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Recent Blogs


Brent Rooker Makes MLB Debut

Twins fans have been clamoring for it, especially over the last few weeks, and on Friday morning, it happened. The Twins selected the contract of outfielder Brent Rooker, calling him up to the big leagues. He started both games of the Twins doubleheader sweep of the Tigers.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
On Thursday night, Brent Rooker received The Call that every ballplayer dreams about. Twins minor league director Alex Hassan was on the phone. He was busy at the time, but seeing Hassan’s name made everything else not terribly important.



News broke shortly before 11:00 on Friday morning that Max Kepler was heading to the Injured List and Rooker’s contract was being selected.

Soon after, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was asked about Rooker.





In Game 1, Rooker batted seventh and played left field. Eddie Rosario got the game off against southpaw Matthew Boyd.

In his first plate appearance, Rooker swung at the first two pitches. A couple of pitches later, he was hit by a pitch. The last Twins player to be hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance? LaMonte Wade in 2019. Before that, you have to go back to Brian Dinkelman in 2006.

Rooker came to the plate again in the fifth inning and hit a 102 mph line drive right at the shortstop. He was removed from the game for defensive purposes.

In Game 2, the manager put Rooker into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. With a runner on in the first inning, he struck out.

However, he came up again in the top of the third inning with runners on first and second base and two outs. On the first pitch, he drilled a line drive to left field at 112 mph for a single. Jorge Polanco came around to score the first run of the game. Rooker was able to record his first hit and his first RBI in the same at bat. He flew out to right field in his third at bat of that game. Willians Astudillo pinch hit for him in the seventh inning.

All in all, a nice debut for the Twins slugger.

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Twins fans have been excited to see Rooker debut. When the Twins drafted him with the 35th overall pick in 2017 after a Triple Crown-winning performance at Mississippi State, it was the second year in a row that the team drafted him. A year earlier, they took him in the 38th round, but he bet on himself and it paid off.

Just for fun, here were his stats from that Triple Crown season. In 67 games, Rooker hit .387/.495/.810 (1.306) with 30 doubles, 23 homers and 82 RBI. He was the first player to post a Triple Crown season in the SEC since Rafael Palmiero in the early 1980s.

He signed quickly and went to Elizabethton just to get back into the swing of things after time off after the college season. In 22 games, he hit .282 with five doubles and seven homers. He then skipped Low-A ball, jumping straight to High-A Ft. Myers where he hit 11 more homers in 40 more games. His 18 home runs were the most by a Twins minor league player in his draft season in 27 years.

At Double-A Chattanooga in 2018, he hit .254 with 32 doubles and 22 homers in 130 games. He spent the 2019 season at Triple-A Rochester where he hit .281 with 16 doubles and 14 home runs in 65 games. He missed most of the season’s second half with an injury. However, he got healthy and was able to represent Team USA in the WSBC Premier 12 where he was a teammate with Caleb Thielbar.

For the second straight season, he received an invitation to big-league spring training in 2020. When Summer Camp began, Rooker saw quite a bit of time playing in preseason intra-squad games.

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He has been working at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul, until today when he got that call.

Scouting Report

Rooker has good size, and he is quite strong. At spring training a couple of years ago, a national baseball writer asked me to point out Rooker. When I did, he told me that he was surprised by how athletic Rooker was. Because of his power numbers, the assumption was that he was big and burly and slow and unathletic.

Rooker is long and lean. He’s not fast, but he is a good athlete. In high school, he was the quarterback on the football team, a top scorer on the basketball team and obviously a great player on the baseball team. All three teams went to state championship games.

Rooker has a very strong approach and mentality at the plate. He is built for power and he has built his swing to provide a lot of power. That showed in 2019 when, after really struggling through his first month in Triple-A, he hit .302/.432/.558 (.990) with 14 doubles and 10 homers in 49 games.

Like Miguel Sano, Rooker has the ability and the power to hit the ball very hard and a very long way. Like Miguel Sano, Rooker also strikes out a lot. But as you can see from his minor league numbers, he takes a good at bat and is willing to walk.

Defensively, well, no, he won’t be a Gold Glove winner, but he can play both corner outfield positions. He’s not Eddie Rosario in left field. He’s certainly not Max Kepler in right field. But he will make the routine plays. He can also play an adequate first base if needed.

Rooker is also very smart. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He comes from a good family that was supportive of him. Rooker also is a student of the game. He has embraced video. He has embraced the analytics of the game. He understands himself as a player, his strengths and his weaknesses. He’s also shown an ability to make adjustments over the course of a season.

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More Background

Rooker is certainly a player that has been talked about and written about at Twins Daily a lot since the draft. Take a look back at these past articles on Rooker.



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15 Comments

Nice article.I'm glad the kid is up.Next year Kiriloff.The following year, Lewis.

Rooker shares something in common with Dinkleman and Wade. May his career not share their trajectory 

    • rdehring, Jimv and Joey P like this
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RochesterDave
Sep 05 2020 05:43 AM
Rooker always took professional At Bats for the Red Wings in 2019. He goes up to the plate and definitely has a “grinder” attitude. Defensively, he usually went back and forth between LF and 1B and he was pretty much adequate at both. Watching yesterday’s Double Header Was quite consistent with his time in Rochester. Glad he got his opportunity! The organization is lacking in RH bats - which is amplified by the unfortunate trade of RH Jaylin Davis to the Giants for the injured Sam Dyson.
    • birdwatcher, DocBauer and wabene like this

So glad for a call up - still hoping for more.As much as I like Arraez, his injury has really disrupted the season and the IL with a call up of Blankenhorn would make sense to me.  

    • jun likes this

I like Rooker, feels like he could be an Adam Dunn kind of player: big power, lots of Ks, plenty of walks. But Rooker should be a better defensive player, and if he can be average-ish in the corners/1B and live in to his power potential, he's going to be a very nice player and a real asset.

 

Finding playing time might be a bit of a problem for him, but as a RH bat there should be ABs available for him in the corners.

 

Very solid start for the big guy. Love seeing him make that hard contact.

    • birdwatcher and Joey P like this

Gotta be happy for this young man.

 

Didn't see him getting called up, unless there was an injury to one of the starting corner outfielders. Well, that sure keeps happening this summer.

 

Don't know how long this stay will be but really would like to see him whack a couple real long bomba's this next week. Heck, maybe the old Cardinals fan can get one in St. Louis on Tuesday.

I don't know why they pulled him with the game on the line. Give him a shot and test his mettle a bit.

Like the call-up. See what Rooker can do at MLB level. Might be drop off defensively to Wade but hopefully upgrade hitting. Low risk call-up, he is an older prospect, played AAA last year. Hope he gets plenty of playing time last few weeks of season. 

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jorgenswest
Sep 05 2020 11:32 AM

The encouraging statcast news is three hard hit balls averaging 104.6 MPH from a sorely needed right handed bat.

 

The concerning statcast news is his outs above average of -2 after 13 innings is the same as Sano’s in 313 innings of RF play.. He missed or did not attempt on balls that had a 50%(dive), 55%(no attempt) and 85%(no attempt) catch probability.  Additionally the marvelous Donaldson catch was one that the left fielder should have made the play in the first game. He certainly must be a better fielder than he showed yesterday. The Twins would not have kept him in the outfield. I will assume first day jitters had an impact on his reaction time and he will be better.

Seeing someone's lifetime dream achieved never gets old!

"Defensively, well, no, he won’t be a Gold Glove winner, but he can play both corner outfield positions. ..... But he will make the routine plays. He can also play an adequate first base if needed.

Rooker is also very smart."

 

Well, he didn't look too smart or adequate diving for a fly he should have been smart about and played back for a routine single and not made the dive that wasn't even close that created a triple and allowed a run to score, and maybe both runs in the end. But maybe he will get smarter. I am sure he is trying to impress, but that didn't impress me much.

 

I am glad the Twins are finally calling up some guys from the farm instead of signing guys like Vargas. This should have happened sooner. Wade is a waste of time. Just like Granite was. Time to go with the guys that can be part of the future instead of fillers. I also feel Arraez is a Danny Santana. Great. A good rookie year. But he is making decisions on in the field, and on the base paths, that are horrible. Baseball mentality? And to think folks (including himself) were silly enough to think he could/would/might hit .400. He will be lucky to hit .270, and with no power.

Always believed a prosoects age should never be a consideration. If a young 20yo comes up and shines and then slips or washes out did it matter he arrived so young? If a kid arrives 25-26yo and has a nice, solid or very good career, does it matter he arrived "late"? For example, on the Twins right now we have 2 tremendous players who were "late" arrivals in Donaldson and Cruz. I've always felt Rooker would be a solid ML player with the Twins, or someone else. And not just due to his power. He has produced and produced well at every level AFTER taking a little time to adjust. I hope be does well and provides a spark. But at least, his time now should help with any adjustments. The one thing that has confounded me, however, is that for a good all around athlete the reports are consistent that he is average defensively anywhere he's put. Average isn't bad by any means if you have a good bat. But it just seems his athleticism should allow for a better defensive player. Wish him tons of luck and hope for the best!
    • wabene likes this

Always believed a prosoects age should never be a consideration. If a young 20yo comes up and shines and then slips or washes out did it matter he arrived so young? If a kid arrives 25-26yo and has a nice, solid or very good career, does it matter he arrived "late"?

For example, on the Twins right now we have 2 tremendous players who were "late" arrivals in Donaldson and Cruz.

I've always felt Rooker would be a solid ML player with the Twins, or someone else. And not just due to his power. He has produced and produced well at every level AFTER taking a little time to adjust. I hope be does well and provides a spark. But at least, his time now should help with any adjustments.

The one thing that has confounded me, however, is that for a good all around athlete the reports are consistent that he is average defensively anywhere he's put. Average isn't bad by any means if you have a good bat. But it just seems his athleticism should allow for a better defensive player.

Wish him tons of luck and hope for the best!

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birdwatcher
Sep 05 2020 10:03 PM

My hope for Rooker is that he makes a strong enough impression during his time with the big club to become a more valuable trade piece this winter. No offense, Mr. Rooker, but I want to have more players in the lineup who put the ball in play more often than you, even if it stays in the yard a lot. I'm very happy the Twins have a dozen prospects who excite me more.

 

Always believed a prosoects age should never be a consideration. If a young 20yo comes up and shines and then slips or washes out did it matter he arrived so young? If a kid arrives 25-26yo and has a nice, solid or very good career, does it matter he arrived "late"? For example, on the Twins right now we have 2 tremendous players who were "late" arrivals in Donaldson and Cruz. I've always felt Rooker would be a solid ML player with the Twins, or someone else. And not just due to his power. He has produced and produced well at every level AFTER taking a little time to adjust. I hope be does well and provides a spark. But at least, his time now should help with any adjustments. The one thing that has confounded me, however, is that for a good all around athlete the reports are consistent that he is average defensively anywhere he's put. Average isn't bad by any means if you have a good bat. But it just seems his athleticism should allow for a better defensive player. Wish him tons of luck and hope for the best!

The reason age affects prospect status is the general age bell curve of player careers, and age of player versus competition.Yes, some players will be late bloomers, but the prospect rankings is more so based on future possibility.If a player does not debut until 26 he is expected to have a shorter career generally, and less likely to have much improvement over the years as age 27 has been found to be most peak seasons for players, and after 30 they really trend downhill. 

 

You can point to a few that buck that trend and they are outliers, just like in any data set.I myself point to them as it is always possible.The point I am trying to make is if a player is doing well at higher levels when they are younger it is expected they will get better as they reach peak age of 27.So if they reach majors at 22 or 23, and is say a 2 to 3 WAR, it would not be out of imagination they would get to a WAR of 8 to 10 at age 27.But if they reach major at 26 and have WAR of 2 or 3, it is doubtful they will every become a WAR of 8 to 10.Sure they could and maybe they can play to age 40 and fight for triple crown in short season, but not many will maybe 1 in several thousand. 


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