The Minnesota Twins have gotten off to a solid start in spring training, with five players standing out as the reason the team has been successful.
The Minnesota Twins have a history of doing well in Spring Training, finishing .500 or above in the wins and losses column, even when the team falls apart during the regular season. This trend is continuing for the 2020 Spring Training season, with the team getting out to a 7-5 record.
Some of the Twins’ top players who have been with the organization for a while (such as Jose Berrios, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler) opt not to play as much in these preseason games, so that the team can get a look at younger talent.
The ‘younger talent’ includes several players who get a lot of innings in the spring, guys that the team wants to take a look at for the future. Other players that will see a lot of time include players new to the organization, such as Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda.
We took a look at who has helped the Minnesota Twins out the most in spring training, including some young prospects (including two from our Top 30 list), some fresh faces, and a couple familiar faces.
Honorable Mention: Zach Littell, RHP
Zach Littell had a really good 2019 season, going 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA and 32/9 strikeout to walk numbers. He has continued to build on that success in 2020 through Spring Training, pitching six scoreless innings over four games and striking out 9.
Littell was a valuable part of the Twins bullpen merry-go-round last season, giving the team important outs when they need them the most. The 24-year-old is already showing that he is ready for a bigger workload in 2020.
No. 5: Josh Donaldson, Third Base
Josh Donaldson was the prize of the Twins’ offseason after signing with team in January. The 34-year-old had a huge bounce back season, hitting 37 home runs and 94 RBIs. The Twins thought enough of his performance to sign him to 4 year, $92 Million deal, and Donaldson has looked worth every penny.
The former Atlanta Braves star has hit .316 over 19 at-bats, one of the best averages on the team. He also has played a valuable role as the veteran on the team, helping Royce Lewis with his swing and offering experience and leadership to the clubhouse.
No. 4: Trevor Larnach, Outfield
Trevor Larnach is one of the top five prospects in the Minnesota organization, coming out of one of the top college programs in the country, Oregon State. A first round pick in 2018, the Twins knew they were getting a polished player who would move quickly through the system. Nobody expected the 23-year-old to move this quickly though.
Larnach has a strong hitting and power abilities and they have shown during Spring Training. The outfielder has hit .350 and three home runs in 20 at-bats. He has looked big league ready at every stop he’s made in the minors and continued to hit in the Spring. Don’t be surprised if he makes his major league debut sooner, rather than later.
No. 3: Alex Kirilloff, Outfield
Kirilloff is another top prospect, coming in at No. 2 in almost every ranking out there. He has a sweet swing and good power, and the Twins hope he’ll be a force for the team for years to come. He struggled a bit in 2019, but his Spring Training suggests he’s back on track.
The 22-year-old has is having a dominant spring, hitting .500 over 16 at-bats, while also hitting two home runs, 4 RBI, and only striking out twice. Kirilloff has also played solid defense, not allowing a single error making every putout chance he could.
No. 2: Kenta Maeda, RHP
The other important offseason addition for the Twins, Kenta Maeda came aboard to offer playoff experience and improve a Minnesota Twins rotation that fell apart at the end of last season. Maeda has always been very reliable and pitched well in big situations, and the Twins believed in him enough to give up one of their top prospects in Brusdar Graterol.
Maeda has proved every bit worth it so far. He has started 0-1, but over 8.2 innings he leads the team in strikeouts with 10 and has only walked three and allowed two runs. The Twins have won two of his three starts and the move continues to look like a win.
No. 1: Nelson Cruz, DH
Last season’s team MVP, Cruz hit .311 with 41 home runs and 108 RBI, all ranking first or second on the team. He maintained an extremely positive impact on the clubhouse and was the heart, soul, and leader of the team. He has carried that into 2020.
Cruz is currently hitting .529 with three homers, leading all players (minimum 8 at-bats) in both categories. He has maintained his role as the clubhouse leader and got to make the trip with the team to his home country of the Dominican Republic when the Twins played the Detroit Tigers. Cruz has had a great spring and remained very important to the team and its success.