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Ranking Minnesota’s Roster Depth By Position Group

byron buxton miguel sano ehire adrianza nelson cruz josh donaldson
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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 09:33 PM

Expectations may never have been higher for the Minnesota Twins at the start of a season. The club is coming of a 101-win season and the roster has made improvements to build on last year’s success. Through the course of a 162-game season, there are always going to be injuries and the best clubs are forced to rely on their depth to keep themselves on a playoff path. Below is a ranking of all Minnesota’s position groups by depth from 1-10.

Editor’s Note: In the originally posted article, the writer did not have catchers included on the list. Below you will see an updated ranking with catchers included.All depth chart information was taken from MLB.com and the team’s official depth chart. Some players are not listed on the official depth chart at this time due to suspension, injury or contract status. Those players have been added to the depth chart or included in the discussion.

11. Center Field
Depth Chart: Buxton, Kepler, Cave, Wade Jr.
Byron Buxton might not be ready for the season’s start and this could push Max Kepler from right field to center field where he filled in admirably last season. However, he has flaws as a defensive center fielder. If Buxton and Kepler were both hurt, someone like Jake Cave or LaMonte Wade Jr. would be forced to play up the middle and this would certainly not be ideal for the team.

10. Shortstop
Depth Chart: Polanco, Adrianza, Gordon
Jorge Polanco was the AL’s starting shortstop in the All-Star Game, but there were some struggles for him in the second half including a nearly 100-point drop in his OPS. Should Polanco go down with an injury, Ehire Adrianza has proven himself to be a strong defensive replacement even if he can’t be at the same offensive level as Polanco. Nick Gordon, a former top-5 pick, has started over 500 games at shortstop throughout his professional career, but he’s been getting more innings at second base in recent years.

9. Second Base
Depth Chart: Arraez, Adrianza, Gordon
Over his last three seasons, Luis Arraez has averaged 122 games played per seasons including with last year marking a career high 146 games played. as at shortstop, Adrianza would be a defensive upgrade and it would be interesting to see how the Twins would handle a long-term injury to Arraez. Would they consider moving Polanco to second and playing Adrianza at shortstop?

8. First Base
Depth Chart: Sano, Gonzalez, Astudillo
Sano has missed time in every big-league season, so there is a likelihood he’ll miss time again this year. Luckily for the Twins, Gonzalez and Astudillo could both fill in at first base when Sano is out of the line-up. Outside of the players on the team’s official depth chart, Adrianza logged over 118 innings at first base last season as well. His defensive skills are probably better utilized elsewhere, but he can fill in if there is a need.

7. Left Field
Depth Chart: Rosario, Cave, Wade Jr., Gonzalez
Minnesota has no shortage of corner outfield options, but the depth can get stretch if Buxton is not in center and Kepler is forced to take his spot. There is no guarantee Jake Cave and Lamonte Wade Jr. make the 26-man roster out of spring training, which would leave Marwin Gonzalez as one of the few on-roster options for the club. Adrianza made appearances at both corner outfield spots last season, but almost all his time was in right field.

6. Right Field
Depth Chart: Kepler, Cave, Wade Jr., Gonzalez
Like in left field, Cave and Wade Jr. are hardly guaranteed a roster spot to start the year. An injury to Kepler or Buxton, could mean Cave or Wade Jr. end up playing on a regular basis and this might not be a terrible transition for the club. Gonzalez provides some defensive flexibility, but he has played less time in right field than any other position, so it seems more likely for the team to use other outfield options.

5. Designated Hitter
Depth Chart: Cruz
Nelson Cruz was the team’s MVP last year, but he lost some time on the IL with a ruptured wrist tendon. Sano seems like an easy replacement for Cruz at DH, but then the options at first base become Gonzalez, Astudillo, or Adrianza. Would the club consider bringing up a prospect like Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach or Alex Kirilloff to take over the DH role if Cruz were injured?

4. Third Base
Depth Chart: Donaldson, Adrianza, Gonzalez, Astudillo
Josh Donaldson certainly upgrades this group, but an injury to him and Adrianza or Gonzalez would take over regular playing time. Adrianza is in a contract year, so it seems likely that he’d like an opportunity to show he can be an everyday player. Gonzalez took over at third base last season when Sano was on the IL. While the Twins are committed to Sano at first base, the team could always plug him back in at third if Donaldson was going to miss an extended amount of time.

3. Catcher
Depth Chart: Garver, Avila, Astudillo
Garver established himself as one of the best offensive catchers in baseball last season and he appeared in less than half of the team’s games. Avila and Astudillo add depth to the backstop department and these two could certainly fill in for Garver if he had to miss a considerable amount of time. Ryan Jeffers, the team’s top catching prospect, also played some time at Double-A last season. The team is high on him and the improvements he has made on both sides of the ball.

2. Rotation
Depth Chart: Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Bailey, Pineda (Restricted List), Hill (Injured List) Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Poppen
Minnesota already has built in rotational depth with Michael Pineda (suspension) and Rich Hill (elbow surgery) scheduled to join the rotation in May and June or July, respectively. Another name not included on the Twins depth chart is Jhoulys Chacin who could have the inside route to the fifth starter spot, especially with Thorpe being away from spring training for two weeks for personal reasons.

1. Bullpen
Depth Chart: Rogers, May, Duffey, Romo, Clippard, Littell, Stashak, Romero, Wisler, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak
Think back to the middle of last season and it seemed like the Twins were struggling to find reliable late inning relief options. It seemed like the club trusted Taylor Rogers and the rest of the options were question marks. At last year’s trade deadline, the club traded for two relief pitchers, Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo, because the position group was viewed as having some holes. Now this group might be one of the game’s strongest bullpens. Romo was getting some closing opportunities last season and he might be a fifth or sixth inning option on the current roster. Veteran additions like Tyler Clippard and Matt Wisler provide even more depth. If players underperform or get injured, the Twins can turn to other options at Rochester.

How would you rank the position groups? Which one has the most depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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#2 Lefty

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 07:11 AM

I don't see how we go from having an average bullpen to that being our deepest position group. Only one guy can pitch at a time and there is not a lot of rock solid guys in there. To me its Romo on the down slide and Rogers with 1 good year under his belt.

My vote would've been infield or outfield. Infield has quality depth and options beyond our starters.
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#3 puckstopper1

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 07:51 AM

 

I don't see how we go from having an average bullpen to that being our deepest position group. Only one guy can pitch at a time and there is not a lot of rock solid guys in there. To me its Romo on the down slide and Rogers with 1 good year under his belt.

My vote would've been infield or outfield. Infield has quality depth and options beyond our starters.

 

Lefty - I'm not sure why you feel the Twins bullpen was average last season.

 

Here are some stats that show they were in the upper echelon of the league.

WAR - 7.4 - 3rd overall

FIP - 3.92 - 1st

xFIP - 4.16 - 6th

ERA - 4.17 - 10th

K/9 - 9.71 - 9th

BB/9 - 2.90 - 1st

SIERA - 3.86 - 4th

 

 

 

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#4 Det95Twins

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 08:11 AM

I think our weakest position is catcher. Garver had one great season but seemed to wear down playing half a season. I’m not sure he can reproduce his offensive numbers and he still rates as an average defender at best. Avila can’t hit at all...I mean Drew Butera can’t hit. Avila has a rep as a good defender but his numbers show that sliding in recent years. Astudillo can play everywhere but after a strong start turned into an unproductive hitter and has never been a good defender. The next in line, Telis and Grateral, might get leapt over by Jeffers, who is still working on his defense.

#5 David HK

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 08:46 AM

I would like to add a #12: jersey depth- or maybe breadth.

 

According to the photo atop this article, I'm glad to see Blankenhorn joining the ranks of such icons as Doug Mientiewicz and Paul Thormodsgard as having names that wrap around the entire back of the jersey. I'm almost glad we traded away guys like Hu and Gil now.

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#6 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 09:44 AM

I think our weakest position is catcher. Garver had one great season but seemed to wear down playing half a season. I’m not sure he can reproduce his offensive numbers and he still rates as an average defender at best. Avila can’t hit at all...I mean Drew Butera can’t hit. Avila has a rep as a good defender but his numbers show that sliding in recent years. Astudillo can play everywhere but after a strong start turned into an unproductive hitter and has never been a good defender. The next in line, Telis and Grateral, might get leapt over by Jeffers, who is still working on his defense.


Avila can't hit at all?
He had exactly a league average bat last year, and 2% better than league average for his career.
And those league averages include 1B, DH and corner outfielder, so he's a well above average hitting catcher.
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#7 goulik

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 09:47 AM

When ranking depth, players in the minors that are close should also be considered more than you did in this piece IMHO. You included Jeffers and several for DH but I see several that could be added at other positions.

 

SS-At the bottom of your list should be Lewis who I would have left off if not for the AFL experience and ST invite and experience. He may be closer than many of us think.

 

OF-Additional depth pieces in the Corner OFs in no particular order are Kirilloff, Larnach and Wiel. None would be any help to CF depth, but Lewis has been given some time there as well lately.

 

1B-Has lot of potential call ups. In no particular order: Rooker, Kirilloff, Larnach, and Wiel are all close and could be called upon if there was a Sano injury.

 

At DH I would definitely have Sano as depth because of all the 1B options. If Cruz went down I could see Sano splitting time at DH and 1B with a call up just to keep his bat in the lineup while giving the call ups fielding experience.

 

 

EDIT: And then I missed Blankenhorn as depth at 2nd/Corner OF as well....

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#8 TFRazor

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 09:49 AM

 

I would like to add a #12: jersey depth- or maybe breadth.

 

According to the photo atop this article, I'm glad to see Blankenhorn joining the ranks of such icons as Doug Mientiewicz and Paul Thormodsgard as having names that wrap around the entire back of the jersey. I'm almost glad we traded away guys like Hu and Gil now.

And Sano with his pitiful 4 letter last name. Not a bit of bending around the numbers on his jersey. Honestly I'm disappointed. Really thought he was going to be one of the best in the league but I don't think he has the work ethic. Trade him.

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#9 BodieInSD

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 09:57 AM

Best poditiition as far a depth?Easy - DH.We have a LOAD of good to great DHs. Cruz? Nuf said.Sano seems best suited there.Rosario's probably best suited as a DH (Maybe he can keep his head in 1/2 the game...) and Garver is more suited to DHing than being an upper echelon catcher (and that is after he has REALLY improved his defense since his initial call-up!) and aging and catching don't mix well as there REALLY is a toll to be paid for those who wear the tolls of ignorance.

 

3B is probably the best/deepest position on the team.Donaldson is money.Gonzales is very good, at least for short stretches (maybe more, but he has always been used as the utility player).Adrianza is more than solid at 3B ( and everywhere else) and Astildillo can play anywhere for a day (remember his debut was in CF!) and get you through (and for your 4th option that is more than you can really expect).That ignores Sano playing a few games at third if need be.

Weakest?Either CF or SS.How is this??? We have last year's all-star SS, and (supposedly) a Platinum glover in CF!?!? 

Polanco's defence is a blazing tire fire at a position that is a DENFENSE first position.His range could theoretically still improve (unlikely) but that is the only right arm he'll ever have, and it is worse than my poor Univ. of Iowa (1989) SS arm! His skill set makes him look more like a 2B than a SS, but with the arrival of Arraes, that ain't happening.

Byron Buxton's career high for games started is 131 and he averages just over 80 games started a year (excluding his rookie year, with 2115 included it falls into the 70s).And he won't be ready to start the season on time this year (zero ABs so far in Florida).When healthy he is the best defender the Twins have had since Torii Hunter's heyday in CF.The other half of the time he is worth NOTHING.Congrats on being the best defender on the DL (again)!I'd love to see him break his string of bad luck (and to break down like he has is partly bad luck) and play a FULL season healthy just to see how good he can be.Undoubtedly he could be a once in a generation player.Right now he is still all potential, and no real pay-off.  

 

Now as to saying the pithing staff is a STRENGTH, what a freaking joke!!!! As any farmer will tell you, three feet of manure counts a "depth", but you still just have a lot of sh*t.The bullpen is good enough due to the sheer number of decent/good relievers that an be trotted out, but it lacks a real quality arm that makes this collection into something remarkable.Who in this pen do you want on the mound against the Yankees with a playoff series ion the line?Yeah... 

And don't give me the stats, puckstopper1.The eyeball test tells me they aren't a top-level bull pen.Close, but they lack that great arm that can be relied on on to ALWAYS get the job done (think Joe Nathan from our recent past).Over the course of a season they will put up good numbers, but the good hitters will own them.

 

The starters?An improving Berios is a no-brainer.An all-star last year, and a hard worker who seems to want to be the best.Just the type of player the Twins need to hang on to.Maybe he'll never pitch to a Johan Santana level, but few in baseball do... 

Odorizzi?Kepp using him like a rented mule.Let him have his lead and do his thing.When he can't do it anymore (and that time will come) take him out back and … well just keep treating like that proverbial rented mule.

Maeda?He's the wild card.If he puts up numbers anything like he did with the Dodgers, he's an absolute steal. I simply don't trust pitchers coming into the AL from the NL to keep their stats, but I hope he can maintain (or at least be close).

Hill?Simply no way to tell.Nearing 40 and coming off arm surgery isn't exactly a sterling recommendation though...If he is healthy and in his normal form by September (play-off time) that would have to be considered a success and anything else would be gravy.

Pineda?A very nice middle/ back of the rotation type (and the closer to the back the better).At least he should be well rested...

The rest?The youngsters are all potential (as always) and only time will tell which (if any) of this crop will be good, bad or just plain ugly.

Bailey and Chacin (sp?)? Mom always told me that if you can't say anything nice, be quiet, so...

 

 


#10 Lefty

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 10:08 AM

Puckstopper- I just don't see any one complete shutdown stud that we can throw out at the end of games. We have a few decent options. Same as our starters. We have a lot of arms available, but no true stopper yet. I like the quality of our starters more than our bullpen.

#11 DocBauer

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 11:54 AM

The Minnesota Twins 2 deepest positions might be the starting rotation and the bullpen? THE Minnesota Twins? MY Minnesota Twins? Please...don't wake me up. I like this.
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#12 Riverbrian

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 01:50 PM

 

I think our weakest position is catcher. Garver had one great season but seemed to wear down playing half a season. I’m not sure he can reproduce his offensive numbers and he still rates as an average defender at best. Avila can’t hit at all...I mean Drew Butera can’t hit. Avila has a rep as a good defender but his numbers show that sliding in recent years. Astudillo can play everywhere but after a strong start turned into an unproductive hitter and has never been a good defender. The next in line, Telis and Grateral, might get leapt over by Jeffers, who is still working on his defense.

 

You could be correct. However... I can't think of any team that is deep at Catcher. 

 

It's the shallowest of all positions. 

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#13 Riverbrian

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 01:54 PM

 

And Sano with his pitiful 4 letter last name. Not a bit of bending around the numbers on his jersey. Honestly I'm disappointed. Really thought he was going to be one of the best in the league but I don't think he has the work ethic. Trade him.

Best looking name on the back of a jersey. 

 

s-l500.jpg

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#14 goulik

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 02:29 PM

 

Best looking name on the back of a jersey. 

 

s-l500.jpg

So today we learned that Riverbrian in the real world is named Kent....

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#15 Craig Arko

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 03:11 PM

 

Best looking name on the back of a jersey. 

 

s-l500.jpg

Buy a vowel...

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#16 Riverbrian

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 05:54 PM

 

So today we learned that Riverbrian in the real world is named Kent....

 

Riverkent doesn't have the same ring to it. 

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#17 sampleSizeOfOne

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Posted 04 March 2020 - 04:02 AM

So today we learned that Riverbrian in the real world is named Kent....


As in Clark?

Mild mannered reporter for the Daily Planet?
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#18 Craig Arko

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Posted 04 March 2020 - 09:29 AM

 

As in Clark?

Mild mannered reporter for the Daily Planet?

The Twins Daily Planet.

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#19 puckstopper1

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Posted 04 March 2020 - 12:11 PM

 

Puckstopper- I just don't see any one complete shutdown stud that we can throw out at the end of games. We have a few decent options. Same as our starters. We have a lot of arms available, but no true stopper yet. I like the quality of our starters more than our bullpen.

 

Lefty - Thanks for clarifying.My point is the Twins bullpen was not average last year.

 

Saying we do not have a shut down closer is like saying the Starting Pitching is average because we do not have a true ace.

 

The Twins bullpen was tied for 2nd in saves, and 5th in holds, and tied for 9th in least blown saves in MLB.

 

Rogers was in the top 10 in saves. And Rogers is capable to coming into the game at any time when it is on the line. You can't say that about Chapman.

 

Also, the Yankees with Chapman had 3 more blown saves. The Brewers with Hader had 5 more blown saves. The Padres with Yates had fewer saves than the Twins and blew 3 more.

 

The Twins bullpen was NOT average last season and is should be ranked as one of their top positions of strength this season.

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#20 sampleSizeOfOne

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Posted 04 March 2020 - 01:22 PM

The Twins Daily Planet.


Yes.
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