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Recent Blogs


Twins Future Position Analysis: Centerfield

When the Twins drafted Byron Buxton, he was expected to be a superstar player that can alter the future of a franchise. There have been glimpses of this Buxton in his big-league career, but the organization has also needed depth in centerfield because of his lengthy injury history. What does the future hold for Buxton and how deep is the centerfield position in the Twins organization?
Image courtesy of © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Buxton), Seth Stohs-Twins Daily (Celestino, Kerrigan)
Current Center Fielder: Byron Buxton
Since he made his debut, there have been times when Byron Buxton was the best player on the Twins roster. His elite defensive abilities, speed, and offensive talent make him the true definition of a five-tool player. Unfortunately, he has played fewer than 92 games in all but one professional season. Buxton is a second-year arbitration eligible player, so the Twins have team control over him for the next two seasons. Would the Twins be willing to extend him this winter?

40-Man Options
Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade Jr. and even Max Kepler have seen time in centerfield. Cave and Wade might be a little stretched up the middle, but Kepler has shown the ability to fill-in nicely for Buxton when needed. All three fit into the team’s corner outfield projections with Kepler and Cave line-up to be the Opening Day starters if the club wants to hold off on having Alex Kirilloff make his regular season debut.

Outside of Buxton, Gilberto Celestino might be one of the purest centerfielders in the Twins organization. He was acquired from the Astros as part of the Ryan Pressly trade and he was added to the 40-man roster after a breakout season in 2019. He has always been a strong defender, but he hit .303/.374/.464 with 38 extra-base hits over his last 98 games that season. If Buxton suffers an injury, Celestino’s defense is big-league ready and his bat might not be far behind.

On the Farm Options
Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other corner options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects.
Attached Image: Twins Centerfield Minors.JPG
Kerrigan is an interesting story as he went undrafted after four-years of college and started playing independent baseball. He’s got a good power and speed, but he might be a little stretched defensively in center field. Whitefield got a brief taste of the big leagues last season as he appeared in three games, but the Twins removed him from the 40-man roster. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in the system.

Maciel came to the Twins as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade and he split time between Low- and High-A back in 2019. He can drive the ball to all fields and he’s not overmatched in center. Keirsey was a fourth-round pick back in 2018 and he topped out at Cedar Rapids in 2019. His speed and college experience should help him play all over the outfield.

Urbina is an intriguing prospect with lightening fast speed. He was signed as part of the 2018 international signing period out of Venezuela and he made his first professional starts in the 2019 Dominican Summer League. He has all the tools, and he is a prospect to watch in the years ahead. Garry Jr. was young for the E-Twins back in 2019, but he showed that he can hold his own. He continues to improve on both sides of the ball.

What do you think about the future of centerfield in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES

-Corner Outfield

-Catcher

-Second Base

-First Base

-Third Base

-Shortstop


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16 Comments

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Doctor Gast
Dec 24 2020 04:57 AM

When Buxton is in CF, we have the best CF defense in MLB. But there is a sharp drop off when he's not. Kepler is OK but he is stretched there & then RF suffers. Celestino is listed at AAA but in fact he hasn't been above A, his last 8 games were at A+. Celestino has good potential to cover CF but according to management timetable he's far from ready. 

The Twins seems like when Buxton came up that he`d be always great defensively, offensively & never get hurt. There has never been an adequate plan B & we have been limping around at CF since & even before waiting for Buxton. Plan B at CF never has been a priority much less plan C or D. We are presently, near future & future lacking very much depth at CF. Our priority has been big bats & neglect CF, that should change. If we don`t draft high CF prospects we should trade for them. 

In a couple of years Buxton is eligible for FA, we should make every effort to extend his contract or we're up the creek

    • h2oface, mikelink45 and Channing1964 like this
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Nine of twelve
Dec 24 2020 06:40 AM

Watching a natural-born centerfielder like Buxton is a beautiful thing. I suppose the same could be said about catchers and shortstops, but neither of those positions inspired John Fogerty to write a song about them.

    • ashbury, ScrapTheNickname, mikelink45 and 3 others like this

No mention of Royce Lewis in this analysis? While he certainly belongs foremost in the shortstop discussion, his name comes up often as a possibility in center.

    • adjacent, USNMCPO, TopGunn#22 and 6 others like this
I'm thinking Celestino could outplay Cave and Wade this year when considering defensive value, plus he's a righty bat. I wouldn't be surprised if 2 years from now Buxton walks and Gilberto is roaming center. This guy has a real chance to be a player, but even in this scenario as DG said we still need to augment the position. Maciel could be a fourth in the future.
    • TopGunn#22 and mikelink45 like this

I do not want Kepler/Cave/Wade in CF.If Buxton goes down I want a true CF even if he is not yet at the development level the team wants.Defense and speed do not need more minor league time.

    • wabene likes this

Will agree with the above comments that our defense suffers when Kepler is moved to center. Not so much because he isn't adequate in center, because he is solid, but the big step down defensively when he isn't in right.

 

Also agree that this situation hasn't be adequately addressed over the past few years. Yet, with Buxton as the starter I understand why the FO would work on other, more pressing needs.

 

But I think we are approaching a time when the backup center fielder isn't a problem any longer. Unless there is a big move to an infielder, second, short or third, I see Lewis breaking in as a super utility man in the mold of Gonzalez...only much, much better. He could play nearly full time at second, short, third, left, center and right. When someone is banged up or on the IL, he becomes the starter at that spot. He then moves to one position in 2022 or 2023.

 

Have a feeling the FO may see him in this role soon, perhaps by opening day. Expect we will learn more about their view with what moves they make (or don't make) over the next two months. 

    • ScrapTheNickname, TopGunn#22, mikelink45 and 4 others like this

I also agree with the above comment.Lewis is key in many respects.Where will be end up ?

CF & SS is where our current talented players have suffered thru injury issues.The idea that Lewis can break in as a "super utility" guy is interesting because the Twins can see him at a variety of positions both in the infield and the outfield while also seeing how he fares with the bat.

He could flop.

He could shine.

He could show that he is better at CF than SS or vice-versa.

Whatever develops the hope is he will eventually force himself into the starting lineup

and solve a SS or CF problem and help the Twins decide what to do with Buxton and Polanco in a year or two.

Guys like Celestino, Maciel, and even guys like Urbina and Rodriguez also provide potential upside and options down the line.  

    • jrod23, wabene, rdehring and 2 others like this
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Doctor Gast
Dec 24 2020 11:35 AM

 

 

 

But I think we are approaching a time when the backup center fielder isn't a problem any longer. Unless there is a big move to an infielder, second, short or third, I see Lewis breaking in as a super utility man in the mold of Gonzalez...only much, much better. He could play nearly full time at second, short, third, left, center and right. When someone is banged up or on the IL, he becomes the starter at that spot. He then moves to one position in 2022 or 2023.

 

Have a feeling the FO may see him in this role soon, perhaps by opening day. Expect we will learn more about their view with what moves they make (or don't make) over the next two months. 

This is my hope also. But to my astonishment in what I hear, is that Lewis wasn't put one time in CF during 2020. Although they might think that w/ all the time Lewis spends w/ Tori Hunter away from the system, he doesn't need it

 

Will agree with the above comments that our defense suffers when Kepler is moved to center. Not so much because he isn't adequate in center, because he is solid, but the big step down defensively when he isn't in right.

 

Also agree that this situation hasn't be adequately addressed over the past few years. Yet, with Buxton as the starter I understand why the FO would work on other, more pressing needs.

 

But I think we are approaching a time when the backup center fielder isn't a problem any longer. Unless there is a big move to an infielder, second, short or third, I see Lewis breaking in as a super utility man in the mold of Gonzalez...only much, much better. He could play nearly full time at second, short, third, left, center and right. When someone is banged up or on the IL, he becomes the starter at that spot. He then moves to one position in 2022 or 2023.

 

Have a feeling the FO may see him in this role soon, perhaps by opening day. Expect we will learn more about their view with what moves they make (or don't make) over the next two months. 

I think asking a rookie to break in as a Super Utility will slow his progress. Not getting enough reps at a position consistently. Also, Aside from 2 weeks in AZ Fall League his bat seems questionable

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

This is my hope also. But to my astonishment in what I hear, is that Lewis wasn't put one time in CF during 2020. Although they might think that w/ all the time Lewis spends w/ Tori Hunter away from the system, he doesn't need it

That may be true, however, he spent a lot of time in center in the AFL a year ago when he won the MVP award.

    • Channing1964 and Doctor Gast like this

Agree w/everyone who mentioned Lewis.For someone who made such an impact in CF at the highest level besides AAA I was surprised he wasn't mentioned.I also agree that Lewis should succeed or fail at SS first.Watching him play CF though, was a thing of beauty.His jumps on the ball and his speed were extremely impressive, but more importantly, purely natural.

    • DocBauer and wabene like this

Buxton would be great if we could keep him on the field but he's too injury prone. Cave has improved a bit but is not your every day answer. Bradley would be a good backup if we would sign him. At least he prevents runs. I don't see any of the minor leaguers as being an answer but would be curious to see how Urbina develops.

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Channing1964
Jan 04 2021 05:46 AM
Buxton is gone in two years to roam the d.l. for somebody else. Wade Cave, and Kepler aren't the answer. If they would have been smart they would have taught Rosario to play cf. Celestino is never gonna be the next Puckett or Hunter or even Buxton. This is a new era. The Cleveland/Texas Stranger player development philosophy ....the one where we waste 13 roster spots on mediocre relievers and can't score any runs.
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Channing1964
Jan 04 2021 05:48 AM
Thad Levine is secretly still an advisor for Texas....just look at the contract they gave to Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn ....lmmfao
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Channing1964
Jan 04 2021 05:50 AM

That may be true, however, he spent a lot of time in center in the AFL a year ago when he won the MVP award.

I'd have to look it up but they stuck him at 3b a lot too

 If they would have been smart they would have taught Rosario to play cf.

In the minors Eddie played far, far more CF than LF/RF combined. They taught him. They apparently weren't impressed with the results, and for a while were trying to convert him to 2B.
 

    • Channing1964 likes this

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