On Sunday, Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers reported to Hammond Stadium. On Monday morning, they held their first official practice of the 2014 season. Finally, after a long, cold offseason, we have actual baseball to talk about.
Opening Day is still about six weeks away, but over the course of spring training, we will attempt to project the Opening Day Twins 25 man roster. Today will be version 1.0. Obviously a lot can happen over the next weeks, including injuries and acquisitions, so this list will change from week to week. As a player becomes a given (in my opinion), I will highlight them in red.
Check out my projections, and then letís discuss. Be sure to add your projections too.
Catchers (2): Kurt Suzuki
, Eric Fryer
Joe Mauer is now a first baseman. Ryan Doumit was traded. Kurt Suzuki was signed. Josmil Pinto had a nice September debut. So, how is this going to play out? Suzuki is going to be on the big league roster. Will he back up Josmil Pinto, or will he start? When Suzuki is named the primary catcher, will Ron Gardenhire be able to get Pinto enough playing time to justify a spot for him on the roster? To me, the competition is between Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer for that backup spot right now.
Infielders (5): Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Pedro Florimon, Eduardo Escobar
The starting infield has not been in question all offseason, and that remains the situation as spring training begins. Mauer will be just fine at first base. Dozier will attempt to show that the changes he made in late May showed us what he really can do. Florimon showed that he is one of the gameís best defensively middle infielders. Itís a big year for Trevor Plouffe with the impending arrival of Miguel Sano. However, heís pretty safe for Opening Day. As for the utility infield spot, Escobar will likely compete with James Beresford, Doug Bernier and Jason Bartlett for the utility job. Since Escobar is by far the youngest of the group, and heís out of options, heís easily the favorite. The other guys will be competing for the 25th
roster spot with several others.
Outfielders (6): Josh Willingham
, Alex Presley, Oswaldo Arcia, Darin Mastroianni, Jason Kubel, Chris Parmelee
Things are much less certain in the outfield than they are in the infield. The only given is Josh Willingham, who will likely be the teamís left fielder. I think that the bat of Oswaldo Arcia puts him on the roster, and I think heíll primarily play in right field. Centerfield will be an interesting positional battle for the Twins in 2014 spring training. Aaron Hicks again has all the potential, but after his struggles in 2014ís regular season, what will he need to show the coaching staff this spring to begin the regular season with the Twins? Alex Presley came on and, although he has struggled in the big leagues with the Pirates, he has always shown good on-base skills in AAA. Darin Mastroianni was removed from the 40 man roster this offseason, but he has a shot to make the Opening Day roster. Finally, the Twins acquired Jason Kubel on a minor league contract. I want to put his name in red, but I figured Iíd wait just a little bit. He likely will be the primary DH and could spend some time in right field as well. Chris Parmelee, also out of options, could compete with some infielders, Chris Colabello and others for that final roster spot.
Starting Pitchers (5): Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey
, Scott Diamond
The Twins went into free agency and were very aggressive. They signed both Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes before December. Mike Pelfrey was brought back in December. Those three will join Kevin Correia who was clearly the Twins most consistent, solid starting pitching throughout the 2013 season. That leaves one open spot. As we all know, Sam Deduno, Vance Worley and Scott Diamond are all out of options. I think that Diamond goes into spring training as the leading candidate of that group, especially if Deduno starts the season on the DL. The two that do not receive the 5th
starter job will also have a chance to stick around in the bullpen. Kyle Gibson is also in the running for the job, though the fact that he has two option years remaining may actually hurt him. However, I believe he will make more starts for the Twins than the three that are out of options. Prospects Alex Meyer, Trevor May and Sean Gilmartin will all get a good look this spring, and Meyer (and possibly May) will likely make starts for the Twins throughout the season.
Bullpen (7): Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Anthony Swarzak
, Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly
The first five spots are set, pending injury or trade. Glen Perkins is the closer. Jared Burton, Casey Fien and Brian Duensing are the set-up men. Anthony Swarzak was terrific in long relief in 2014, so will he stay in that role or be given more high-leverage situations.
Iím assuming that they will have seven bullpen arms. Based on 2013, Caleb Thielbar and Ryan Pressly should be givens as well. However, the fact that Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno and Vance Worley are out of options while Thielbar and Pressly have two options remaining means that at least for now, I canít change their font to red quite yet. Matt Guerrier may be in the equation as well, though it may completely depend upon his health. Michael Tonkin has a chance to be a solid big league reliever, but heís got two options and hasnít really had much success above AA, so he should start in Rochester.
What are your thoughts? What does your roster look like?