Polanco will likely be the Twins backup at all three infield positions until Plouffe is able to return.
It brings up an interesting topic that we have seen a few times already this season. When should a prospect be called up to sit?When Danny Santana went on the disabled list, the Twins summoned outfielder Max Kepler from Rochester. He had played in just three Red Wings games before his promotion. In the eight days that he has been with the Twins, he has made one start and has just seven plate appearances and is 0-5 with two walks. His one start came against left-hander Carlos Rodon. Otherwise, he has been a late-inning defensive replacement.
To be fair, that is exactly what manager Paul Molitor said he would be. It is understandable too because the team came out of the gates with their outfield set with Eddie Rosario in left field, Byron Buxton in center field and Miguel Sano in right field. There is no way that any manager would want to make changes to that after just one week or struggles, and he shouldn't. Those guys all deserve the opportunity to break out. Unfortunately, that meant that Kepler sat the pine.
About a week ago, when the Twins put Glen Perkins on the disabled list, they promoted Taylor Rogers. In the six days since he has been up, he has faced two batters and got them both out. He has warmed up at least three or four times.
Again, it's understandable. Rogers was not brought in to replace Perkins as the team's closer. Instead, he comes up at the bottom of the totem pole and there weren't a bunch of opportunities to get him in the game.
When Fernando Abad was placed on the bereavement list, the Twins promoted Ryan O'Rourke. Now that Abad has been reinstated, O''Rourke stayed and Taylor Rogers was sent back to Rochester.
Why? Molitor knows O'Rourke. He knows what he can do against left-handers, even in the big leagues. In the one game he pitched, he got the one left-hander that he was brought in to get, on one pitch. It was a tight, late-inning situation and Molitor went to O'Rourke, not Rogers.
And now Jorge Polanco comes up and likely takes Trevor Plouffe's roster spot. Brian Dozier will play second. Eduardo Nunez will play third. Eduardo Escobar will play shortstop. Polanco may get a start or two over the next two weeks. He may even pinch hit once or twice. Unlikely Kepler, Polanco is not someone who will be brought in as a defensive replacement.
Again, the move is completely justifiable. Assuming Danny Santana is back by the end of the week, Polanco or Kepler can go down at that time. Santana, being out of options, is OK as a role player, a guy who may get two or three starts a week.
With another move likely coming in three or four days, it doesn't make sense to add someone to the 40-man roster and potentially lose someone else. It's why it was justifiable when Polanco was called up a couple of times each of the last two years, but just for a day or two. It's why calling up Kepler made more sense than adding Darin Mastroianni to the 40-man roster.
But when it comes to high-upside talent like Kepler and Polanco (and Buxton too), they need to play. They need every day reps. Sure, they'd love to soak up the service time in the big leagues, and the checks are much larger, but when you're counting on guys to be a big part of the future, it's much better for them to be playing, even if that means AAA instead of MLB.
In the 8 days that Kepler has been in MLB, he has seven plate appearances and maybe 14-15 innings in the outfield. In AAA during that same time, he would be hitting third, playing three outfield positions and likely have between 32 and 37 plate appearances while playing 65-75 innings in the field. Which is better for the player?
The same thing with Polanco. For every day that he's sitting the pine with the Twins, he is potentially losing nine innings in the field and four or five plate appearances. That accumulates.
For Rogers, the path is a little less certain, but there is absolutely a sense that he will be part of the Twins long-term plan. With the Red Wings, he would likely have pitched three times in a week, maybe accumulating five innings or so. That's a lot of situational pitching, and it's more learning how to work out of the bullpen.
With O'Rourke, he too can be part of the Twins future. The team and the manager know what he can and can't do. To this point, he can be a very good situational left-hander, and the work he did in the offseason and the spring to add a pitch to make himself more competitive against right-handers may play out positively.
But O'Rourke knows the bullpen. He is a little older and he understands and appreciates the role he will have. Rogers certainly appreciates the opportunity he was given this week, but many think that he can be a really good one or two inning type, and the fact that he hasn't really pitched out of the bullpen, he can develop and learn more by pitching.
It's a tough thing. I mean, as fans, we've been waiting for young players to get opportunities, so it's fun to see them on the roster. But at the same time, it's best for the player's development to play.
I'd like to say that it is best for the team long-term to have those guys playing every day in AAA to help them become better players.
Where there can be debate is what is better in the short-term. Despite the 0-9 start, the Twins went into the season with playoff plans and aspirations. In doing so, the short-term matters too. Having Max Kepler or Jorge Polanco on the bench likely means that if someone is getting an off day, the Twins can start one of them and have a quality player in the game.
At the same time, it can take a lot of years and maturity for a player to understand being a role player. Eduardo Nunez is a good example. He came up as the heir apparent to Derek Jeter as the Yankees shortstop. Instead, Jeter kept playing and playing, and Nunez became more of a role player. He struggled in that. However, in 2015, he was clearly comfortable with the role. He could play once or twice a week and when he played, he would be able to contribute. We're seeing that again this year.
So, to play or not to play, that certainly is the question when it comes to prospects and calling them up. What is best for the player? What is best for the Twins? What is best short-term, and what is best long-term? How will a guy adjust to playing just a small role with limited playing time? And of course, how does the 40-man roster construction affect it all?
Those questions, and likely more, come into play with each and every decision.
So, with each player and pitcher, this kind of thought needs to be given. I'm going to quickly go through the exercise of guessing who will be called up if each player is injured. For this, we are going to assume that the player will be injured and on the DL for more than the 15 days.
Player Hurt - Player Likely Called up
Kurt Suzuki - John Hicks
John Ryan Murphy - John Hicks
Joe Mauer - Kennys Vargas
Byung Ho Park - Kennys Vargas
Brian Dozier - Jorge Polanco
Eduardo Escobar - Jorge Polanco (extended time, Wilfredo Tovar)
Trevor Plouffe - Jorge Polanco
Eduardo Nunez - could be Polanco, but if extended, could go to James Beresford
Eddie Rosario - Max Kepler
Byron Buxton - Max Kepler
Miguel Sano - Max Kepler
Danny Santana - Max Kepler, but if extended, probably Mastroianni
Oswaldo Arcia - Max KeplerStarting Pitchers: Tyler Duffey (Jose Berrios may enter this picture in a month)
RH RP: JR Graham (though if Brandon Kintzler has an opt-out, that is possible). Alex Meyer is making himself an option right now too, though if he continues to succeed as a starter, they may want to keep him doing that.
LH RP: Taylor Rogers.
What do you think?
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