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  • With Correa at Shorstop, What's Next for Twins Infield Prospects ?


    Jamie Cameron

    Carlos Correa is a Twin! What does the move mean for Austin Martin, Brooks Lee, and Royce Lewis, a trio of high upside infield prospects?

    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker - USA Today Sports

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    Barring a dramatic third u-turn of the postseason, the Carlos Correa sweepstakes are over. Correa’s free agency played out much like a 2022 Vikings game, the Twins coming from behind to win a contest they had no right to. Fans can’t complain though, their team having linked the irresistibly charismatic duo of Correa and Byron Buxton together until at least 2028. Indications suggest Correa’s physical shouldn’t be a problem (Dr. Nick Riviera supervising).

    Jokes aside, the addition creates a log jam for the Twins in the infield, with established big leaguers (Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez ) and up and coming prospects (Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, and Austin Martin) vying for at bats. How will the Correa signing impact the Twins high ceiling infield prospects?

    Austin Martin
    There are folks still high on Martin as a prospect. I am not one of them. The centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade to the Blue Jays, Martin got off to a good start for the Twins, putting together a 122 wRC+ in his first 168 plate appearances at AA. 2022 was a struggle. In 404 plate appearances, Martin managed just an 89 wRC+, .315 SLG and committed 18 errors in 70 games at shortstop for AA Wichita, as a 23-year-old. Martin still has some value due to good on base skills and speed but he’s at the bottom of the depth chart for Twins infield prospects. I think it’s likely he’s part of a trade package for a team that thinks they can help him get back on track.

    Royce Lewis
    How different might the Twins offseason have looked if Lewis had remained healthy in 2022? In a tantalizing 40 plate appearances, he mashed to the tune of a 146 wRC+ and .550 SLG. Unsustainable numbers, but they provided a taste of Lewis’ incredible athleticism. Lewis also played better-than-expected defense and shortstop, managing 1 OAA in his 12 games. Projection systems like him for 2023, with Fangraphs predicting 2.3 fWAR in 330 plate appearances. The injury history is troubling, but Lewis still possesses the best athletic profile and some of the best speed in the organization. With Jose Miranda entrenched at third base, it’s possible Lewis becomes a right-handed outfield option (but that’s where he got hurt!), or he’s traded to help balance the roster.

    When asked about the signing of Correa, Lewis was his typically positive, effusive self.

    Brooks Lee
    The Twins couldn’t believe their luck in the 2022 draft when Brooks Lee, a candidate to go number one overall, fell into their laps at number eight. Lee has dominated in his short minor league career, posting a 140 wRC+ at A+ before moving to AA at the end of the season for a handful of games. While Lee’s defensive profile is not to stick at shortstop (he’s likely a good defensive third baseman), the hit tool is legit. He should be pushing a .300 batting average in MLB as a switch hitter and likely makes his debut with the Twins in 2023. Lee could fetch a hefty return in a trade package, as he was seen as the safest high ceiling pick in the 2022 draft.

    Clearly, Lee isn’t overly concerned with where he plays for the Twins, as he recently passed on to Ted Schwerzler.

    If you were in the hot seat, what would do with these three infield prospects? Move them to a different position? Trade them? Feel free to leave trade proposals or positional adjustment ideas in the comments.

     

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    At some point Carlos will be "too slow" for SS. Then a move to 2B or 1B will come. Hopefully 3-4 years at least.

    I like CC, but I wish he was 25 instead of 29. Thinking about 25 year old Mauer vs 34 year old Mauer.

    Time does no good most of the time.

    Can Royce be a 2B? Can Brooks be a 2B? Seems like trading 1 of the 3 for pitching would help in the long run.

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    Gordon and Martin are outfielders.  At the moment they are behind Correa, Polanco, Farmer, Miranda, Lewis, Lee, and Julien (even probably Arraez for that matter on a utility basis) in the non-1B infield innings to be played queue. No one is worried about the Correa signing taking away innings and ABs from Gordon or Martin - they will need to make or break their careers with the Twins in the outfield.

    The player you are missing is Julien. At the moment he projects as a true 2B who should see major league time this season.

    Correa is not the player clogging up this infield - he’s the key cog for the next several years. It’s going to be Farmer and Polanco (whom I hope has a monster bounce back year) who could be the clogs in ‘23 taking playing time away from Lewis, Julien and Lee.

    Ultimately, the Twins could have an infield in ‘24-‘26 of these six players: Correa (SS/3B), Lewis (3B/SS), Lee (2B/SS utility), Julien (utility/2B), Miranda (1B/3B) and Arraez (1B/2B utility). Six solid players, of whom four start every game and one is available to DH.  Excellent flexibility. Good enough D coupled with a strong mix of batting characteristics (i.e L/R, power, AVE, OPB, speed, etc.) Outside of Correa, pretty darn cheap. Future is bright if we don’t blow it.

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    33 minutes ago, bloomwcjkl said:

    I like CC, but I wish he was 25 instead of 29.

    He actually turned 28 towards the end of the season.

    Regarding the prospects, Lewis and Lee have more upside than Miranda and are both younger, but neither will be MLB ready until June or July. I would also say Martin has more upside than Miranda, but his defense and SLG needs to improve. You didn't include Julien, but he is also affected by the Correa signing. If Martin and Julien start hot in AAA it will be a good problem to have to figure out. 

    No decisions have to be made concerning this group until Lewis is ready in June or July, unless Martin and Julien light AAA on fire. Anyway you look at it, it's a good problem to have and doesn't need to be resolved until the trade deadline. 

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    I think Martin moves into a Gordon style role of mostly OF with a little 2B mixed in here and there. And I really like the idea of them being 2 of the bench players moving forward.

    I think Lee is probably the odds on favorite to take over for Polanco at 2B now. Maybe 3B if Miranda can't figure out the glove a little more or moves to 1B (which then depends on Arraez and Kirilloff).

    Lewis in the OF makes a lot of sense to me, but I think he's a star so I'd like to find a single position to plug him in and let him have. Maybe that's LF or maybe it's 2B or 3B depending on Lee and Miranda (they can't move to the OF). 

    Overall I'm not really worried about it. If those 3 guys reach their ceilings you find a place for them. Way better problem to have than too many corner spot guys.

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    17 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    Ultimately, the Twins could have an infield in ‘24-‘26 of these six players: Correa (SS/3B), Lewis (3B/SS), Lee (2B/SS utility), Julien (utility/2B), Miranda (1B/3B) and Arraez (1B/2B utility). Six solid players, of whom four start every game and one is available to DH.  Excellent flexibility. Good enough D coupled with a strong mix of batting characteristics (i.e L/R, power, AVE, OPB, speed, etc.) Outside of Correa, pretty darn cheap. Future is bright if we don’t blow it.

    My guess for the '24-'26 infield is similar, but I think I have a feeling they are going to push Lee into more of a 3B role and slide Miranda to 1B most of the time.  Correa will man SS as long as he is able with Lewis at 2B. 

    That's is everything goes right.  

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    1. Don't sell low with Martin...either let him show better this year and then trade him or work him into the future OF situation with Twins

    2. IF Lee and Lewis progress as anticipated trading Polanco and Arraez for pitching should be in the cards (neither excites me as a DH)

    3. Eventually 1B: Miranda; 2B: Lewis; SS: Correa; 3B: Lee (Super utility: Gordon; Infield utility: Farmer...lurking to be plugged in for injury: Juilan) but neither Lewis nor Lee ready yet so... stay the course!

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    Since Martin doesn't have much of a power profile and the other players do he seems like the odd man out to me.  I would like to give him one more year before trading him though as his value is low right now.  No one is blocking him until he performs better though. He could be a right handed Nick Gordon if the Twins hang onto him but he is definitely a wait and see for me.

    I like Lewis in the outfield especially in right field.  If Buxton is hurt he can move to center.  He has the arm and great range for right and his bat should fit the profile as well.  He certainly could be used in the infield as well as needed but with Correa at short I see Lewis as an awesome defensive right fielder.

    Lee should be able to slot into whatever role he is needed in the infield.  Being a switch hitter he is very valuable in the lineup.  Depending on how the Twins like Miranda at 3rd he could take Polanco's spot at 2nd Hard to say but the Twins will find room for Lee.

    I think the Twins end up moving on from Kepler, Polanco and Arraez at some point so there would be room for these players if needed.  They still have to prove they belong which is no easy task.

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    23 minutes ago, Montana Twink said:

    Trade Polanco and Kepler for a starter and play Arraez at 2nd/DH this year with Farmer getting some time. Let Lewis or Lee take over at 2nd next year. 

    Arraez's legs couldn't handle 1B/DH last year, I don't like the odds of them holding up at 2B.

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     I would guess once Lewis gets back up to speed Polanco will be moved. Hopefully Jorge has a monster year and brings a huge haul.

    As for Martin. Many are now writing him off because of his 2022 showing. Kind of reminds me of how people felt about Gordon after his 2018 stint in AAA. Now they think Gordon's pretty good and has a bright future.

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    I doubt Miranda is "entrenched" at third......

    3b: Lee
    2B: Julien or Martin (who I think is a super utility OF/IF)
    1B: Kiriloff or Miranda

    Lewis to LF and center (no way Buck plays more than 100 games a year)

    I could see a trade from that depth now, but I hope not. Also, no way those numbers for Lewis are "unsustainable." There are guys who do hit like that (I am not predicting he will, btw).

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    2 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

    I've actually got higher hopes for Julian than I do Martin. That's more of an endorsement of Julian than a knock on Martin, but Martin does earn some knocks at this point.

    In any case, I think you move Arraez ASAP while his value is still at his peak.

    Agree on Arraez. He's my choice for top of a trade for SP. 

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    I think this speaks to what they think about Lewis or Lee playing SS in 2023 or 2024. Wouldn’t be the Twins style to sign Correa if they were confident in one of them stepping in and holding it down in the near future.

    Im totally fine with it.  There’s always been questions about Lewis at short.  Sounds like there are some questions bout Lee also.

    Best case Ontario (for you TPB fans), They have a tough decision on who moves to third and/or OF.  Lewis in left (with Buxton in CF) and Lee at 3rd is a possibility.  Maybe Miranda can play 1st or 2nd or gets moved at some point.

    Worst case, Correa’s leg or back causes him to get moved off of SS in a couple years and he becomes one of the better defenders at 3B in the league.  He’s certainly got the arm for it.

    The Twins are in a great spot right now with SS for the foreseeable future.  Not sure I’ve ever been able to say that in my lifetime.

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    2023- there is no rush Martin & Lee aren't on the 40 man and Lewis will need time to get his legs under him in AAA. After that he can take over the INF utility role and we can trade Farmer.

    2024- Polanco is traded, Lewis is at 2B, Lee is platoon 3B/ INF utility, Miranda platoon 3B/ 1B and Martin is OF utility.

    I love the fact besides that Lee's so athletic is also that he is a switch hitter that'll be very valuable to Twins especially if we trade Polanco. 

    Martin's stock went way down when they try to tinker with his swing. After he ditched that idea he started to take off again. Absolutely don't trade him now!

    I can't stress enough Don't Put Lewis in The OF! I was completely against it after his 1st surgery, but after his 2nd I'm venomously against it. After continually watching Lewis's CF accident on TD, I realized that he didn't hurt his knee crashing into the wall. He hurt it by running full blast then leaping to catch the ball and as he came down on that leg that's when he hurt his knee. How can Lewis not run full blast & jump to catch a ball & be in the OF w/o getting hurt? Losing Lewis over 2 1/2 years due to these accidents is an absolute shame. Losing Lewis for good is a down right tragic & absurd.  

    Right now we are thin at 3B, 2B & SS but have a tremendous glut at the corner OF/ 1B/ OF positions. Julien also will fall in this category, making Arraez  the most sense to trade because he's at his peak value and he's redundant.

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    Joulien may be the future at 2B.  Miranda eventually to 1B.  Lee to 3B.  Lewis to OF.  Hopefully Martin helps his value this year and can be flipped for pitching help

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    37 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Agree on Arraez. He's my choice for top of a trade for SP. 

    I think people overvalue Arraez and what other teams would be willing to give up for him.  But, I could be wrong.  I just don’t see a rebuilding team wanting a non-prospect (graduated) who’s already arb eligible, with his deficiencies and questionable longevity for high-end pitching.  I don’t see any contenders out there with a glut of pitching and holes at 1B/DH that would pay up for him.

    We all love him.  I just don’t think he’s that valuable in the trade market.  If I’m the Marlins, there’s no way I even consider a trade for stud starting pitcher with Arraez as the centerpiece - unless the second and third guys with him are monster prospects.

    Not sure we have many guys right now that I’d be willing to part with that actually hold value.  So many are coming off injuries or bad years.  Lewis would be on the top of my list right now if his value wasn’t suppressed by back to back ACLs.  It would have to be incredible for me to move Lee or Rodriguez.  Prielipp would likely be drastically undervalued at this point.  Excluding a couple of pitching prospects near the majors that I’d rather keep (Varland and SWR) we’re probably down to Miranda, Wallner, and Julien.

    Not sure what you could get for some combo of those 3, with some combo of Kepler, Arraez - maybe throw in Raya or Festa.  Not sure we combine enough of those guys to pry Alcantara away from the Marlins.  If we’re not going after a guy of that caliber, what’s the point?  We have enough 3,4,5 caliber starters (including guys like SWR, Varland, Winder). We need someone to anchor the top of the rotation.

     

     

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    It's never a problem to have "too much talent" on your roster. But at some point, SOMEONE will be moved for pitching or prospects. And while it's hard to predict exactly where guys will settle in, the versatility of all easily allows site of the various possibilities. 

    Lewis can start at 2B/3B/OF and still backup SS.

    Lee can start at 2B/3B and also backup SS.

    Martin ends up in the OF but can help cover 2B/3B, his college positions. He's basically RH Gordon.

    Miranda can play both 1B/3B as needed.

    As previously mentioned, Julien is missing from the OP. You make room for him somewhere. Maybe he's a faster, more powerful and similar player to Arraez and fills a similar role. 

    Polanco and Arraez might be my favorite two Twins. They are both excellent hitters and neither is old. There is no reason for them to go anywhere. But sheer numbers indicate that one of them, or both, or a couple of the prospects will be moved at some point.

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    Martin: He will see a lot more reps in the OF now. I would heavily consider him in a trade package for pitching. 

    Lewis: I envision him as a much better version of Marwin Gonzalez. Super utility player who is Correa and Buxton insurance. Playing everywhere when a player needs a day off. Most importantly for 2023, he needs to not have any set backs in his rehab, and he needs plate appearances. Wouldn’t bother me a bit if he was mostly DH when he returns in July.

    Lee: More than likely locked in at 3B unless Miranda makes significant improvements in the field. 

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    Lee strikes me as a perfect trade candidate. Get him out while he still seems like a prospect who could center in a top level pitching trade. I'm pretty sure AA will quickly disabuse folks of that notion. He's likely to be a serviceable major leaguer, but not one you'd trade for Sandy Alcantara. 

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    More broadly, the Twins need to treat 2023-28 as their contention window. Trade upper-level prospects and/or current players to get more pitching. I'm including Lewis, Martin, Lee, Julien, and Wallner in the prospect pool and Kepler, Polanco, Arraez, Kiriloff, and Larnarch. Not that I want to see any of them leave, but need to think about adding to areas of need from areas of surplus. I agree, though, that trading Martin now would be selling low.

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    I think Lee at third base but that will probably be next year now no point to push too hard. Let him get plenty of reps there. When Lewis is ready to play this year, I would rotate him between SS & 2B. The Twins will need a backup shortstop at some point and having a good backup 25-30 games a year won't hurt.

    Martin should get plenty of time in center during the spring and at St Paul. We all know Buxton will miss 60-70 games at least and if he doesn't, having another good outfielder won't hurt. Plus Martin is on base machine with speed and the Twins will need all the speed they can get. He has only played 2 seasons of minor league ball, but many people are sure in a hurry to write him off.

    Rotate Julian among 2b, 3b & left field. He is another on base machine with extra base power who will steal bases.

    Kirilloff at first, Miranda at third and Larnach in left field for this year and let 2024 take care of itself.  Trade Kepler and  Gallo at soon as possible.

    Probably trade Polanco, although he is one of the teams best hitters with power and a sure middle of the order bat. He can also take pressure off all the young guys who haven't proven anything yet.

    Arraez is a proven hitter who can play 2b, 3b & !b, maybe for only a healthy 120 games a year. Very few players across baseball play 150 games a year.

    Gordon is a good utility guy, but I expect he gets traded sometime this year, maybe after the season is over.

    We have 8-10 guys who can share DH duties this year.

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    1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

    After continually watching Lewis's CF accident on TD, I realized that he didn't hurt his knee crashing into the wall. He hurt it by running full blast then leaping to catch the ball and as he came down on that leg that's when he hurt his knee. How can Lewis not run full blast & jump to catch a ball & be in the OF w/o getting hurt? 

    He could just as well have hurt the knee chasing a flyball to short left or center from SS. It was a fluke injury. But, yes, I would rather see him in the INF, but last year's rash of injuries required putting healthy bodies where they could.

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    22 minutes ago, August J Gloop said:

    Lee strikes me as a perfect trade candidate. Get him out while he still seems like a prospect who could center in a top level pitching trade. I'm pretty sure AA will quickly disabuse folks of that notion. He's likely to be a serviceable major leaguer, but not one you'd trade for Sandy Alcantara. 

    serviceable? he was the consensus top hitting college player that showed no issues in AA. He's a consensus top 50 or higher prospect on every list. He's an elite prospect. 

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    37 minutes ago, August J Gloop said:

    Lee strikes me as a perfect trade candidate. Get him out while he still seems like a prospect who could center in a top level pitching trade. I'm pretty sure AA will quickly disabuse folks of that notion. He's likely to be a serviceable major leaguer, but not one you'd trade for Sandy Alcantara. 

    image.png.9b3eedd182e5d49c1c43189e7df9c8f8.png

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    I'm not trying to say he sucks. I'm trying to say that like most of 'the best college hitters in the draft' he will not likely be a great MLB hitter, just an ok/good one. But right now if he can be the center piece of a trade for a controllable top flight starter, it must be done. If he was gonna stick at short, Id say keep him, but he ain't. 

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    I do still really like the potential of Martin, seeing how he came back from his wrist issues last year and performed, especially including the fall league.

    I can TOTALLY see a 2024 that includes Lewis at 3B, Correa at SS, Lee at 2B (or flip Lee and Lewis) with Martin in one of the corner outfield spots. That wouldn't shock me at all.

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