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  • Alex Kirilloff is Becoming a Question


    Ted Schwerzler

    Back in 2019 Major League Baseball ranked Alex Kirilloff as the ninth-best prospect in baseball. He is a former first-round pick that hit for power and average, and played two defensive positions pretty well. A driven and likable kid, it seemed fair to bet on his way through the system. Now at the big league level, and playing through a nagging injury, it’s tough not to question what’s next.

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

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    Across nearly 300 minor league games, Alex Kirilloff performed admirably. He had an .865 OPS and sat at a solid .317 batting average. Despite missing time due to Tommy John surgery in 2017, and then having minor league action shut down in 2020, Kirilloff earned his call through consistent performance and debuted on September 30, 2020. Thrust into a postseason game for his first big league action, it was hardly an ideal scenario.

    Maturity has always been something of a significant credit for Kirilloff, and seeing him handle that moment did nothing to change the belief. He’s battled through adversity previously, and that’s the crossroads we’re coming to once again.

    Last season Kirilloff got off to a slow start but did rip four homers in his first 11 starts. The average wasn’t there, but a .571 slugging percentage was buoyed by three doubles and four dingers. Then it happened... the dreaded wrist injury. A cortisone shot was administered, and he returned to the lineup on May 21, missing just 18 days. From that point forward, in a string of 47 games through July 19, Kirilloff slugged just .387 and hit another four homers. He was the same advanced hitter at the plate, but his body left him no ability to execute.

    Minnesota opted to have Kirilloff undergo season-ending wrist surgery last summer and the hope was that he’d be ready for spring training. Showing up this season, Kirilloff noted that he shut things down during the offseason due to pain, but then seemed ready to go in March. Once again, he got off to a slow start, and then it was announced that the wrist was again problematic. Sent out on a rehab stint with the Saints following another cortisone shot, Kirilloff suggested the pain still isn’t gone. Unfortunately, the results haven’t changed either.

    Playing in just seven of the Twins' 29 games this year, Kirilloff is a dreadful 2-for-22, and he’s yet to record an extra-base hit. He’s got a 10/0 K/BB and owns a -31 OPS+. It’s an extremely small sample size, but it’s nothing short of awful. For a guy that has always been seen as an advanced hitter, it’s obvious this is merely a shell of the player we once expected.

    So, what do the Twins and Kirilloff do from here? That’s a great question, and one without a straightforward answer. When talking to him following a Saints' victory last week, he shared that a check-in with the doctor who performed his surgery revealed nothing new or noteworthy. The wrist was said to be structurally sound and a follow-up procedure wasn’t seen as imminent. It was hoped that this cortisone shot would provide relief, although the announcement of continued pain or discomfort would suggest that hasn’t happened.

    Following a season where both parties decided to pull the plug and go under the knife, it’s hard to suggest battling through it remains a good process. Right now, both Kirilloff and the Twins probably stand to benefit from a wait-and-see approach. Maybe things take a turn for the better and further healing happens. Maybe some settling in at the plate turns the tide in production. Thrust back into the lineup after a lackluster 5-for-22 rehab assignment at Triple-A though, confidence for all involved has to be waning.

    There’s no denying that Kirilloff is among the brightest to come through the system in recent memory. It’s frustrating watching him play through something not allowing his abilities to shine. Here’s to hoping there’s a way for positive progress resulting in sustained health, and soon, because no one wants to continue seeing this level of production.

     

     

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    I suspect the only reason why he was brought up was because Luis Arraez got sidelined due to Covid. He needs to go back down to AAA and stay there until he gets his groove back, if it is possible. If not, his days of playing professional baseball are numbered. I definitely hope that is NOT the case.

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    Wrist issues are always problematic for baseball players.  Until he's healthy, I worry that he'll have concerns with the bat.  I don't know what the answer is, but he probably should be in St Paul, but I understand that isn't really an option at the moment.  Hopefully he's able to find his groove wherever he's playing.  

    And I think he should be playing every day if he's able.  No sense sitting on the bench unless his wrist is the issue, but then he should probably be back on the IL.

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    If Larnach was healthy I bet Kirilloff would be down in AAA trying to figure out how to hit with his wrist.  When I read that he had pain all off-season and had pain again this season without any new damage that can be fixed with surgery it raised huge red flags for me.  Last year when he first came up the average was low, but he was hitting the ball hard all over the field.  Since the wrist injury he has not had that same pop.  

    I am very concerned he will not have that pop again, or at least not for awhile.  I think he will need to go down to AAA and learn to hit with his issue.  If the wrist cannot be "fixed" he will need to learn how to play with it.  If he cannot he will never be a MLB player.  It is sad, because he looked to have all the makings of a top hitter for years to come.  However, you need your wrists to hit well. 

    His few games back he has had weak ground ball contact for the most part. I hope he can figure it out, but if he is always in pain either he will have to learn to live with it, or retire. 

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    4 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

    Wrist issues are always problematic for baseball players.  Until he's healthy, I worry that he'll have concerns with the bat.  I don't know what the answer is, but he probably should be in St Paul, but I understand that isn't really an option at the moment.  Hopefully he's able to find his groove wherever he's playing.  

    And I think he should be playing every day if he's able.  No sense sitting on the bench unless his wrist is the issue, but then he should probably be back on the IL.

    I've had wrist issues too.  They don't seem to go back to normal.  If there is no structural damage he might just have to deal with this new normal.  It's not what he's used to, so hopefully he can adjust and succeed.

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    Out of the three young outfielders, he needs to spend the most time back with the Saints getting regular work at first base. 

    Or maybe Miranda needs to go back. If the Twins are to contend, they can't have too many guys working thru injuries or learning on the job.

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    8 minutes ago, Riverbrian said:

    He's certainly a short term question mark. 

    Plenty of time for him to change future question marks to exclamation points. 

    He should be the first guy sent to St. Paul when a player comes off the DL.  

    Godoy is here because he was healthy and on the 40-man roster. He would be first. I think Kirilloff is next, particularly if Arraez is one of the guys activated.

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    11 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

    Godoy is here because he was healthy and on the 40-man roster. He would be first. I think Kirilloff is next, particularly if Arraez is one of the guys activated.

    Yeah That's right... I forgot about Godoy. I agree

    On 2nd thought... The Way Kirilloff is hitting... Maybe not. 

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    The "no structural damage" part is the super concerning part. He was looking great before the injury last year and it looked like he was ready to take his spot in the heart of the Twins order for much of the next decade. Him still playing through things right now leads me to think the Drs don't have much of an answer to what's wrong and that could be absolutely devastating.

    If the medical answer is "rub some dirt on it" then he should go back to AAA (or the facility in Florida?) and work on making adjustments to his swing. That would be horrible for him and hope it isn't the answer as he'd basically be rebuilding his lifelong swing. If the medical answer is another procedure or rest or something actually medical he should go on the IL. Maybe even the 60 day. Losing basically another season would be terrible, but he clearly isn't himself right now and looks miserable (as in he's having no fun at all) out there. I'd keep Godoy on the roster when Arraez comes back and send Kirilloff away. Either the IL or the minors. He's far more important and they need to get him figured out sooner than later.

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    Personally, I was never sold on Kiriloff entirely. His numbers didn't suggest he was a candidate for skipping AAA. He missed a year, really almost 2. He adds little defensively. And as corner/1b, I was leery he would be above replacement. 

    His classic swing generated power to all fields. He's a pleasure to watch swing. However, his use of all fields didn't necessarily translate numbers wise. Lefties who pull with power are seeming to have more success on average these days. Of course, many players develop pull power as their careers advance. Jacque Jones and AJ come to mind.

    The wrist injury may force him into being a punch hitter for awhile. Too bad. He had a ton of promise and already came back after 1 serious upper body injury.

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    Alex Kirilloff is not a major league player right now, and shouldn't be in a Twins uniform.

    First step is to option him to St Paul, or put him on the IL to shut him down for a month of physical therapy/whatever-might-help. (And if the IL route is picked, then send him down for rehab, and don't recall him until he is hitting even if it means optioning him later.)

    Forget playing him at first in the meantime, because the last thing the Twins need is a .200/no-power 1B. And clear spots on the 40-man so we can bring up the players we actually need.

    (Including another bat so Buxton can go on the IL where he belongs. Letting him turn a minor strain into a chronic one would be a great way to torpedo this season.)

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    It's evident by his swing that he's still having pain in his wrist. The place to work thru that is AAA not MLB, he should of stayed at AAA until it's resolved not brought up.

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    1 hour ago, stringer bell said:

    It's not helping Kirilloff or the team for him to be with the Twins right now. As soon as some semblance of order is restored with the roster, AK needs to either go on the IL or be optioned to St. Paul. 

    Yep ... I said this somewhere else ... AK goes down as soon as someone is ready.

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    I do not see Kiriloff contributing this year - although the heat of summer might be what he needs.  What concerns me is whether this is going to ruin a promising career. 

    Having gone through hip and knee replacements and back surgery I find arthritis finds those screws and parts quite quickly.  I wanted to see what others said about recovery and found this on sports-health.com, "

    "How long does the pain last after wrist surgery?
    After the cast is removed, it's normal for the wrist to be stiff for 1 to 2 months. For some patients—such as those who are older, have osteoarthritis, or were victims of a high energy break such as from a car accident— this stiffness may last up to 2 years."
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    44 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    I do not see Kiriloff contributing this year - although the heat of summer might be what he needs.  What concerns me is whether this is going to ruin a promising career. 

    Having gone through hip and knee replacements and back surgery I find arthritis finds those screws and parts quite quickly.  I wanted to see what others said about recovery and found this on sports-health.com, "

    "How long does the pain last after wrist surgery?
    After the cast is removed, it's normal for the wrist to be stiff for 1 to 2 months. For some patients—such as those who are older, have osteoarthritis, or were victims of a high energy break such as from a car accident— this stiffness may last up to 2 years."

    My wife had this same surgery in Dec '20. She still has some pain and is still working through the scar tissue. She claims she is 85%. It bothers her more in the damp and cold, and at night. She went through this phase 6 months ago of thinking something was wrong, but it was healed up just fine. It has slowly gotten just a little better each day. This was a bad deal. No surprise Kirilloff is still hampered, and thinking something may still be wrong. I have heard of many ending up with carpel tunnel after this injury - but that is more the older folks like us.

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    I also read somewhere that the problem and pain is from scar tissue, not a structural wrist problem.  Continue to believe in AK as a potential future star.  Now the Twins docs need to get him there.  Have no knowledge of how or clue as to how long it will take.

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    2 hours ago, In My La Z boy said:

    My wife had this same surgery in Dec '20. She still has some pain and is still working through the scar tissue. She claims she is 85%. It bothers her more in the damp and cold, and at night. She went through this phase 6 months ago of thinking something was wrong, but it was healed up just fine. It has slowly gotten just a little better each day. This was a bad deal. No surprise Kirilloff is still hampered, and thinking something may still be wrong. I have heard of many ending up with carpel tunnel after this injury - but that is more the older folks like us.

    My knee has never come back all the way.  I feel for him.  

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    If I have to watch that guy ground out on a two-hopper to 2nd base one more time, I swear. 

    He's an automatic out right now. He's not getting robbed, he's not hitting lasers that are being caught, he's rolling over and chopping the ball to the infield. I turn the channel when he's up just so I don't have to watch anymore.

    He's gotta go to St. Paul, should have been there after the A's series.

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    27 plate appearances this season at MLB.

    Only 35 plate appearances at AAA and 258 plate appearances in his entire MLB career. 

    I don't see Kirilloff as any more of a question mark now than he was at the beginning of last year. It is pretty clear he's struggling (pressing?). I feel like it would be worthwhile for him to spend a couple months in AAA to get things ironed out and build some confidence and the Twins certainly have the depth to move him there.

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    There is no doubt AK needs to be sent to St. Paul until he heals and gets his stroke back.  He isn't doing himself or the Twins any favors playing here at this point.  What to do with Buxton?  Put him on il if he's not well.  We are all growing accustomed to seeing him on the IL instead of the field anyway.  Lots of injuries on this team. Not surprised Buxton is one of them.  That's been the norm for him for 7 seasons.

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    Wrists are so important to hitting. David Ortiz had persistent wrist trouble as a Twin. It would have been reasonable at the time to believe that they would persist through his career. Finding a solution to the wrist has to be priority one. It might mean another lengthy IL stay.

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    Wrist damage can really be tricky. I busted a wrist bone when I was 25 and wore a cast for 6 months. Every time I switched the cast, the x-ray revealed it was healing. During the last round of casts, I was expecting to be rid of cast. Instead, the surgeon said, it is now worse than the original x-ray. I went the surgery route, but lost strength in my wrist and it sometimes still aches. The problem is blood flow to the wrist area is poor (that's what the surgeon said).

    I hope that Kirilloff doesn't damage it further. I also think he should get more opinions!!

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