Twins Future Position Analysis: Shortstop
Image courtesy of © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Royce Lewis), © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports (Jorge Polanco), Seth Stohs-Twins Daily (Nick Gordon)Current Shortstop: Jorge Polanco
Polanco is signed thru the 2023 season when he would be age-29, but the team has a $10.5 million option for 2024 and a $12 million for 2025. After signing his extension, Polanco rewarded the Twins with a tremendous first half to the 2019 campaign as he hit .312/.368/.514 with 41 extra-base hits in 85 games. He’d be named as the starter for the AL All-Star team, but things have changed over the last calendar year.
In the second half of 2019, his OPS dropped by nearly 100 points and there have been some defensive concerns throughout his professional career. The 2020 campaign didn’t go much better as he posted a career worst .658 OPS. In each of the last two offseason, Polanco has been forced to have surgery on his right ankle. So, what does this mean moving forward?
With Ehire Adrianza hitting free agency, there’s only one other 40-man option with significant shortstop experience. Nick Gordon was the team’s first round pick back in 2014 and he spent the 2019 season at Triple-A where he hit .298/.342/.459 in 70 games. Unfortunately, he spent much of the 2020 season trying to recover from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. He was never able to report to the team’s alternate site camp in St. Paul. By the time he recovered, he spent the rest of the season recovering in Fort Myers.
While Gordon has shortstop experience, the 2019 season was the first time he spent roughly half his defensive innings at second base. The lack of a minor league season and his battle with COVID-19 really hurt Gordon’s chances to make improvements in 2020. He already turned 25 and he has yet to make his big-league debut.
On the Farm Options
Outside of Gordon, there are other shortstop options in the minor leagues including some of the team’s top prospects.
Lewis has been considered the organization’s top prospect and he spent the entire 2020 season at the team’s alternate site. He struggled through parts of 2019 at High- and Double-A before going to the Arizona Fall League and being named the league’s MVP. Questions have been raised about his long-term ability to stick at shortstop, but he still should be knocking on the door to the big leagues in 2021.
Lin was picked up on a minor league deal at the beginning of December. He was a former top-20 prospect for the Red Sox before serving in a utility role over the last four seasons. For his career, he is a .223/.298/.316 with 13 extra-base hits in nearly 220 big-league plate appearances. He has also shown the ability to play nearly every defensive position.
Javier and Holland have taken different routes to this point in their career. Javier signed for $4 million as an international free agent back in 2015, but he has been limited to 130 games as a professional. Holland was drafted out of Auburn University in 2019 after posting an .812 OPS over three collegiate seasons. Both have a chance to reach Double-A next season.
Cavaco will be one of the more intriguing names to watch on this list since he was a first-round draft pick under the current front office regime. Coming into the draft, he was viewed a late riser, but the Twins liked the tools he possessed. Will the Twins bump him up to Low-A as a teenager?
What do you think about the future of shortstop in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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