I’ve decided to write a series of posts regarding the depth in the Twins system, or possibly lack thereof depending on how you feel about a particular position. I plan to go position by position in hopes to shed some light on who could make an impact as early as 2023, or who may make an impact within a few years. I was inspired by Nick Nelson’s posts regarding the major league team, but didn’t want to duplicate what he did, so I will only be writing about the guys not on the 40-man roster, because Nick has done a great job analyzing the position at the major league level.
I started with catchers and now am on to 1st baseman. I used Roster Resource’s depth chart, which can be found on FanGraphs. Here is a note on each player listed under 1st base in the Twins system not on the 40-man roster. I’ll list how they were acquired and what level I expect them to play at most this coming season.
Acquired: Free Agency, Dec 2022
The Twins signed White to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. He has gotten a decent amount of playing time this Spring, playing in 15 games. White has experience in part of 4 seasons with the Astros and Dodgers. He had pretty solid years for Houston in 2017-18 but his productivity has fallen off since, not having gotten into a major league game since 2019. He has played in the Toronot, Milwaukee and Atlanta farm systems at AAA over the past two seasons, having hit 29 HR over the past two years. At this point, White is a depth option who may get some at bats but is likely a depth piece at this point in his career.
Acquired: Draft – 8th round – 2018
Williams was drafted in 2018 after a solid college career at Clemson. He’s slowly climbed the organizational ladder since being drafted, most recently playing in Wichita and St. Paul in 2022. He’s played mostly 1st base in the minor leagues, but has played some catcher at all levels as well as a handful of games in the corner outfield in 2022 as well. This past year, he tapped into a bit more power hitting 28 home runs between AA and AAA. His power appears to be what will carry him to the majors so keeping an eye on the power numbers this year will be key. Listed at 5’11” and 225 lbs, Williams isn’t a prototypical 1B, but if he can hit for power consistently, he can create a role for himself in the future.
Acquired: Free Agency – 2023
Kelly was signed as a minor league Free Agent in February and you may have not even realized the transaction occurred. Kelly was a 38th round draft pick in the 2015 draft by the Seattle Mariners. Kelly also plays in the corner outfield, so there is a little more value than a guy who can solely play 1B. Kelly his a career .263/.369/.418 hitter in the minor leagues, so he walks at a decent rate and has a little power, but it would be described as far from elite. The past two years, he has tapped into a little more power, which is good for his game. He has hit 42 home runs over the past two years, and has 73 career minor league home runs. At this point, Kelly is a depth piece and if you see him in the majors this year, he either has blossomed late and force his way onto the roster, or there have been so many injuries that the Twins are in a really tough position. I don’t anticipate Kelly being a guy who contributes to the major league team this year due to the depth and other guys I would see being called up before him.
Acquired: Draft – 1st round – 2020
Sabato is the player on this list that you have probably seen the most reports on. Being drafted in the 1st round in 2020 with his power tool being his calling card, and then seeing him struggle to hit is likely frustrating to Twins fans. He is still playing his age 24 season in 2023, so he may end up not being considered a 1st-round bust if he can take strides this year and into the future. His minor league slash line of .209/.355/.424 is interesting because he is still walking at a decent rate (above 10% at every level thus far) , but needs to hit a bit more for Twins fans to feel better about his future on the team. Sabato is at the bottom of the defensive spectrum so his hit tool will be what he depends on to make a career as a major leaguer. I do think he can carve out a future as a 1B/DH but not being able to play other positions will limit his upside in how valuable he will be.
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2018
Pena signed as a minor league free agent in 2018 out of Venezuela at the age of 16. He has played in the Dominican Summer League and the Florida Complex League, so a jump up to A ball might be in the cards this year. He has hit well to this point with a slash of .301/.367/.439 so he still has some developing to do, but it appears it will be something to build off of going forward. Slightly cutting his strikeouts would be great, but that is common among young hitters adjusting to professional ball. I think Pena is a guy to keep an eye on, but he likely will not be knocking on the door for a few years, allowing time for him to develop a bit more as a hitter and see where he develops defensively as well. Pena has played more than 1st base, having played a few games at second, third, and even one game in the outfield in 2021. Seeing as it was a one-time thing, I doubt he will get a whole lot of reps in the outfield in the future.
Let me know if you think any of these guys are future pieces on a major league roster, or if you see them more as organizational depth. Some of these guys have real intrigue, but are any a future piece, either as a 1B or another position, or possibly as a Designated hitter?