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  • Lost Playing Time Hurting Top Twins Prospects

    It has been a rough season for some of the top position players in the Twins minor league system. Eddie Rosario is serving a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for marijuana use. Miguel Sano had to undergo Tommy John surgery and the earliest he could be on the field is very late in the summer. To cap it all off, Byron Buxton, the consensus top prospect in all baseball, has played a whopping five games this year because of a wrist injury and its aggravation.



    Byron Buxton
    Original Outlook (2014): After tearing up both Low-A and High-A last season, Buxton was expected to spend most of the season at Double-A. This would have left him with an outside chance at making his big league debut as a September call-up.

    Injury Issue: Buxton missed all of the first month of the season with a wrist injury. This forced the Twins to send him back to Fort Myers to work himself back into form after the injury. He played five games and went just 3-for-20 with a double and a home run before he re-injured his wrist sliding into third base.

    Consequences of Lost Playing Time: One of the things that made Buxton move up the prospect charts so quickly was his achievement at each level for his young age. Last season he was two years younger than the average age of position players in the Midwest League. He dominated the Florida State League and he was almost four years younger than players in that league. There are comparisons between him and Mike Trout and Buxton's numbers are even better at the same point. Every at-bat is important for development and he is losing precious development time.

    Miguel Sano
    Original Outlook (2014): After producing some of the best power numbers in the minor leagues, Sano was expected to get the majority of his playing time at Triple-A. This would have left him knocking on the door to the big leagues shortly after the All-Star Game.

    Injury Issue: Something wasn't right with Sano's elbow for most of the off-season. He wasn't able to fully participate in Winter League action but the Twins wanted him to try to rest his sore elbow. After he reported to big league camp, the reports were mostly positive as he tried to stretch out his arm. It was eventually decided that Tommy John surgery was the only option as he continued to deal with pain.

    Consequences of Lost Playing Time: Much like Buxton, one of the reasons Sano was so highly touted was his advanced ability at such a young age. When he was playing with New Britain at the end of 2013, he was almost 4.5 years younger than the competition. He has more professional playing time than Buxton and he reached a higher level even though they are close to the same age. Sano's injury is frustrating especially since he was dealing with elbow problems for much of the off-season. He'll try and get back in games at the end of this year and this will push back his debut into 2015.

    Eddie Rosario
    Original Outlook (2014): After transitioning to the middle infield and getting some extra at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, Rosario was supposed to end up in Rochester to push for the big leagues. He and Sano have followed much of the same path so a late season call-up was not out of the question.

    Injury Issue: Rosario reported to Twins camp three weeks after the other minor league players. The only word out from the Twins front office was that he was dealing with "personal issues." After he reported to extended spring training, word came out that his suspension was due to smoking marijuana during the Arizona Fall League. He is also rehabbing a sore elbow.

    Consequences of Lost Playing Time: While Buxton and Sano are trying to get healthy and back on the field, Rosario is dealing with a different kind of recovery. He made a mistake in the off-season and he is dealing with the consequences. Rosario's suspension will be over at the end of May so he will likely beat the other two players back onto the field. There was an outside chance of him making his debut this year but that likely won't happen because of his lost at-bats. It will also be interesting to see if the Twins continue to use him at second base because of Brian Dozier's emergence.
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    Comments 11 Comments
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      Wouldn't it make sense for Rosario to gain experience at 2nd as he already has plenty of outfield experience.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      He'll continue to play both places. Because of Dozier's emergence, he is unlikely to play 2B in the big leagues with the Twins as a regular, but even if he comes up as a LF, he can also be a #2 2B. Versatility is good.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Where will Rosario start out when he makes his return? I had been thinking he would go to New Britain, but I suppose he could start out with the Miracle.

      Also, I checked BBRef and it says that Eddie's outfield time was spent in center field. In the event of a continued Hicks meltdown and a delay for Buxton, is it possible that Eddie could play some center field for the Twins?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      He'll continue to play both places. Because of Dozier's emergence, he is unlikely to play 2B in the big leagues with the Twins as a regular, but even if he comes up as a LF, he can also be a #2 2B. Versatility is good.
      I don't agree with the bolded above:

      - Dozier is 27, Rosario is 22. They have 5 years age difference. Rosario will be 26 when Dozier is scheduled to be a free agent

      - If Rosario proves to be a good player (and his ceiling is higher than Dozier's,) the Twins should sell high on Dozier and fill a position of need (and I am not sure what that need would be in 2015 or 2016 or so.) The Twins just got to learn how to do that (or get a GM who can do that.) This is what competitive teams (from the Rays, to the As, to the Tigers, to the Red Sox, to name a few) do.

      Short term (2014) might make sense to have Rosario play the OF, because, frankly, I'd rather see him than Danny Santana or Eric Farris at CF.
    1. kblack1011's Avatar
      kblack1011 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I don't agree with the bolded above:

      - Dozier is 27, Rosario is 22. They have 5 years age difference. Rosario will be 26 when Dozier is scheduled to be a free agent

      - If Rosario proves to be a good player (and his ceiling is higher than Dozier's,) the Twins should sell high on Dozier and fill a position of need (and I am not sure what that need would be in 2015 or 2016 or so.) The Twins just got to learn how to do that (or get a GM who can do that.) This is what competitive teams (from the Rays, to the As, to the Tigers, to the Red Sox, to name a few) do.

      Short term (2014) might make sense to have Rosario play the OF, because, frankly, I'd rather see him than Danny Santana or Eric Farris at CF.
      I agree, the Twins are several years away, if Rosario can be good as second, his value is higher to the Twins. I would think the Twins could get better value for Dozier then moving Rosario to the outfield.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      He'll continue to play both places. Because of Dozier's emergence, he is unlikely to play 2B in the big leagues with the Twins as a regular, but even if he comes up as a LF, he can also be a #2 2B. Versatility is good.
      I just don't see Rosario in the OF (unless he shows he can play center). His value (both as a prospect and as a team contributor) is immensely tied to his bat at a position where his bat plays up better. He's a guy who can hit well, but not well enough to play in the corners. I still think that if he emerges after this suspension that he's either going to get traded or the Twins are going to consider moving Dozier back to SS. Personally, I think the later makes a ton more sense for the team (with the only exception being Santana's bat suddenly taking a leap forward).
    1. Wookiee of the Year's Avatar
      Wookiee of the Year -
      Thanks for this, Cody. It actually reassures me some to be reminded just how much younger Buxton and Sano have been compared to their competition. Even with their lost time, they're still well ahead of schedule.

      I imagine if Buxton comes back even around mid-season, they can start him in A+ where he can get his feet wet before a promotion to AA for the rest of the year. Depending on his numbers, he'd probably finish this year about where Sano did last year--unclear whether he'll start 2015 in AA or AAA, with legitimate cases for both.

      Hopefully Sano can get back by the end of the season and flash some continued brilliance either in AA, the Arizona Fall League, or Winter Ball. I want to see him demonstrate that he should start 2015 in AAA.

      I'd like to see Rosario play 2B, CF, and corner outfield spots--maybe he can be the Twins' equivalent of Ben Zobrist. I imagine he debuts back at AA this year, but where he finishes, I have no idea--not least of all because the Twins have such a need in CF. I'll also be curious if the Twins are slow to promote him due to perceived maturity issues, or if they feel he's served the consequences of his actions with his suspension and no further penalty is warranted.
    1. rcfarmer's Avatar
      rcfarmer -
      It still seems odd to me that there is discussion about the potential of Rosario over the production of Dozier. Dozier is on pace to be a 40/40 guy, but of course potential is more important. I realize that he probably wont make the 40/40 club but he has a better chance of that than a guy that is suspended in the minor leagues.
    1. kblack1011's Avatar
      kblack1011 -
      Quote Originally Posted by rcfarmer View Post
      It still seems odd to me that there is discussion about the potential of Rosario over the production of Dozier. Dozier is on pace to be a 40/40 guy, but of course potential is more important. I realize that he probably wont make the 40/40 club but he has a better chance of that than a guy that is suspended in the minor leagues.
      I don't think the discussion is potential over productions, it just that Rosario is more valuable at second than left field. If Dozier is 40/40, nobody talking about trading him. But it Rosario level of play ends up being close to Dozier at second and Dozier has trade value and cost more money, the correct move would be to explore trades insteads of moving Rosario to the outfield.

      But on the positive side, if we continue to use Rosario in the infield in the minors, it's perfect training for him to be an outfielder in the majors.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by kblack1011 View Post
      I don't think the discussion is potential over productions, it just that Rosario is more valuable at second than left field. If Dozier is 40/40, nobody talking about trading him. But it Rosario level of play ends up being close to Dozier at second and Dozier has trade value and cost more money, the correct move would be to explore trades insteads of moving Rosario to the outfield.

      But on the positive side, if we continue to use Rosario in the infield in the minors, it's perfect training for him to be an outfielder in the majors.
      Heck if he's 30/30 he isn't going anywhere. I still think if Rosario forces the issue, Dozier moves back to SS. He's been bringing up the average to go with the power, at one point, the team has to recognize that the offensive boost at the position is well worth the defensive drop off, especially if there's a 2B right behind him who is clearly ready.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Quote Originally Posted by kblack1011 View Post
      I agree, the Twins are several years away, if Rosario can be good as second, his value is higher to the Twins. I would think the Twins could get better value for Dozier then moving Rosario to the outfield.
      I disagree. The Twins can be competitive this season if they can get another starting pitcher to succeed and if Escobar is the answer at SS.
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