Saturday, April 18, 2015

Proven Promotions Or Happenstance For Twins?

The Minnesota Twins no doubt have plenty of story lines that will evolve throughout the entirety of the summer. Whether this current club slogs towards a fifth straight 90 loss season (they won't), or they compete for an AL Central division title (they won't), plenty of intrigue will play out on the 25 man roster. With injuries having already been the story of the early going, and less than ideal play happening out of the gate, it begs the question as to how we should want promotions to take place.

There's no doubt losing Ervin Santana for the first 80 games of the season was a crippling blow for the Twins. Whether deemed a poor choice (however it did get him paid) or bad luck, the Twins were forced to improvise from the get go. Ricky Nolasco's injury only further threw a wrench into the starting rotation, and the bullpen has imploded more times than it hasn't. Although things may appear less than ideal on the mound, we probably shouldn't be so quick to rush for replacements.

On the farm, top pitching prospect Alex Meyer has struggled to show any promise of being a top of the rotation starting pitcher. Through two starts he's issued way too many free passes, been less than economical with his pitch counts, and generally fallen flat. Although Jose Berrios has looked good during the early going for Double- Chattanooga, he doesn't profile as the type to skip Triple-A. Less then overpowering in his lone start for Rochester last year, Berrios needs to be able to pitch consistently, rather than just throw by hitters that aren't on his same level. While I'm not as concerned about him developing as others may be, seasoning is definitely needed before he arrives at Target Field (likely late in 2015).

Despite touching on just two of the Twins top pitching prospects, and admittedly overlooking relief arms like Nick Burdi, Zack Hones, and Jake Reed, the groundwork is being laid for the question. Should Minnesota be looking to their young talent to fix their issues, even if the body of work suggests otherwise? Before we answer that though, looking at the offensive side of the game is the next step.

The Twins have failed to get much out of hitters such as Danny Santana, Oswaldo Arcia, Jordan Schafer, or Trevor Plouffe in the early going. Although it's far to quick in the season to suggest that the production isn't coming, looking on the farm may not be the best answer either. Sure, there's excitement and admittedly a higher ceiling, in players such as Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. The latter two are top prospects, while the former would be a clear upgrade over their MLB competition. That being said, none of them are lighting their respective levels of the system on fire. Despite the perceived merit through ability and body of work, it's hard to argue that 2015 provides substantiating evidence.

That brings us back to our original question. Should the Twins be promoting their top talent because it has been warranted by play, because of perceived value, or by happenstance? It's probably unfair to lump each situation together in a general sense, but they all have common themes.

On the pitching side of things, even and injury at the big league level would make it tough to argue that Meyer deserves a shot. He may end up doing more damage than good, and the move to reliever is not yet the Twins want to take. With their relief arms (Burdi, Reed, Jones, Achter, Pressly, etc.) the case could definitely be made. Outside of Burdi, each has begun the season on a high note. The Twins bullpen is frankly not very good, and little of it has a future in the organization.

When it comes to the offensive side, there's no doubt the Twins could use help at some point. Both Hicks and Rosario would be superior defensive options in comparison to the Schafer/Shane Robinson platoon. Unfortunately, neither are hitting well enough for that to be an immediate consideration. While Plouffe may not be a franchise cornerstone, he's definitely got a future in Minnesota, and Sano isn't knocking down that door yet. There's no doubt Buxton's call up would be fun, but playing in just his first handful of games, after a lost year, and with just lukewarm returns, it's wise not to jump the gun.

There's no argument that Trevor May was called up due to happenstance, however, his spring training was evidence of him pushing for a role. No matter how the season unfolds for the Twins, ideally you'd like to see talent elevated through merit rather than a forced circumstance. While there's a silver lining in promoting a top prospect after a major leaguer goes down, there's no doubt you'd like them to kick in the door first.

As this club takes its lumps and finds its identity, it's best to practice some patience knowing what the outcome will soon be. Top prospects will filter into Target Field this year, but wanting them do to so prematurely could stifle game winning home runs like the one last night. The promotions are coming, but hopefully they are a by-product of solid performance.

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