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My Favorite breakout players for the Twins




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The Twins come into the year with a lot of guys that can play at the major league level, but with such a logjam at certain positions, it might be hard for some players to distance themselves. These are 5 guys that I think will have potentially huge roles to play if everything goes right for them. In no particular order...

1. Jorge Alcala 

This is a pretty common breakout pick and yet I also feel like Alcala is not talked about enough for whatever reason. Alcala, 27, was one of the pieces sent to the Twins in the Ryan Pressely trade back in 2018, Alcala was decent during the COVID season with a 2,63 ERA in 24 innings and a 3.92 ERA in nearly 60 innings in 2021 before a injury to his throwing shoulder sidelined him for the majority of last year. Outside of Duran, Thielbar and Jax, the twins have a lot of uncertainty in the bullpen that was fairly middle of the pack in the MLB last year. Alcala has touched 98 with his fastball this spring and I truly believe he might have a Duran type full breakout depending on his role. The Twins didn't do much this offseason to address the bullpen, so they clearly have a lot of belief in what they have already. I feel like Alcala has the tools already to etablish himself for a long time in the bulpen. 


2. Royce Lewis. 

We already saw a small sample size of Royce last year, which for the most part showed a ton of promise. In just 12 games, he batted .300 with a grand slam as his first big league homer, and also made some plays out in center. Unfortunately, he suffered another torn ACL that ended his year and will keep him out for at least half of this year. When he eventually goes come up though around the middle of the summer, Royce should provide a great amount of depth in the middle infield and potentially the outfield. Maybe even get reps at SS when Correa has an off day. I thought Royce was going to have a ROY like campaign, but alas that never happened. However the true test for Royce is probably 2024, where I really think he'll start to become an everyday starter for the Twins. 


3. Trevor Larnach

Trevor Larnach just had a 4-4 day against Boston in a spring training game today, falling a triple shy of the cycle. I've always liked Larnach, despite relatively mediocre stats in 130 games in two years. With Alex Kirloff starting the year most likely on the IL, it gives more of an opportunity for Larnach, who has a .951 OPS and 3 home runs this spring. With injuires to Polanco as well, it pretty much secured Larnach his spot on the opening day roster for the beginning of the year. If he continues to play like this at the beginning of the regular season, expect Larnach to lock down a lot of playing time, whether that's in a corner outfield spot or as a DH. 


4. Bailey Ober

I've always been a fan of Bailey, and this year I think he'll really get a chance to shine in the rotation as the 5th/ maybe even 6th starter. He's thrown 6 shutout innings this spring and has shown that he is at 100% before the year, especially after he struggled to stay healthy last year and only made 11 starts.  Still, teams struggled against Bailey when he was on the mound, with only a .227 average and only 4 home runs hit off of him in 56 innings. I'm not going to be too worried if we do suffer an injury in the rotation, because I genuinely believe Bailey has the tools to be a full-time guy in an MLB rotation. If he has to start at AAA, I'm excited to see how he improves before inevitably getting a call up at some point. 


5. Austin Martin 

This is a wildcard pick for me. Lots of infield prospects could have big breakouts in the majors or at the minor league level this year. I've always liked Austin, his start to last year was rough and the torn UCL didn't help either. His Arizona fall league performance was very promising, as a elite level contact hitter with great discipline, it shouldn't take long for him to rake at AA and get a fast call up to AAA. If he impresses in the minors this year, a 40 man spot might open up, making this year a big audition year for the 24 year old former top 5 draft pick. 



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I like your list. I have high hopes for Martin too. But he didn't tear his ACL, he only sprained it. Which is bad enough. Hopefully they'll take care of it soon & he won't need TJ surgery

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Larnach!  I would like to say Julien......but....... even with injuries and a hot start in the minors, they won't/can't bring him up until thy get past the date where he gains a year on free agency.  (end of April?)

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You have hit on five guys with a lot of reasons to root for them.  I think the most likely candidates are Ober and Larnach.   Trevor Larnach has intermittently looked good at the MLB level after being wildly successful during his full seasons in the minors.  Now that he’s healthy it seems like he is poised for more success. Ober, who is my number one candidate for a breakout, may start at St. Paul, but I think the chances of all five starters ahead of him being healthy and effective are very slim, so he will get plenty of opportunities to shine.  I think he will get 20+ starts with the Twins this year and will have a solid (3.00-3.50) ERA as well.  

By the way, I’m going to hope for all five of your candidates to breakout!  Wouldn’t that be something!

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My quandary is 2 part:

1] How do I classify a player as being a BREAKOUT CANDIDATE? By that I mean, can a rookie be a breakout candidate, or are they just a rookie? And what about someone who has actually looked really good, even in SSS, but raises his game? Heck, Miranda could crank 30+ doubles a d 25 HR and would he still qualify as a breakout performer after a really nice rookie campaign?

2] And if we include rookies, what if Varland looks good in 10-12 GS, for example. Again is he a rookie who would be stil be a breakout candidate in 2024 and a potential full season? And that's just one example. 

The heck with it, I guess it's up to interpretation so in no particular order, here goes:

1] ALCALA: He's flashed here and there and then really put it together at the end of 2021. He had a nice 2022 ST and was good his first couple of appearances before his elbow acted up. Right now he's the 4th RH behind Duran, Lopez, and Jax. But he's going to give the Twins 4 high octane RH at the end of the pen.

2] MORAN: He's going to have to keep his BB numbers "acceptable", but I love this kid. While he's awesome against RH hitters, he's still good against LH as well. Experience is only going to make him better as the season goes along. I think he'll be solid the first half and raise his game the second half.

3] KIRILLOFF and LARNACH: I'm cheating a bit here because they are almost the same ballplayer in the exact same situation, with one the better overall OF and one destined to primarily play 1B going forward. BOTH are 1st round picks, highly regarded, with bat, power, decent OB ability, and potentially solid against LHP. And BOTH have flashed at the ML level when not hurt. Larnach is going to be one of the starting corner OF in 2024...if not before...and get serious run in 2023 as an OF/DH. Things are going to get really crowded really soon in the OF, but that's a good thing. Soreness, but not pain, indicates that Kirilloff just might be ready to fulfill all his talent and potential. To get his stroke working, and to achieve that "confidence" level in his wrist that it's OK to let it rip might take a few weeks in AAA. No problem. He's going to lay claim to being the primary 1B by June at the latest.

4] JULIEN: He's just going to be too good to keep down. Even with good health, every team is going to roll through more than 13 position players on a season. He's going to force his way in to the lineup on a regular basis pretty quickly as a 1B/2B/DH, probably at the top of the order. He's going to "Arraez" himself...funny how that's becoming almost an adjective...and provide a real spark.

5] OBER: I'm really reluctant to place Ober on this list because he was really good in 2021, was just as good, if not better, when able to pitch early and late in 2022. His numbers so far equate to a really good full year over 2 seasons, even with some IP caveats. But I include him here due to IP restrictions in 2021 and the time missed in 2022. I believe in his stuff and the changes in his routine and delivery. With rotation depth I don't know if he starts 18 games or 25. And they might still monitor his IP somewhat, but I think he establishes himself once and for all as a quality middle of the rotation starter. He's going to average at least 5 innings and throw 120 IP over 20+ starts.



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On 3/23/2023 at 3:44 PM, Doctor Gast said:

I like your list. I have high hopes for Martin too. But he didn't tear his ACL, he only sprained it. Which is bad enough. Hopefully they'll take care of it soon & he won't need TJ surgery

Hearing that the opposite is true. Hope not, but fairly likely. 

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Larnach seems the most likely breakout candidate if he can stay healthy. 

Maybe I have too high of expectations for Alcala, but I feel he needs to have an ERA that starts with a 2 to consider it a breakout year. He already set the bar so high with his 20+21 seasons.

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On 3/23/2023 at 4:44 PM, Doctor Gast said:

I like your list. I have high hopes for Martin too. But he didn't tear his ACL, he only sprained it. Which is bad enough. Hopefully they'll take care of it soon & he won't need TJ surgery

Martin’s UCL, elbow injury is still up in the air relative to recovery time. He’s behind now for this year and needs time to grow offensively in the minors - hope he excels there!!

Breakout guys, Alcala - Larnach ……comeback players, Kepler - Gallo

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.....comeback players Kepler and Gallo.   The Twins would LOVE IT if just one of those two ends up qualifying as a "comeback player!!!"

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