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Projecting The 2020 Twins Line-Up

As Seth, Jeremy and I put the final touches on the 2017 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, it's always fun to look to the future. There are plenty of changes that could be coming with the new baseball operations department. The future is still a little cloudy with the trades of Brian Dozier and Ervin Santana looming.

The players on this list are subject to change. Minnesota could always add players on the free agent market or trade for other players that would be a better fit in the line-up. For now, here is a look at how the Twins could come together for the 2020 season.
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today Sports
C: Mitch Garver
The Twins recently signed Jason Castro to a three-year deal that runs through the 2019 season. Garver will be given every opportunity to evolve into a starter during the duration of the Castro contract. He ended this season at Rochester and hit .329/.381/.434 with six extra-base hits in 21 games. His defense and game management is praised by pitchers and coaches throughout the system.

1B: Miguel Sano
Joe Mauer's contract will expire at the end of the 2018 season. This could give the Twins the opportunity to move Miguel Sano to a less demanding defensive position. At first base, he can worry less about his defense and concentrate on hitting the ball over the fence. Other players might fit into the first base picture with Sano getting some DH at-bats.

2B: Travis Blakenhorn
When the Twins took Travis Blakenhorn with a third-round pick, there were high expectations for his future. This season he was 2.5 years younger than the competition in the Midwest League. He combined for an .850 OPS between two levels. He was originally drafted as a third baseman but he played more second base this season. It will take him time to adjust to a new position but he should be ready to go by 2020.

3B: Jorge Polanco
With Sano shifting off of third base, the Twins will need to find another option at third base. Polanco has made big league appearances in each of the last three seasons. Last year in 69 games, he hit .282/.332/.424 with 23 extra-base hits. His defensive time at shortstop left a little something to be desired as he committed 11 errors in 189 chances. Many believe he will eventually end up being shifted to a different position especially in the wake of Dozier being dealt. He could end up at second base or third base.

SS: Nick Gordon
Minnesota took Gordon with the fifth overall pick in 2014 with every intention of him being the team's future shortstop. There are still questions about his ability to stick at the position in the long-term. Offensively, he continues to show an advanced approach at the plate. Like the other infielders on this list, he might eventually need to move to another defensive spot. However, he has the best chance of staying at SS.

RF: Eddie Rosario
Out of all the players on this list, Rosario is one of the first that would move out of a starting spot. It seems likely for him to move into a fourth outfielder role. At this point, there weren't any other prospects in the Twins system that are knocking down the door in the outfield. If the Twins can get an outfielder from the Dodgers in a Dozier trade, he might be a better fit for the Twins in the long-term.

CF: Byron Buxton
Buxton finally seemed to put it all together during last September. He hit .287/.357/.653 with nine home runs, six doubles and two triples. His defense continues to be outstanding in center field. Many Twins fans hope Buxton has become an All-Star caliber player by 2020. He can help to turn the franchise around by becoming one of the best players in baseball.

LF: Max Kepler
Kepler showed some positive signs during his rookie campaign but he also left some room for improvement. In 24 games from June 10 to July 5, he hit .284/.347/.580 with six home runs and eight doubles. Throughout the rest of the season, his average dipped to .228 but he still got on base over 30% of the time. If he can continue to mature at the plate and make more consistent contact, he should be a solid MLB regular.

DH: Daniel Palka
During his first season in the Twins organization, Palka showed the prestigious power he'd shown through most of his professional career. He surpassed the 30 home run mark for the first time in his career and he had an OPS over .845 for the second consecutive season. He's played corner outfield spots and first base so he could split time at first base with Sano or take over a corner spot from Rosario.

Change will be a common theme in the years to come. The next wave of prospects is getting closer to Target Field. Who do you think will fit into the Twins long-term plans? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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40 Comments

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ChiTownTwinsFan
Dec 22 2016 08:24 AM
I hope to see Rosario in right and Kepler in left this year. I'm not sure about Poanco at 3rd, though. You don't really say anything about why you think he'd slot there other than it's the only open spot left and he's the last one to be put somewhere. I think the Twins will have to go outside the org for a legit 3rd baseman.
    • nicksaviking and BuxtonBandwagon like this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
Dec 22 2016 08:49 AM

Blankenhorn over Arraez at 2B?

    • Thrylos and ThejacKmp like this
Are you certain Rosario and Palka are even average Mlb players?

I'm still hoping Vargas can perform well enough to take over at DH. Having a SH there with power from both sides is a very nice weapon to have. Batting Sano 3rd and Vargas 4th could be like the Tigers have had with Cabrera and Martinez.

    • jud6312 likes this

I fear the team might be even worse than last year.

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nicksaviking
Dec 22 2016 09:15 AM

 

Are you certain Rosario and Palka are even average Mlb players?

 

Are Robbie Grossman and Kurt Suzuki?

 

You're going to have to play who you have available to you. Seeing this spelled out, I'm thinking everyone's pitcher heavy Dozier trade proposals perhaps should shift to include at least one bat who may contribute here.

 

I thought I would be more excited to see this projection, gosh almighty this team needs to restock.

    • Sconnie and BuxtonBandwagon like this

Seems strange to me to have Blankenhorn at 2B and Polanco at 3B when each of them has spent more time at the other position. The only way I'd go Polanco at 3B was if I was on the Arraez train (which I am). Then Polanco makes sense.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, nicksaviking and 70charger like this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
Dec 22 2016 10:12 AM

If he advances a level per year (a conservative estimate given his debut in E-town), then Kirilloff would be in AAA in 2020. I think the organization's hope would be he plays alongside Buxton & Kepler in the OF, allowing Rosario or someone else (Lamonte Wade maybe) to be the 4th guy.

    • enge0280 and gagu like this

 

I thought I would be more excited to see this projection, gosh almighty this team needs to restock.

 

I see where you come from but I think that's more the authors being afraid to do some optimistic-but-realistic projecting. When you're projecting 3 years down the road and you pick five guys in the MLB right now and 2 guys in AAA who should get MLB time this year, I think you've taken the easy route. They ignored a bunch of guys who might get you more excited than Rosario and they didn’t speak to depth. To whit:

- Alex Kirilloff is young but MLB's prospect lists indicate that his ETA is 2020. He could be a nice corner OF who might be more exciting than Rosario. Ditto for guys like Lamonte Wade, Travis Harrison, Trey Cabbage or another converted corner IF.

- Ben Rortvedt hasn't shown as much at the plate in a short sample but is a high draft pick with lots of projectable tools. He's also listed with a 2020 ETA. It’d be nice to have him listed alongside Mitch Garver to show some depth.

 

- 2B/SS has other options as well. Engelb Vielma is a defensive wiz who only needs to hit .275 to be extremely valuable. He’s only 22 and is already in AA – at the very least he should be the best Twins utility IF in a long time. (Having an elite defensive substitute late in games makes every reliever better – Gordon at 2B and Vielma at SS would help close out games.) Jermaine Palacios is more of a project but he’s also a guy who should be in the upper minors in three years and could play SS or move to 2B/3b.

 

- DH also has Vargas as someone mentioned earlier but Lewin Diaz is a fun name too. Tons of power from the left side of the plate and thus far he’s had a decent BB to K rate for a young power hitter. His ETA is 2019 so that’s projectable for 2020.

 

What if you tweaked this and did a 13 person Twins position player roster (they’ll be at the 26 man roster in 2020) that was as follows?

 

C – Garver, Rortvedt
IF – Arraez, Gordon, Sano, Vielma, Polanco, Vargas
OF – Buxton, Kepler, Kirilloff, Rosario, Palka

 

That doesn’t include Blankenhorn or Diaz (I chose Vielma over Blankenhorn because I imagine the Twins would want Blankenhorn to play every day while Vielma is a better late-inning sub; I also think Diaz will take a little bit longer to develop so let’s put him in AAA). This also doesn’t include any free agent signings the Twins might make in the meantime (I think likely in OF since the Kirilloff/Rosario/Palka group seems the weak spot of this roster – though another option is to get Blankenhorn time in the OF if he keeps hitting and the Twins have a glut of middle infield depth.) It would yield a lineup something like:

 

2B Arraez ( L )
CF Buxton ( R )
RF Kepler ( L )
1B Sano ( R )
DH Vargas ( S )
C Garver ( R )
LF Kirilloff ( L )
3B Polanco ( S )
SS Gordon ( L )

 

That’s something I get very excited about. Especially with a bench that’s Vielma (utility), Rosario (4th OF/emergency IF), Rortvedt (backup C) and Palka (bench pop) with Blankenhorn and Diaz lurking in AAA. That’s a pretty good amount of depth and in Sano, Kepler and Buxton some All-Star (or MVP) type upside.

 

More excited now?

    • DJSim22, Oldgoat_MN, gagu and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Dec 22 2016 11:46 AM

 

 

2B Arraez ( L )
CF Buxton ( R )
RF Kepler ( L )
1B Sano ( R )
DH Vargas ( S )
C Garver ( R )
LF Kirilloff ( L )
3B Polanco ( S )
SS Gordon ( L )

 

That’s something I get very excited about. Especially with a bench that’s Vielma (utility), Rosario (4th OF/emergency IF), Rortvedt (backup C) and Palka (bench pop) with Blankenhorn and Diaz lurking in AAA. That’s a pretty good amount of depth and in Sano, Kepler and Buxton some All-Star (or MVP) type upside.

 

More excited now?

 

Great post, but no, still not excited. Kiriloff is the only addition that looks like an improvement to the original post to me.

 

The only guys outside of Kiriloff that look exciting are the guys already at the MLB level. This team needs better bats in the minors. Right now these are best case scenario kind of projections based on what we have now. There are a couple of "exciting high ceiling" kind of guys (but again, almost all are already in the majors) and lots of "maybe they can be pretty good" kind of guys. For most of the past two decades we used to be able to play this game filling nearly every position with "exciting high ceiling" kind of guys with enough left over to battle for the DH spot.

    • Oxtung and Vanimal46 like this

This is how I see it: 

 

C Mitch Garver/ Rainis Silva
1B Kennys Vargas / Lewin Diaz (after deadline)
2B Jorge Polanco
3B Nick Gordon
SS Engelb Vielma/ Wander Javier (after deadline)
LF Max Kepler or LaMonte Wade
CF Byron Buxton
RF Daniel Palka / Amaurys Minier (after deadline)
DH Miguel Sano

 

and Arraez, Blackenhorn, Rortvedt, Kirilloff knocking on the door.

    • ThejacKmp likes this

Some of the names posters have included above would have to move quite aggressively so... Trying to be realistic first name is starter, second back-up. Here is my 25 man roster prediction:

 

C Garver/Castro

1B Palka/Vargas

2B Polanco/Vielma

SS Gordon/Vielma

3B Sano/Polanco (Vielma at second)

LF Wade/Rosario

CF Buxton/Granite

RF Kepler/Wade (Rosario in LF)

 

SP DeLeon/Berrios/Gonsalves/R. Rosario/May

RP Chargios/Haley/Light/Melotakis/Stewart/Burdi

Closer Jay

    • gagu likes this
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Vote for Gardy
Dec 22 2016 12:22 PM
Polanco's arm isn't good enough for short but is for third base. Isn't third further away from first than shortstop.
    • Thrylos, diehardtwinsfan and nicksaviking like this

 

Polanco's arm isn't good enough for short but is for third base. Isn't third further away from first than shortstop.

Not necessarily.Many times a third baseman plays level to the bag while a SS plays deep in the hole.This has two effects. First, the ball gets to the 3B quicker than it would get to the SS.Second, a ground ball hit to the SS's right might only be caught maybe 30 full feet deeper than where the 3B plays.

 

Also, unless your first name is Brooks (yes, I am old), almost all 3B throws are straight-forward, whereas a SS might have to throw off balance.

    • nicksaviking, 70charger, goulik and 3 others like this
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nicksaviking
Dec 22 2016 03:33 PM

 

Not necessarily.Many times a third baseman plays level to the bag while a SS plays deep in the hole.This has two effects. First, the ball gets to the 3B quicker than it would get to the SS.Second, a ground ball hit to the SS's right might only be caught maybe 30 full feet deeper than where the 3B plays.

 

Also, unless your first name is Brooks (yes, I am old), almost all 3B throws are straight-forward, whereas a SS might have to throw off balance.

 

Welcome to the site. Keep posting these quality takes!

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diehardtwinsfan
Dec 22 2016 04:12 PM

I'm not sure I want Sano at 1B until he's beyond his rookie contract.that's me personally, but I think he's of more impact at 3B and in his 20s he should be able to play it.Rosario is the name on this list that I suspect will most likely be replaced. He needs to improve on that walk rate and we have two years now of him just swinging at anything. He's young enough to improve, but I think there's a hole there in the OF that someone else can move into.

 

Blankenhorn switched to 2nd, so while he was drafted as a 3B, he's being worked at a tougher position defensively.I like that. He may move back to 3rd, but if he can stick defensively and continues to hit, he will be of much more value at 2nd.

 

I'm with Thrylos on Wade, I have to think he's in the picture by then. He's a CF too. I'm not sure how good he is defensively, but I tend to think this means he can play a corner spot with an above average defense. 

 

Vielma, on the other hand, I hope is only a defensive sub.Not sure I like the idea of him being an every day starter unless his bat takes huge strides forward.

 

Here's another under the radar name.AJ Murray.I'm not sure of his defensive makeup at C, but I think he might be a candidate that not many expected to take a big leap.That's a hunch on my part. He was hot for a long stretch this year before cooling off (and getting promoted).I personally hope that was due to him tiring out.

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Pardon My Dinger
Dec 22 2016 04:14 PM
I don't expect to live that long. So...go get 'em guys.
    • ChiTownTwinsFan, ThejacKmp, Oldgoat_MN and 1 other like this

 

Great post, but no, still not excited. Kiriloff is the only addition that looks like an improvement to the original post to me.

 

The only guys outside of Kiriloff that look exciting are the guys already at the MLB level. This team needs better bats in the minors. Right now these are best case scenario kind of projections based on what we have now. There are a couple of "exciting high ceiling" kind of guys (but again, almost all are already in the majors) and lots of "maybe they can be pretty good" kind of guys. For most of the past two decades we used to be able to play this game filling nearly every position with "exciting high ceiling" kind of guys with enough left over to battle for the DH spot.

 

Yeah but over the seven years none of that has turned out or lead to good teams. The 2020 team isn't filled with nine all-stars but that's a given, they're not the 27 Yankees.

 

Sano/Buxton have the talent to be the best core since Mauer and Morneau and the guys around them seem way more solid than the rest of the lineup around M&M in the early 2000s. Kepler has All-Star upside and all of the rest of the guys have the potential to be above average major leaguers. There's not an easy out in that lineup. We don't need to have strength everywhere, we just need to not have gaping holes. I think we'll be okay.*

 

* Pitching is another matter entirely, I have some hopes but that's what worries me, not the Twins hitting.

 

Some of the names posters have included above would have to move quite aggressively so... Trying to be realistic first name is starter, second back-up. Here is my 25 man roster prediction:

 

C Garver/Castro

1B Palka/Vargas

2B Polanco/Vielma

SS Gordon/Vielma

3B Sano/Polanco (Vielma at second)

LF Wade/Rosario

CF Buxton/Granite

RF Kepler/Wade (Rosario in LF)

 

SP DeLeon/Berrios/Gonsalves/R. Rosario/May

RP Chargios/Haley/Light/Melotakis/Stewart/Burdi

Closer Jay

 

Are they resigning Castro? He's done after 2019 season. I'd like to think they'll have an internal backup catcher by then.

 

As for moving guys aggressively, this does include three full seasons in between (2017, 2018 and 2019). Kiriloff for instance, should be in A ball this year and would then just need to do a level a year. That may be a big jump but he's a first round pick so if we're being optimistic-but-realistic, it's not crazy to think he'd be breaking into the bigs in 2020. Diaz, Arraez and Blankenhorn would also all be in a position to be ready for the bigs - Arraez and Blankenhorn will be in high A ball to start 2017. I have Diaz in AAA in 2020 (he's moved slower) but he'll be in low A to being the year so he also could be ready by 2020 as well.

 

Rortverdt may be the biggest stretch since he's a catcher and could start the year in Rookie Ball.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

I'm with Thrylos on Wade, I have to think he's in the picture by then. He's a CF too. I'm not sure how good he is defensively, but I tend to think this means he can play a corner spot with an above average defense. 

 

Vielma, on the other hand, I hope is only a defensive sub.Not sure I like the idea of him being an every day starter unless his bat takes huge strides forward.

 

I'm not sure that Lamonte Wade will ever hit enough to be a great corner OF prospect - the difference between Wade and Rosario doesn't seem like much. Rosario needs to cut down on some dumb mistakes but those should improve with time (he did spend much of the minors at 2B) and he has the skills to be as elite of a defensive corner OF as Wade while being average with the bat. To me they're both averageish corner OFers (albeit more value with glove than bat) and that's why our upside sits with Kirilloff or a free agent acquisition.

 

Vielma has already taken some big strides with the bat in the minors. He has improved with the bat from rookie to A, from A to A+ and from A+ to AA. He's going to need a few more years in the minors to work on things but if he could make it to a .700 OPS, he'd be agreat major league SS and might move Gordon off to 2B or 3B. He's never had an OPS above .653 in the U.S. but he is only 22 and has played below his level by 1.5 to 2 years his whole career. He should get a bit bigger and develop a little more doubles power (though he's not likely to ever have HR power). If he can continue controlling the strike zone reasonably well and hit .250 to .260 in the majors, he'll have a good shot at that .700 OPS. And agreed, he'd be a great utility option already, that glove is supposed to be major league ready.

    • beckmt likes this
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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Dec 22 2016 05:06 PM

A fun exercise, but Blankenhorn won't be at 2B in 2020. If Dozier is traded, he'll be back signed as a free agent, hitting another 42 homers.

 

Hey, it's fun to dream, isn't it?

 

Merry Christmas everyone.

    • gagu likes this

 

I'm not sure that Lamonte Wade will ever hit enough to be a great corner OF prospect - the difference between Wade and Rosario doesn't seem like much.

 

 

Huge difference between Wade and Rosario:Wade walks.Career 101:80 BB:K.And .297/.409/.459 slash line.Rosario's minor league numbers are very similar, but one: His career MiLB slash is: .294/.340/.484. So if they hit at a .250 clip in the majors, Rosario's OBP will be .290 while Wade's .340 or so.I can live with a .340 OBP but not .290.

 

The more I look at Wade the more I like him.If you want to look for comparable former Twins Rosario is more like Jacque Jones will a little less contact right now and Wade is more like Matt Lawton.He is actually a lot like Matt Lawton (career MiLB slash .282/.389/.426).Lawton's stick was good enough to be an every day corner OF (and I am talking about his Twins' time)

    • Mike Sixel, Oxtung, bluechipper and 1 other like this

Are they resigning Castro? He's done after 2019 season. I'd like to think they'll have an internal backup catcher by then.
 
As for moving guys aggressively, this does include three full seasons in between (2017, 2018 and 2019). Kiriloff for instance, should be in A ball this year and would then just need to do a level a year. That may be a big jump but he's a first round pick so if we're being optimistic-but-realistic, it's not crazy to think he'd be breaking into the bigs in 2020. Diaz, Arraez and Blankenhorn would also all be in a position to be ready for the bigs - Arraez and Blankenhorn will be in high A ball to start 2017. I have Diaz in AAA in 2020 (he's moved slower) but he'll be in low A to being the year so he also could be ready by 2020 as well.
 
Rortverdt may be the biggest stretch since he's a catcher and could start the year in Rookie Ball.

I could see Rortverdt, Diaz, and Kiriloff playing On my way! In the Majors in 2020 but they may be guys that have to push their way in during that season some time after the start of the year...
I am not sure why that post has "On my way!" In the middle of what I was trying to say. I wasn't even using voice to text...
My IPad is haunted
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

As Seth, Jeremy and I put the final touches on the 2017 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, it's always fun to look to the future. There are plenty of changes that could be coming with the new baseball operations department. The future is still a little cloudy with the trades of Brian Dozier and Ervin Santana looming.

The players on this list are subject to change. Minnesota could always add players on the free agent market or trade for other players that would be a better fit in the line-up. For now, here is a look at how the Twins could come together for the 2020 season.C: Mitch Garver
The Twins recently signed Jason Castro to a three-year deal that runs through the 2019 season. Garver will be given every opportunity to evolve into a starter during the duration of the Castro contract. He ended this season at Rochester and hit .329/.381/.434 with six extra-base hits in 21 games. His defense and game management is praised by pitchers and coaches throughout the system.

1B: Miguel Sano
Joe Mauer's contract will expire at the end of the 2018 season. This could give the Twins the opportunity to move Miguel Sano to a less demanding defensive position. At first base, he can worry less about his defense and concentrate on hitting the ball over the fence. Other players might fit into the first base picture with Sano getting some DH at-bats.

2B: Travis Blakenhorn
When the Twins took Travis Blakenhorn with a third-round pick, there were high expectations for his future. This season he was 2.5 years younger than the competition in the Midwest League. He combined for an .850 OPS between two levels. He was originally drafted as a third baseman but he played more second base this season. It will take him time to adjust to a new position but he should be ready to go by 2020.

3B: Jorge Polanco
With Sano shifting off of third base, the Twins will need to find another option at third base. Polanco has made big league appearances in each of the last three seasons. Last year in 69 games, he hit .282/.332/.424 with 23 extra-base hits. His defensive time at shortstop left a little something to be desired as he committed 11 errors in 189 chances. Many believe he will eventually end up being shifted to a different position especially in the wake of Dozier being dealt. He could end up at second base or third base.

SS: Nick Gordon
Minnesota took Gordon with the fifth overall pick in 2014 with every intention of him being the team's future shortstop. There are still questions about his ability to stick at the position in the long-term. Offensively, he continues to show an advanced approach at the plate. Like the other infielders on this list, he might eventually need to move to another defensive spot. However, he has the best chance of staying at SS.

RF: Eddie Rosario
Out of all the players on this list, Rosario is one of the first that would move out of a starting spot. It seems likely for him to move into a fourth outfielder role. At this point, there weren't any other prospects in the Twins system that are knocking down the door in the outfield. If the Twins can get an outfielder from the Dodgers in a Dozier trade, he might be a better fit for the Twins in the long-term.

CF: Byron Buxton
Buxton finally seemed to put it all together during last September. He hit .287/.357/.653 with nine home runs, six doubles and two triples. His defense continues to be outstanding in center field. Many Twins fans hope Buxton has become an All-Star caliber player by 2020. He can help to turn the franchise around by becoming one of the best players in baseball.

LF: Max Kepler
Kepler showed some positive signs during his rookie campaign but he also left some room for improvement. In 24 games from June 10 to July 5, he hit .284/.347/.580 with six home runs and eight doubles. Throughout the rest of the season, his average dipped to .228 but he still got on base over 30% of the time. If he can continue to mature at the plate and make more consistent contact, he should be a solid MLB regular.

DH: Daniel Palka
During his first season in the Twins organization, Palka showed the prestigious power he'd shown through most of his professional career. He surpassed the 30 home run mark for the first time in his career and he had an OPS over .845 for the second consecutive season. He's played corner outfield spots and first base so he could split time at first base with Sano or take over a corner spot from Rosario.

Change will be a common theme in the years to come. The next wave of prospects is getting closer to Target Field. Who do you think will fit into the Twins long-term plans? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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This team would absolutely suck.


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