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  • Twins To Promote Alex Kirilloff for Playoffs


    Seth Stohs

    No question, the biggest surprise on the Twins AL Wild Card series roster when it gets announced on Tuesday morning will be outfielder Alex Kirllloff.

    The Star-Tribune’s Phil Miller tweeted that the “Twins may have a surprise in store on tomorrow’s playoff roster: They are discussing promoting former first-rounder Alex Kirilloff for this series.”

    Twins Daily has confirmed that Kirilloff did receive The Call late on Monday night.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily

    Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said before Game 1 on Tuesday. "It's a move that, once you get to know the player and the person, you're excited to make. He's a young guy. very mature guy." He added, "He doesn't seem to let very much affect him at all. A guy who worries about the things he can control, and that's it."

    Baldelli was talking about Alex Kirilloff, the Twins first-round draft pick in 2016 out of Plum High School in Pittsburgh, the 15th overall pick that year. The day he was drafted, he led his team to the state championship game.

    Kirilloff had committed to Liberty University, but he quickly signed with the Twins and went to Elizabethton where he made a strong first impression. In 55 games, he hit .306/.341/.454 (.794) with nine doubles and seven home runs.

    Unfortunately, his season came to an end early when he hurt his elbow. In March of 2017, he had Tommy John surgery and missed that season.

    Rehab went well, and he returned to the diamond in 2018. He hit like he hadn’t missed a beat. In 65 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, he hit .333/.391/.607 (.999) with 20 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs. He was promoted to Ft. Myers, where he also played 65 games and hit .362/.393/.550 (.943) with 24 doubles and seven home runs. He helped the Miracle to the 2018 Florida State League championship. He jumped up prospect rankings nationally and was ranked as high as #9 on MLB.com’s rankings.

    In 2019, he was invited to his first big league spring training and went 8-for-26 (.308). He played 94 games for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He hit .283/.343/.413 (.756) with 18 doubles and nine home runs. He also played 35 games at first base, a position he hadn’t played some he had done so on the national circuit during his summers in high school.

    He was invited to Twins spring training this year for a second time. He went 9-for-21 (.429) with two doubles and two home runs.

    https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1233490888992661508

    Unfortunately, the global pandemic delayed the season. He was likely to head back to Double-A Pensacola for a short stint, or maybe even just would have started at Triple-A Rochester. Instead, he was added to the Twins 60-player pool for Summer Camp and has spent the past two months where he has continued to work in the outfield and at first base.

    And on Monday night, Kirilloff got the phone call that every ballplayer dreams of. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called him and told him that he was on the Twins Wild Card playoff roster.

    Baldelli said, "Chatted with him for a little while and also told him that he was going to make our playoff roster. The tone on the other end of the line did not change a ton. I think he said, 'Oh yeah. That's awesome.' And that was essentially it. That's exactly what I expected to get from him. If I had gotten anything different from him, then I would have been concerned. But that's Alex Kirilloff, a really, really talented young player, and a guy we're going to see out there. I can see getting him into these games and helping us win."

    Kirilloff acknowledged, "Sometimes my emotions don't match up with my reaction. I was surprised, and definitely happy and excited for the opportunity. We've stayed ready all summer."

    It will be interesting to see what role he will play through the Twins playoff run, regardless of how long it lasts.

    Kirilloff added, "If there's an opportunity where I'm needed, my job is just to stay ready and to do my best."

    As a star throughout his baseball-playing career, Kirilloff has really never had to pinch hit much. "Pinch hitting is, I can't really say, is something I'm too familiar with. I am familiar with what I do to prepare in my approach throughout my at bat. That's something that I will lean upon as called upon."

    https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1310975010799050755

    Derek Falvey noted before Tuesday's game that with using just 13 pitchers on the 28-man roster. "Thinking about how we could maximize some of the potential matchups and opportunities over the course of a two or three game series, just felt like he could fit with Josh being clearly down and the ability to play the outfield. Rocco has a lot of options now as he works through managing a game, and we have some protection in a few spots. Also, he is a good hitter, and he's someone we think can help us."

    After the phone call, he called his parents and his wife. His wife, Jordan, and their daughter were in St. Paul for a little over a month.

    If he were to play during the series, he would become the first Twins player to make his Major League debut in the playoffs. Let’s take a quick look at his journey to the big leagues.

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    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the guy, but what on earth is this move? The Twins had plenty of chances to bring him up during the regular season with a lot of regulars going down with injuries, and now they're going to throw him in the lineup during the playoffs? 

    Is it service-time related, maybe?

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    Sano looks lost right now against RH pitching.

     

    Other than that, if a someone gets injured during the series, I would assume MLB allows for a replacement to be named.

     

    So, my bet:  reward for being the best player with the best attitude over in St. Paul.

     

    Who wouldn't want to sit on the Twins bench for the playoff run? 

     

    And may it be long and interesting.

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    Very interesting. Have to believe that it is related to some player(s) injury. Wouldn't surprise me to learn at some point that one of several Twins have been playing thru some nagging injury. Maybe Sano? Cruz? Could see Kirilloff getting at bats in either case. 

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    I've imagined Kirilloff to be a Joey Votto type of hitter, high batting average, relatively few strikeouts lots of extra base hits, but not a threat to win a home run championship. I've also seen him as the surest bet to be a major league regular of all of the Twins prospects. 

     

    It's puzzling to see him called up now, but I guess the Twins must know what they're doing. The Twins have won the most regular reason games in the American League since Baldelli became manager. They are the only AL repeat division winner. Still waiting for postseason success.

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    These are all interesting thoughts. To put it bluntly, the guy should have been on the roster all season. He's shown he can hit at every level and deserved the chance from the get go. If he only hits .250 that's more than Sano, Cave, Wade, Kepler, and the greatly over-rated Marwin. 

    Nobody cares about batting average anymore. Wade isn't with the team, Sano is there for the occasional big fly, and Cave has been among the Twins' most important players in the closing weeks of the season.

    Good effort, though.

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    I made a case in another article that they should have called him up for the last couple of weeks of the season as he couldn't do any worse than Wade or Cave.  I guess things are bad enough now that a fresh bat, a good contact bat is needed in this strikeout heavy offense.  Honestly he would be a good replacement for a slumping Sano and if Buxton cannot go then he should be fine in the outfield.  Personally I think it is a good move.

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    Nobody cares about batting average anymore. Wade isn't with the team, Sano is there for the occasional big fly, and Cave has been among the Twins' most important players in the closing weeks of the season.

    Good effort, though.

     

    Speak for yourself. I still rely on it as an important indicator.

    Bases loaded, 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th tied or behind one.   Do you want Sano or Arraez?   I will take Arraez 100 out of 100 times and 100% because of batting average.

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    Who is coming off the 28-man roster? The 40-man roster? Any info? Thanks.

    Corresponding move not yet announced. Kirilloff was already postseason eligible, due to being included in their 40-player postseason pool last week, but they will need to clear a 40-man roster spot to actually add him to the 28-man active roster now. (And the 45/60 day IL is no longer an option to make room, since the regular season is over.)

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    I immediately thought of Kubel. because my memory was he came in a tough situation against Rivera in the playoffs with almost no at bats that year.   I might be dreaming though cuz I can't find that game.   Maybe thinking of someone else.   Did discover he was 2-29 in his playoff career.    Another big reason for the playoff losing streak.  

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    I've imagined Kirilloff to be a Joey Votto type of hitter, high batting average, relatively few strikeouts lots of extra base hits, but not a threat to win a home run championship. I've also seen him as the surest bet to be a major league regular of all of the Twins prospects. 

     

    Lot of work needed on plate discipline to compare to Votto's (one of the all-time greats in that regard, especially when accounting for eras), but I'll take similar batting averages!

     

    I love this move, but also find it quite odd. He should have been here when Rooker went down to get his feet wet. If there's a player where the stage won't be too big, Kirilloff is a good bet, but there's a lot of volatility in how any rookie will respond so this could get weird, hah.

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    I immediately thought of Kubel. because my memory was he came in a tough situation against Rivera in the playoffs with almost no at bats that year.   I might be dreaming though cuz I can't find that game.   Maybe thinking of someone else.   Did discover he was 2-29 in his playoff career.    Another big reason for the playoff losing streak.  

    Kubel came up in September 2004 for 67 PA in the regular season, and did well -- .300/.358/.433, reasonable K rate. Got placed on the postseason roster and drew the DH start for ALDS Game 2, but went 0-for-6 that game, including an unfortunate 3-pitch strikeout vs Rivera in a tie game with runners on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out in the 8th inning.

     

    It was not Kubel's first time facing Rivera, though. He had drawn a 4-pitch walk and popped out to short on a 2-1 count in two regular season PAs vs Rivera the previous week.

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    Kubel came up in September 2004 for 67 PA in the regular season, and did well -- .300/.358/.433, reasonable K rate. Got placed on the postseason roster and drew the DH start for ALDS Game 2, but went 0-for-6 that game, including an unfortunate 3-pitch strikeout vs Rivera in a tie game with runners on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out in the 8th inning.

     

    It was not Kubel's first time facing Rivera, though. He had drawn a 4-pitch walk and popped out to short on a 2-1 count in two regular season PAs vs Rivera the previous week.

    Thanks for the research.    I remember Gardy getting a lot of criticism after the 0-6 for playing an untested rookie like that.   I didn't buy into that.  Kubel was a good hitter and could just as easily have succeeded.   One of my favorite memories of Kubel was a few years later when he took Rivera deep for a big dramatic grand slam.     I'm not drawing parallels here to Kiriloff.   Different time and different people and who knows what drama unfolds.   I do agree however that getting him in a few games at the end would have been worthwhile.

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    Thanks for the research.    I remember Gardy getting a lot of criticism after the 0-6 for playing an untested rookie like that.   I didn't buy into that.  Kubel was a good hitter and could just as easily have succeeded.   One of my favorite memories of Kubel was a few years later when he took Rivera deep for a big dramatic grand slam.     I'm not drawing parallels here to Kiriloff.   Different time and different people and who knows what drama unfolds.   I do agree however that getting him in a few games at the end would have been worthwhile.

    Another story I heard was Gardy also wanted to send in a pinch hitter to face Rivera, but the possible pinch hitters Gardy wanted to use were not exactly making themselves seen at the bat rack champing at the bit. (I wish I had known that at the time.)

     

    Anyway, welcome to the bigs Alex!

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    Nobody cares about batting average anymore. Wade isn't with the team, Sano is there for the occasional big fly, and Cave has been among the Twins' most important players in the closing weeks of the season.

    Good effort, though.

    I still believe in BA and RBIs

     

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