Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Twins Prospect Demanding Your Attention

As the summer draws on and the fall draws near, lots of changes shape the Major League baseball landscape. There's the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and then the August waiver period. There's divisional races, and then there' s September call ups. Despite the Twins strong start, the most exciting period of 2015 may be that call up window, and in part, because of a Twins prospect demanding your attention.

Sure, Jose Berrios is having a good year, Nick Gordon is trending up, and Byron Buxton should be back in the fold. In September though, it should be all about a 22 year old from Germany. Signed as an international free agent, Max Kepler has been playing in the Twins organization since he was 17 years old. He's been talked up almost equally as long.

Maybe not the uber-prospect that fellow international signee Miguel Sano was, Kepler has held his own. After struggling with injury issues early on in his professional career, it's really been the last two seasons that Kepler has put it together.

Spending the entirety of 2014 with High-A Fort Myers, Kepler played in a career high 102 games. In that action, he slashed .264/.333/.393 with 20 doubles, six triples, five home runs and 59 RBI. Any way you cut it, the Twins had to be pleased. As respectable as 2014 was though, it's been 2015 where Kepler has really put his stamp on the organization.

Minnesota decided to allow Kepler to get his feet wet in a few games (six to be exact) near the spring training complex in Fort Myers. Since being shipped off to Double-A Chattanooga, he has been also systems go though. Owning a .331/.414/.529 slash line on the season, it's even more impressive to see how he's hit lately. Sine June 11, Kepler has batted .381/.493/.593 while playing in 33 games and being honored with a selection for the Major League Baseball Future's Game in Cincinnati.

On the year, Kepler has substantiated his success to the tune of  92 hits, 25 doubles, nine triples, four home runs, 44 runs batted in, and a near even 42/39 K/BB ratio. He's split time almost evenly playing 37 games at first base, while being positioned in the outfield 34 times (most often in right). Kepler has been sure with the glove making just two errors in 84 outfield chances as well as two errors in 317 chances at first base.

When looking through the farm system as a whole, and the Twins are well noted as having one of the best in the bigs, you'd be hard pressed to find a more intriguing offensive talent. As the production continues to toe the line of otherworldly, Kepler continues to go about his business and make it look routine.

Minnesota no doubt has it's eyes set on which prospects will be considered for a September cup of coffee, and it's hard to believe Kepler wouldn't be first in line. Already a 40 man roster inclusion, Kepler has all the makings of the ability to push for an opening day spot in 2016. If he continues the run he's currently on, holding him down is something the Twins will find themselves hard pressed to do.

As the wave of players like Sano, Buxton, and Berrios make their way to Target Field, don't make the foolish mistake of forgetting to include the German. Max Kepler appears to be the real deal and he should be getting a shot to prove it sooner rather than later.

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