Projecting The 2021 Twins Line-Up
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA Today SportsC: Mitch Garver
Garver could be a regular part of the Twins line-up as soon as 2018. He got a brief taste of the big leagues at the end of 2017. In 46 at-bats, he went 9-for-46 with four extra-base hits. His time in Rochester (88 games) was much better as he posted a .928 OPS with 17 home runs and 29 doubles. Pitchers throughout the system like the way he manages games from behind the plate. If he can hit anywhere close to his 2017 numbers at Triple-A, he will be a very valuable catcher.
1B: Miguel Sano
Sano isn’t going to be able to stay at third base and Joe Mauer’s contract expires at the end of 2018. Even if Mauer wants to continue playing past 2018, I don’t know if he will still be in a Twins uniform by 2021. Before the recent allegations brought against Sano, a trade involving Sano might have been possible. For now, I think he sticks in Minnesota and he is going to have to find another home on the diamond. He could split time at first base with the other player I have penciled in as designated hitter.
2B: Nick Gordon
There have been questions about Gordon’s defense since the Twins drafted him. He’s only started 16 games at second base in his professional career but I think that will change in the years to come. Minnesota might have drafted their shortstop of the future with last year’s number one overall pick. Gordon showed more power this season but his averaged suffered. In the end, I think he finds his comfort zone at second base and becomes a solid regular with the potential to be an All-Star.
3B: Brian Dozier
This was the toughest spot to fill on the diamond. Like Mauer, Dozier’s contract expires at the end of 2018. However, I believe the Twins will find a way to keep Dozier in a Twins uniform. He is a veteran leader who the Twins will want to keep on the roster. Is he going to want to learn a new position later in his career? Time will tell. If Minnesota’s core continues to be made of young players, a veteran voice is going to be needed inside and outside of the locker room.
SS: Royce Lewis
Gordon is going to get to Target Field before Lewis so he will get the first shot at shortstop. Lewis is a better defender so he will force Gordon to move to second. Minnesota was already aggressive with Lewis in his professional debut as he quickly moved to Cedar Rapids. If that trend continues, there’s no doubt he will be quickly moving towards making his debut. Young shortstops like Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa have done well in recent years so Twins fans have to hope Lewis can outshine these other top players.
LF: Alex Kirilloff
Kirilloff, Minnesota’s 2016 first round pick, missed all of 2017 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Luckily, it shouldn’t hold him back in 2018. Kirilloff’s bat is his calling card which could make him a dangerous option in the Twins outfield. During his professional debut, he hit .306/.341/.454 with 17 extra-base hits in 216 at-bats. Even with his injury set-back, he should be able to debut by 2020 and become a regular part of the line-up by 2021.
CF: Byron Buxton
If the 2017 season was a sign of things to come, the future will be bright for Mr. Buxton. In the second half of the season, he hit .300/.347/.546 with 24 extra-base hits in 207 at-bats. Not to mention that he was arguably the best defensive player in the league for the entire season. Buxton will be in his late 20s by 2021 so he should be in the midst of the prime of his career. Will he be on track to be the American League’s Most Valuable Player? Let’s sit back and enjoy the ride.
RF: Max Kepler
As Tom wrote about last week, Kepler might be poised for a breakout season in 2018. In the minor leagues, Kepler was able to figure out how to hit left-handed pitching. I think he will do that in 2018 and that could be a scary proposition for opposing pitchers. Kepler may never be a MVP candidate but he certainly has the ability to make an All-Star team. With Buxton and Dozier at the top of the line-up, Sano and Kepler can continue to hit in the middle of the order.
DH: Brent Rooker
If you’ve picked up a copy of the 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook, you’ve no doubt seen that I am high on Brent Rooker. Minnesota’s supplemental first round pick destroyed the baseball in his professional debut. If he continues to hit that well, there’s a good chance he will make his debut in 2018. He can play first base or in a corner outfield spot, so this gives him some flexibility when other players need a day at designated hitter. Rooker is going to be good and he might have been one of the most important pieces of the 2017 MLB Draft.
What do you think the 2021 line-up will look like in Minnesota? Check back later this week as Tom tries to pick-out the 2021 rotation. Until then, leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Dave The Dastardly, caninatl04 and MN_ExPat like this