Thursday, March 16, 2017

Twins 25 Man Roster Projection 2.0

With just a couple of weeks left of baseball down in Fort Myers, the Twins are gearing up quickly for the beginning of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. In what should be a much more competitive season, Paul Molitor's club is looking to put their best foot forward. It's been nearly two months since I last looked at the 25 Minnesota will take north two months ago, and an update is more than overdue.

Although there hasn't been a ton of shuffling, the Twins have been dealt a significant injury blow, as well as having played more than a handful of games. Looking at the landscape right now, here's how I see it playing out:

Rotation (5)

  • Ervin Santana
  • Phil Hughes
  • Kyle Gibson
  • Hector Santiago
  • Adalberto Mejia
The only change here is that Trevor May is obviously no longer a candidate. I think he had the inside track, but with a torn UCL, he's definitely out of the picture. The Twins could go Ryan Vogelsong for the final spot, but that'd be settling in the most disappointing way possible. Jose Berrios could also factor in, as he's got a higher upside the Mejia. Thus far though, Mejia has been sharp this spring, gives Minnesota another lefty, and has the staying power to remain in the rotation for the long haul.

Starting Lineup (9)
  • Jason Castro C
  • Joe Mauer 1B
  • Brian Dozier 2B
  • Jorge Polanco SS
  • Miguel Sano 3B
  • Eddie Rosario LF
  • Byron Buxton CF
  • Max Kepler RF
  • ByungHo Park DH
There wasn't ever going to be much change among the starters, they'd been cemented nearly from the get go. The switch here comes in the form of the designated hitter. Initially I had Park pegged, and felt the need to switch things around when he was removed from the 40 man roster. The reality is he's a superior player in comparison to Kennys Vargas, and he's looked as much this spring.

Park is fully healthy with his wrist surgically repaired. He's now more acclimated to the culture of Major League Baseball, as well as undoubtedly feeling more comfortable in a new country. He's looked relaxed at the plate, has chased less, and connected more. Expecting a breakout year from ByungHo is far from a stretch.

Bench (4)
  • Eduardo Escobar
  • Robbie Grossman
  • Ehire Adrianza
  • Chris Gimenez
The only way for Grossman to be unseated would be if the Twins decided they need more of a defensive presence in the outfield off of the bench. In that scenario, Drew Stubbs could get some consideration. Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza don't pair particularly well, in that they both play the same set of positions, but the former has a bit better bat while the latter plays incredible defense.

Behind the dish, it's become apparent that Chris Gimenez is going to be Jason Castro's backup. He has a level of familiarity with Derek Falvey and Thad Levine having played for both of their previous organizations. He's a strong veteran, and while he may not do anything exceptionally well, he's more than capable as a big leaguer. I'd still bet on Mitch Garver being the next man up however, even ahead of John Ryan Murphy.

Bullpen (7)
  • Brandon Kintzler Closer
  • Ryan Pressly Setup
  • J.T. Chargois
  • Matt Belisle
  • Justin Haley
  • Craig Breslow
  • Taylor Rogers
As it stands in this piece, the pen has seen a pretty significant shakeup from the former roster projection. Kintzler and Pressly remain status quo at the back, but from there, things get interesting. Matt Belisle was brought in on a major league deal and is going to have a role, while I also believe the Twins will keep Rule 5 pick Justin Haley in long relief.

At some point, J.T. Chargois could go from middle relief to high leverage, and it's a role he seems really well suited for. Then the Twins give themselves some real flexibility in having two capable lefties. Craig Breslow has reinvented himself, and looked very strong this spring. Pairing him with the youth of Taylor Rogers could be a great developmental tool as well, and both southpaws can get batters out from both sides of the plate.

We're not too far removed from Spring Training coming to a conclusion, and as we draw ever more near to that point, the Twins will continue to make cuts and provide more clarity. I feel good about this collection of players, and think Minnesota will have an immediate boost in the win column because of them.

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