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  • Predicting Minnesota’s 4 Potential Breakout Players in 2021


    Cody Christie

    Nearly every season, there are players that surprise and make a significant impact at the big-league level. Here are four names to watch this year for the Twins

    Image courtesy of © Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Jorge Alcala, RHP

    Alcala has 18 big league games under his belt, but the 2021 season can be an opportunity to prove he belongs in Minnesota’s long-term relief plans. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli already showed confidence in Alcala by using him in the seventh inning or later in every September appearance last season. Minnesota’s bullpen looks different for 2021 and this can allow Alcala to take on an even more important role.

     

    When the Twins acquired Alcala, he was still being used as a starter, but his transition to reliever has come with excellent results. Minnesota’s bullpen pecking order will likely fluctuate throughout the 2021 season with players serving in different roles depending on the situation. Can Alcala move up the depth chart throughout the season?

     

    Jhoan Duran, RHP

    Last winter, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said that he expected Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to both make their MLB debuts in 2020. Obviously, the shortened season stopped that from happening, but both players seem primed for a debut in 2021. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the highest ranked pitcher in our annual top-20 prospect list and there is plenty to be excited about when thinking about what he can add to the Twins starting staff.

     

    He might be the most exciting starting pitching prospect to come through the Twins system in quite some time. With an electric fastball and improving off-speed offerings, Duran can provide a mid-season boost for the Twins, especially if the White Sox are hot on their tails. The question is, how high is his ceiling?

     

    Shaun Anderson, RHP

    Matt Wisler was a breakout pitcher for the Twins last season after the team brought him in and told him to concentrate even more on throwing his slider. He threw it over 83% of the time and found remarkable success. Minnesota felt comfortable enough with finding a Wisler replacement that they let him walk this winter. This season, Shaun Anderson hopes to follow a similar trajectory as Wisler.

     

    In 2020, Anderson threw his slider 53% of the time, so there is certainly room for him to use this pitch on a more consistent basis. However, there is a major difference between Wisler and Anderson as Anderson’s fastball averages 94 mph. He also ranks in the 92nd percentile when it comes to fastball spin. Working with Wes Johnson might allow Anderson to find the right mixture of these two pitches.

     

    Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B

    While Duran moved up our rankings to the number one pitching spot, Kirilloff and Royce Lewis both can make a claim as the team’s top overall prospect. At some point in 2021, he is going to take over as a starting outfielder and the Twins hope he stays there for most of the next decade. Back in 2018, he was one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball, but the 2019 season saw injuries take a toll. He was able to homer four times in five playoff games that season, so the power potential is there.

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    His hit tool separates him from the crowd as he can spray the ball to all fields. As I have previously written, his minor league spray charts should be hung in a museum. His advanced approach at the plate should help him to transition to the big-league level. Kirilloff avoids swings and misses and he should pencil into the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for years to come.

     

    Who do you think will breakout for the Twins in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

     

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    Enjoyed your article, Cody. I think almost all the Twins have an extra gear that they haven't tapped into yet. I watched a Giant video and the author was very high on Anderson and was sad he left. Alcala, when he perfects his 3th pitch, can be an effective starter.

    Of all the Twins, the one I'm cheering the most is Broxton. Once he finds himself at the plate, he'll be awesome subbing Buxton and platooning in LF.

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    After Royce gets the #2 slot in the prospects and is featured on TD he goes down for the season - lets hope there is no jinx out there for #1.  Go Alex.  Alcala is a perfect candidate for this list, Duran and Balazovic are my dreams for the rotation in 2022 unless there is injuries.  I would think Stashak is going to rise this year and Colina has no place to go but up after his 2020 debut. 

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