In 2020’s aftermath, organizations are going to attempt to get their prospects back on track to eventually have big-league success. Missing all the 2020 season forced teams to get creative with plans for prospect development as many players were relegated to home workout plans. Minnesota was lucky enough to have room at their alternate site for top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach and they have reaped the benefits so far this season.
Kirilloff struggled this spring and was left off the Opening Day roster, but he has put together some strong numbers since the Twins called him up. He ended the first half with a .765 OPS and a 113 OPS+ including 20 extra-base hits. Larnach isn’t that far behind as he has compiled a .755 OPS and a 113 OPS+ with 16 extra-base hits. While these players have succeeded, other top prospects have struggled so far in their first taste of the big leagues.
Tampa’s Wander Franco entered the season as baseball’s consensus top prospect, but things haven’t been easy for him so far. In his first 15 games, he has hit .197/.258/.328 and combined for a 67 OPS+. He just turned 20-years old in March so there is plenty of time for him to find his groove. Tampa likely hopes he finds it sooner rather than later as they are part of a tight race in the AL East.
Seattle’s Jarred Kelenic started the year ranked as baseball’s number four prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com. He got 23 games under his belt and the results were bad enough that Seattle sent him back to Triple-A. He hit .096/.185/.193 with 26 strikeouts in 83 at-bats. He is still part of the long-term plan in Seattle and his bat seems to be getting back on track in the minors.
Atlanta’s Cristian Pache ranked as a top-20 prospect by all three national top-100 lists. But like Franco and Kelenic, he has struggled to find his stroke in the majors. In 22 games, he has hit .111/.152/.206 with 25 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. Ronald Acuna’s season ending injury might allow him to get some more at-bats as the season progresses, but he there are some obvious areas of improvement.
The 2021 season has been dreadful for the Twins as well as some of baseball’s top prospects. Thankfully, Kirilloff and Larnach have been forced into some situations that will be learning experiences moving forward. Even with some recent struggles, Larnach has been consistently hitting in the middle of the line-up. Kirilloff has come up with some big hits and important defensive plays. It’s a small positive in the middle of a terrible Twins campaign.
Franco, Kelenic, and Pache may all be better players than Minnesota’s duo, but it’s clear that Kirilloff and Larnach have more than lived up to their scouting reports in the season’s first half. Now they need to continue to make adjustments to stay ahead of the rest of baseball’s top prospects.
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