The last few seasons for the Minnesota Twins have been rough, there seems to be a lot of promise for the franchise, though. The Twins have some of the top rated prospects in the league, and one of the best farm systems in baseball. Although prospects are fully capable of breaking a team’s heart, the Twins have some guys that look to turn the organization around.
But first we need to talk about the current state of the Twins; they’re in a weird spot. They’re paying Joe Mauer a lot of money, and this season he is under-performing, significantly. Their pitching staff would be in absolute shambles if it wasn’t for Phil Hughes, who is putting up some great outings. The bullpen is looking decent; Glen Perkins really solidified himself as a solid closer last season. Mauer has been under-performing, for his standards. Statistically, this is the worst season of Joe Mauer’s career, and Twins fans have been letting him know. At least for the last ten years, he’s has been a model of consistency. The move from catcher to first was to preserve his body so he they could worry less about injuries and still get consistency at the plate, so far that idea has backfired. Mauer is posting career lows in batting average, OBP, and OBS. It’s not all bad in Minnesota though, Brian Dozier has been a pleasant surprise this year, second highest WAR on the team at 1.5 and 11 home runs in 53 games. Phil Hughes has the highest WAR rating on the team at 1.9. It helps when a player goes from a hitter’s park to a pitcher’s park, Hughes has to love that. Players like Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Escobar have played well also, along with Josh Willingham who at 35 can still be a solid utility player.
They are 26-28, which is slightly shocking, that’s not to say this team is being held together with duct tape, but they don’t have the strongest roster at the moment.
The hype the Twins are getting is centered on two big names in the minors, center fielder Byron Buxton and third basemen Miguel Sano. Buxton is not only the top rated prospect in the Twins organization, but he’s the top rated prospect in the minor leagues. Sano is the third ranked prospect, but he had to undergo Tommy John surgery in March, so he’ll be out for this season. Buxton has been heralded as the next Bryce Harper (he once allegedly threw a football 82 yards) and Sano is also supposed to be of the same class of ability, think Trout and Harper on the same team. They’re both working their way up through single A and double A so it might be a year or two before we really see them, but there is a lot of promise. Sano was a little farther along than Buxton before he got injured, but Buxton has had nagging injuries that have halted his progress as well. The play in center field has not been good since Denard Span left. Span brought a lot of speed, a solid batting average, and above average defense, since then it’s been hard to watch the Twins cycle through centerfielders. Buxton would only improve that outfield, but it may be a little until we see him.
Lost in all of the talk of Sano and Buxton is Alex Meyer. Meyer is a 6’9 monster RHP who is ranked third behind Sano and Buxton in the Twins organization. His best pitch are his fastball that consistently reaches 98-99, his curveball that is has a lot of movement, just under 2700 RPM’s worth of movement. The twins in a few years, could be nasty.
The AL Central will most likely be dominated by the Tigers for the next few years, but the Twins may very well be on their way. As for Ron Gardenhire, he seems to have some decent job security, he’s a good manager, and this season has showed that. He’s been able to keep the team competitive with such a depleted roster, and with Mauer slumping big time. It also has to be noted that teams should never feel they need to rely on prospects to save an organization, but in this case with players like Meyer, Buxton, and Sano developing well, the future looks very bright. All in all, it might be a few years before we actually see the Twins becoming a playoff team again, but they’re definitely on the right track.