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Gilberto Celestino Demonstrating Big-League Value


Twins Daily Contributor

Gilberto Celestino’s first taste of the big leagues couldn’t have gone much worse. Now, he is proving his value to a team contending for a division title.

 

In June 2021, Minnesota’s outfield was in shambles, and the team needed another outfielder on the roster. Gilberto Celestino was on the 40-man roster, but he was 22-years-old and had yet to appear in a game above the Double-A level. All minor leaguers were coming off a non-existent 2020 season, which made it even harder to predict how players would perform. Celestino was not being put into a position to succeed, and the results were disastrous. 

During his first 23 games, Celestino went 8-for-59 (.136 BA) with 14 strikeouts and three walks. Five of his eight hits went for extra bases, so there were signs of the power he had shown throughout his professional career. Minnesota’s outfielders got healthy, and the Twins sent Celestino back to Triple-A, where he had yet to play a game. From that point forward, Celestino put himself back on the prospect map. 

He wound up playing 49 games with the Saints, where he was 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. Celestino hit .290/.384/.443 (.827) with 13 doubles, five home runs, and a 43-to-24 strikeout to walk ratio. He only faced a younger pitcher in one game for the season, which accounted for three of his plate appearances. He also showcased his defensive versatility as he played all three outfield positions. Celestino was part of the front office’s long-term plans, even if it wasn’t evident as the offseason began. 

As the front office made a plan for the 2022 roster, it was clear that pitching and shortstop needed to be a focus. Another area to consider was which players would contend for the fourth outfielder spot. Players like Jake Cave, Brent Rooker, and Kyle Garlick joined Celestino as potential bench players, but there were other things to consider with Celestino. He is still only 23-years-old with development ahead of him, while the other players are not viewed as prospects. Did it make sense to have him on the roster if he wasn’t guaranteed to play regularly?

Celestino has answered that question with a resounding, “YES!” Minnesota’s injury issues have played a role in getting him more regular playing time, but he has taken advantage of every opportunity. He went 1-for-12 (.083 BA) through his first ten games with a walk and four strikeouts. Over his last nine games, he has gone 12-for-27 (.444 BA) with three doubles and two walks. His hot hitting has helped his offensive value, but his defensive skills have also been on display. 

MLB Statcast data has him among baseball’s best in various defensive metrics. Celestino currently ranks in the 92nd percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA), and he is also in the 60th percentile or higher when it comes to Outfielder Jump and Sprint Speed. Last season, his OAA was negative for his time in centerfield, and this season he has posted a positive OAA at both outfield positions he has played. 

Moving forward, it seems likely for the Twins to continue to give Celestino regular time at multiple outfield positions. He may not get 500 plate appearances this year, but he can provide value while getting 300-350 plate appearances. His prospect stock isn’t necessarily on the rise, but Celestino is the type of player that can be a role player for multiple years. 

What do you think Celestino’s role will be for the remainder of 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 

 


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I liked him last year when he struggled to grow into the challenge, but he kept at it and this year is the result of his determination.   He has assets that Rooker, Garlick, and Cave combined did not have - speed and a glove.  Now his bat is playing big and I hope he is here to stay.  What better back up is there for Buxton?

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When Larnach went on the IL, I figured Gilberto would play everyday.  I wish he would.  Rocco seems to want to play Gordon against the righties.  Gilberto offers more at the plate.  Plus, Kepler hasn’t had to play CF, which I think has helped Kepler avoid nagging injuries in the early going

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I hope he keeps it up.  Almost every article on T.D. speaks of his ability to be a role player/4th outfielder.  I don't understand this thinking.  That should be his absolute floor.  His age and minor league track record seem to show he could be a good to very good outfielder.  Keep it up young man!

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I don't think we know for sure what this young man's ceiling is.  If he continues to develop and begins driving the ball consistently, I agree with baul0010 that he could hold down a regular spot in the lineup.  He definitely is a more complete player than Cave, Garlick and the like.  His defense is outstanding.  It will be fun to watch him develop.

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I think calling him a 4th outfielder sells him short on both his prospect pedigree and production. He was never a global top 100 guy but as a big bonus international signing with good success in the minors he projected somewhere between a glove first back up CF if he couldn't keep up hitting to an either average or above average CF starter depending on his hitting. He should be treated as the primary back up CF to Buxton when he's out but one that also plays regularly against LHP in the corners with Garlick to give Max and Trevor an occasional day off. That should give him plenty of PA to maintain his hitting approach and be successful contributing to the team.

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FO delay of getting a legit CF sub, kept me waiting for Celestino to come up. Now as he has come accustomed to MLB, his bat has come alive and he has excelled in defense but not quite acheived Buxton level.We can now finally quit wasting our time with Cave & Garlick type and cut them loose. 

Agreed that now with Celestino & Gordon able to play CF we can keep Kepler in RF. That has made our OF so much better. IMO we can't have enough CF caliber OFers if there isn't room at CF they can play somewhere else not vise versa. TB has 4 CF caliber OFers, that plus their pitching has kept them successful.

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Projecting young players from their minor league stats isn't an exact science, but it isn't that hard either.  Someone looking only at MLB small-sample stats in an age-22 season and saying "that's all he'll ever be" is likely to be surprised time and time again.

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1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

We can now finally quit wasting our time with Cave & Garlick type and cut them loose.

Concur on Cave, but Garlick doesn't even belong in this sentence.  The only CF he ever played in the pros was 22 innings at the major league level last year, for some unearthly reason I choose to forget but surely was dire.  True, he played CF in college (baseball at Cal Poly Pomona must be a laid-back affair), but the Dodgers in their wisdom did not invest one inning of his five-year development with them in center.

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44 minutes ago, ashbury said:

Concur on Cave, but Garlick doesn't even belong in this sentence.  The only CF he ever played in the pros was 22 innings at the major league level last year, for some unearthly reason I choose to forget but surely was dire.  True, he played CF in college (baseball at Cal Poly Pomona must be a laid-back affair), but the Dodgers in their wisdom did not invest one inning of his five-year development with them in center.

I never once mentioned that Garlick played CF at anytime, Garlick isn't  good at the corner OF spots much less CF. What I'm against is that OFers are judged solely by their bat, IMO Garlick isn't that good even facing primarily LHPing. Therefore it's ridicious to keep him on the 40 man.

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44 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

I never once mentioned that Garlick played CF at anytime, Garlick isn't  good at the corner OF spots much less CF. What I'm against is that OFers are judged solely by their bat, IMO Garlick isn't that good even facing primarily LHPing. Therefore it's ridicious to keep him on the 40 man.

Garlick is better in left field than Larnach, and can hit left hand pitchers much better than most of the team, we still do not have a a left fielder as good there as Buxton and Kepler are in center and right.

Larnach does have better numbers in right field and can make a good back-up for Kepler.

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Being a 4th OF is not the same as in years past.  If the 4th OF can play CF there will be lots of opportunities between CF, RF, LF, and DH and pinch hitting he could easily start 100 games and make appearances in 40 others.  He could easily make 400 + plate appearances.  Especially with an OPS over .800

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I don't think anyone has ever stated he's a 4th OF and that's all. I just think it's been accepted as being his floor and his role for now. I mean, healthy, pretty sure Kepler, Buxton and Kirilloff/Larnach will be the primary starting OF. I am so surprised this kid has come on as strong as he has. And not because of his inauspicious debut last year, but just being as young as he is and a half year at AAA...even though he looked good...I just figured he'd need a little more time to develop before settling in to a ML role. It's a little hard to gain experience and confidence sitting on the bench after all. But he's responded wonderfully. 

The defense is there, and his milb numbers suggest a solid bat and OB. The question as to his future as a starter, IMO, is how much pop/power does he really have? And while he has speed, is it transferable to SB? Answers to these questions will determine if he's eventually a starter or not. A good balance of everything but nothing exceeding "norms" would keep him as an outstanding and versatile 4th OF.

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Why is being called a 4th OF a bad thing. Maybe he could be called a platoon player, starting against LH pitchers. Will probably get at least 2 starts a week in CF, rest day and DH day for Buxton. Then there is always injuries, may be a short term starter. Late inning defensive replacement or pinch runner, should be plenty of playing time for Celestino.

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1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

I never once mentioned that Garlick played CF at anytime, Garlick isn't  good at the corner OF spots much less CF. What I'm against is that OFers are judged solely by their bat, IMO Garlick isn't that good even facing primarily LHPing. Therefore it's ridicious to keep him on the 40 man.

I'll agree Garlick is not good defensively, but saying he can't hit lefties is not supported by facts. The guy flat out hits southpaws.  Whether it makes up for his flaws is another debate.

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At minimum I think he needs to stay up at the MLB level.  He is best possible defense replacement when Buck is hurt or needs his rest.  He is not an auto out like he used to be.  Even if he does not start he can come in to cover LF if needed for late inning defense. 

I think we all need to remember he is still young and should keep getting better. 

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1 hour ago, PNW twins said:

I'll agree Garlick is not good defensively, but saying he can't hit lefties is not supported by facts. The guy flat out hits southpaws.  Whether it makes up for his flaws is another debate.

I didn't say he can't hit lefties my point is that he's overrated about his performance facing lefties and that I'd expect much better from him in those situations since that's the reason why we have him on the 40 man.

 

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3 hours ago, RpR said:

Garlick is better in left field than Larnach, and can hit left hand pitchers much better than most of the team, we still do not have a a left fielder as good there as Buxton and Kepler are in center and right.

Larnach does have better numbers in right field and can make a good back-up for Kepler.

Who's better in LF Garlick/ Larnach defensively is debateable but the point is that Celestino is so much better than either of them. His ability to also to play a good CF plus his hitting is coming alive and his ability to stay healthy there's no contest in my book.

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6 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

I didn't say he can't hit lefties my point is that he's overrated about his performance facing lefties and that I'd expect much better from him in those situations since that's the reason why we have him on the 40 man.

 

I guess you could argue small sample size vs lhp, but in 120 some plate appearances he has 10hr and .950 ops. What's overrated about that?

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On 5/14/2022 at 8:25 PM, PNW twins said:

I guess you could argue small sample size vs lhp, but in 120 some plate appearances he has 10hr and .950 ops. What's overrated about that?

I was going to put this here as well. Of all the hitters the Twins have had on the roster since 2019, only Nelson Cruz has hit LHP better. 

Garlick would be firmly planted as a top 10 hitter in MLB if he could put that up for his total line. As a bench player though, on a team where the primary corner outfielders hit left handed, his role is about as secure as anyone. 

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