Spring Training is underway and the Minnesota Twins have a lot of ground to make up if they have any plans to improve on last season’s disappointment.
The Twins had an organizational overhaul after parting ways with long-time general manager Terry Ryan. The change in front-office management came after a franchise-record low in wins. The Twins finished the season 59-103, displaying their worst season in team history.
The hiring of Cleveland’s assistant general manager Derek Falvey made a statement saying the Twins organization is looking to change the culture of the franchise. Falvey was handed the reigns of a franchise with a lot of promise. In an article written by mlb.com’s Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Mike Rosenbaum, the Twins have the fifth best farm system in the MLB according to their rankings.
Minnesota has six players ranked in the top 100 prospects in the MLB. Some of the familiar names are outfielders Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios. Buxton is the No. 2 ranked prospect in all of baseball, and not far behind him is potential future ace, Berrios, at the No. 19 spot. Another player to keep an eye on this spring training is shortstop Nick Gordon, brother of Miami Marlins second baseman, Dee Gordon. The youngster will likely start the season in the Minor Leagues, but could move up with quickness.
With loads of talent in the Minor League system, the future is bright for the Twins, but in recent past players like Buxton and Miguel Sano have been less than impressive at times. Fans can try and be hopeful, but they have gotten little proof that the team is capable of winning games at a greater clip. Over the last six seasons, the Twins have lost 90 or more games in five of the six seasons and have a total winning percentage of just .418 since the 2010 season- which was the last time Minnesota made it to the playoffs.
In Minnesota’s first four spring training games this season, they have gone 2-2 after beating the Marlins 9-6 in a home game on Monday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. There has been a bright spot so far in the Twins’ first four games this Spring Training as well. In just three games played and seven at-bats total, Byung-Ho Park, the Twins’ Korean signee from last year, has hit two homeruns and four RBI’s with a batting average of .571.
It’s still very early and it’s only Spring Training baseball, but it’s encouraging to see him playing well. After the posting fee for the rights to talk with Park and his agent as well as signing him to a four-year contract, the Twins invested $24.8 million into Park. Everyone wants to see a good return from a large investment and the Twins and their fans might be seeing the start of that return beginning to happen.
The major changes the Twins made in the offseason may have been the push in the right direction that they needed. The team was appearing stagnant and as hard as manager Paul Molitor tried to mix things up and keep them playing well, the lack of veteran talent and consistent play from the younger players were major contributions to their losing season; that, and their abysmal pitching rotation. Minnesota may now be starting to trend in the right direction, but preseason baseball play only means so much at the end of the day.