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  • Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #2 Alex Kirilloff

    Cody Christie

    At this point last season, Alex Kirilloff was coming off one of the strongest seasons in the entire minor leagues. Unfortunately, injuries hampered him throughout the 2019 season as he played the entire year at Double-A. Now healthy, Kirilloff will try to get back to the player he was in 2018 and continue to get closer to Target Field.

    Image courtesy of Daniel Venn, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)

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    Age: 22 (DOB: 11-9-1997)

    2019 Stats (Double-A): 411 PA, .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 43 RBI

    ETA: 2020

    2019 Ranking: 2

    2018 Ranking: 5

    National Top 100 Rankings

    BA: 31 |MLB: 32 | ATH: 25 |BP: 86

    What’s To Like

    Kirilloff’s best tool has always been his hit tool and that is what is going to make him a regular at the big-league level. He started the year on the injured list with a wrist injury and it took him some time to find his swing again. After posting a .682 OPS in May, he hit .327/.400/.510 in June before landing back on the IL because of the same wrist injury.

    Again, he returned from injury and it took time to find his swing again. However, he was able to end the year strongly as he hit .319/.371/.496 over the season’s final 28 games. This hot hitting followed him into the postseason as he clubbed four home runs in the team’s first four playoff games. It wasn’t enough to help the Blue Wahoos, but it was nice to see Kirilloff getting back into form.

    Kirilloff has a strong knowledge of the strike zone and he can spray the ball to all fields. His 2018 spray charts (from Baseball Savant) should be hanging in a museum. His wrist injury clearly impacted his ability to turn on the ball last season as almost all of his doubles are to the opposite field.


    Even though he missed an entire season due to Tommy John, he is still facing older pitchers in nearly 96% of his at-bats. After a full off-season to get his wrist healthy, Kirilloff should be driven to prove that 2019 is behind him.

    What’s Left To Work On

    Kirilloff is such a strong hitter that he rarely is forced to draw walks. Last season, he had 29 walks compared to 76 strikeouts. He is going to continue to face more advanced pitchers and it could help for him to draw more walks and cut back on strikeouts. He’s a smart hitter and his knowledge of the strike zone should help him as he moves up the ladder.

    He has shown power potential, but there is room for him to continue to grow. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he has added muscle since signing with the Twins. During his season rehabbing from Tommy John, he was able to add a lot of strength. He will be in his age-22 season this year, so he is getting close to the point where he could really start hitting his stride.

    Defensively, he played over 300 innings at first base last season, a first for him in his professional career. Kirilloff will need to continue to get reps at first base if that is going to be his path to the big leagues. He is athletic enough to handle first base or he has the ability to stick at a corner outfield spot, especially since he has a good arm.

    What’s Next

    There is certainly a chance for Kirilloff to make his big-league debut in 2020, but it will likely take an injury (or two) for him to get that opportunity. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and there are other players ahead of him on the depth chart. If he does debut, it will likely be due to the fact that he is healthy and hitting the cover off the ball. He could start the year in Pensacola or get the bump up to Rochester and by 2021, he should be a regular in Minnesota’s line-up.

    Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects

    Honorable Mentions

    20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B

    19. Cole Sands, RHP

    18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF

    17. Misael Urbina, OF

    16. Edwar Colina, RP

    15. Matt Canterino, RHP

    14. Matt Wallner, OF

    13. Wander Javier, SS

    12. Gilberto Celestino, OF

    11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP

    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP

    9. Brent Rooker, OF

    8. Keoni Cavaco, SS

    7. Ryan Jeffers, C

    6. Jhoan Duran, RHP

    5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP

    4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP

    3. Trevor Larnach, OF

    2. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B

    Stop by tomorrow for prospect #1!


    Get to know more about Kirilloff and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

    ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)

    ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99)

    The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.

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    Why the big discrepancy with BP's ranking of him? It always seems odd when one publication has him 50 spots lower than everyone else

    Having not read any of the publications write ups, my wild guess would be that maybe BP has already determined he's a 1B, while the others are still classifying him as an outfielder.

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    If he is hiting great this year it should give the FO the confidence to trade Eddie.


    Or, they could trade Kirilloff or Larnach at the deadline this year for some playoff pitching.  Eddie's   value outside of the org doesn't seem too far above some lottery tickets and a bucket of balls.  Heck, a lot of fans seem to be devaluing him inside the org.  


    With the Donaldson contract, Sano extension and talk of extending Cruz yet another year, I just don't picture both the #2 and #3 prospects in the long term plan.  That doesn't even include a possible Cave breakout under certain circumstances.

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    If we have one of the regular OF injured for an extended time it would not be hard to add him to the 40 man.  It is time at 22 he is at that age when the really good ones move up quickly or they lose their status.  


    Of course his history of injuries has set him back and is also somewhat worrisome.

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    If Kirilloff sticks to the outfield, he will make us forget about Rosario real quick.  I'm a fan of Rosario when he's on.  Love it.  But when he's free swinging (even though he has improved there) or being lackadaisical/lazy, I just can't take watching him...Sorry Eddie.

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    Hopefully they continue to play him both in the OF and 1B this season. Teams never make it through the season without injuries and the more flexibility he has the better chance he'll have at playing for the Twins. He's 22 now so him not on the 40 man shouldn't matter. If he's clearly the best player down in the minors he needs to be the call up if it's a long term injury.


    Hopefully he starts at AAA this season.

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    I was thrilled with Cruz last year.   I hope to be thrilled with him this year but Father Time is undefeated and no matter how good he is this year I would be hesitant to bring him back in 2021.   If Kiriloff  and Larmach have good years I am hoping they along with Kepler will have the corners and 1st base covered with Sano at DH next year.

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    Expect Kirloff here this year.  If Cruz is good for another year (2021) with Sano at first , Eddie is almost certainly gone. Otherwise we are looking at Sano at DH at lot earlier than any of us expected.


    If Cruz hangs it up after this season or can't work out an extension with the Twins, I would think there would be at least one year where the DH becomes a revolving door.  Donaldson could use some days there as he gets older.  I haven't heard any gold glove reviews of Kirilloff or Rooker at 1B, so Sano could make sense there just as much as anyone coming up.


    DH might be Arraez' best postion as well.

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    There is a lot up in the air about how things will shake out for Kirilloff and Larnach and the 26 man.  The good news is no tough decisions need to be made until the end of this year when Kirilloff needs to be added to the 40 man.  Even then he wouldn't "need" to replace Rosario on the 40 man he could replace Cave or Wade.


    If Kirilloff and Larnach have outstanding years this year there are two wild card players that would determine whether there is room on the 26 man roster or not.  Those players are Rosario and Cruz.  If Rosario has a good year this year improves his eye at the plate just a little then I think the Twins will keep him another year.  If they do keep him another year then that is one less spot open.  Same for Cruz if he has yet another season even close to what he did last year then I think the Twins resign him so again no room. 


    All that means is Alex might have to sit one more year at AAA and or wait for injury to get his chance.  Not a huge deal IMO.  The Twins won't keep Rosario beyond his last year of arbitration even if he is a better option because they will want the financial saving they can get by starting Kirilloff or Larnach in that spot.


    If Cruz and Rosario tank this year then then there is plenty of room and opportunity for Kirilloff and Larnach to make the 26 man.  The one other sticky wicket is Rooker.  Would he be a Platoon bat for Left Field and first base?  Even after Cruz and Rosario eventually move on there doesn't appear to be room for all three.  Even if you move Sano to DH there is only 1st base and left field open. Maybe they rotate guys around to give them enough at bats or else they will need to find a trading partner to better allocate resources.


    Until Kirilloff and Larnach start dominating AAA I don't see a problem though as there is room on 40 man for them without impacting the 26 man.  We will have to wait and see how this year plays out before needing to worry about future decisions.


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    Having not read any of the publications write ups, my wild guess would be that maybe BP has already determined he's a 1B, while the others are still classifying him as an outfielder.


    They also may be looking at his AA season as more indicative of his ability and not caring (or knowing) that he was fighting through a lingering wrist injury.


    I'm a big fan of Kirilloff. I hope he gets plenty of time in the OF and not just at 1B, because he would be a great replacement for Rosario if needed and Sano is going to be locked in at 1B for the next few years. But If he can be solid at both a corner OF spot and 1B...the job sharing between a few spots gets easier to fit everyone in when Cruz retires. 


    I love his hit tool. I think he's a guy who can hit for high average along with plenty of power and it's going to be fun to watch him roll.

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    Love this kid.  See him as today's version of Jason Kubel, the good Kubel before he tore up his knee in the AFL.  Although he was good, he just wasn't the same after that injury. 


    Anyway, that's the type of player/game I see Kirilloff bringing to the Twins.  Would love to see him arrive this year, just don't see him stepping in on a regular basis without someone very important going down with an injury.  


    As for where he plays, corner outfield or first makes no difference to me.  A kid with his bat can play wherever they can find a spot.

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    Out of curiosity, how does Kirilloff's outfield defense compare with Larnach's? Also, do you think that the team views Kirilloff primarily as a 1B going forward or do you think that they are just trying to add to his positional flexibility?

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