Minnesota Twins: Ups and Downs Heading Into Regular Season
Minnesota Twins Trends After Final Week of Spring Training
Spring Training is now in the rear view mirror as the Twins finish up the games that don’t count with an 8-8 tie against the Washington Nationals Saturday afternoon. We’ll take a look at who is trending in the right direction for Opening Day, and who needs to turn things around quickly.
UP: Danny Santana. After the first week of Spring Training, Santana couldn’t get anything going. The next week he sat games due to a tender wrist.
There were whispers that non-roster invitees Ryan Sweeney or Carlos Quentin could knock Santana out of one of the four bench spots.
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All a distant memory now as Danny finished up Spring as the hottest Twin at the plate. He had a two for three day yesterday. He also had 2 stolen bases that gave him 9 (out of 10 attempts) for the Spring. That breaks the Twins record for stolen bases in a Spring Training (Alex Cole had 8 in 1994).
DOWN: Aaron Thompson. He started this Spring battling for one of the final bullpen openings. The left-hander had a great early 2015, leading the Twins in appearances (25) through April & May, among the league leaders. His ERA ballooned from a respectable 3.42 to 5.01 at season’s end. This Spring, in seven appearances, Thompson’s ERA was 9.95. This past week, Aaron Thompson was released by the Twins.
UP: Joe Mauer. Reports of his demise were early. Joe’s swing seems to be back…maybe it’s the amber Nike sunglasses. Mauer hit his second home run of the Spring in yesterday’s contest, a 3-run shot that lifted his RBI total to 11 for the month. He posted a .791 OPS.
DOWN: Byung-ho Park. Park began March with 3 K’s in his first game. He ended it yesterday with another three, avoiding a possible golden sombrero by being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 7th inning. Park was hot during the first week of Spring Training, but has struck out in bunches.
In 61 plate appearances, he’s averaging a hit 25% of the time, a ground out 31%, a pop/fly out 20%, and a strikeout 28%. He’s also grounded into a team-high 4 double plays. But, if he hits 4-5 home runs and 13 RBI every month, that would extrapolate to a 24-30 HR / 80 RBI year. For a rookie DH hitting in the 6 spot, that would be a plus for the Minnesota Twins.
UP: Michael Tonkin. He gave up 7 runs in 8 innings this Spring, losing out to Fernando Abad and Ryan Pressly as a set up man in the bullpen. But Tyler Duffey‘s demotion, and Ricky Nolasco‘s surprising Spring left the Twins scrambling for Plan B in a long reliever. Enter Tonkin. Out of options, the Twins didn’t want to risk losing the sinker-baller, so he was sent to the minor league complex to stretch him out.
The Twins hope he will stop over-throwing his sinker and fastball, letting his natural motion get batters out. Yesterday, Tonkin started for Rochester in a Spring game, going 3 innings and giving up just 1 run (a HR) while striking out two.
QUESTION MARK: Darin Mastroianni. No one has done more to make their case for a big league chance than Mastroianni. In just 37 AB, he hit .405 and stole 8 bases. If he played nearly every day, he would have shattered Cole’s mark. He makes heads up plays in the field, on the bases, and at the plate (his 6 walks tied for 3rd on team). What to do with him, when Santana and Oswaldo Arcia are both out of options? There just wasn’t room. Should be first man up from AAA if anyone in outfield gets injured.
Next: Minnesota Twins vs AL Central Starting Pitching
STRANGE BUT TRUE STAT FOR SPRING: Backup catcher John Ryan Murphy struggled at the plate all Spring. He had only 5 hits compared to 9 strikeouts. But somehow, Murphy also walked 9 times, second on the team despite such few plate appearances. His OBP ended up a acceptable .311.