My Favorite breakout players for the Twins
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.