First it was the pitchers as Josh Winder made the Opening Day roster, and then Cole Sands followed him during his first career start. Jose Miranda crushed Double and Triple-A last season before drawing his first big league start at the hot corner. The goal for Minnesota was to have both a good Major League team, but also establish real depth that could immediately make an impact from the farm.
You can now make the argument that pipeline is bearing fruit, and we can take a looking at the names that could be next up:
The least likely of this group, Spencer Steer is a solid infielder at Double-A Wichita. He was a 3rd round pick out of Oregon in 2019 and posted an .833 OPS split between High-A and Double-A last season. Through the first month of 2022 Steer owns a .300/.398/.488 slash line for the WInd Surge, and has now played nearly 100 games at that level. With Miranda moving up to the majors, Steer could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A if the stay becomes long-term for Miranda.
Steer can play second, third, and shortstop, but finds himself most at home playing the hot corner. Power production showed up in a big way last year when he blasted 24 homers, and it was clear he put in serious work during the canceled 2020 season. He’s been a doubles machine so far in 2022 but the longballs will fly as the weather warms.
He’s not on the 40-man roster and there’s a few non-roster veterans that may be opted for first, but Steer certainly has the chops to help the Twins should his number be called.
A product of Rice University, Canterino has been held back by injury like so many to go through the program. He possesses a unique windup and has a lot of movement in his delivery. Canterino is a very hard thrower though, and his 13.9 career K/9 is beyond impressive.
Throwing just 21 innings last year, Canterino is being handled very carefully after beginning the season at Double-A. He’s made five starts but has accumulated just 12 2/3 innings across them. His 2.13 ERA is impressive but the command has become a bit of an issue early this year with nine walks. He still has big strikeout stuff mowing over 18 batters, and he’s yet to allow a home run.
Canterino has never thrown more than 25 innings during a single season of his professional career, and Minnesota certainly is hoping to change that this season. Managing his workload and helping a good big league team, Canterino could be called upon to debut out of the bullpen with a higher level of effort. He too would need a 40-man roster spot.
Quite possibly the most likely prospect promotion is also the most exciting. Lewis missed two years due to the pandemic and then an ACL surgery prior to Spring Training in 2021. He’s back and debuted at Triple-A to start 2022. You could make the argument that the former top 10 prospect looks as good as he ever has.
There’s a notable difference in his swing as Lewis has calmed the leg kick dramatically. His hands are a bit quieter and the results have certainly followed. Through his first 21 games for the St. Paul Saints, Lewis is slashing .320/.441/.587 with three homers, nine doubles, and a triple. Maybe even more encouraging is how well Lewis is covering the plate and dictating at-bats. The talented shortstop owns a strong 18/15 K/BB and he’s used elite speed to swipe five bases on six attempts.
Minnesota doesn’t seem to question whether Lewis can stick at shortstop, but barring a Carlos Correa injury the opportunity wouldn’t seem to immediately be there. Lewis has played in the outfield professionally and could find an opportunity as the right-handed outfield bat that the Twins continue to seek. While not the prototypical corner slugger, there’s power that can play, and he’d be an elite defender with range that would match that of Byron Buxton.
Ultimately I don’t foresee any of these options coming to fruition prior to June. Each has hurdles to clear and time to substantiate current performances. They are all names to watch though, and none of them would represent a shocking debut should they reach Target Field in 2022.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing next?