Depth is vital to any roster trying to stay in contention throughout a 162-game season. Organizations adopt a next-man-up mentality as injuries or poor performance push other players out of the picture. Minnesota has seen this occur multiple times this season, and another player might be ready to step into a second-half role.
The Twins selected Spencer Steer in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Oregon. He immediately impacted the organization as he hit .280/.385/.424 (.809) in 64 games between rookie ball and Low-A. Defensively, he played over 120 innings at shortstop, third base, and second base, and it looked like the 2020 season was going to be vital for his development as a prospect. Unfortunately, no minor league games were played that season and Steer didn’t get a plate appearance in his age-22 season.
As the 2021 season began, the Twins had Steer start the year at High-A, where he was slightly older than the average age of the competition. He posted a .915 OPS in 45 games before being called up to Double-A, where his OPS dropped by over 140 points. Steer accumulated 45 extra-base hits in 110 games which was quite the jump from the power numbers he posted during his collegiate career. Signs pointed to Steer adjusting as a professional, but few predicted what was coming in 2022.
Steer headed back to Double-A to begin this season, and he destroyed the ball. In 35 games, he hit .307/.385/.591 (.976) with 22 extra-base hits and a 23-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio. Minnesota promoted him to Triple-A, and unlike the 2021 season, he didn’t miss a beat with the change in competition. Since joining the Saints, Steer has a .907 OPS with six doubles and 11 home runs in 28 games. He is 2.5 years younger than the average age of the competition at Triple-A, and he has faced older pitchers in 74% of his at-bats. His succeeding on the doorstep to the big leagues, so a call-up is not out of the question.
Connecting back to Lewis, Steer is a powerful right-handed bat with the defensive flexibility to play multiple infield positions. Unlike Lewis, Steer has been playing multiple defensive positions throughout his professional career, so there isn’t a learning curve involved with his transition. During the 2022 season, Steer has played over 100 innings at every infield position besides first base. The Twins have other players ahead of Steer on the current depth chart, but one injury may result in the team needing a replacement.
During the 2021 season, Twins fans watched as Jose Miranda had one of the best minor league seasons in franchise history. At Double- and Triple-A, he posted a .973 OPS with 30 doubles and 32 home runs in 127 games. It seemed like Miranda earned a late-season call-up, but he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, and the Twins didn’t see a reason to rush him. Steer faces the same hurdle as he isn’t on the 40-man roster, and the team isn’t required to move him quickly.
Steer isn’t considered the same prospect type as Lewis, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help a contending team. There is a lot of baseball left to be played, and Steer has moved his name into the conversation as one of the organization’s best prospects.
Do you think Steer will make his debut in 2022? Can he help fill the void left by Lewis? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.