The Minnesota Twins will be looking to turn things around in short order during the 2015 season. As they look to distance themselves from the four years in which 90 losses became commonplace, taking steps forward this season will be the first building block. Helping those steps take place will be the youth of the organization. Stepping into the spotlight first and foremost will be last year’s phenom, Danny Santana. The question is where on the diamond will he be.
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During the latter portion of the offseason, there has been a lot of discussion as to what kind of competition the Twins breakout star will have at short. Minnesota and Paul Molitor have indicated that Eduardo Escobar will push the Twins young Dominican for a starting role. With that in mind though, just how much competition should Santana really find himself having this spring?
Just two years separate Escobar and Santana, with the former being 26 and the latter being 24. Minnesota acquired Escobar in exchanged for sending Francisco Liriano to the Chicago White Sox, while Santana was signed as an amateur free agent back in 2007. Despite playing the majority of the season a year ago in centerfield, the starting shortstop gig will be Santana’s to lose this offseason.
At the plate regression is going to set in. With Santana having accumulated a .405 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), the number just simply is not sustainable. That being said, his career .275 average through seven seasons in the minor leagues suggest that he should still be able to contribute plenty at the plate. Most importantly though for Danny Santana, the competition will come in the field.
Looking at both players subjectively, Escobar provides the Twins with an option that shows more range, and makes fewer mistakes at what is a premium position. While he may not posses the same ability at the plate (a career .255 hitter), Escobar could be seen as a defensive upgrade that bumps Santana from the starting role. For Minnesota, it will come down to where the net gain is valued most. Should the Twins see what they gain in the field with Escobar as of more importance than what they have in overall ability with Santana, Molitor could make somewhat of a controversial decision out of the gate.
With Escobar having served in a utility role for much of his time with the Twins, I don’t forsee a shakeup happening out of the gate. There are no indications to say that it wouldn’t make sense, or may not factor into future plans however. If nothing else, expect the fact that Danny Santana must be at the top of his game this spring, to propel him into the season on a high note.
Of the many storylines with monitoring during Spring Training down in Fort Myers, this has to be near the top.
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