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  • What if These Twins Worked Out?

    Ted Schwerzler

    There’s certainly been more than a handful of promising Twins players that just haven’t worked out for one reason or another. Maybe the prospect status wasn’t there, or perhaps the realization of talent never happened. No matter the situation, there’s more than a handful of guys that we had always wished would pan out.

    Image courtesy of Nick Wosika, USA TODAY Sports

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    As we trudge through this ugly lockout and look forward to the Twins revamping their 2022 roster, I found myself thinking back to some of the guys that could have been. Maybe they were fan-favorites we had hoped for more from, or perhaps a flash in the pan never extended. At any rate, these were some names that immediately came to mind.
    Oswaldo Arcia
    Arcia had a decently-long career with the Twins playing in 251 games. He was a top 100 prospect in 2013 and owned a career .901 OPS in the minors. The body type just suggested he should be able to rake even if he was a poor defender. The problem was that he couldn’t make contact. The strikeout rates were egregious, and the on-base ability was non-existent. I held out hope for quite a while, but it became evident he didn’t have it. At 30, Arcia did tear up the Venezuelan Winter League this year.
    ByungHo Park
    If there’s a What Could Have Been in recent memory, it’s Park for me. On top of acclimating to new teammates in a new country, Park dealt with a wrist injury in 2016 that he played through for most of the season. The .684 OPS was indicative of a guy who lost his power bat, and even the .823 mark at Triple-A Rochester didn’t afford him another opportunity. After playing in 2017 at Triple-A, he returned to the KBO and immediately posted a 1.175 OPS. Now 35, he’s at the tail end of his career, but there was a productive player here had circumstances worked out differently.
    Fernando Romero
    Probably the last pitching prospect Twins fans dreamed on before this current crop, Romero was supposed to be an impact arm. He was a top 100 prospect as recently as 2018 and owned a 3.57 ERA at Triple-A that year. The strikeouts never came, and his command got completely lost after transitioning to the bullpen. Visa issues kept him from being an option for Minnesota in 2020, and he’s since gone to Japan trying to find it again as a 27-year-old.
    Kennys Vargas
    Debuting for Twins fans at Target Field during the Futures Game alongside Jose Berrios, Vargas drew plenty of fanfare. He was seen as a David Ortiz protégé, and that’s a comparison no Minnesotan will ever turn away from. The 115 OPS+ in his debut season was a positive sign, but a .626 OPS the next year fell flat. Vargas seemed to come into his own for 47 games during 2016, where he posted an .833 OPS, but that was the height of his abilities. Vargas has been out of affiliated baseball since 2018 but did post strong numbers in Mexico and Puerto Rico this past season. At 31, though, it’s unlikely another chance is coming.
    Alex Burnett
    After posting a 1.85 ERA at Single and Double-A in 2009, it was hard not to get excited about Burnett pitching out of the pen. Making his debut in 2010, Burnett compiled a 5.40 ERA across 98 and 1/3 innings the next two seasons. He had mediocre defensive help, but his FIP still sat at just 4.60. He did manage a smoke-and-mirrors level of success with a 3.52 ERA in 2012 despite a 36/26 K/BB in 71 2/3 innings. It wasn’t ever that the ceiling was incredibly high, but I wanted to believe there was more for whatever reason.
    Max Kepler
    It’s understandably an egregious ask to put Kepler here, but given his ceiling, it also seems to make sense. Kepler has played 722 games for the Twins and posted just a .756 OPS. His .855 OPS in 2019 looked like a solid response to a contract extension, but it hasn’t been touched since. Kepler is an extraordinary defender, but the bat has always profiled as so much more, and a guy who deservedly flashed as a former top 100 prospect has largely failed to substantiate his ceiling.
    What other Twins players do you wish would have worked out? Are there some prospects you consistently expected to be great?

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    I'm curious about Fernando Romero and how's he doing in Japan? Hoping that he could turn it around and yet make a comeback to the Twins. Kepler did great with the "live ball" in 2019 but he has a difficult time with the "dead ball". The pitchers and defense have adjusted to him but he has yet adjusted. I'm a fan waiting for that day.

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    Will second Seth’s comments that I don’t see Kepler in this group.  All the others gave us hope, but never made it past a cup of coffee, or two.  Granted, Kepler hasn’t become the star we expected, but he has been a starter for what is it, five or six years?

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    Going to 3rd the idea Kepler shouldn't be on the list. He hasn't become what I thought and hoped he would be, but he's still a solid ballplayer and valuable in many respects. He's young enough where I keep wondering if a slight adjustment here or there might help him take another step and be closer to the 2019 version we were so excited about. Hoping that happens.

    But I think he's better served hitting lower in the order instead of at the top. Would be nice if he could sit once in a while against LH pitching.

    Benson, Stewart and Jay are already mentioned but definitely in my group of disappointments. I thought Jay would at least be a quality BP piece. I don't want to list Thorpe as he's still with the Twins and there's still hope he finds a role. But right now, very disappointed.

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    Lots of good choices above. I will separate out high draft picks who just never did much even in the minors, like Jay (or Eddie Bane, going into the way-back machine),  from people who showed great flashes and teased us with great minor league performances.

    Fernando Romero was just untouchable at times- I saw him pitch in A ball with a WHIP under 0.9 and 9 K/IP. Great stuff. McCarty was called up from AAA with an OPS of 1.106.  Restovich, definitely another one.

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    43 minutes ago, puckstopper1 said:

    Adam Johnson. 

    When you are the #2 overall pick in the draft and don't pan out - OUCH!

    He didn't only fail to pan out, he pitched just 26 innings in the majors.


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    I'm also on team "Kepler Doesn't Belong on This List." Not a superstar, but provides positive value and top-notch defense.


    I'll agree with most other names people have thrown out in the comments - Adam Johnson was the first name that came to mind with me.


    One I won't agree is JT Chargois.


    True, didn't pan out for the Twins, although he didn't get a huge opportunity, but he was pretty good with the Dodgers in 2018 and was outstanding last year with Seattle and Tampa.

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    46 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    He didn't only fail to pan out, he pitched just 26 innings in the majors.


    BJ Garbe, 1st round pick (#5 overall), 1999.

    Not only didn't play in the majors- never even made it to AAA. Triple ouch.

    Derek Parks, 1st round pick (#3 overall), 1986.

    125 plate appearances in the majors.


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    It may be off-topic a bit, as the following didn't actually become Twins prospects, but I still remember the frustration of the team failing to sign some high picks like Tim Belcher, Oddibe McDowell, Jason Varitek, and Travis Lee years ago.

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    8 hours ago, Connor Gould said:

    Josmil Pinto had me hyped so much after a good September, was electric. I was also all in on RPs Nick Burdi, Alan Busenitz, and Pat Light.

    Pinto might have been able to continue his success if he hadn't been hit in the head with a backswing by Adam Jones. Three times in the same game. Had been struggling a bit that year before it happened, but never bounced back.

    I don't believe the Twins ever retaliated against Jones. Right or wrong, I can't believe he didn't get dusted.

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