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Top Ten Longest Tenured Twins


There has been a lot of turnover in the Twins roster over recent years. However, some players have been in the organization for a long time. Here are the ten Twins players who have been in the organization the longest.Here you have it, a look at the ten longest-tenured players in the Minnesota Twins organization but first, a few honorable mentions.

 

Honorable Mentions

  • September 2015 - Edwar Colina

  • June 2015 - Travis Blankenhorn, Trey Cabbage, Alex Robinson, Jovani Moran, Zander Wiel, Cody Stashak, Andrew Vasquez

  • June 2014 - IF Nick Gordon

The Top Ten Longest-Tenured Twins

 

* all photos by Seth Stohs, Twins Daily

 

#10 - He wasn’t a big prospect in Venezuela, but on November 6, 2013, the Twins signed Luis Arraez. He spent a season in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .348 in 31 games. In 2015, he hit .309 in 57 games in the GCL. In 2016, he led the Midwest League with a .347 batting average in 114 games as a 19-year-old in Cedar Rapids. Unfortunately, his 2017 season ended after just three games because of a knee injury. But, when he returned in 2018, he hit a combined .310 between the Miracle and Chattanooga. In 2019, he began in Double-A but after hitting .342 in 38 games, he moved up to Rochester. There, he played 16 games and hit .348, so he was called up to the Twins and hit .334 in 92 games. Last year, he played in 32 games and hit .321. He’s not a great defensive player, but he is a hitting machine. In 367 minor league games, he hit .331. In his first 124 games, he has hit .331. Just 24, Arraez could move up this list for several years.

 

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#9 - In the ninth round of the June 2013 draft, the Twins drafted senior catcher Mitch Garver from the University of New Mexico where he had a very strong career and was twice a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award. In 2014, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Yearafter hitting .298/.399/.481 (.880) with 29 doubles and 16 homers. He played for Ft. Myers in 2015 and then went to the Arizona Fall League. He spent most of 2016 in Chattanooga before ending the season with a month in Rochester. In 2017, he was again the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year after hitting .291/.387/.541 (.928) with 29 doubles and 17 home runs for the Red Wings. He ended the season by playing in 23 games for the Twins. He began to play more in 2018. In 102 games, he hit .268/.335/.414 (.749)with 19 doubles and seven homers. He really worked on his defense and greatly improved. In 2019, he broke out with a season in which he hit .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 home runs. He won the American League Silver Slugger Award. In 2020, he played in just 23 games due to injury. He looks to return to his 2019 form in 2021.

 

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#8 - The Twins signed 16-year-old Lewis Thorpe from Australia on July 12, 2012. He made a great first impression in 2013 when he went 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA. In 44 innings, he walked six and struck out 64. He pitched in Cedar Rapids as an 18-year-old in 2014 and posted a 3.52 ERA and struck out 80 batters in 71 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, his season ended with an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery and he missed the 2015 season… and the 2016 season also, in part due to a bout with mononucleosis. He returned and split the 2017 season between Ft. Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. He was added to the 40-man roster. In 2018, he split the season between Chattanooga and the Red Wings. He spent most of the 2019 season in Rochester, but he also pitched in 12 games for the Twins. In 2020, he went back and forth between the Twins and their alternate site in St. Paul. It is still uncertain if he will receive a fourth option year, and that decision will greatly determine what his 2021 season looks like.

 

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#7 - Taylor Rogers is the first of four members of the 2012 Twins draft class to appear on this list, but he was the last to sign of this group, signing June 14th. He was the Twins 12th round pick out of Kentucky and rose through the ranks as a starting pitcher. In fact, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2013. When he came to the big leagues early in the 2016 season, however, it was as a reliever. It was a bit of a learning curve. He was pretty solid in the first half of 2017 and kind of hit a wall in the second half. In 2018, he took off and has been one of the best, most-reliable, most dominant relievers in baseball. In 2018, he posted a 2.63 ERA and struck out 75 batters in 68 1/3 innings. In 2019, he posted a 2.61 ERA and struck out 90 batters in 69 innings. He also recorded 30 saves. 2020 was a struggle for Rogers. He had nine saves but posted a 4.05 ERA in 20 innings (24 Ks though).

 

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#6 - The Twins lost a lot of baseball games in 2011 to earn the second overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Astros selected shortstop Carlos Correa and the Twins selected Byron Buxton out of high school in Georgia. On June 13, 2012, he signed. He played for the GCL Twins and Elizabethton Twins in 2012. He split the 2013 season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He became the top prospect in baseball. He debuted with the Twins in 2015. In 2017, he received MVP votes, won his first Gold Glove and was also awarded the Platinum Glove as the best defensive player in the American League. Injuries have certainly cost Buxton a lot of time, but when healthy, he is a huge difference-maker for the Twins. In 2019, he hit .262 with an .827 OPS, 30 doubles and ten homers. In 39 games in 2020, he hit .254 with an .844 OPS and 13 home runs.

 

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#5 - Tyler Duffey was the Twins 5th round pick out of Rice University where he was the Owl’s co-closer with JT Chargois. He signed on June 12th. The Twins used him as a starter throughout the minor leagues. Duffey came up in 2015 as a starter and was the team’s best pitcher down the stretch that year. He wasn’t able to replicate that success and has since moved to the bullpen. He began 2019 in Rochester, but when he came up, he became very reliable. He went 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 58 games. He became the team’s most reliable reliever in 2020. He posted a 1.88 ERA in 22 games and 24 innings.

 

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#4 - The Twins lost Michael Cuddyer to free agency following the 2011 season. Because of that, they gained a supplemental draft pick after the first round. With the 32nd overall pick, the Twins selected a right-handed pitcher from Puerto Rico named Jose Berrios. He signed on June 11th. Berrios pitched well in the minor leagues and was named the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2014and 2015. He made his debut in 2016 and posted an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts. He returned in 2017 and went 14-11 with a 3.89 ERA. In 2018, he went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA. He went to his first All Star game. He returned to the midsummer classic in 2019. He went 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA and topped 200 innings pitched. In 2020, he was 5-4 with a 4.00 ERA in 63 innings.

 

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#3 – On October 9, 2009, the Twins were playing (another) playoff series against the Yankees, but the big news of that day came off the field. The Twins had signed the #1 ranked international free agent, Miguel Sano, to a $3.15 million signing bonus. Since became one of the top power hitting prospects in baseball. He looked ready to debut with the Twins in 2014. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season. He returned to action in 2015. He made his MLB debut in July and played so well he was named the Twins MVP and Rookie of the Year. He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He mostly DHd as a rookie, and in 2016 he was moved out to the outfield (which didn’t go well) and he struggled with the bat too. He moved back to third base in 2017 and played the position adequately. He made his first All-Star Game that year and finished second to Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby. He was hurt and missed the final two months of the year. He had a titanium rod placed in his leg. 2018 was a forgettable season for Sano, and he came to spring training in 2019 with a contusion on his leg which cost him the start of his season. In 105 games, he hit .247/.346/.576 (.923) with 19 doubles and 34 home runs. In 53 games in 2020, he hit .205 with 12 doubles and 13 homers while also moving to first base.

 

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#2 – On July 11th, 2009, the Twins signed highly-regarded German outfielder Max Kepler. Though Kepler was always blessed with great tools, it wasn’t until 2015 that everything came together for him. He worked slowly up the system. He repeated in Elizabethton and then moved up one level a year. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2015 when he was named the Southern League MVP and led the Chattanooga Lookouts to the league title. While his team was celebrating, Kepler learned that he was heading to the big leagues. On the season’s final day, he got his first MLB hit off of Johnny Cueto. He put up very similar numbers in 2016through 2018. In 2018, he hit .224 with 30 doubles and 20 homers. He signed a five-year contract extension for $35 million in the offseason. In 2019, Kepler broke out. He hit .252/.336/.519 (.855) with 32 doubles and 36 home runs. In 2020, he hit .228 with nine doubles and nine homers. He now has 101 career homers.

 

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#1 – On July 2, 2009, the Twins signed highly-regarded defensive shortstop Jorge Polanco from the Dominican Republic. He was brought along slowly, spending two seasons in the GCL. He started hitting in 2012 in Elizabethton. It’s on defense now where there are question marks. He received a couple of cups of coffee with the Twins in 2014 becoming the youngest player to debut with the Twins since Joe Mauer in 2004. Polanco played in Chattanooga and Rochester in 2015 with a couple more very short stints in the big leagues. He moved up and down between AAA and the big leagues in 2016 until the July trade of Eduardo Nunez when he came up and played shortstop most days the rest of that season. He struggled through the first four months of the 2017 season, but he was arguably the team’s best hitter over the final two months of the year. He missed the first 80 games of the 2018 season on a PED suspensionbut came back strong in the second half. He signed a five-year, $25 million contract extension. In 2019,he was voted as the starting shortstop in the All Star game. He ended the season by hitting .295 with 40 doubles and 22 home runs. In 55 games in 2020, he hit .258 with eight doubles and four homers. With the signing of Andrelton Simmons, Polanco takes over as the Twins starting second baseman.

 

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So there you have it, the players in the Twins organization who have been in the system the longest, consecutively. I’ll guess that at least a couple of the names may not surprise you. I’m certain that you wouldn’t have guessed everyone on this list.

 

Feel free to leave your thoughts, or let me know if I forgot anyone.

 

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Nicely done - I like the continuity of signing and developing players and  then putting them on the Twins roster. Your summaries were great - Arraez was especially enlightening. 

 

I always feel bad for players who are career major leaguers, but then I have to remember that if the make AAA they get a nice pay check and they get to play baseball!  

Thanks. 

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Remember back when the Twins signed Polanco. Lots of hoopla about his defense, not so much about his bat. He now is respected for his bat with his defense being questionable, at least at short. Hopefully, he will turn into a gold glove second baseman.

 

Thanks for including the career minor league honorable mentions. Gotta wonder if Zander Wiel will ever put on a Twins uniform? Curious to know who is the minor league player with the most experience, although some/most not with the Twins?

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I hope they are putting up a huge effort to improve Polanco's footwork. IMO, it is on the easy plays that he becomes his own worst enemy by slinging the ball across his body while facing home plate instead of stepping towards first base. When the situation isn't critical, he can control those throws through body and leg movement, but when the situation intensifies, his legs seem frozen making his throws erratic.

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