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  • Ft. Myers' Most Likely Star


    Ted Schwerzler

    We just a couple of months away from the Twins kicking off spring training action and even closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to sunny Fort Myers. For the Twins, much of the roster should already be decided, but there're a few cracks for someone to carve out playing time. It's down in Florida that we generally see those story lines play out.

    Image courtesy of Brad Rempel- USAToday Sports

    A season ago it was Eddie Rosario, slugging two homers in 17 spring games, who drove the conversation regarding him coming north. In 2014, Aaron Hicks turned 18 spring games into a .327/.364/.462 slash line that had him looking ready to assume the full time center field gig for the Twins. Heading into 2016, there's no doubt going to be "that guy" again, but the question is who.

    While you're beginning to put together some thoughts as to who that may be, let me offer some insight as to what the favorites may look like. Here are who have the best odds of being the talk of the Twins' spring down in Fort Myers.

    Max Kepler 4/1:

    There's little doubt that Kepler has one of the best shots to impress at Twins camp. At different points this offseason, I've considered his potential to break camp with the big league club and immediately head north. I've addressed him first here since he's the lone member of this list who is not a non-roster invitee. Kepler's .318/.410/.520 slash line from 2015 is already impressive, and his debut at the end of the year suggests the Twins aren't going to hold him back for long. I expect a strong spring from the German prospect, but still see him starting the season on the farm.

    Nick Burdi 5/2:

    Right on Kepler's heels is 2014 Minnesota Twins draft pick Nick Burdi. Expected to be somewhat accelerated through the system, Burdi hit a bit of a speed bump last year. Despite the demotion, it's how he rebounded that has me believing 2016 is going to be a big year for the former Lousiville Cardinal. Burdi owned the Arizona Fall League, posting a 0.00 ERA across 8.0 innings and compiling a 12.4 K/9 while walking just 1.1 BB/9 (command being his biggest shortcoming thus far). The Twins pen is in need of help, and going up against the likes of Fernando Abad, Buddy Boshers, Brandon Kintzler, and a couple of others for a final pen spot, Burdi could actually push himself to the top of the group.

    Jake Reed 15/1:

    Tied to Burdi, being from the same draft class, much of Reed's reasoning is similar to the aforementioned Burdi. He's a budding reliever in an organization whose major league pen needs significant help. Reed is not quite the hard-thrower Burdi is, and his strikeout rates are lower (8.5 K/9 across two MiLB seasons). That said, Reed also dominated in the Arizona Fall League (1.69 ERA in 10.2 IP) which was nice to see. Coming off less of an injury history than J.T. Chargois (who I expect to debut with the Twins this season as well), Reed has the opportunity to turn some heads this spring.

    Jose Berrios 25/1:

    While no doubt a long shot, the odds being stacked against Berrios breaking camp with the Twins aren't really any indication of his performance. At this point, and even at the end of last season, Berrios has accomplished all he can on the farm. he owned a 2.87 ERA and a 9.5 K/9 a year ago while walking batters at just a 2.1 BB/9 clip. He was actually better at Triple-A than Double-A, and the Twins could use need him in their rotation. Spring will be about forcing the Twins' hand as to how early they promote him, even if that won't be Opening Day. He'll be kept down past the Super 2 deadline, and I'd guess Minnesota will have him up around May. Dominating this spring would be nice, but it's not going to get him the immediate call.

    Joe Benson 75/1:

    A familiar face makes his way back onto the scene for the Twins, and it's actually not as crazy a thought as it might seem. Minnesota brought back former top prospect Benson following a stint playing Indy Ball. Now 27 and having not played in the big leagues since 2011, Benson is looking at a monumental task to crack the 25-man roster. He hit a mediocre .248/.351/.361 at Double and Triple-A for the Mets and Braves organizations respectively. His time with the Sugar Land Skeeters was brief, and the numbers weren't thrilling there either. Working in Benson's favor is a projected outfield of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano. Benson is a plus defender, and Shane Robinson is no longer with the organization to provide a defensive replacement type. Should Buxton not start with the Twins (he will), the path becomes even more realistic. I wouldn't bet on it, but a torrid spring and toss- up roster decision, Benson could end up being the Twins 25th man.

    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

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    I think you missed a couple of relievers.  I think Mason Melotakis and JT Chargois are right up there with Burdi and Reed.  I suspect one of those four will be on the major league roster to start (at least based on what we've picked up so far as relievers)

    It's hard to buy with his surgery and missed time, but logic says the Twins wouldn't have protected Melotakis if they didn't think another club thought he was MLB ready.

     

    But pretty please, if we are hypotheticly only going to have one young player tear up Spring Training, can it be Byron Buxton?

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    It's kind of like the Mr. Mankato thing... 

     

    Luke Hughes led the Twins in HR a couple of straight years and then made the club and didn't play much. That's why he got so much playing time in spring training, to see if he could be one of those final roster guys. 

     

    So, for me, it's usually someone like that, someone who isn't expected to compete for a spot and then shines. 

     

    I think JT Chargois is a good candidate. I think Taylor Rogers is as well. Kepler's one to watch if he can do what Aaron Hicks did in 2012 and win a job. 

     

    If Buxton struggles at all, it could be one from the Joe Benson, Darin Mastroianni, Ryan Sweeney group. 

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    It's hard to buy with his surgery and missed time, but logic says the Twins wouldn't have protected Melotakis if they didn't think another club thought he was MLB ready.

    But pretty please, if we are hypotheticly only going to have one young player tear up Spring Training, can it be Byron Buxton?

     

    I think personally I'd prefer Buxton start in AAA unless he shows a new found ability to hit a major league curve ball.  That's my 2 cents... but in terms of rookies coming north, I suspect at least one reliever will be there.  I agree with Seth that Taylor Rogers should be on that list too.  A lot of people were clamoring to make him that LOOGY that we wanted given his splits against lefties.  I could easily see him earning that job in ST with a strong spring. He doesn't have that much left to prove in AAA.

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    It's hard to buy with his surgery and missed time, but logic says the Twins wouldn't have protected Melotakis if they didn't think another club thought he was MLB ready.

    But pretty please, if we are hypotheticly only going to have one young player tear up Spring Training, can it be Byron Buxton?

    Triple like.

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    How about the guy who is going to be coming in with the most momentum?

    .308/.390/.525 and the Roberto Clemente PWL MVP.

     

    I know there is not much love for Vargas for some reason, but he put similar numbers with Kepler in Chattanooga (.287/.417/.516) and did not do that shabby in Rochester (.279/.411/.475) either.  Bad season in the majors, but better than Buxton, Robinson and Suzuki.   

     

    Also, he looks like he has been working hard and lost a good 30 lbs.  This is a shot from last week.

     

    I think that he will have a monster Spring making things hard for the Twins...

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    If you're talking spring training only -  Why not ABW II?

     

    In two years of Spring Training call ups, ABW II is 4 for 10 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs and 2 strike outs.  I'd say he makes the most of his spring training opportunities.  That's actually more extra base hits than the Twins pinch hitters had ALL of the 2015 SEASON.  Just saying.................Why not ABW II?  

     

    Ft. Myers' Most Likely Star

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v59835383/bosmin-walker-hits-a-solo-home-run-to-left-field/?c_id=mlb

     

    Edited by BoomBoom
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    How about the guy who is going to be coming in with the most momentum?

    .308/.390/.525 and the Roberto Clemente PWL MVP.

     

    I know there is not much love for Vargas for some reason, but he put similar numbers with Kepler in Chattanooga (.287/.417/.516) and did not do that shabby in Rochester (.279/.411/.475) either.  Bad season in the majors, but better than Buxton, Robinson and Suzuki.   

     

    Also, he looks like he has been working hard and lost a good 30 lbs.  This is a shot from last week.

     

    I think that he will have a monster Spring making things hard for the Twins...

    Wow!  He looks great.  I will be pulling for him but they don't really have a spot for him even if they trade Plouffe.

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    How about the guy who is going to be coming in with the most momentum?

    .308/.390/.525 and the Roberto Clemente PWL MVP.

     

    I know there is not much love for Vargas for some reason, but he put similar numbers with Kepler in Chattanooga (.287/.417/.516) and did not do that shabby in Rochester (.279/.411/.475) either.  Bad season in the majors, but better than Buxton, Robinson and Suzuki.   

     

    Also, he looks like he has been working hard and lost a good 30 lbs.  This is a shot from last week.

     

    I think that he will have a monster Spring making things hard for the Twins...

    It was very evident when he returned to the big club that his approach had improved a bunch.  I hope he makes it impossible for them to send him to AAA and then plays well the rest of the season.  It will make things very interesting with Mauer too.

     

    Vargas looks so good ... Maybe he has his eye on playing 3B (just kidding).

    Edited by Major Leauge Ready
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    If you're talking spring training only -  Why not ABW II?

     

    In two years of Spring Training call ups, ABW II is 4 for 10 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs and 2 strike outs.  I'd say he makes the most of his spring training opportunities.  That's actually more extra base hits than the Twins pinch hitters had ALL of the 2015 SEASON.  Just saying.................Why not ABW II?  

     

    Ft. Myers' Most Likely Star

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v59835383/bosmin-walker-hits-a-solo-home-run-to-left-field/?c_id=mlb

     

    Production never matters when you talk about Walker.   

     

    4 for 10 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs and 2 strike outs - Lol

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