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GAME THREAD 4/13/2021: Twins vs. Red Sox, 1:10 CDT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:02 PM
The Minnesota Twins will play today! (I think, anyways....)Although the weather is ghastly today, the precipitation will come down as sno...
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Ex Twins in 2021: Where Are They Now?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:24 PM
One of my favorite annual threads on the site. Let’s stay updated on ex-Twins in the news... This is a start of a list, and feel free to...
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Joe West wins lawsuit against Lo Duca

Other Baseball Today, 03:25 PM
https://www.msn.com/...artan-dhp-feeds   I was a bit surprised he won this but good for him, I guess.
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Twins Moving Up Power Rankings (Week of April 11)

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:43 PM
MLB.com published their updated power rankings Sunday. The moved the Twins up from sixth to fourth. The Athletic (subscription required)...
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The 5 Rule Draft

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 05:49 PM
This year's Rule 5 draft we lost Akil Baddo and Tyler Wells. So I thought I'd check to see how they were doing. 1st I checked on Baddo, h...
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What if Alex Kirilloff is THE One?

Over the years Minnesota Twins fans have salivated over the idea of generational prospects. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano gave way to Royce Lewis and the current crop. Alex Kirilloff could end up being the one, though.
Image courtesy of © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The former first-round pick falls more in line with Sano when it comes to athletic tools. He’s more hitter than he is well rounded athlete, but that doesn’t mean you should bank on him becoming a full-time designated hitter any time soon. While Sano is a hulking power guy, both Buxton and Lewis ooze tools that create plenty of fallback positives. For Kirilloff, the bat is expected to play so well that even a corner outfield or first base role doesn’t sap much of his value.

Here’s the deal, projecting early success for prospects is a very difficult practice. Sure, Wander Franco and Jarred Kelenic both have gone yard in Spring Training already, but their immediate success in the big leagues remains a complete question mark. Both of those guys are seen as better overall players than the Twins left-handed hitter, but it remains a dice roll as to how their careers start.

Let’s imagine for a second that Kirilloff winds up being a dude, more than just a guy. Instead of taking a typical progression to get there, say he achieves that status in year one. Minnesota hasn’t had a Rookie of the Year winner since Marty Cordova in 1995. Cordova went on to produce 6.5 fWAR (3.6 of which came in his first season) and was largely a forgettable talent. If you can bring yourself to dream on the heights Kirilloff has the ability to produce at, something much more special is in play here.

Twins Daily’s own Seth Stohs has suggested he’d be far from shocked to see the Pennsylvania native win a batting title or two. Sure, that might be seen through rose-colored glasses, but Seth has always been as plugged into the Minnesota farm system as anyone in baseball. It’s not as though the talent isn’t recognized elsewhere either given Kirilloff’s current status as a consensus top-100 prospect, and in the top 30 on two different lists.



Let’s venture over to FanGraphs for a minute. Dan Szymborski, creator of ZiPS, recently published his 2021 breakout candidate list. The first name on it, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., seems like a good bet to rebound. He tore up the minors, is in better shape, and now has some new understanding at the highest level on his side. We’re here for the second name on the list: Alex Kirilloff.

Noting how the projection systems work, and especially in the context of injury, Szymborski defines his stance saying, “He’s too low on the ZiPS Top 100, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he hit 30 homers in 2021. ZiPS only says 3.6% for that, but I think it’s closer to 25%.” The 90th percentile outcome for Kirilloff is a 3.1 fWAR player. He’s not going to add much defensively, but a rookie season with a .301/.352/.543 slash line including 25 dingers would be bananas. Assuming the Twins start him in left field on Opening Day as they should, reaching 30 would give fans a form of immediate gratification they’ve been missing from top prospects.

Attached Image: Capture.PNG

So, what if Kirilloff winds up being a dude, but just a guy for the 2021 season? Even his 10th percentile outcome is hardly worth throwing away. A .279/.317/.403 slash line with 12 dingers isn’t going to earn him much stability going forward, but it would be a fine debut. ZiPS currently has him pegged for 1.3 fWAR, or a 40th percentile outcome, including a .286/.328/.445 slash line with 16 longballs. That checks in higher than what the since departed Eddie Rosario did in 2019 and his 32-homer output was enough to garner MVP votes.

When the dust settles on Kirilloff in 2021 I think it will be easy to tell why he ranks how he does on prospect lists. Players like Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis are capable of winning MVP awards. At their best, they have offensive prowess and defensive acumen. Guys like Miguel Sano and the highlighted Kirilloff are going to produce with the stick, and although it’s singularly focused, the height of production is an incredibly valuable asset. Alex may never win an MVP, but he certainly could be in the discussion for a batting title or two, and betting on him for a Rookie of the Year nod while outpacing even the highest projections is hardly far-fetched.

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13 Comments

I liked seeing AK hit that double today against Tampa Bay! Such a smooth swing.

    • Otwins and CUtomorrownight like this
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Richard Swerdlick
Mar 05 2021 02:37 AM

Since the AAA season opening has now been set back to May, I wonder how that will affect the Twins' decision regarding service time for Alex?

    • USNMCPO, TopGunn#22 and tarheeltwinsfan like this

I expect to see AK eventually as the Twins regular first baseman. No reason that he can't become better than average defensively at first. May never hit 40+ home runs, but 30 bombs together with a +.300 average and lots of doubles will make him that special player.

 

Moving to first may be what is best for AK AND the Twins, considering the number of top outfield prospects in the organizaiton.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

Hope AK is starting in LF opening day. He has the potential to be a great hitter, time to see what he has at the MLB level. Forget the service time issue, sign him to extension next off-season if has good year this year.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

If Kiriloff is a .300 hitter with 30-HR power playing 1B...he's Freddie Freeman.  

I'd take that in a heartbeat.

I also wonder, with the AAA season start being pushed back a month how that will affect the Twins handling of AK.

If they wait to bring him up, it will be JUNE.

They can't afford to not put the BEST team they can on the field right off the bat with the White Sox having loaded up.

This may mean Kiriloff breaks camp with the Big League club.

    • DannySD likes this

I have high expectations for the kid.He has a nice swing and willing to drive to all fields.He makes solid contact and from what I read rarely expands the zone.He does not walk much so far, but that can be a product of putting ball in play early in counts.To me as the walk to strikeout ratio is more important than how much of either they have.  

 

He will not be some 40 plus HR hitter, but I see him putting up some serious numbers over his career.I think if he would not have needed tommy john a couple years ago he would have been up sooner. 

Phew. Spring is the time for dreaming, but those Zips confidence levels look like the narrow range you'd assign to a veteran player, not a guy who hasn't really proven yet that he can hit a major league yakker in the strike zone yet lay off the breaking stuff that's in the dirt. A projection that says it's hard to fathom him hitting less than .279 right out of the gate is... hard to fathom. I'll be happy if he establishes that he belongs in the major leagues, and go from there.

    • Dman and VOMG like this
Kiriloff's swing reminds me of Kepler's when he first showed up
Before he changed his swing for the juiced up baseballs' arrival. I hope he wins the LF job.

THE One?

 

Then I wish the both of you all the happiness in the world. :)

    • Nine of twelve likes this

THE One?

 

Then I wish the both of you all the happiness in the world. :)

zathras.png

 

"Not the One. NOT the One. The One is hurt. Must find. Zathras must find, help. The One leads us. The One tells us to go, we go. We live for The One. We would die for The One. Zathras trusts... the One. The One Who Was. The One Who Is. The One Who Will Be."
 

    • Craig Arko likes this

 

ZiPS currently has him pegged for 1.3 fWAR, or a 40th percentile outcome, including a .286/.328/.445 slash line with 16 longballs. That checks in higher than what the since departed Eddie Rosario did in 2019 and his 32-homer output was enough to garner MVP votes.

This is a bit misleading, on a couple of counts:

 

- Despite the dingers and MVP votes, 2019 is actually considered Rosario's worst at the plate, overall and relative to league, over the last 4 seasons

 

- Kirilloff's projected 2021 ZiPS WAR doesn't really top Rosario's 2019 fWAR due to offense (they are roughly equal performances offensively), but rather due to defense which you did not mention at all -- Rosario's 2019 was his worst defensively by Fangraphs metrics, pulling down his fWAR

 

I still makes all the sense in the world for the Twins to prefer Kirilloff to Rosario right now, of course, but besting Rosario's worst season of the last 4, primarily on defense, is not a particularly meaningful barometer!

 

Phew. Spring is the time for dreaming, but those Zips confidence levels look like the narrow range you'd assign to a veteran player, not a guy who hasn't really proven yet that he can hit a major league yakker in the strike zone yet lay off the breaking stuff that's in the dirt. A projection that says it's hard to fathom him hitting less than .279 right out of the gate is... hard to fathom. I'll be happy if he establishes that he belongs in the major leagues, and go from there.

That is weird -- the 10% projection pegs him at a .349 BABIP, which is way better than the league's usual non-pitcher BABIP of ~.300, and way better than his other confidence level BABIPs (.328 at 50% confidence level, for example).

 

Also, that 10% projection pegs him at a 23.5% K rate, which is almost exactly league average (23.4% in 2020, admittedly up from 22.4% in 2019).

    • ashbury likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Mar 07 2021 04:43 PM

Nice article. Thanks.