Alex Kirilloff has remained a focal point of the Minnesota Twins' future ever since his first-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. His ability to put the bat on the ball and hit to all fields has always kept him high on the radar of Twins fans and the rest of the baseball world.
The Pittsburgh native dominated pitching throughout his minor league career, sporting a .895 OPS with 48 home runs and 212 RBI across five seasons. Those performances, along with his pedigree, led to him making 4 straight top-100 prospect lists courtesy of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
Here's what Mayo had to say regarding Kirilloff's hitting ability prior to his 2020 debut:
"Hit (60): We might be light on his hit grade, truth be told. Kirilloff has a .317/.365/.498 line in his Minor League career, he hit well at Summer Camp before this year began and all reports were that he was flat-out raking during his time at the Twins' alternate training site. He makes hard contact all the time and drives the ball to all fields. Kirilloff doesn’t strike out much (16.1 percent strikeout rate) and has a career 6.5 percent walk rate, which went up a bit in Double-A a year ago."- Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com
There's no question Kirilloff possesses the talent and experience to become a key part of the Twins lineup. The only thing holding him back? Injuries.
Dating back to his minor league debut, Kiriloff has missed a considerable amount of games. Tommy John surgery wiped out his entire 2017 season. Early in 2019, he suffered a sprained wrist that resulted in multiple IL stints throughout the season. That same wrist has plagued him ever since.
In 2021, Kirilloff played 59 games (.251/ .299/ .423) with the Twins while battling nagging wrist pain. He then underwent season-ending surgery in July to alleviate it. Sadly, it didn't. Kiriloff again fought through pain in 2022 before ultimately deciding to undergo another season-ending surgery.
This most recent surgery, shortening the bone in his forearm, was deemed by many to be a last-ditch effort to save his wrist. Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com documented these sentiments during an interview with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli:
"Obviously, this isn’t something that would be contemplated or done unless we thought it was absolutely necessary -- unless AK thought it was absolutely necessary, and the doctor, too."- Rocco Baldelli
The bad news? The surgery was likely a desperate attempt to salvage Kirilloff's career. The good news? The surgery may have worked. According to a recent tweet from Park, Kirilloff has entered 2023 Spring Training on the right track:
A healthy Alex Kirilloff has a chance to not only positively impact the lineup but also answer some important questions about the Twins' future. Let's discuss why.