It’s been a long time since the Minnesota Twins have had some stability and depth at shortstop, but that could be changing with Minnesota Twins manager, Paul Molitor, who is declaring a battle for the starting spot between Danny Santana and Eduardo Escobar, according to MLB.com.
Santana, 23, showcased himself as one of the best rookies in the American League last season, as he batted .317 and displayed marvelous speed on the basepaths, stealing 20 bases and legging out seven triples. He started just 34 games at shortstop – his natural position – while spending most of his rookie season patrolling center field, where he got 62 starts. Molitor said after he was hired as Minnesota’s manager this offseason that his plan was to get Santana back at his natural position in 2015.
But while Santana was in the outfield, Escobar was having himself a breakout season at shortstop in what was his first opportunity as an everyday player at the Major League level. The 26-year old Venezuelan hit .275 while playing in a career high 133 games. This is coming off a season where he batted just .236 in 66 appearances for the Twins.
It’s very easy to peg Santana as the early favorite to win the starting shortstop job. Making the jump to the Majors, and hitting above .300 while playing an unknown position, is not an easy thing to do by any means. Escobar only has 58 extra base hits over 736 career at-bats, while Santana got 41 in his rookie season alone in just 405 at-bats.
You also can’t ignore Santana’s skills on the base paths. With 20 stolen bases in his rookie campaign, he easily passes Escobar’s career total of four stolen bases.
Both players are young, and proved last year that they can contribute everyday to a lineup, but it’s just too hard to ignore everything that Santana can do. It’s just hard to see him not win this competition.
There is a lot more upside to having him in the lineup as the everyday shortstop as compared to Escobar. Because Escobar has played over 70 games in his career at third base and another 32 at second, he still can have a big role on the Twins lineup and give them a reliable depth option that the team has lacked for years.