Friday, March 13, 2015

Top Prospects Will Flood Target Field In 2015

Twins rookie outfielder Byron Buxton, right chats with coach Tony Oliva during spring training at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday, February 20, 2014. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)
If you've been watching spring training action at all, you know that the Minnesota Twins have some incredibly exciting players attending the major league camp this season. While Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are givens, Alex Meyer, Eddie Rosario, and Jose Berrios are all can't miss prospects as well. It's fine to see them contributing in meaningless spring exhibitions, but the bigger question is when do we see them at Target Field? Lucky for us, the answer is soon.

There is no doubt that the Twins should be significantly improved in 2015. Minnesota finally has a competent pitching staff, and the offense looks improved over what was already one of the best in the bigs a season ago. Considering the roster construction is already in a good place, adding in top prospects throughout the course of the season should only advance things further.

Knowing what the Twins have on the farm, both Paul Molitor and Terry Ryan have to be looking at the ability to call up prospects as some of the best roster moves they can make in 2015. While some teams will be looking to mortgage future gains for current advances, the Twins can promote and get better from within.

Without projecting injuries or knowing how the roster construction is going to evolve over the course of the season, timelines can certainly change. However, where things stand today, this is when I see each prospect debuting at Target Field for the Twins.

Alex Meyer: Debut April 13 vs Kansas City Royals

If you're following along, that's the Twins home opener. Meyer is 25-years-old, and has nothing left to prove in the minors. Yes, his command isn't where you'd like it to be, but it's far from a reason to keep him on the farm at this point. I'm not sure that I'm ready to suggest he grabs the 5th starter spot (Tommy Milone has look good so far), but there's no doubt he belongs on the roster. I'm of the belief that his upside alone gets him a look, and I don't see Meyer going back down.

Eddie Rosario: Debut May 16 vs Tampa Bay Rays

Rosario should be the first of the positional call ups for the Twins. He has moved to playing exclusively in the outfield for the Twins. Throughout the first week of spring training, he has gotten playing time in all but one game, and Molitor has gotten a good look at the talented prospect. There's very little for Rosario to prove on the farm, and without the 50 game drug-related suspension he dealt with in 2014, he very likely could have been a September call up. Expect him to get time in left field, and potentially center for the Twins.

Miguel Sano: Debut July 25 vs New York Yankees

Hopefully you didn't miss Sano hitting his first home run of spring training earlier this week. He has absolutely punished baseballs in batting practice, and he has shown the ability to do so in games as well. Although he did make a costly error behind Alex Meyer in a game earlier this week, he also showed impressive positional ability at third on a barehanded play. I'm not sure it's anything but his bat that gets him to the big leagues, but the Twins are going to be forced to find room for him. Expect Sano to add power to the Twins lineup in the heat of the summer.

Byron Buxton: Debut August 15 vs Cleveland Indians

Like Rosario, Buxton has played in the majority of the spring training games thus far. Defensively, there's no doubt he's ready to take over center field for the Twins. Held back by injuries a season ago, a clean bill of health probably would have had him looking at a May call up in 2015. Assuming his bat continues to play, and the Twins being in a competitive situation, bringing Buxton to the roster could be a huge boost. Despite the fact that I believe Aaron Hicks breaks out this season, a third season of failure could get Buxton up even sooner.

Jose Berrios: Debut September 19 vs Los Angeles Angels

Nobody blitzed the Twins system in 2014 more than Berrios. Rising from Single-A Fort Myers all the way to Triple-A Rochester, Berrios burst onto the scene. Noting he'd like to make the roster from spring training, we also know that Berrios is plenty driven. Working against him most may be the Twins depth in front of him. Expect a strong season at Triple-A Rochester to allow Berrios to get a late season look. Injuries to the rotation could push the debut sooner, but if the Twins tail off in September, expect the Puerto Rican prospect to get his cup of coffee.

Target Field is going to generate a ton of buzz this season. The Twins have plenty of their own exciting prospects coming through, and with the Cubs coming to town after the likely promotion of Kris Bryant, there will be no shortage of talented youth.