 

I think this is right. While I think Kirilloff is a better player than the options in AAA and will surpass them all, it doesn't mean that he's ready for MLB pitching. He won't be the first guy that gets a look for an injury replacement, but I think he does hit his way on to the roster at some point in 2020.

 

I'm not worried about the drop in power; that was clearly related to the wrist injury and he should be fine after a winter to recover fully from the season. he looked great down the stretch again and the only real concern is that he might need to be a bit more patient at the plate. I'd prefer to see his OBP sitting in the .380 range or higher, but he's shown decent enough patience and you can't fault a kid for an aggressive approach when he's hit .362 before!

 

I'm not looking to give Eddie Rosario the bum's rush out of town, but I feel a lot better about our ability to replace him in the lineup with a player like Kirilloff waiting in the wings. I like the fact that he can hit for a high average, keep the Ks reasonable, and still hit for power. Potentially a very dangerous bat with runners on base.

 

I'm pegging him to get an audition in 2020 and get penciled in to start in 2021, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him hit is way onto the club and then refuse to let go (a la Luis Arraez).

    • Steve Lein, birdwatcher, beckmt and 5 others like this

If he doesn't debut this year, he moves from elite prospect to good prospect. (assuming he's healthy all year).

    • Twins33, Vanimal46, Tomj14 and 1 other like this
If he's truly an elite prospect he should mash his way up to the MLB team this year. If not, sell high on him being a top 15 prospect and acquire an impact player who can help in 2020/21/possibly 2022.
    • Tomj14 and bighat like this

 

If he doesn't debut this year, he moves from elite prospect to good prospect. (assuming he's healthy all year).

 

Which is an incentive for the Twins to including him in a package for an ace who can use more than Kirilloff this season.

    • Tomj14 and D.C Twins like this

 

Which is an incentive for the Twins to including him in a package for an ace who can use more than Kirilloff this season.

 

FA's cost only money, Twins could well need the depth until they figure out which prospects are keepers

I'd like to see him hit at least like a good outfield prospect at the AA/AAA level before I'd even consider him as a regular first-baseman at the major-league level. Wouldn't think we'd see him before the end of the year unless he's mashing...AND at least one of Kepler/Buxton/Rosario are injured or gone. To me, he's either in your plans as a starter in 2021...or you trade him between now and next season's deadline.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

FA's cost only money, Twins could well need the depth until they figure out which prospects are keepers

If you wait to figure out which ones are keepers, the value of the non keepers has evaporated. The point of having lots of talent is to make the MLB team World Series contenders. If that means trading them for needed pieces, then that is part of the reason to have had them. We cannot sit on our prospects forever worried that we may give away a valuable piece instead of trading them for a valuable piece we KNOW we need.

    • Thrylos, nicksaviking, adorduan and 4 others like this
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nicksaviking
Nov 07 2019 04:21 PM

 

FA's cost only money, Twins could well need the depth until they figure out which prospects are keepers

 

But there are only two free agent aces on the market, neither likely to be wearing a Twins uniform.

    • Thrylos and Mike Sixel like this

 

If you wait to figure out which ones are keepers, the value of the non keepers has evaporated. The point of having lots of talent is to make the MLB team World Series contenders. If that means trading them for needed pieces, then that is part of the reason to have had them. We cannot sit on our prospects forever worried that we may give away a valuable piece instead of trading them for a valuable piece we KNOW we need.

Nice approach, but who will you target, and for the real good ones, they other club want plenty.Are you willing to trade both Lewis and Kirloff, because that is the ask.

    • goulik and DocBauer like this

 

Nice approach, but who will you target, and for the real good ones, they other club want plenty.Are you willing to trade both Lewis and Kirloff, because that is the ask.

 

We don't know that's true of every pitcher they might try to trade for. Heck, we don't know it's true from last year either.

    • Tomj14 likes this

Nice approach, but who will you target, and for the real good ones, they other club want plenty.Are you willing to trade both Lewis and Kirloff, because that is the ask.


Trades are not like shopping at Target, it’s like a barter system. Of course they are going to ask for both of them and our starting offer is Gordon and Wiel. The question is where it will end up not who they initially ask for. Maybe it ends up being Kirrilloff, Gordon, Jax, Blankenhorn, and a couple names most of us don’t know. And yes, if it makes us World Series contenders for the next 3-4 seasons, I’ll make the trade
    • Tomj14 likes this
I don't believe the debate is whether or not you trade Kirilloff, Lewis, or any prospect. In the grand scheme of things, virtually any prospect can and would be traded in the right deal. Especially if you can trade from depth.

The conversation is about him appearing in 2020 for the Twins.

His 2019 season was a bit disappointing to be sure. Injuries obviously played a part in that. But he didn't exactly flail, and he finished strong. Prospects. ALL prospects, are about potential and ability. He appears to have the ability to be a quality and fairly patient hitter with real power potential. He could absolutely be a stalwart in either corner OF spot or 1B, or all three.

I would not be surprised to see him open 2020 in AA and then move up to AAA, possibly quickly. A lot depends on how he looks in ST. I object to the idea he should be moved quickly if he's not clearly scheduled to be a starting piece in 2021. I just think that is short-sighted. "Well, we decided he wasn't ready to set the world on fire as a 22yo so we got rid of him", for example.

If he takes, and there is an injury opportunity or other, I dont believe the FO would hesitate to bring him up. And if everyone is healthy and there is no need to push him up, I've read comments about late 2020, maybe August or September. I'm OK with that, to get him ready for 2021.

But playing devil's advocate, what if he has a really nice year and the Twins OF is healthy and productive? Do you add him to the 40 man and bring him up? Or do you bring him to ST for 2021, and save a 40 man spot until you make a final decision? Not due to service time, just to keep a 40 man spot open.

Personally, I think he has a very nice 2020 and is in line at some point later in the year for a promotion. But it really depends if the OF is healthy, productive and we are in the playoffs. If we are, it simply may not be his time yet.
    • goulik, Major League Ready and rdehring like this

I think he is special and will be "ready" by July 1 and then it will be up to the Twins' needs. I hope they keep Eddie, pass on Cron and rotate Sano/Garver/Cruz occasionally while "leaving the light on" for the K-Man to Komith

    • Mike Sixel and beckmt like this
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IndianaTwin
Nov 08 2019 04:34 AM
No matter how well he hits in spring training, I think it’s safe to say that he needs at least a few more days of Triple A “seasoning” or to “work on his defense at 1B.”

Probably about 16, 17, whatever it takes to avoid a full year of service.

 

We don't know that's true of every pitcher they might try to trade for. Heck, we don't know it's true from last year either.

To get anywhere near a front line pitcher a trade is going to hurt in the terms of prospects.One of the outfielders, I can see that as we have an extra or two, Lewis could be very special, I might see trading him, but would want an ace type starter with multiple (at least 3) years of control.Twins have the money for pitching, use it.

Depends on what the Twins do with Rosario. And right now, because he is NOT on the 40-man, he is behind Cave and Wade and possibly Raley, Rooker and Celestino for a callup. 

 

If the Twins really wanted to push him, they could've advanced him last September and gave him the at bats instead of Wade, LaMarre and Miller. But didn't. Service time is making a play, here.

 

He will start at AAA. Yes, if any of the current starters go down I would rather see him get the chance than any of the other names above, but right now it won't happen, sadly.

 

I don't believe the debate is whether or not you trade Kirilloff, Lewis, or any prospect. In the grand scheme of things, virtually any prospect can and would be traded in the right deal. Especially if you can trade from depth.

The conversation is about him appearing in 2020 for the Twins.

His 2019 season was a bit disappointing to be sure. Injuries obviously played a part in that. But he didn't exactly flail, and he finished strong. Prospects. ALL prospects, are about potential and ability. He appears to have the ability to be a quality and fairly patient hitter with real power potential. He could absolutely be a stalwart in either corner OF spot or 1B, or all three.

I would not be surprised to see him open 2020 in AA and then move up to AAA, possibly quickly. A lot depends on how he looks in ST. I object to the idea he should be moved quickly if he's not clearly scheduled to be a starting piece in 2021. I just think that is short-sighted. "Well, we decided he wasn't ready to set the world on fire as a 22yo so we got rid of him", for example.

If he takes, and there is an injury opportunity or other, I dont believe the FO would hesitate to bring him up. And if everyone is healthy and there is no need to push him up, I've read comments about late 2020, maybe August or September. I'm OK with that, to get him ready for 2021.

But playing devil's advocate, what if he has a really nice year and the Twins OF is healthy and productive? Do you add him to the 40 man and bring him up? Or do you bring him to ST for 2021, and save a 40 man spot until you make a final decision? Not due to service time, just to keep a 40 man spot open.

Personally, I think he has a very nice 2020 and is in line at some point later in the year for a promotion. But it really depends if the OF is healthy, productive and we are in the playoffs. If we are, it simply may not be his time yet.

My apologies for participating in a hijacking of this thread and pledge to stay on topic going forward. 

 

Having said that, I have been a firm believer that Kirrilloff and Lewis will both push their ways onto the Major League Roster this coming year and not just as September call ups but actually push their way up. I do not think we will be able to hold him down until 2021. 

    • DocBauer likes this

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