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Can Alex Kirilloff Be the Twins’ Savior?


Minnesota’s rough start has been tough to swallow, and some changes might be on the horizon. Alex Kirilloff is the team’s top prospect, but can he be the player to turn around the Twins this season?Expectations are sky-high for Alex Kirilloff at the dawning of his big-league career. He made a heralded debut for the Twins in last year’s playoff series against the Astros and put together some strong at-bats after not appearing in a professional game for months. His prospect stock rose significantly based on positive reports of his performance at the team’s alternate site including being named Twins Daily’s top prospect.

 

So far in 2021, his lone big-league appearance was as the team’s 27th man for a doubleheader against Boston. He made appearances in both games and ended the day 0-for-3 with a strikeout. It’s certainly hard to read anything into such a small sample size, but this was coming off the heels of a rough spring training where Kirilloff had an opportunity to win the starting left fielder job. In 12 games, he went 4-for-31 with two extra base hits and eight strikeouts.

 

Even with a poor spring, Kirilloff is still going to have a ton of pressure placed on him when he takes over a regular starting role. It also doesn’t help that the Twins have been struggling in multiple facets of the game. Kirilloff’s presence might offer a small boost to the club. However, he can’t close out games in the ninth inning and his defensive value is limited whether he plays in the outfield or at first base.

 

Luckily, the Twins have plenty of other more experience hitters to hit in the top half of the line-up. This can leave Kirilloff near the back of the batting order, so there is less pressure on him. In his only start, manager Rocco Baldelli penciled him into the sixth spot in the order and later in the game he was removed for a pinch hitter. This will allow him to get acclimated to the big leagues until he proves his bat is ready for this level.

 

One wrinkle in the Kirilloff plan is finding him a defensive position as he joins the club. Reports from the team’s alternate site have Kirilloff playing extensively at first base. Miguel Sano is currently dealing with a tight right hamstring, so he might need time off and Kirilloff would be a natural choice, if/when he is called up.

 

Baseball isn’t a game where one player can take over a game and sole-handedly push them to victory. For instance, look at Mike Trout and his big-league career. He is on a path to quite possibly be considered the best baseball player of all-time. During his 11-year career, the Angels have only qualified for the playoffs one time and they were swept by the Royals. Trout does things on the field that few have done before, but he can’t control every aspect of the game.

 

Bryon Buxton had very high expectations when he was called up to take over a full-time role. Buxton seems to be in the midst of a break-out campaign, but it took time and patience for him to reach this level. It’s important not to rush to judgement with any young player, especially after many prospects saw little or no professional action during the 2020 season.

 

Kirilloff is on track to have a long big-league career, but he alone can’t fix everything that has been going wrong for the Twins in 2021. Minnesota fans are frustrated, but Kirilloff shouldn’t bear the brunt of that negativity if he struggles out of the gate. He’s a long-term building block and not a savior for the franchise.

 

Are expectations too high for Kirilloff? What do you think he can add to the team? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 

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Savior? No   Building block?  Perhaps.   Spark plug that could get this team going?  Who knows.   Shannon Stewart was a nice get back in the day but no one really thought he would be a big key in turning that season around.    Morneau in 2006.  Valencia in 2010.   Arraez last year.   Who knows what the spark will be, if any.  This season is still young.   Just a reliever or two stepping up and turning things around and a couple of bats heating up are needed.   

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The one thing I really enjoyed about the Tom Kelly teams was how well the team played on defense, and running the bases etc. If just don't like the defense now. I think Kirilloff would be a big upgrade over Sano defensively. In fact, unless Sano starts to swing the bat better I don't see what value he brings to the team. I'd like to think a healthy Donaldson, Simmons, Polanco and Kirilloff would be a good infield. 

 

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Savior? Absolutely not. Future cog in a highly oiled hitting club machine? Definitely yes. Buxton in what he brings to the table on all levels, isn't saving the team. Together with hitting prowess of Donaldson, Cruz, Arraez and Polanco wasn't enough to save last game. Defense is what mostly lacking, good defense will help with our pitching problems. And Kiriloff won't be able to help us there.

Kiriloff has a lot of hitting potential, he'll come around. Like what was said, there's a lot of pressure on him. Rosario was eliminated so that he'd have a clear shot at LF. When Buxton came up we had a gaping hole in CF and was to be our savior. Also Trout has done it all for LAA but have very little to show in PS.

Buxton and Trout are not saviors how can Kiriloff? He can't, all this expectation will only delay his development IMO.

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Savior, nothing like putting that in the article headline!  Talk about pressure to perform and then you lead off Savior.  Way too many things that one person can't control per other comments, so savior is no such thing.  Now give us a closer who knows his role and saves ballgames, that might be your closest thing to a SAVEior

 

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It's all about service time with Kirilloff. I predict that once we can hold his rights for an extra year he will be up which supposedly is sometime around the end of April. I would think they would wait until he has a couple weeks under his belt at triple A so maybe towards the end of May? 

 

I would cut or trade Cave at that point so that he can play full time.

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Nothing to lose bringing him up. Sano isnt hitting and playing first base is one of the easiest positions on the field. Kiriloff needs time and experience and consistent playing time. Consistency is not a word Rocco understands but this is the lift the twins need. Lets start developing players that actually have potential such as Rooker and Kirloff not Jake Cave who is close to 30 and cant hit his weight.

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Savior? Absolutely not. Future cog in a highly oiled hitting club machine? Definitely yes. Buxton in what he brings to the table on all levels, isn't saving the team. Together with hitting prowess of Donaldson, Cruz, Arraez and Polanco wasn't enough to save last game. Defense is what mostly lacking, good defense will help with our pitching problems. And Kiriloff won't be able to help us there. Kiriloff has a lot of hitting potential, he'll come around. Like what was said, there's a lot of pressure on him. Rosario was eliminated so that he'd have a clear shot at LF. When Buxton came up we had a gaping hole in CF and was to be our savior. Also Trout has done it all for LAA but have very little to show in PS. Buxton and Trout are not saviors how can Kiriloff? He can't, all this expectation will only delay his development IMO.

Of course no one player or even two can just carry a team in baseball but a spark can be provided by anyone getting hot.    I remember i think in 2010 when Mauer and Mornea were both putting up MVP numbers but we were hovering around .500 half of the year.   Then we actually lost Morneau but Punto, Cuddyer, Young, Valencia all stepped up and they took off.    If Kiriloff can get hot iit would likely be taking a spot that has not been performing and turning it into a strength.    Two relievers finding their groove could make a huge difference as well.   I remember just two years ago for much of the season the bullpen was considered horrible but then with very little change they were considered very good just 6 weeks later.   The team we've seen the last two weeks doesn't have to be the team we see the rest of the way even if no changes are made to personnel.   Baseball isn't consistent that way.  Just ask Boston or Oakland what they thought of their team the first week or two of the year.  We need a spark.   No guarantee that we will get one but the talent is there to come from a lot of spots.    

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He had BETTER be the savior.  Or SOMEONE had better be.  If not, it's going to look a lot like something is missing with the year's group.  Something that can't be measured.  Heart.  Miles and miles of heart.  Almost as if someone whose value to the team could never be measured in measurable things is no longer here.  Someone in another comment mentioned that we need a spark.  If only we some guy who for half a decade always seemed to be around to provide that spark when we most needed it were here to provide it.

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Savior? Absolutely not. Way too much pressure on a single and still young player. Can he be a spark? Absolutely!

 

The Twins are in a very unique position right now. They are a back to back division winning team that won 100 games in 2019 and were on a similar pace in 2020 before a couple late season losses took them down to around a 96 win pace. They did a re-tool for 2021 that SHOULD have them on a similar pace this season despite a poor/disappointing first month. Despite initial frustration, we can't lose sight of the past 2yrs or the talent on hand. For instance, NOBODY expected Boston or K.C. etc, to have a good first month.

 

So far, not a lot of things have gone right this first month and there is no reason to re-hash slow starts, injuries, covid, etc. The best thing that can happen is for May to get here, and just get the roster back to full strength and go from there.

 

Why are the Twins in a unique position? Because of the team they HAVE been, the team they COULD be this season, and because they are in a "mini" re-tooling scenario that should STILL allow them to compete and be very good. Again, there is a LOT to like here despite a first month of disappointment.

 

AK is part of the re-tool, but he wasn't ready initially. He now gets a real opportunity to get his feet wet and ultimately provide a spark as a 3 position regular. Larnach could be ready by the second half. Rooker has a shot to do something as a piece of the puzzle despite not looking so great thus far. Remember how he looked before his broken arm in 2020? And there are mkre than a couple pitchers that could help before 2021 is done.

 

None of this precludes the Twins from making a helpful trade at some point. Nor is there any reason a healthy roster can't start to jell and just perform better. And Kirilloff can be a part of that. The opportunity is there for him now. But he's no savior.

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I cant think of one prospect that has ever been a "savior" to any franchise as theyre called up. The premise of this is ridiculous. No need for the impossible expectations. .260 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs would be a good year for Kirilloff and would help the team.

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