We begin to hit the portion of this list where the players are more of a long shot to make it to the majors this season, but there is a chance with each of them to replace Kepler. Brent Rooker is a player that was just drafted this past season but has been flying through the minors as he is proving he knows how to hit the baseball.
I have for one have thought that the outfielder/first baseman is the pegged heir to first base after Mauer’s contract is up this offseason. In this scenario with Kepler gone, it also makes sense that Rooker’s path to the majors would be the outfield even if he may profile as a first baseman or designated hitter later in his career.
In his first season of pro ball, Rooker started in Elizabethton playing Rookie Ball and then skipped a level and went to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t skip a beat as he did so and combined between the two levels to hit .281/.364/.566 and a .930 OPS as well as 18 home runs.
If Rooker is able to continue and improve the way he did in his first season of professional baseball, there is a chance he could find his way to the majors in 2018. It seems very likely that he will make his way to Double-A at some point in 2018 and once that happens the Twins would be potentially comfortable in letting him make the jump to the majors.