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Week in Review: Moving Forward

The Twins roster looked very different by the time Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline arrived, with one-fifth of its occupants shipped out in a flurry of future-focused deals. The exodus included three of Minnesota's longest-tenured players. Now, the team forges ahead with a different look.
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/30 through Sun, 8/5

***

Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 52-58)

Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: -17)

Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (9.0 GB)


After trading away Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly the previous week, the Twins completed their mini fire-sale as the deadline bore down, adding Brian Dozier, Lance Lynn and Zach Duke to the departing ranks.

As a result of all this shuffling, Minnesota brought a number of new young talents into the organization, while shifting their gaze over the final two months to evaluation of remaining assets.

These "Week in Review" columns will continue to track the team's record and run differential, but going forward, the tone will be dictated more by developments with those key players than by wins and losses. And through that lens, the past week was a pretty encouraging one.

HIGHLIGHTS

We're still waiting for Miguel Sano to hit one over the fence (his last home run as a big-leaguer came on May 31st) but he's certainly looking much better at the plate. Last week he went 8-for-20 with three doubles and a 6-to-3 K/BB ratio.

Perhaps more importantly, Sano has looked spry at third base (where he's made all but one of his starts since the recall, after frequently bouncing to first base and DH earlier in the season) and is running a lot better; I found this tidbit from MLB report Jarrid Denney, tweeted when Sano legged out an infield single on Friday night, rather interesting:



Initial results suggest that Sano's physical reboot program in Ft. Myers was a real success. Let's keep the positive signs coming.

Sano's nearest infield neighbor is also looking quite sharp. Jorge Polanco went 7-for-23 this week while starting at shortstop and batting third in every game. Over 29 contests since returning to the fold following a PED suspension, Polanco has a 25-to-13 K/BB ratio and .369 OBP over 122 plate appearances. While the power that emerged in the second half last year hasn't resurfaced, it's very promising to see the 25-year-old taking quality ABs and getting on base. He has also been strikingly good defensively, keeping the errors in check and rating better than ever before on range metrics (albeit in an extremely small sample).

With Dozier gone and Joe Mauer set to become a free agent, it's anyone's guess what the right side of Minnesota's infield will look like in 2019, but at least we can feel fairly confident at this moment in the outlook for the left side.

Another key piece for the future, Adalberto Mejia, asserted that he belongs in the big-league rotation on Wednesday by holding Cleveland scoreless on one hit over five innings.

His only Twins appearance in the first half came amidst unfavorable circumstances on a sweltering weekend at Wrigley Field where the whole team melted into a puddle. In three appearances since, Mejia has allowed only one run over 13 1/3 innings (0.68 ERA). The key for him the rest of the way will be efficiency on the mound; he hasn't completed six innings in any of his MLB three starts this year, and did so just four times in 21 turns last year.

If he can consistently throw deeper into games over his final ~10 starts while continuing to post solid numbers, there's no reason why Mejia shouldn't be locked into a rotation spot next spring.

With Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi in line to return, and with Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves and others waiting in the wings, the Twins are theoretically pretty well set on starting pitchers moving forward. That'd leave Trevor May as an odd man out, but he can sure help the club elsewhere and showed it over the weekend.

After shaking off the cobwebs in a shaky 2018 debut on Tuesday, May was a dominant force in his follow-up on Friday. The righty complemented a mid-90s fastball with a hard, biting slider and blew Kansas City hitters away in his one inning, as he struck out the side and tallied six whiffs on 17 pitches. On Sunday, he notched a critical strikeout to strand two runners in the eighth.

May's been out of sight for some time, but let's not forget that in 2016 he posted a 12.7 K/9 rate with 13.2% swinging strikes as a full-time reliever. Granted, he also posted a 5.27 ERA. The results weren't there but the stuff most definitely was – weren't we saying that about Pressly not so long ago?

Incidentally, May is a sleeper candidate to fill Pressly's vacancy in the bullpen next year as a dominating righty setup man.

The Twins have spent long stretches of this season without Sano, Polanco, Mejia and May, but it's deeply invigorating to see them all back on the roster, healthy and performing.

LOWLIGHTS

Another pivotal long-term figure who's been absent from the Twins for much of 2018 continues to endure setback after setback, and it's looking like he might not make it back this year at all.

Byron Buxton, who's been in Triple-A since mid-June – first on rehab and then on optional assignment – spent half of July on the disabled list with a sprained wrist. He returned at the end of the month to make two starts, striking out five times in seven at-bats, and then went back on the shelf last week as the wrist evidently had not healed.

Overall, Buxton has slashed .218/.299/.385 with a 31% K-rate in 22 games at Rochester since moving down, as a 24-year-old facing inexperienced prospects and minor-league journeymen. He has not earned his way back to the big leagues on merit, and is fast running out of time to do so. Toss in the inescapable onslaught of injuries, plus service time considerations, and it's pretty clear what the right path is for Minnesota at this point: Leave him down or DLed for the remainder of the campaign. Hope for a full reset in 2019.

It's far from ideal, but idealism is out the window with Buck at this point.

Having cleared some room on their 40-man roster through all the deadline sell moves, Minnesota picked up a couple of players off waivers last week, including one who has already made his way up to the MLB club. Oliver Drake joined the Twins when Matt Magill left on paternity leave Friday, becoming the latest reliever to get an audition.

Drake is a 31-year-old who has bounced around a ton over the past few years. No one has been impressed enough to stick with him long. Don't get me wrong, there are things to like about Drake – his 3.51 FIP rate as a big-leaguer is at odds with the 5.00 ERA and he's got a 9.9 K/9 rate go along with spectacular Triple-A numbers – but it's mystifying that the Twins keep prioritizing veterans off the scrap heap, like him and Matt Belisle, over their own internal options.

Why not give Alan Busenitz, Tyler Duffey, Luke Bard, John Curtiss, Nick Anderson or even Kohl Stewart a shot? There is no shortage of worthwhile candidates on the Triple-A roster, and this is seemingly the perfect time to take a look.

TRENDING STORYLINE

With Dozier gone, I'll be curious to see how playing time at second base is divvied up in the remaining weeks. Thus far, it's been two starts for Ehire Adrianza and three for newly acquired Logan Forsythe.

The Twins gain minimal benefit from running Forsythe out there, so I'd hope to see Adrianza get the lion's share of time. I know many would like to get a look at Nick Gordon, but the 22-year-old's considerable struggles at Triple-A make that unlikely. Gordon's been amidst a bit of a free-fall; he went 3-for-28 last week and is batting .106 with zero extra-base hits in his past 17 games.

Adrianza's bat has gone cold – he's batting only .125 since the start of July – but his playing time has also been very sporadic. In June, when he started regularly, he posted an .861 OPS. Why not run him out there nightly and see what what he can do? Unlike Forsythe, Adrianza can be a factor for Minnesota next year and perhaps a big one.

DOWN ON THE FARM

I was remiss not to mention Brent Rooker in the last edition, because he was an absolute monster the previous week (13-for-26, 3 HR, 7 BB, 3 K), so I'll remedy that error by highlighting him now. Rooker had another very solid seven days at Chattanooga, going 5-for-17 with two doubles and five walks. He has piled up 30 doubles and 20 home runs in 104 games at Double-A, and is batting .313 since the start of June.

Of all the top 10 Twins prospects, Rooker seems best positioned to make a real impact at the major-league level next year. I'd love it if we got an early look at him in September, and the more he continues to crush week after week, the more realistic that possibility becomes.

Another player he deserves to come (back) up to the majors and solidify his case for 2019: Romero, who surpassed his previous career high for innings pitched on Sunday in dazzling fashion, hurling eight shutout frame to shut down the Pawtucket Sox. Romero now owns a 2.71 ERA and 1.10 WHIP for Rochester.

I wouldn't mind seeing the Twins go to a six-man rotation in September, adding Romero and lightening the load on him and the rest of the starters.

In Cedar Rapids, Minnesota's system is seeing some incredible initial returns on a couple of recent additions. Ryan Jeffers, promoted to the Kernels late last month after decimating the Appy League, went 14-for-26 with three home runs and six doubles, producing an outrageous 1.116 slugging percentage in seven games. He walked four times and struck out once. Minnesota's second-round pick in the June draft has the looks of a fast riser, which is crucial given the position he plays (catcher).

Now, it should be noted that it's hardly uncommon for a highly drafted college bat to take the low minors by storm, so we should temper our enthusiasm a bit, but obviously Jeffers is looking like a brilliant pick thus far, and first-rounder Trevor Larnach (.903 OPS through 14 games at Elizabethton) is also making a strong first impression.

Speaking of first impressions, they hardly get better than Jhoan Duran's with the Twins organization. The 20-year-old, acquired in the Escobar trade, tossed seven hitless innings in his first start for Cedar Rapids on Monday, and then added 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball on Sunday with nine strikeouts.

Duran was one of two players specifically called out by chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, alongside Jorge Alcala, in his chat with Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune regarding the team's deadline prospect haul. Falvey opined that those two have a chance to become upper-end starters, and made note of Duran's "real power stuff." So far that assessment looks correct.

LOOKING AHEAD

The comfortably mediocre Twins are nine games behind the Indians and five games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central. They'll face both of them on the road this week. Which direction will Minnesota move?

MONDAY, 8/6: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Trevor Bauer
TUESDAY, 8/7: TWINS @ INDIANS – LHP Adalberto Mejia v. RHP Carlos Carrasco
WEDNESDAY, 8/8: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Mike Clevinger
THURSDAY, 8/9: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Corey Kluber
FRIDAY, 8/10: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Ervin Santana v. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
SATURDAY, 8/11: TWINS @ TIGERS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. LHP Francisco Liriano
SUNDAY, 8/12: TWINS @ TIGERS – LHP Adalberto Mejia v. LHP Matthew Boyd

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45 Comments

Lots of stuff to digest here. It was a long week discussing the trades.

May has been encouraging since his return. With Pressly gone there's an opening for high leverage situations. Seize the moment Mr. May.

Reading Buxton's name right now makes me sad and ill.

The FO drew the line of how they value the AAA 'reinforcements' by picking up Drake. They would rather see a 31 year old journeyman than see the AAA guys IMO.

I'm becoming increasingly concerned about Gordon. His 2nd half fades are becoming as common as a slow 1st half for Dozier.

Call up Rooker to AAA and give him some PAs so he can hit the ground running next season.
    • Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN, mikelink45 and 7 others like this

Sano is trending the right direction and I think Polanco is finally solidifying himself as a starting MLB SS. Mejia looks like he might stick as a starter in the rotation, and that's huge. Trevor May and Matt Magill might be able to carve out roles in the bullpen - that's another plus for the 2019 season. So far, things aren't so bad even though we traded 20% of the 25 man roster away.

 

But can we please end the Belisle experiment? Please?! If you're going to try and figure out Oliver Drake, fine, but get rid of Belisle and work on another AAA reliever. We're figuring out things about May, Magill, and Moya so far, and we need to do that with more of the AAA guys.

    • mikelink45, Dman, DocBauer and 5 others like this
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Dozier's Glorious Hair
Aug 05 2018 10:40 PM

I really hope Sano is at the plate not thinking at all about home runs, but rather singles and doubles like the ones he's been getting since his return. He's looked so much better than the all-or-nothing (mostly nothing) hitter he was earlier in the season. Just let the home runs happen on their own. 

    • scottz, Riverbrian, Oldgoat_MN and 4 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Aug 05 2018 10:43 PM

I don't really give a rat's ass about the 12th man in the bullpen but christ almighty, call someone up beyond Trevor May. This bullpen needs an overhaul and May isn't even half enough.

    • 071063, mikelink45, adorduan and 3 others like this
Knowing how the Twins roll, I wouldn’t be surprised when Magill comes off his maternity leave, he’s sent back to Rochester! After all, that should be his reward for his strong pitching lately, right? Tough to beat out Belisle and Drake, I guess!
    • mikelink45 likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Aug 06 2018 05:17 AM
The highlights were encouraging. It's nice to get some positive vibes again regarding our Twins.
Buxton is still the future and I agree we should shut him down at the MLB level and put him on the shelf and let the sunshine of spring training 2019 heal the wounds.

This was excellent, but continues our frustration with the FO.Why Drake?Move the AAA guys up, test our own players over an extended time.I also want to see Gonsalves - he deserves a chance.

 

Sit Morrison down.Mr HR or nothing is not the future, but Rooker is.Give young bats and young arms a chance. Commit to our youth.If they show they cannot do it the FO can go back to the Drake/Motter dumpster dives, but we do not need that right now.  

 

Buxton is a really sad story for me.If you want to join me in my disappointment - check out these 40.  https://bleacherrepo...of-fame#slide9I will not say that Buxton will not come through, but the odds keep shifting.

 

Or maybe this group is more comparable https://bleacherrepo...time#slide10 .

There was always concern about Buxtons hit tool from the moment the Twins drafted him.I thought most scouts biggest fear was his bat might not be good enough. He changed the narrative on that issue by hitting well in Cedar Rapids and I think Fort Meyers as well.After that he plateaued and swung from awful to good to awful to his current status. 

 

At the MLB level it still looks like he is struggling with pitch recognition and contact.I know he has slumped when being injured so it certainly plays a part in his struggles but even when not injured he can really struggle in the box.Not sure what to think but hope, hope, hope he can figure it out. 

 

Right now as things stand I would rather see Cave out there than Buxton.

    • Jerr likes this

You forget Pineda for starting pitching next year.

Good article. One paragraph jumped out at me:

 

Another key piece for the future, Adalberto Mejia, asserted that he belongs in the big-league rotation on Wednesday by holding Cleveland scoreless on one hit over five innings.

 

Is Mejia really considered that much of a key piece? He's show flashes of quality the past two years, but I'm still not sold on him being a core piece of the rotation going forward. Maybe a somewhat reliable 4th or 5th starter, but anything more than that ... I dunno What do others think? Could he really be a good foundation piece in the rotation next year?

Good article. One paragraph jumped out at me:

Another key piece for the future, Adalberto Mejia, asserted that he belongs in the big-league rotation on Wednesday by holding Cleveland scoreless on one hit over five innings.

Is Mejia really considered that much of a key piece? He's show flashes of quality the past two years, but I'm still not sold on him being a core piece of the rotation going forward. Maybe a somewhat reliable 4th or 5th starter, but anything more than that ... I dunno What do others think? Could he really be a good foundation piece in the rotation next year?


Any team needs consistent back end of the rotation guys. It helps that he's left handed and making the minimum. That's valuable.
    • Nick Nelson, Mike Sixel, scottz and 9 others like this

 


The FO drew the line of how they value the AAA 'reinforcements' by picking up Drake. They would rather see a 31 year old journeyman than see the AAA guys IMO.

 

I'm hoping that this is not the case, but feel that you may be at least some truth to it. If this is true, I'd say that they're doing themselves a disservice by not at least seeing what they do have. In a season that is already lost, there is no harm in seeing what you've got or at least giving deserving AAA players a chance.

 

I don't really think it looks good to players in the system or guys signing minor league deals either. It's hard to sell the hope of getting a spot on the big league roster when there is a mountain of evidence to suggest that won't be the case even if they're earning one. That has to be extremely frustrating to be one of those guys that has seemingly earned a spot but continue to get usurped by aging veteran castoffs.

    • Minny505 likes this
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Nick Nelson
Aug 06 2018 08:20 AM

 

I don't really give a rat's ass about the 12th man in the bullpen but christ almighty, call someone up beyond Trevor May. This bullpen needs an overhaul and May isn't even half enough.

I'm not sure I see an "overhaul" as necessary — they've basically got their core for next year in place with Hildenberger, Rogers, Reed, Moya, May, and (I guess) Rodney. But it sure would be helpful to audition a few others and evaluate the substantive depth.

 

 

You forget Pineda for starting pitching next year.

Ah yes. He always manages to slip my mind. So May is crowded out of that picture all the more. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Great article that summarizes exactly where the Twins are--you know, limbo. I could have "liked" all the comments so far, but totally agree with the fact we stop picking up recyclables in the dumpster and use our prospects on the 40-man. Why in the wide wide world of sports has Gonsalves not been promoted yet? Is this Falvine's decision or Moli's? Get rid of the deadweight NOW who have no chance of being on the team next year. September stats can be somewhat meaningless to gauge prospects.

 

I like most of the moves the FO has made, but choosing other teams' discards over our own prospects really throws up the white towel on our farm system.

    • Jerr and gman like this

I don't really see them moving forward......there isn't much youth and inexperience on this roster, more like treading water. If they were moving forward, Morrison would be gone, and Austin would be up, for example.

    • Jerr, Oldgoat_MN, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

 

I'm not sure I see an "overhaul" as necessary — they've basically got their core for next year in place with Hildenberger, Rogers, Reed, Moya, May, and (I guess) Rodney. But it sure would be helpful to audition a few others and evaluate the substantive depth.

 

 

Ah yes. He always manages to slip my mind. So May is crowded out of that picture all the more. 

Meh, I wouldn't consider Rogers or Moya(or Rodney for that matter)sure things for the pen next year...

Any other thoughts on the Gordon regression in AAA?Injury?

I don't really see them moving forward......there isn't much youth and inexperience on this roster, more like treading water. If they were moving forward, Morrison would be gone, and Austin would be up, for example.


Someone is not allowing this org to move forward... Whether that's MoY, ownership, or some other voice behind the scenes.

I want to believe this isn't Falvine's vision, recycling through waiver wire fodder.
    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, gman and 2 others like this

So, while I generally agree with the conventional wisdom, expressed here, that we'd like to bring young guys up and give them a taste of the majors in a season like this, I also have heard many say that the Twins mishandled Buxton (and maybe Sano and others)by bringing them up early, before they were ready.Maybe some of you, with more experience, have written about this too.I think the thinking is that Buxton's early failures have wrecked his confidence and that it's hard to make major adjustments at the MLB level.And with Sano, that his early success may have made him overconfident and undercut his work ethic.  

 

I don't know, I really don't.But I'd like to hear you all consider that bringing young guys up is not without risk.How do we evaluate when it makes sense, and when it doesn't?  

    • Riverbrian likes this

 

So, while I generally agree with the conventional wisdom, expressed here, that we'd like to bring young guys up and give them a taste of the majors in a season like this, I also have heard many say that the Twins mishandled Buxton (and maybe Sano and others)by bringing them up early, before they were ready.Maybe some of you, with more experience, have written about this too.I think the thinking is that Buxton's early failures have wrecked his confidence and that it's hard to make major adjustments at the MLB level.And with Sano, that his early success may have made him overconfident and undercut his work ethic.  

 

I don't know, I really don't.But I'd like to hear you all consider that bringing young guys up is not without risk.How do we evaluate when it makes sense, and when it doesn't?  

 

Austin is 26 and out of options next year. That, imo, is why he should be up this year. Because he's either here next year, or claimed when optioned, or not good enough to worry about. 

 

I'm with you on Gordon and some other young players, though.

    • Brock Beauchamp, birddog, gman and 1 other like this
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Nick Nelson
Aug 06 2018 11:30 AM

 

Meh, I wouldn't consider Rogers or Moya(or Rodney for that matter)sure things for the pen next year...

Rogers has (by far) the most appearances for MN over the past three years of anyone on the roster, and currently owns a 2.62 FIP as well as career bests in WHIP, HR rate and K rate. He'll be fairly cheap in 2019. He's a core building block in this bullpen and a total lock.

 

You may be right on Moya, but I'd sure like to think he'll be in. The guy can pitch and has nothing else to prove in the minors.

 

 

I don't really see them moving forward......there isn't much youth and inexperience on this roster, more like treading water. If they were moving forward, Morrison would be gone, and Austin would be up, for example.

I think we're getting a little impatient on Austin. He's been in the org for like a week and it's not like he's been outrageously dominant in Triple-A.

 

While I know everyone's disenchanted with Morrison, the Twins do have a reasonable option on him for 2019. Are you saying even if he turns it on with a monster final two months, you'd be totally opposed to exploring that route? He does have 5 HR in his last 16 games... 

 

Treating Austin as some sort of guaranteed upgrade strikes me as symptomatic of a "grass is always greener" mentality.

    • TNTwinsFan and MN_ExPat like this

 

Rogers has (by far) the most appearances for MN over the past three years of anyone on the roster, and currently owns a 2.62 FIP as well as career bests in WHIP, HR rate and K rate. He'll be fairly cheap in 2019. He's a core building block in this bullpen and a total lock.

 

You may be right on Moya, but I'd sure like to think he'll be in. The guy can pitch and has nothing else to prove in the minors.

 

 

I think we're getting a little impatient on Austin. He's been in the org for like a week and it's not like he's been outrageously dominant in Triple-A.

 

While I know everyone's disenchanted with Morrison, the Twins do have a reasonable option on him for 2019. Are you saying even if he turns it on with a monster final two months, you'd be totally opposed to exploring that route? He does have 5 HR in his last 16 games... 

 

Treating Austin as some sort of guaranteed upgrade strikes me as symptomatic of a "grass is always greener" mentality.

 

No place have I said he's guaranteed anything....in a lost season, you call guys up and give them a shot. He's out of options next year, so see if he's part of the future or not. Been very consistent on that point....gather data, and see where your holes are.

 

And no, I don't really think Morrison is part of 2019. He's had one really good year.

    • Riverbrian, LA VIkes Fan and SF Twins Fan like this

 

Of all the top 10 Twins prospects, Rooker seems best positioned to make a real impact at the major-league level next year. I'd love it if we got an early look at him in September, and the more he continues to crush week after week, the more realistic that possibility becomes.

I like seeing new players, and lord knows the Twins could use a phenom rocketing to MLB, but I think I'd be pretty upset rather than excited if Rooker debuted in MLB yet this season, given everything we know. He still has some contact issues, so I wouldn't want to trust him to skip AAA and be ready to contribute for opening day 2019, and it would be very poor 40-man roster management to add him this early.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, scottz and 6 others like this
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yarnivek1972
Aug 06 2018 11:51 AM

So, while I generally agree with the conventional wisdom, expressed here, that we'd like to bring young guys up and give them a taste of the majors in a season like this, I also have heard many say that the Twins mishandled Buxton (and maybe Sano and others) by bringing them up early, before they were ready. Maybe some of you, with more experience, have written about this too. I think the thinking is that Buxton's early failures have wrecked his confidence and that it's hard to make major adjustments at the MLB level. And with Sano, that his early success may have made him overconfident and undercut his work ethic.

I don't know, I really don't. But I'd like to hear you all consider that bringing young guys up is not without risk. How do we evaluate when it makes sense, and when it doesn't?


Most of the guys we are talking about bringing up aren’t young. Most of the relievers that posters want looked at the MLB level are 25 or older.
    • Mike Sixel likes this
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Nick Nelson
Aug 06 2018 12:08 PM

 

I like seeing new players, and lord knows the Twins could use a phenom rocketing to MLB, but I think I'd be pretty upset rather than excited if Rooker debuted in MLB yet this season, given everything we know. He still has some contact issues, so I wouldn't want to trust him to skip AAA and be ready to contribute for opening day 2019, and it would be very poor 40-man roster management to add him this early.

Fair enough, although Rooker has a 25% K rate since the start of June and the Southern League average is 23% so I'm not sure I'd really deem that "contact issues" for a power hitter. Given that his approach has developed so rapidly and he already turns 24 in November I'm fine with pushing him and challenging him. I dunno how much value he'll get out of spending time in AAA.

 

 

No place have I said he's guaranteed anything....in a lost season, you call guys up and give them a shot. He's out of options next year, so see if he's part of the future or not. Been very consistent on that point....gather data, and see where your holes are.

I'm on board with that and would like to see Austin up as well. I just don't necessarily think the fact he's not here presently, while Morrison is, demonstrates that the Twins aren't looking ahead.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

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