Minnesota Twins: minor league players to watch in 2018
Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF, Luis Arraez, 2B
Twins fans were heartbroken last spring when 2016’s top draft pick, Kirilloff, was announced as requiring Tommy John surgery. To be fair, the team had known this was a likely outcome since the previous August, but it became official on March 1st.
Kirilloff was a surprise to be sitting there for the Twins to select at #15 overall. The home-schooled kid from Pennsylvania has a father who is a hitting coach, and his father helped him to hone one of the prettiest swings in the entire draft.
Kirilloff flashed better athleticism than thought with Elizabethton as an 18 year-old, handling center field fairly well, and showing well in right field, while some had him listed as a first base only prospect coming into the draft. Coming back from elbow surgery to his throwing elbow could mean that right field will no longer be his future, however.
As an 18 year-old in the Appy League, he hit .306/.341/.454 with 7 home runs for the E-Twins, showing the type of power and contact ability that would allow him to be valuable, even if he’s forced into a life at first base. He may open the season in extended spring, based on how spring training goes for him, but how he handles any play in the outfield in 2018 will be very intriguing to watch.
Certainly thicker than the listed 155 pounds on his Baseball Reference page, Arraez is also stretching to get the listed 5’10” he has listed. There is one thing he has done his entire time with the Twins organization, and that is hit, with a .338 career batting line over 205 minor league games so far.
Arraez has very solid hands at second base and a quick release at the position, so he should be able to stick there. He did tear his ACL this past April and missed the rest of 2017.
Arraez doesn’t profile as a guy with big over-the-fence power, but he can absolutely pound the ball into the gaps on a line, racking up 52 doubles in his ~900 plate appearances in the minor leagues thus far. He’s also not likely going to steal a ton of bases as he’s more quick than fast, getting a good jump, but not with great top-end speed, so he reacts well in the field, but he’s not a guy who will range deep behind the bag or behind the first baseman to get a ball.
Arraez’s incredible contact ability should allow him to at least continue hitting well, but how he works defensively will be very important to watch this coming season as he attempts to assert himself as the guy who could take over 2B if Dozier leaves after 2018.
Next: Dominant lefty