5. Josh Winder, SP/RP
Winder looked like he had an inside track for a spot in the team’s rotation during spring training. Minnesota’s signing of Chris Archer pushed Winder out of the rotation, but the team decided they couldn’t leave him in the minors. So far this season, Winder has provided the team value, whether as a reliever or starter. Last Saturday, he was placed on the IL with a right shoulder impingement. Winder was placed on the Triple-A injured list on August 7th last year with a similar injury, and he did not pitch the rest of the minor league season. Minnesota hopes he won’t need that much time to recover this season.
4. Royce Lewis, SS
Lewis made quite the impression in his first taste of the big leagues, even though he only played 11 games. In 39 at-bats, he went 12-for-29 (.308 BA) with four doubles and two home runs. Even in such a small sample size, he ranks among the team’s best rookies in WAR. Since being demoted, he has played multiple defensive positions, and he has continued to hit well at Triple-A. Now, only a few questions remain. When will he be back in the big leagues, and will he stay at that level for the remainder of his career?
3. Gilberto Celestino, OF
Celestino has been a blessing in disguise for the Twins as Byron Buxton has needed time off or days at designated hitter. During May, FanGraphs has him ranked as one of the team’s most valuable hitters, ahead of Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa, and Byron Buxton. He’s also providing tremendous defensive value as he ranks in the 90th percentile for Outs Above Average. Many might be surprised at how good Celestino has been this season, but his Triple-A performance in 2021 pointed to him breaking out.
2. Jhoan Duran, RP
Minnesota’s bullpen picture would look significantly different without Duran’s emergence as a dominant late-inning option. His appearances have turned into must-see moments, with him constantly breaking the team’s record for the fastest pitch. Duran’s splinker also keeps batters off-balance as they have to speed up their swing for triple-digit heat. There’s no question that Duran is one of the reasons behind Minnesota’s success in close games, and by the season’s end, he should establish himself as one of baseball’s most dominant relievers.
1. Joe Ryan, SP
Ryan has a legitimate case to be in the running for AL Rookie of the Year as he’d likely be a top-3 finalist among all candidates. Currently, he’d be competing against players like Houston’s Tony Pena and Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez. Ryan has posted a 2.28 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP in eight starts this season. He has a 159 ERA+ with a 42-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio over 43 1/3 innings. If the playoffs started today, Ryan should get the nod as the team’s Game 1 starter. Ryan will need to continue to pitch at an unbelievably high level to win the AL ROY.
How would you rank these players? How will these rankings change as the season progresses? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.