Minnesota Twins: 2021 Spring Training Preview and Guide
By Otto Johnson
The 2021 Minnesota Twins Spring Training Roster
After a lot more roster turnover after 2020 than 2019, the Minnesota Twins will carry a very different team into Spring Training this year. With multiple new free agents (both minor league and major league), here is your 2021 Spring Training Roster:
- Catchers (9): Ryan Jeffers, Mitch Garver, Willians Astudillo, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis (NRI), Caleb Hamilton (NRI), David Banuelos (NRI), Alex Isola (NRI), Kyle Schmidt (NRI).
The Twins brought nine catchers with them to Spring Training, and many of these guys will be here to catch bullpens and impress the organization for the future. Jeffers and Garver are both locks for the roster, with Astudillo and Rortvedt likely to get chances in 2021.
Telis is familiar with the organization, so he’s got an outside shot at sticking around, Hamilton and Banuelos are minor leaguers who are just trying to show they have something, while Isola and Schmidt are prospects who have a ways to go and are bullpen guys as minor league depth squad players.
Players to Watch: Will be interesting to see what happens with Telis, Astudillo, and Rortvedt, as all three have been around the organization for a while but not all three will find playing time behind Jeffers and Garver.
- First Basemen (4): Miguel Sano, Zander Wiel (NRI), Chris Williams (NRI), Aaron Sabato (NRI).
The Twins are extremely low on first base depth within the organization, and it shows here. Sano is the team’s starter, but Wiel is an older prospect (who has an interesting skill set), Williams just reached AA, and Sabato is the team’s first round pick this year.
Players to Watch: Wiel, Williams, and Sabato will not make the opening roster, and all three are only on the minor league depth squad, but getting the first glimpses of first-round pick Sabato is extremely exciting.
- Other Infield (11): Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Andrelton Simmons, Luis Arraez, Nick Gordon, Travis Blankenhorn, Royce Lewis (NRI), Tzu-Wei Lin (NRI), J.T. Riddle (NRI), Drew Maggi (NRI), Jose Miranda (NRI).
Donaldson, Polanco, Simmons, and Arraez are the only locks to make the Opening Day roster, while Gordon and Blankenhorn battle it out to be the other backup infielder. Minor League Signees Lin and Riddle are here to compete for their spot.
Royce Lewis is up for some more exposure as a non-roster invitee and likely won’t fully be up until next year as he prepares to take over for Simmons in 2022. Maggi and Miranda are both depth squad guys, but Miranda at least has a little potential as someone who routinely holds a lower spot on the Top 30 prospects list.
Players to Watch: It’ll be interesting to see how the Simmons-Polanco-Arraez trio works out, but the Gordon-Blankenhorn battle for playing time will be more interesting to me. Both look ready to fill in for Ehire Adrianza, but I don’t know if either will be chosen.
- Outfielders (11): Nelson Cruz, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Gilberto Celestino, Kyle Garlick, Keon Broxton (NRI), Rob Refsnyder (NRI), Trevor Larnach (NRI).
Interestingly enough, the Twins don’t have any outfielders on their minor league depth squad. All 10 outfielders are either on the 40-man roster or are non-roster invitees, but that doesn’t mean they all have a real shot of making it. We also included Nelson Cruz here because he needed a spot.
Buxton, Kepler, Cave, and Rooker are all locks to make it, and Kirilloff should make it if the Twins are more interested in winning than service time. Celestino and Larnach are almost ready, but not quite, meaning both will live it up in Triple-AAA.
As for Garlick, Broxton, and Refsnyder, if they accept Triple-AAA, that’s where they’ll land, but under no circumstances should any of the trio occupy a spot on the major league roster for the 2021 season.
Players to Watch: Alex Kirilloff is the future of the Minnesota Twins outfield and has the opportunity to show his stuff for the second straight spring. If he has a spring like he did last year (.429 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI), there’s no way he can be kept down again.
- Starting Pitchers (5): Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, Jordan Balazovic, Bailey Ober, Dakota Chalmers, Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax (NRI), Matt Canterino (NRI), Josh Winder (NRI).
With Matt Shoemaker locked in as the fifth starter, the rotation of Maeda, Berrios, Pineda, Happ, and Shoemaker will start out the year as the Big 5. With that being said, Balazovic and Duran are waiting in the wings, and will be ready to step in soon.
Ober, Chalmers, and Jax are all just about ready as well, but the three aren’t as good as Duran and Balazovic. Canterino and Winder are two relatively highly rated prospects who aren’t ready, and instead are serving as minor league depth guys. I don’t expect them to factor into the rotation until late in the year, but we should see at least four by the end of the year.
Players to Watch: Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran are both Top 5 prospects in the Twins system and should get lots of time to show off this Spring. I don’t expect either of them to be key players in 2021, but it’s always fun to get a glimpse of the future.
- Relief Pitchers: Jorge Alcala, Shaun Anderson, Edwar Colina, Alex Colome, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles, Taylor Rogers, Cody Stashak, Caleb Thielbar, Lewis Thorpe, Andrew Albers (NRI), Glen Sparman (NRI), Charlie Barnes (NRI), Danny Coulombe (NRI), Brandon Waddell (NRI), Luke Farrell (NRI), Derek Law (NRI), Juan Minaya (NRI), Ian Gibaut (NRI), Andrew Vasquez (NRI), Tom Hackimer (NRI), Robinson Leyer (NRI), Chandler Shepered (NRI).
Alcala, Anderson, Colome, Dobnak, Duffey, Robles, Rogers, Stashak, Thielbar all are close to locks to making the Opening Day Roster, while Thorpe, Smeltzer, Colina, will make several appearances in 2020. Albers, Barnes, Coulombe, Waddell, Gibaut, Farrell, Law, Minaya, Vasquez, Hackimer, Leyer, Sheperd will have to fight for their spots.
Players to Watch: Albers, Law, Minaya, Coulombe, Gibaut, all appear to have the best chance to make the roster and succeed, but I wouldn’t expect anything out of the lot. The Minnesota Twins will figure out who makes the cut.