It’s nearly the start of September and the Minnesota Twins are in danger of experiencing the worst kind of deja vu.
Just like last year the Twins are in a tight battle for control of the AL Central, although this time around they have the lead over Cleveland. The Guardians are just 4.5 games out of first place with six more meetings between the teams scheduled before the end of the season.
Twins fans know how things played out last season in almost the exact same situation, and everyone is hoping for a different outcome.
Unlike last year, the Twins appear to be in much better shape in important areas like pitching and injuries. Key players are still missing but are expected to be back, and the farm system is bubbling with young talent that has slowly been patching up the lineup all season long.
Royce Lewis, Matt Wallner, and Eduoard Julien have been magical for the Twins, and guys like Bailey Ober and Louie Varland have given the pitching staff a safety net it didn’t have before. With guys like Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff working their way back to full health, the question becomes whether or not we’ll see any of the rising stars at Triple-A St. Paul make the leap to the Big Leagues next month as the Twins push for a division title.
Twins Rumors: Brooks Lee ‘unlikely’ to get called up in September
One of the most exciting things about the Twins this season has had nothing to do with the Major League club. Instead, fans have been gleefully glimpsing into the crystal ball the St. Paul Saints have to watch some of the Twins best top prospects populate the same lineup.
In his most recent mailbag, though, The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman explained that unlikely we’ll get to see Austin Martin or Brooks Lee with the Twins in September.
The main reason seems to be both saving room for guys who are working their way back to full strength and the way that September callups have changed over the last few years.
“If, instead, Buxton, Kirilloff and Castro aren’t able to return, then it’s possible the Twins could turn to a prospect like Austin Martin, or perhaps even Brooks Lee. But that’s unlikely. In general, the days of entire waves of prospects getting their feet wet in the big leagues as September call-ups are all but over, at least for teams with playoff aspirations. Now it’s more about functionality and roles,” Gleeman wrote.
Unlike in years past, teams can only expand their roster to 28 players in September whereas 40 players used to be the limit. That shrinkage, combined with logistics, make it difficult to bring up guys like Lee unless it makes practical sense.
Gone are the days of getting a glimpse at top prospects in September, but that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen.
Like Gleeman pointed out, a lot of this hinges on the health of guys like Buxton and Kirilloff. Ideally the Twins would get two of their best players back for the home stretch in September, but we’ve seen what the youth movement has done to boost the offense. Things were looking pretty grim and stagnant before Lewis and Julien joined the club and the offense has looked entirely different since.
It’s a lot to assume calling up Lee would have a similar impact, but baseball is a sport dictated by trends and young players have been hot for the Twins so far this year. Expecting Lee to both be with the team and produce at a high level is lofty, but the idea of it being so exciting is a good sign of how bright the future is in Minnesota.