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Article: 5 Reasons To Be Excited About 2016


With the calendar flipping to a new year, we're suddenly less than two months away from the Minnesota Twins' first spring training game.

 

It's been a mostly quiet offseason for the front office, but their one big splash is among five reasons that fans should be downright giddy for this 2016 season to get started.

 

It's going to be a fun one.

 

1) Byung Ho Park arrives

 

Even though the Tsuyoshi Nishioka move didn't work out, there was no denying that his arrival brought a distinct twist of added excitement. Bringing over an established star from another league across the world carries an intoxicating combination of unpredictability and intrigue, not to mention many extra media throngs covering the team.

 

There are plenty of reasons to believe that Park is in line for a much more successful transition to the majors. Finding out how his prodigious 50-homer power transfers from KBO to MLB will be a primary storyline this season from the moment the team reports to Ft. Myers.

 

2) Miguel Sano settles in

 

Sano was called up on July 2nd last year, and his at-bats quickly became appointment viewing. In 2016 he'll be locked in from the start of the season, and we'll see what kind of numbers he can put up over the course of a full big-league campaign.

 

I'm sure I speak for a lot of fans when I say I'm more apprehensive than enthused about the experiment of trying Sano in the outfield defensively, but at the plate, there's not much reason to think he can't put up monster numbers that border on MVP caliber, especially if Park proves to be a decent threat behind him.

 

3) Jose Berrios debuts

 

By the end of last year, it was fairly obvious that Berrios was ready for a shot in the majors, but the Twins ultimately opted against calling him up and their reasons for doing so were valid. In 2016, there will be no holding him back as long as he's healthy. It seems likely that Berrios will open the season back in Triple-A (the Twins stand to gain an extra year of service time by waiting until at least late April to promote him), but he'll be first in line as a replacement and he might force the issue if he picks up where he left off at Rochester performance-wise.

 

Berrios is the best and most electric pitching prospect Minnesota has had since Francisco Liriano, and he certainly stands out amongst a mix of starting pitchers that are generally more capable than special.

 

4. Byron Buxton breaks through

 

Terry Ryan's decision to trade Aaron Hicks in November was seemingly an indication that he believes in Buxton's impending readiness, in spite of the top prospect looking rather overwhelmed during his rookie debut. He could open the season in Rochester but it's hard to imagine he'll be there long.

 

Historically, Buxton has often experienced a bit of a learning curve when reaching a new level before making adjustments and dominating. We'll see if he can follow that trend at the highest level. Once he turns the corner at the plate, he's going to be an absolute blast to watch on a daily basis, changing games routinely with his dynamic speed and elite athleticism.

 

5. The rotation comes together

 

In 2015, Twins starters ranked 16th in the majors in ERA, which might not sound all that impressive until you consider that they'd been dead last in each of the prior two seasons, and 29th in 2012. They accomplished this jump despite: Ricky Nolasco missing most of the year due to injury, Phil Hughes devolving from the club's best starter in 2014 to its worst, Ervin Santana losing half the year to a suspension, and Berrios throwing zero pitches in the majors.

 

As long as the rotation can stay healthy through spring training, the Twins will enter the 2016 season feeling as confident in their starting pitching as they have in a long while, and perhaps more so than any team in the division other than Cleveland.

 

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I think there's going to be a lot of friendly banter and ranting on this site in regards to when Berrios should be making his debut. It's going to be a lot of fun to finally see him make the Twins roster, whether that's in mid-to-late April (the camp I'm in) or later in the season. 

I'm also excited to see Buxton's potential breakthrough in 2016. He showed some positive improvements in his game in September, and I hope he runs away with the CF job right out of ST. 

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I can't say I'm excited about all those things, but I am very curious on how this will play out.

 

  • Park:  IDK.  The reported differences in KBO to MLB pitchers seems pretty large.  Still, 50% of Park's KBO power would be a pretty sweet addition.
  • Sano:  not really all that worried about him in the OF.  He's been pulled from the Winter Leagues to get in better shape.  That's a pretty big plus, to me.
  • I like Berros.  I don't like the body-building mentality he has.  People give a lot of Ooo's and ah's over the shirtless pictures.  I see a bunch of pulled muscles in the future.
  • Buxton:  I don't understand why he get's a break from so many and there is little love for a guy like Rosario.  As I've said before:  Buxton's path to the MLB will follow what Sano did:  Watch for the walks.  If Buxton shows a better approach at the plate, he's in the MLB to stay.
  • The Rotation:  oy vey.  I mean, the ERA was great jump.  But doesn't that also make you wonder what it would have been if Hughes, Nolasco and Santana weren't in the rotation at all?
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I'm not sure if #3 and #5 are wholly compatible. Even with Nolasco's injury in 2015, the rotation stayed healthy enough to not have enough spots for the young pitchers. I don't think the team should count on injuries or performances to open up spots for Berrios, May or whomever.

 

I'm concerned that the veteran starters will Pelfrey themselves into a season-long spot. They won't be good enough to dominate games, but they'll be acceptable enough that their veteran status will dissuade the team from giving the younger guys with upside their job.

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I'm not sure if #3 and #5 are wholly compatible. Even with Nolasco's injury in 2015, the rotation stayed healthy enough to not have enough spots for the young pitchers. I don't think the team should count on injuries or performances to open up spots for Berrios, May or whomever.

 

I'm concerned that the veteran starters will Pelfrey themselves into a season-long spot. They won't be good enough to dominate games, but they'll be acceptable enough that their veteran status will dissuade the team from giving the younger guys with upside their job.

Honestly, I think if Nolasco shows he can pitch at all in spring training he'll be traded. The Twins won't get much other than out from under some of his contract, but that is good enough. The rotation will probably be: Santana, Gibson, Hughes, Duffey and Milone - with Berrios being the first called up. Rotations never make it through an entire year healthy, so all it will take is one player missing a start and Berrios will get his opportunity. Besides you never know what you're going to get from Hughes or Duffey. Will Hughes be the guy from 2014 or 2015 - hopefully 2014. Duffey showed a lot of promise in the 10 starts he made last year, but that doesn't mean he's going to have the same success in 2016. Berrios will get his chance this season and if he takes that opportunity and runs with it I don't believe the Twins would send him back down. He threw 166 innings last season between AA and AAA, so he should be able to make it through the entire MLB season.

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Kind of interesting.    Everyone is excited about Berrios and I am as well but what about Duffey?   He actually had a better AAA season than Berrios at least in terms of ERA and has better numbers overall at AAA.   Plus, after a lousy start was fantastic in the late season pennant race.   Santana was quite good after a slow start also.    Why isn't there more excitement about Duffey?  He has the stuff and a better physical build than Berrios but still seems like an afterthought.  I am very excited at the prospect of him for a whole year.   In fact, he is the main reason I am not more bummed that May probably won't get a chance in the rotation.

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Kind of interesting.    Everyone is excited about Berrios and I am as well but what about Duffey?   He actually had a better AAA season than Berrios at least in terms of ERA and has better numbers overall at AAA.   Plus, after a lousy start was fantastic in the late season pennant race.   Santana was quite good after a slow start also.    Why isn't there more excitement about Duffey?  He has the stuff and a better physical build than Berrios but still seems like an afterthought.  I am very excited at the prospect of him for a whole year.   In fact, he is the main reason I am not more bummed that May probably won't get a chance in the rotation.

I can't speak for all, but I am concerned of a step backwards for Duffey. He has the SSS of 10 MLB starts, and pitched a career high amount of 180+ innings. The Twins wouldn't have been in the playoff race until 3 games remaining without his contributions, so I hope I am wrong.  

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I'm with Dantes929 on Duffey. I'm not giddy about anything, but most optimistic with Duffey. We may have caught lightning in a bottle here. 

 

Park - mehhhhh.  Just a very mild interest. 

Buxton - I have doubts about him.

Sano - Really looking forward to a full year out of him.  But can't make any sense why he's not playing third.

Kepler - I'm really happy for Max that he's caught on to the game, and hope he gets at least a half year in the bigs and succeeds. 

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I'm not sure if #3 and #5 are wholly compatible. Even with Nolasco's injury in 2015, the rotation stayed healthy enough to not have enough spots for the young pitchers. I don't think the team should count on injuries or performances to open up spots for Berrios, May or whomever.

 

I'm concerned that the veteran starters will Pelfrey themselves into a season-long spot. They won't be good enough to dominate games, but they'll be acceptable enough that their veteran status will dissuade the team from giving the younger guys with upside their job.

Haaaaaa!!!! I am laughing out loud at the new term describing poor performing vets getting a season long spot as being "Pelfreyed!" I hope the term sticks. I like it!!!

Edited by Spikecurveball
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I'm with Dantes929 on Duffey. I'm not giddy about anything, but most optimistic with Duffey. We may have caught lightning in a bottle here. 

 

Park - mehhhhh.  Just a very mild interest. 

Buxton - I have doubts about him.

Sano - Really looking forward to a full year out of him.  But can't make any sense why he's not playing third.

Kepler - I'm really happy for Max that he's caught on to the game, and hope he gets at least a half year in the bigs and succeeds. 

I don't understand the doubts about Buxton. The only thing that has slowed him down are somewhat fluke injuries.

 

A career minor league .301/.383/.489 from a high school guy from rural Georgia seems pretty good to me, especially with elite defense and speed. There's a reason he's been a top 3 prospect for years now.

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I don't understand the doubts about Buxton. The only thing that has slowed him down are somewhat fluke injuries.

 

A career minor league .301/.383/.489 from a high school guy from rural Georgia seems pretty good to me, especially with elite defense and speed. There's a reason he's been a top 3 prospect for years now.

 

I wouldn't call them 'fluke' injuries, I'd call them 'over enthusiastic' injuries.  He needs to learn how to play smarter and stay on the field or all his 'potential' will go down the drain.

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I wouldn't call them 'fluke' injuries, I'd call them 'over enthusiastic' injuries.  He needs to learn how to play smarter and stay on the field or all his 'potential' will go down the drain.

Bryce Harper used to have those types of problems too. I've got a lot of confidence that Buxton will figure all of that out.

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I can't speak for all, but I am concerned of a step backwards for Duffey. He has the SSS of 10 MLB starts, and pitched a career high amount of 180+ innings. The Twins wouldn't have been in the playoff race until 3 games remaining without his contributions, so I hope I am wrong.  

Of course regression or failure is always a possibility but I never minded that he was promoted before Berrios much like I didn't mind that May was promoted after Pinto last year.    Both guys earned the promotion at least in terms of ERA over other guys.    I have no problem with promotions based on performance rather than potential.  In Duffey's case he has 265 innings in the high minors of being very good.    The SSS in the Bigs is just a punctuation mark.   No guarantee but a very good sign.   His minor league numbers say he was actually kind of wild in the majors.  His fastball looked average or better and his curveball was very Blylleven like.    He should be penciled in to the rotation with moist lead.  The kind that is hard to erase.

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"Finding out how his prodigious 50-homer power transfers from KBO to MLB will be a primary storyline this season from the moment the team reports to Ft. Myers."

 

I think he'll translate pretty well here in the US, there is a pretty cool link I just found a week ago on how his stats would work here. It's a pretty neat article, and there's also this new Korean guy the O's acquired that's also included in there.

 

Here's the link I'm talking about: https://scoutsaysweitersisabust.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/2016-mlb-projections-for-kim-hyun-soo-and-park-byung-ho/

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Bryce Harper used to have those types of problems too. I've got a lot of confidence that Buxton will figure all of that out.

I hope you're right!!! At this point its 'show me the money' or in his case its show me that you are smart enough to avoid dumb injuries. The Twins are better off with 150 games of a very good Buxton vs 1 game of hi-lite reel Buxton -- and then 50 games on the disabled list. I also cringe at the thought of Buxton colliding with a 250 pound Sano!!

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I don't think Buxton's injuries are "Dumb Injuries".  He seems to be the type of guy that goes 100% all the time.  I like that.  He just needs to learn to harness it a little bit better and know when to reign in it. 

 

He thinks he can get to every ball hit to the outfield and I want that mentality.  Now with some experience he will hopefully learn that crashing into the wall with nobody on and two outs in the 2nd inning isn't the best option.  With a game on the line maybe he might learn to take that risk then. 

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I don't understand the doubts about Buxton. ...

 

I'm quite worried, personally. There's nothing inevitable about success in the minors translating into success in the majors.  In Buxtons's case, there were very specific things he couldn't do last year, and it seemed like pitchers took advantage of them.  Until he learns how to handle those pitches, he'll just keep getting out.  It's not just a matter of time. He has to change.  He has to start being able to do something he has never been able to do before.  That doesn't scare you just a little?  I'm not pessimistic, I actually think he probably will adjust.  But it's no sure thing.  Plate discipline is one of the most stable things in the game.  You rarely see people just suddenly be able to hit outside curveballs, or lay off them, or whatever. I'm hopeful Rosario will improve his plate discipline, too.  But it would be a pleasant surprise, not an inevitable next step. 

 

Buxton's minor league numbers are very good, but another writer pointed out that his power numbers are to a certain extent really speed not power, and his on-base percentage could be based on minor league pitchers who don't know how to take advantage of his weaknesses. If you have one weakness--just one--big league pitchers will focus on that.  

 

Look, he wasn't the number one prospect in baseball for nothing.  He's obviously got talent, and the best evaluators in the game think he will handle big league pitching just fine. But Delmon Young was the top prospect in the game once, too. Sometimes you just are who you are, and potential just stays potential. I understand the optimism, and I share it. But I also have a lot of fear.  His debut did not go as well as Sano's, and it wasn't that small a sample size. And hey, even Sano is not a sure thing yet.  I like his chances better than Buxton's, though.  At least for 2016. 

 

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I hope you're right!!! At this point its 'show me the money' or in his case its show me that you are smart enough to avoid dumb injuries. The Twins are better off with 150 games of a very good Buxton vs 1 game of hi-lite reel Buxton -- and then 50 games on the disabled list. I also cringe at the thought of Buxton colliding with a 250 pound Sano!!

Sano is 250lbs with one foot on the scale! There is no way Sano is less than 275lbs. Putting him in the outfield having never played the position and at that size borders on criminal negligence. Could be entertaining though. 

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Sano is 250lbs with one foot on the scale! There is no way Sano is less than 275lbs. Putting him in the outfield having never played the position and at that size borders on criminal negligence. Could be entertaining though. 

Does anyone really know Sano's weight?

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"Finding out how his prodigious 50-homer power transfers from KBO to MLB will be a primary storyline this season from the moment the team reports to Ft. Myers."

 

I think he'll translate pretty well here in the US, there is a pretty cool link I just found a week ago on how his stats would work here. It's a pretty neat article, and there's also this new Korean guy the O's acquired that's also included in there.

 

Here's the link I'm talking about: https://scoutsaysweitersisabust.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/2016-mlb-projections-for-kim-hyun-soo-and-park-byung-ho/

I think they are way too optimistic on their high end projection for Park (Kris Bryant? really?) though granted some of the Kris Bryant projections can get ridiculous themselves. Otherwise yeah interesting new site to check out.
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Historically, Buxton has often experienced a bit of a learning curve when reaching a new level before making adjustments and dominating.

 

No. That is not Buxton's issue and resolution.   Buxton cannot hit a good breaking ball.  Period.

And "dominating"?   One season with > .900 OPS .  .990 OPS in Cedar Rapids.  FWIW Vargas had 2 seasons with > .900 OPS (and another one with .895)   And Sano never had a season with OPS less than .870.  Maybe need to reconsider what "dominating" means, really...

 

Unless Buxton can hit the curve or let it go, he will be a Vince Coleman type of player with fewer steals (because these days people don't steal.)

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I can't speak for all, but I am concerned of a step backwards for Duffey. He has the SSS of 10 MLB starts, and pitched a career high amount of 180+ innings. The Twins wouldn't have been in the playoff race until 3 games remaining without his contributions, so I hope I am wrong.  

Duffey will be fine because he's got one of the most mind-bending curveballs in the league. He will continue to use that pitch to get hitters out, and to set up his decent heater and change-up. He does need to get a little better at mixing up the change and his heater, but he spots that curve so well, he can always fall back on it.

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No. That is not Buxton's issue and resolution.   Buxton cannot hit a good breaking ball.  Period.

 

And "dominating"?   One season with > .900 OPS .  .990 OPS in Cedar Rapids.  FWIW Vargas had 2 seasons with > .900 OPS (and another one with .895)   And Sano never had a season with OPS less than .870.  Maybe need to reconsider what "dominating" means, really...

 

Unless Buxton can hit the curve or let it go, he will be a Vince Coleman type of player with fewer steals (because these days people don't steal.)

I have no idea how what you just wrote has anything to do with Nick's post about Buxton historically starting slow. You ignored that whole part and just focused on the last word.

 

Comparing Buxton to Vargas /Sano only using OPS is kind of unfair dont you think? If we compare Buxton to Vargas/Sano using only defensive value the tables would obviously be turned. Sano/Vargas bring pure power while Buxton brings a better overall package. An elite overall package at that. I dont understand how so many people around here have soured on Buxton over a few at bats in the bigs. This is why we cant have nice things.

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No. That is not Buxton's issue and resolution.   Buxton cannot hit a good breaking ball.  Period.

And "dominating"?   One season with > .900 OPS .  .990 OPS in Cedar Rapids.  FWIW Vargas had 2 seasons with > .900 OPS (and another one with .895)   And Sano never had a season with OPS less than .870.  Maybe need to reconsider what "dominating" means, really...

 

Unless Buxton can hit the curve or let it go, he will be a Vince Coleman type of player with fewer steals (because these days people don't steal.)

 

Yes, that is the definition of dominating. Having a .944 OPS between A and A+ as a 19 yo is abso****inglutely dominating.  Similarly, having a .867 OPS between AA and AAA as a 21 yo after a year of being plagued by injuries is dominating. So TWO years of dominating and one year of injuries.. Also, comparing him to Vargas? Really. The closest Vargas ever came to doing something like what Buxton did in either of those two years was a .910 OPS over 302 PAs in AA and AAA as a 24 yo.  Yes, you just compared Buxton, a CF with elite speed and defense, to a good DH prospect (who wasn't coming off a year of injuries) who did slightly better offensively when he was 3 years older. OK then.

 

Buxton cannot hit a good breaking ball in about a quarter of a year of trying after a year of being plagued by injuries and after being rushed to the majors, not "period."

 

In summary:

 

 

Edited by nytwinsfan
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I think they are way too optimistic on their high end projection for Park (Kris Bryant? really?) though granted some of the Kris Bryant projections can get ridiculous themselves. Otherwise yeah interesting new site to check out.

It's only been awhile since I've seen that new site. It looks like the dude who wrote that article is probably Korean or just someone who can understand their language. There are still some other Byung-ho articles that guy made last year that I saw when I clicked his name. And I agree, it's truly a site worth checking.

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  • I like Berros.  I don't like the body-building mentality he has.  People give a lot of Ooo's and ah's over the shirtless pictures.  I see a bunch of pulled muscles in the future.

 

 

Don't worry about Berrios weight lifting. It will not cause more pulled muscles. In fact he should have more flexibility. Lifting weights will not decrease flexibility, it actually will increase it, unless you are as big as the the top body builders. 

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I have no idea how what you just wrote has anything to do with Nick's post about Buxton historically starting slow. You ignored that whole part and just focused on the last word.

 

The problem is that Nick thinks that it is starting slow in every level, thus business as usual, while I think that he has a fatal flaw (he cannot hit breaking stuff) which needs to be fixed to be a star.

 

Does this make more sense?

And, yes, I think that he had a single dominating season.  That's it.  Dominating is the difference between a Barry Bonds and a Bobby Bonilla.

Edited by Thrylos
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I'm not sure if #3 and #5 are wholly compatible. Even with Nolasco's injury in 2015, the rotation stayed healthy enough to not have enough spots for the young pitchers. I don't think the team should count on injuries or performances to open up spots for Berrios, May or whomever.

 

I'm concerned that the veteran starters will Pelfrey themselves into a season-long spot. They won't be good enough to dominate games, but they'll be acceptable enough that their veteran status will dissuade the team from giving the younger guys with upside their job.

I'm just diggin' how you used Pelf as a verb...

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