The Twins will soon officially have a shortstop vacancy. Carlos Correa has informed the media (and I presume the Twins) that he will opt-out of the second year of his contract. One possibility, Jermaine Palacios, has been DFAed and claimed by the Detroit Tigers. The Twins have shown no tendency to use in-house options Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon or Gio Urshela as a regular shortstop. Brooks Lee hasn't been with the organization a year out of college and looked pretty rough on defense in the minors.
In addition, the Twins have shown a real lack of speed and base running ability. Finally, having a guy who is capable of playing center field in Byron Buxton's absence and filling in at the outfield corners would be ideal. I'm talking about a better hitter than Gilberto Celestino.
So, who am I calling on to step up? Austin Martin, of course. The guy was formerly listed as the Twins' top prospect and he played shortstop most of the season in Wichita. Regardless of his ability to play short, he has outfield experience and the requisite speed to cover center field. Moreover, he has profiled with excellent ob=base skills and was among the minor league leaders in stolen bases. Martin has exactly the skills that the club needs to add. Martin will have a chance to show what he has to offer in the Arizona Fall League.
Obviously, Martin has a lot of making up to do. He hit and fielded poorly at AA for Wichita. He has slipped down the prospect ratings because of his performance and he hasn't found a power stroke. I don't hold any illusions that it would be a huge surprise for Martin to vault himself into contention for an Opening Day spot particularly as a shortstop. I am saying that he has the particular skills that give him a path for quick advancement to the major leagues. It is all there in front of him.
A more likely scenario for Martin would be for him to impress sufficiently that he would be in line for a recall either as an infielder or outfielder at some point during the 2023 season. I will be checking the AFL results in the hope that Austin Martin can restore his prospect status and eventually be a contributor for the Twins.