The Minnesota Twins won six of seven games heading into the All-Star break and they had the second-best record in the American League. Things looked good in the Twin Cities.
But then came a bump in the road, and Minnesota sputtered to start the second half of the season. The trade deadline came and went without general manager Terry Ryan plugging two of the Twins’ gaping holes — catcher and shortstop. Instead, all the team did was send two lottery ticket prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for Kevin Jepsen, an average right-handed middle relief pitcher. Things got worse earlier this week when the new-look Toronto Blue Jays kicked their doors down and swept Minnesota in a four game series, passing them in the AL Wild Card race.
But Ryan and the Twins made the right move in staying the course and not shopping any pieces of this team’s bright future for a rental at catcher or shortstop. With the Kansas City Royals putting a stranglehold on the AL Central title, all Minnesota was really playing for was the opportunity to play in a one-game playoff — not exactly the situation that a franchise wants to go all in for. Regardless of how Minnesota finished this season, the future looks so promising. Why give any of that up for one year?
Twenty-two-year-old designated hitter Miguel Sano has been fabulous since making his Major League debut in early July, reaching base safely in 26 of his 29 career games with five home runs and 18 runs batted in. Byron Buxton, the #1 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, made his Major League debut earlier this season but was slowed down due to injury. He collected two hits Friday night playing for the Rochester Red Wings (AAA) in the first game of his rehab assignment and at just 21 years old, expectations are high for the young outfielder.
The farm system even boasts more potential stardom past Buxton and Sano. RHP Jose Berrios is getting closer and closer to breaking into the Majors every day and is the 26th ranked prospect on MLBPipeline. Minnesota has Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana, their top two starters, locked up in the near future. LHP Tyler Jay, SS Jorge Polanco and SS Nick Gordon all join Berrios, Buxton and Sano on the Top-100 prospect list.
Even the youth on the big league roster is holding up as the best options for Minnesota. Twenty-five-year-old Aaron Hicks and 23-year-old Eddie Rosario are the Twins batting average leaders among players with at least 150 at-bats.
Think back to Opening Day when the Twins walked into the season with the lowest over/under projection in the American League, according to Atlantis Sports Book. It looked like those predictions were all correct when Minnesota limped out to a 1-6 start but look at them now. This isn’t the worst team in the American League; not even close. They’re above .500 right now. No one could have predicted that.
Don’t be mad that the team elected not to toss away any of their top prospects just to get into a one game playoff. It might not look like the best move now with Minnesota 2-5 since the trade deadline passed but when the team competes for AL Central titles year in and year out down the road, it will be worth it.
Terry Ryan has a plan since he reclaimed his position as general manager and it’s working. Winning this season might not have been part of the plan, but seeing the Twins still in the race is just a bonus for all fans. Former GM Bill Smith left the farm system dry and the Major League roster weak. With Ryan back, both units are stronger and still getting better. The future remains bright as ever for baseball in the Twin Cities.