As the Minnesota Twins prepare for Spring Training, a number of questions will need to be answered before Opening Day rolls around.
None of them have easy answers, and here's a chance the season starts with some loose ends still dangling. The situation at first base ranks high on that list, as the health of Alex Kirilloff is a linchpin to either solid consistency or a hole that springs a leak in the lineup.
Among the things that will be interesting to watch develop is who will and won't make the final cut for the Opening Day roster. The entire 40-man roster will be in Fort Myers, as well as the most non-roster invitees the Twins have brought to camp in three years.
Unfortunately, not everyone who comes to camp is going to make the cut but that doesn't mean the story of their season ends there. Something to keep tabs on this Spring are guys who won't be on the roster when the season starts but could still have an impact on the Twins at some point later in the year.
Bailey Ober, P
As far back as I can remember, the Twins have always had pitching problems.
It's not exactly Goodfellas, but the Twins pitching situation has been far from a masterpiece despite the team's best efforts. Going back to the 2000s, the Twins have been searching for the right pitching combination even though there have been some intriguing options on paper.
Fans can rattle off a list of Pitchers Who Were Promised: Scott Baker, Kyle Loshe, Francisco Liriano, and Jose Berrios. All of those guys had varying degrees of success but for one reason or another they all failed to live up to expectations.
Then there's the constant search to add the right veteran mixture: Carl Pavano, Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, and Chris Archer to name a few. Again, varying degrees of success but never at the same time or at the right moments.
Once again the Twins come into the season with what feels like an embarrassment of riches at starting pitching, but fans know better than to get too excited. Talk of a six-man rotation is exciting, but the Twins might need to do it to keep everyone healthy which instantly changes the mood. Even in a six-man rotation
All of this is to say Bailey Ober is a fine young pitcher who might find himself at Triple-A to start the season. He spent time in the Twins rotation last year but much of that was out of necessity rather than Ober being ready. Still, he showed some potential and could be tabbed as the next-man-up if something should happen to one of Minnesota's starters.
There's also an outside chance he's added to the bullpen at some point in the season. Minnesota has dug its heels in against adding a free agent arm to the pen, but fans know the unit is anything but a sure-thing. If someone struggles and a move needs to be made, Ober could find himself in line to make it back to the Majors through that pipeline as well.