Report from The Fort: A Beautiful Day
Image courtesy of © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY SportsRain (Man), Then Thunder
Josh Donaldson made his spring debut today and turned an 89 mph fastball into a 110 mph home run. The 3-run blast not only cleared the center field wall, it did so against the wind. “He's doing really well,” commented Twins manager Rocco Baldelli after the game. “He's in a good spot physically and he's got his plan put together and he's out there executing it every day.” Baldelli also said that Donaldson will be back in the lineup soon, probably right after the Twins off-day tomorrow.
Thorpe Continues to Impress
Lewis Thorpe continued to impress this spring. Starting the game, he struck out all three batters he faced on a total of 13 pitches. “His fastball life was exceptional,” said Baldelli. “Commanded the ball well throughout the inning. I mean, that’s just a really nice day of work. He should feel really good about himself.”
In sort of an odd development, after that one inning, he went to the bullpen to get more work in and get his pitch count up. There was a good reason:
Thorpe was granted an additional option this offseason, and there are five veterans in front of him for the starting rotation, so he’s on the outside looking in for the 26-man roster. But he’s certainly positioning himself to be near the front of the line if an opportunity arises. The Twins seem to view his future is that of a starting pitcher, more than an occasional bullpen swingman.
The Twins have played 8 games this spring and Max Kepler has hit leadoff for four of them and Luis Arraez for the other four. So that question has certainly not been settled. Yesterday it was Arraez’s turn, and he got on base in two of his three at-bats, with a diamond-cutter single and a walk.
There was one mild surprise at the top of the order. This is the first game that Donaldson and Nelson Cruz have shared a lineup card, and Donaldson batted second (which is not unusual), but Cruz batted cleanup. You’ll recall that Cruz has mostly batted third with the Twins, but last Cruz batted cleanup in six of the first seven games, before going back to third in the lineup again.
Batting between the two big right-handed bats was Jorge Polanco, who could be poised to have a big year, especially hitting left-handed. That’s something to keep an eye on for the rest of camp.
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons had his first day in Twins camp today after getting past his visa challenges in Curacao. He got in some work, but also got to tour the complex and get to know his new teammates. Baldelli plans to get him into his first spring training game sooner rather than later.
Outfielder Keon Broxton also had a 110-mph home run today. He’s also had a good camp, and provides and interesting option as a bench player. He brings a right-handed bat and can play center field too. But the 30-year-old isn’t on the 40-man roster, so he’s got an uphill climb compared to Jake Cave, Brent Rooker and even Kyle Garlick.
The Twins 8-4 win was closed out by fireball prospects Matt Canterino (Twins Daily’s #9 prospect) and Josh Winder (an Honorable Mention candidate). Both had a chance to show off their 97 mph fastball.
Former first round pick and shortstop prospect Nick Gordon talked to the media today. After missing last year battling Covid and having limited playing time in 2019 battling gastrointestinal problems, his main goal this year is to stay healthy. “I feel like this year is special for me in the sense of just being back on the field,” he admitted, “and I'll take that with open arms.”
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