Monday, August 29, 2016

Who Gets The Call In September?

The Minnesota Twins have played a lot of bad baseball in 2016. With the worst record in the American League, 49-81, the lone team below them in all of baseball is the hapless Atlanta Braves. In a matter of days though, we could see an influx of prospects from the farm as big league rosters expand. For a team looking for something of interest, this could be it.

For the most part, the big names Minnesota Twins fans have been clamoring for have made their debuts. Byron Buxton has gone back and forth, while Jose Berrios has followed suit as well. As the calendar turns to September however, there's a handful of guys that could be called up as the Triple-A season comes to an end.

Here's a look at some names we could be seeing in a Twins uniform not too far from now:

Adam Brett Walker- OF

Walker has betted .251/.313/.489 for Triple-A Rochester this season. once again, he's leading his respective league (the International League in this case) in homers with 26. A big power guy with swing and miss tendencies, he's posted a .282/.326/.520 line over his last 47 games. For someone already on the 40 man roster, Walker should be about as close to a slam dunk as it gets to join the Twins in September.

Mitch Garver- C

You could make a case for Garver to be in the big leagues already. He played in 95 games for Double-A Chattanooga this season owning a .753 OPS before earning his promotion to Triple-A. Since arriving in Rochester, he's totaled an .823 OPS in 15 games and he's caught 50% (26/52) of would be base stealers across both levels this season. I'd argue he should start 2017 with the Twins, and he's an immediate upgrade over Juan Centeno for Minnesota.

Daniel Palka- OF

If there's a reach when it comes to offensive additions on this list, then Palka may be it. His production looks very similar to that of Walker's, but he doesn't have the benefit of already being on the 40 man roster. Palka has hit 33 homers in 2016 between Double and Triple-A. Acquired from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Chris Herrmann, Palka has put up a respectable .247/.316/.523 line in 46 Triple-A games. He could take over the 4th outfield spot for Robbie Grossman to open 2017, and there'd be plenty more pop in his bat. Like Walker, he does strike out a ton as well, so I'm not sure Minnesota has room for both.

D.J. Baxendale- RP

If there was a guy who you can't blame for having some hard feelings when the Twins called up Alex Wimmers, it was D.J. Baxendale. The former 10th round pick owns a 1.19 ERA in 30.1 Triple-A IP this season. His 10.1 K/9 is the best mark since rookie ball, and now working as a reliever full time, he's excelled in the pen. Baxendale should be in the conversation to relieve for the Twins on Opening Day in 2017, and getting him a month of work sounds like a good idea.

Jason Wheeler- SP

When it comes to Triple-A starting pitching, Minnesota has exhausted most of it. The one player they have not yet called upon however is Wheeler. Not currently a 40 man guy, Wheeler owns a 3.23 ERA across 23 starts for Rochester this season. His 7.0 K/9 is pedestrian, but his 2.2 BB/9 suggests he limits damage. Wheeler isn't flashy by any means, but if we're looking for lefty options, Minnesota would be better served having him start than either Pat Dean or Andrew Albers.

Jake Reed- RP

Much later than expected, Jake Reed should be up with the Twins. I pegged Reed to be called up sometime in the middle of the summer. While he had an up and down time at Double-A Chattanooga, he's really settled in of late. For Rochester, he's made six appearances totaling 7.0 IP. One the year, he owns a 9.6 K/9 over 67.0 IP and that number will absolutely play in the Twins pen. He's a hard thrower with good stuff who can get big league hitters out. Like Baxendale, Reed should be a staple in the 2017 Minnesota bullpen, time to get him acquainted now.

Outside of the aforementioned players, it stands to reason that Minnesota will recall a handful of guys who have spent time with the big club previously. Jose Berrios could come back, Tyler Duffey will likely head to the majors, and Kennys Vargas could also see a return. Neil Ramirez, Logan Darnell, and Edqard Mujica represent former big leaguers not currently on the 40 man, which makes their chances tougher. There are two guys that I'd probably hold off on promoting however:

John Ryan Murphy- C

Acquired from the Yankees for Aaron Hicks, Murphy has been a massive bust. Not only didn't he perform at the big league level, but he's flopped at Triple-A as well. In 78 games, he's posted a measly .590 OPS and he's caught just 21% (10-47) base stealers. Garver has outplayed him since he got to Rochester, and Minnesota sending Murphy a harsh message going into the offseason is something I'd definitely be in favor of.

Byron Buxton- CF

It's not so much that I think Buxton needs a message sent, or isn't going to make it, as it is that we don't need to go down this road again. Simply put, he's not ready. Sure, he just won the hitter of the week award, but homers and average aside, he owns a 29/2 strikeout to walk ratio since his demotion back to Triple-A. That's awful, and largely demonstrative of his big league problems as well. Keep Byron on the farm, let him work on things through the offseason, and hopefully he wins the job out of spring training on his own merit.

We should have a lot more clarity in regards to what actually takes place over the course of the next few days, but for now it appears like the Twins could find some intriguing names on their roster down the stretch.

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