The Minnesota Twins have lost 90 games or more each of the last four seasons, but after an offseason where they added a few veterans in free agency, and have one of the best farm systems in baseball below them, there is finally a glimmer of hope in the Twin Cities.
But there is still work to be done on the roster, as four key position battles will be sorted out in Spring Training. The team still needs to decide who the fifth starter in the rotation will be, along with a backup catcher, and starters at center field and shortstop. These battles will surely be big headlines across “Twins Territory” over the next two months, and here is a guide for everything a Twins fan needs to know regarding all of them.
5th Starting Pitcher
Starting pitching has been a major issue for the Minnesota Twins during the past four seasons, which is why fans have seen the team sign a number of veteran starters over the past two seasons.
Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco should be locked in as the team’s front four in the rotation and there are another four names – Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May – to look at in regards to the final spot on the starting staff.
Alex Meyer is knocking on the door of the Majors, but the 28th ranked prospect according to MLB.com, may have to wait a little bit longer, as he might be the biggest reach for the fifth starting slot. The 25-year old right hander stands at an impressive 6’9″, and went 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA at the AAA level last season.
Tommy Milone, who the Twins got at the deadline last summer from Oakland, struggled in his six outings with Minnesota last season, and posted an ERA on the wrong side of seven. His late season struggles were pointed towards pain in his neck, which turned out to be a benign tumor. Milone had it removed in December and he is said to be ready for Spring Training, and the battle for the final spot in the team’s rotation. This circumstance is not one that a team comes across every day, but Milone will easily win this job if he shows the Twins that he is back to being the pitcher who was 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA during the first half of 2014.
Milone’s biggest competition might be Mike Pelfrey, who started just five games for the Twins last year before being shut down. It wasn’t pretty when Pelfrey was on the mound, as he went winless with an ERA of 7.99. He walked 18 batters over 23 innings while striking out only ten. Pelfrey is 5-16 with a 5.56 ERA since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, and this could easily be his final shot in the majors if he does not get his game back in gear this season. Should Pelfrey pitch well enough to be given a shot over Milone, Pelfrey might wind up beginning the season on the disabled list to give the team just a little more time to make a final decision.
Trevor May is more likely to get this job than Meyer in my eyes but he’s still starting camp behind Milone and Pelfrey. Like Meyer, May is just 25 years old but already has experience at the Major League level. After earning a late season call-up, May was up-and-down with the Twins but showed that he can be a capable starting pitcher if he gets more consistent. He’s not a highly touted prospect such as Meyer, but May’s expierence could give him a leg up if the decision comes between the two young arms. May might only get this job if both Pelfrey and Milone post spring ERA’s around seven like they did with the Twins during the regular season.