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Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach or Brent Rooker: Which Top Prospect (if any) Should the Minnesota Twins Call Up?

Although the Minnesota Twins offense finally broke through on Wednesday night, the combination of current injuries along with 28-man rosters present the Twins with an opportunity to call up a top prospect. Which top prospect (if any) should the Twins call up?
Image courtesy of © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
As humans, we love to argue about things. MJ or LeBron? Which pizza spot is tastiest? Which fitness app is best? Lately, there has been chatter around Twins Territory about which top prospect the Twins should call up. In order to determine which prospect would best suit a spot on the big league roster, it should first be determined if the Minnesota Twins could stand to benefit from adding another position player to the roster.

With the news that MLB rosters would remain at 28 for the remainder of the 2020 season, the Twins were awarded a tremendous amount of roster flexibility. With 28 men, the Twins are able to have three players on their roster that they didn’t have last season (when rosters were at 25). To begin the season, the Twins have heavily weighted their roster heavily towards pitchers, with pitchers using up 16 of the 28 roster spots. As of late, though, as pitchers have become more stretched out, the Twins haven’t utilized the glut of pitchers that they possess. Meanwhile, the Twins have been stretched thin in their position player depth. With Josh Donaldson out with injury and Luis Arráez hampered by a knee, Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza have turned into everyday players. This has left the Twins bench with almost no infield depth, and only Jake Cave as depth in the outfield.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins announced that they had made a trade for Diamondbacks utilityman, Ildemaro Vargas. As soon as Vargas clears his physical, he will join the Twins in Minneapolis and join the bench as infield depth. While the Vargas acquisition addresses the Twins’ need for infield depth, there is still depth to be had in the outfield. With Marwin González and Ehire Adrianza playing so much in the infield, Jake Cave is really the only outfield depth that the Twins have right now. By adding another outfielder to the roster in addition to adding Vargas in the infield, the Twins will still have 14 pitchers on the roster, as well as the appropriate amount of depth in the field to spare Kepler and Rosario an off day, as well as ensuring that the Twins don’t overdo it with Byron Buxton.

Now that it’s been established that the Twins could utilize a call up from CHS Field to provide outfield depth, let’s look at three options for who that could be:

Alex Kirilloff
As the number two prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization, there is a lot of reason to be excited about Kirilloff. As Twins Daily writer Jeremy Nygaard put it in a recent Postgame Pint, “Kirilloff could get out of bed and hit .300 in the Major Leagues”. As a left handed hitter, Kirilloff isn’t quite as strong against lefties as he is righties, but he has more upside at the plate than any other Twins player in the farm system. Kirilloff did make a bit of a transition to first base in 2019, as he logged over 300 innings there in 2019, however most of his career he has played in the corner outfield and he should be a more than capable defender there. Kiriloff’s high ceiling and ability to play corner outfielder make him a viable option to be called up to the Big Leagues. His left handedness, though, makes him a it redundant with the likes of Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Jake Cave all being left handed as well (Happy Left Handers Day, by the way!)

Trevor Larnach
If you were to try to make a clone of Alex Kirilloff, he would like a whole lot like Trevor Larnach. Standing just 2 inches taller and 1 year older, Larnach shares a lot of the same traits as Kirilloff. Larnach has a similarly strong build and presents a lot of the same power that Kirilloff does. Blessed with better health in 2019, Larnach hit the cover off the ball at AA last season and won Minor League Player of the Year for the Twins. In calling up Larnach, the Twins would again gain someone who could give a huge spark to the Twins offense while being able to rest some of their key guys. However, similar to Kirilloff, Larnach’s left handedness doesn’t afford the Twins quite the same upside of a platoon advantage while giving one of their existing lefties an off-day.

Brent Rooker
Although Brent Rooker is the lowest ranked of the three prospects, there is an argument to be made that Rooker would make the most sense to be called up to the Major League Squad. Rooker might not have the upside that Kirilloff or Larnach have at the plate, but he can certainly rake at the plate and has experience at AAA that should allow for a quicker transition to Major League pitching. In 65 games at AAA in 2019, Rooker posted a .281 average with a sky-high OPS of .933. What Rooker has going for him most, though, is his right handedness. As was mentioned previously, the Twins don’t currently have a right handed corner outfielder on their bench. With his right handedness, Rooker would allow the Twins to rest Eddie Rosario or Max Kepler against lefties and play Brent Rooker in their place who wouldn’t present much of an offensive dropoff as he would instantly have a platoon advantage against a left handed pitcher. Brent Rooker might not be the caliber of prospect of Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach, but given the current status of the Minnesota Twins roster, he might make the most sense to join the club.

Which top prospect do you think the Minnesota Twins should call up to the Big Leagues? Or, do you not think the Twins need to call up any additional hitters? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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22 Comments

If Cave remains below the Mendoza Line for much longer seems like giving Kiriloff or Larnach some at bats instead of Cave would be a viable option.

    • h2oface, JoshDungan1 and TouchEmAllGuy like this

I want them all, but Kiriloff should be first, Rooker second.We have plenty of pitchers and if we send out a couple relievers and bring in a couple of starters we can actually have a bench.

I'd go with Kirilloff, he can play some 1B as well as filling in as the fourth outfielder.

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IndianaTwin
Aug 13 2020 09:33 PM

Short a significant injury, I don’t see any reason to start the service clock on any of them.

 

At 12-7, they’d have to go something like 17-24 to not make the playoffs. Beyond that, I’m not sure that seeding is that big of a deal, so the advantage of a win or two isn’t much. None of the guys you’ve named have had any real opportunity to significantly up their game since spring training, other than the maturity that comes with a few more months of physical development. While they may be more successful than Cave, the marginal value of improving your 4th outfielder is about as small as any spot on the roster. While there’s something to be said in player development for being up close and personal with the major leaguers, these guys are probably getting more hands-on time and reps with coaches in St. Paul than they would in Minneapolis. 

 

Frankly, if they are able to call Whitefield back up after optioning him to Pensacola, having him available to pinch run for Cruz, Sano, or the catcher when they start on second base in an extra-inning game is probably more likely to make a difference in a crucial game than having Kiriloff, Larnach, or Rooker available as a pinch hitter. I might also see it different if one of them was a clear upgrade over Sano and could serve as a defensive replacement. 

    • birdwatcher, Dman, TL and 7 others like this

I would take any of them over buying cast off Ildemaro Vargas and adding him to the roster instead of one of the above 3. Just what we don't need, another utility guy, especially a light hitting 29 year old utility guy. AND...... they just added Astudillo TOO! I would rather see any of the 3 before him again as well.

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Richard Swerdlick
Aug 14 2020 01:30 AM

I think it will be Rooker first. I don't think the Twins view him as a long term option for this team. They can see what he's got and so can other MLB teams. He could then be traded and the Twins won't have to use up any service time for Larnach and Kiriloff. We know how the Twins like to hang on to that service time.

    • Joey P likes this
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stringer bell
Aug 14 2020 05:34 AM

Barring injury, I don't see any reason to recall any of the three. The Twins have Kepler, Rosario, Sanó and Cruz at the corner outfield spot, first base and DH. Only Sanó has truly struggled and he is under contract for multiple years.

 

The player that would be replaced by the promotion of one of the prospects is Cave, but none of these prospects can play center field and to expect any of the young players to thrive with the number of at-bats that Cave is getting would be silly IMHO.

 

I do think that youth will be served next year by the exit of either Rosario or Cruz, despite their success so far this year. Kirilloff would be the most likely to be the beneficiary since he has played quite of bit of first base plus left field. Having him share time with Sanó at first and DH, with the option of using him in left field provides the versatility that Rocco emphasizes.

    • Dman, DocBauer, dbminn and 2 others like this
Wade would be my first call up, unless we have an injury to Max or Eddie. Then I would bring up Kiriloff
    • Channing1964 likes this
Depends on if you think the 2020 season matters, or if it’s just an exhibition. If it’s the former, give them all some time and see who clicks at the plate. If it’s the latter, leave them on the St Paul squad and wait until next year to start their service time clock.

I like LaMonte Wade in the OF mix.

    • Channing1964 likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Aug 14 2020 07:22 AM
I'm of the save their service time in this 60 game season with 16 playoff teams. The Twins odds of reaching the playoffs is already at 96% per Fangraphs. The first round of the playoffs is 3 games, presumably with no fans in attendance so basically a total crapshoot.
    • birdwatcher, D.C Twins and Channing1964 like this

If I am correct, neither Kirilloff or Larnach needs to be added to the 40-man roster this fall. I believe Rooker does to not be exposed to the Rule 5 draft. For that reason, If a need should develop I could see Rooker being called up with the other two very unlikely. Especially considering they would be playing for only the short time remaining in this season.

 

If either Kirilloff or Larnach were playing every day at Rochester and hitting the cover off the ball, it might be different. But both are going thru the motion of simulated baseball in St. Paul.

 

 

    • BeatTheRich likes this

I will defer to the front office on these decisions.I personally would love to see Kirilloff, the little I have seen he looks like a kid that will do big things at the plate.However, I see no point in him up riding the pine but he needs to be in the games.Who would he play instead of?Most likely would be Sano if he struggles much more.  

    • Channing1964 likes this

Rooker for the reasons rdehring states. Not a Wade or Astudillo fan, good to have as back up to the back up but would be in trouble if either had to play significant time. Cave is who he is- a 4th OF on a good team, maybe a starter on a average to bad team.

    • Channing1964 likes this

Rooker. The right-handed bat would be of higher value off the bench, I think and he's earned the chance.

 

Frankly, I would have preferred calling up Nick Gordon over adding cast-off Vargas too, but this FO has earned plenty of rope with me looking at their decision-making. 

    • Dman, rdehring, Channing1964 and 4 others like this
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Doctor Gast
Aug 14 2020 08:35 AM

Cave, Kiriloff, Larnach, Rooker & Wade could be starters on some teams, it`s a pity that there`s such a log jam at the corner OF positions. Cave has experience as 4th OF after him Rooker as a RH platoon at corner would be my 1st choice. But now w/ Astudillo & acquiring light hitting Vargas would free up the infield for Gonzalaz to help out the corner OF. So I see none of them called up

    • Channing1964 likes this
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BeatTheRich
Aug 14 2020 11:40 AM

I'd like Rooker but expect to see Astudillo before him. Doesn't Rooker have first base experience also? That along with his right-handedness, AAA experience, and 40-man roster considerations (see rdehring above) argue for him over the others -- as much as I'm looking forward to seeing all of them get a shot soon.

    • Channing1964 likes this
Barring injury, the only scenario I can envision is Rooker or Kirillof at 1B because Sano struggles. I don’t think that’s very likely.

It would be excellent to have Larnach or Kirillof as the 4th OF, in offensive terms. But, with Cave you don’t have to move Kepler out of RF if Buxton goes down. I’m guessing that, combined with service time, will prevent us from seeing them.
    • Channing1964 likes this
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Channing1964
Aug 14 2020 06:33 PM
I just think the Twins aren't even concerned with any of those guys in the 2020 season. Realistically, barring any injuries(knock on wood), there is no reason to rush any of those guys up to the big leagues. I would argue that the only reason they are in the 60 man pool is to continue their development. Also what is the word on Royce Lewis? Is he a shortstop or a center fielder? He may be the one if any to get the call because of his versatility. I saw him in the Arizona Fall league last year and he looked right at home at third base.
    • DocBauer likes this
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Andrew Bryzgornia
Aug 15 2020 09:26 AM

Vargas was a good hitter in the minor leagues. If he works out, he's an offensive improvement over Adrianza. (Not sure if he's an improvement defensively or baserunning-wise, though.) He's also insurance in case Arraez is hurt or doesn't rebound. If Vargas wasn't on the roster, there's no way that gives Kirilloff, Larnach, or Rooker a better chance at being with the Twins.  

Astudillo was activated off the COVID list, but was sent over to St. Paul. He is not on the active roster. 

 

I would take any of them over buying cast off Ildemaro Vargas and adding him to the roster instead of one of the above 3. Just what we don't need, another utility guy, especially a light hitting 29 year old utility guy. AND...... they just added Astudillo TOO! I would rather see any of the 3 before him again as well.

 

There has been talk about Duran possibly Chalmers getting a shot vs having another bullpen game. Duran, for rather obvious reasons, would seem the more ready and obvious choice were that to happen. But both are also on the 40 man.

My amateur scout/nonsense opinion is that both Kiriloff and Larnach have future quality big leaguer written all over them. They have impressed in the minors and they impressed in both versions of ST this year. But to expect them to come up now and provide any kind of difference in 2020 over anyone, including sometimes but solid punching bag Cave is short-sighted. IIRC, neither has to be added to the 40 man this off-season.

Rooker is older and mkre experienced. Rooker has successful AAA experience. While Rooker is behind both Kirilloff and Larnach as prospects, and may never be a star, I think some people are sleeping on him. While he has struggled a bit to begin seasons, or his first weeks at a new level he has shown the ability to adjust and produce everywhere he has been. His Rochester season in 2019 was very encouraging. He is, absolutely, a 3 option outcome player: hit, walk or SO. That's in keeping with not only a lot of baseball today, but also in keeping with a lot of the current Twins roster. He has experience in the OF and at 1B. And be does have to be added to the 40 man after this season.

But unless there is an injury or illness concern, once again, how does he come up this year and make any difference with only simulated games and coaching at the St. Paul facility? Now, maybe things are more intense than we know and there is real development taking place over there. (I hope so!) But the Twins roster, as is, with all it's depth, is what it is.

As far as Vargas goes, don't know a thing about him other than what I've read the last couple of days and a cursory examination of his milb/ML numbers. But with Gordon having such a late start to the season I see him as cheap insurance vs Maggi, Reinheimer and Tovar.
    • Channing1964 likes this
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Channing1964
Aug 27 2020 04:23 AM
Im in Arizona and Vargas is a decent player. Im not sure he's better than Adrianza. He's definitely not in Marwins's class. Now that said with the injury to Donaldson, and Arraez knee issues I see why he is here. It was a smart move for insurance purposes.