The Minnesota Twins opened their 2015 Major League Baseball campaign on Monday in the same way they have opened each of their last six seasons, with a loss. Facing Ace David Price, who took the mound as Detroit’s opening day starter after joining the Tigers at last season’s trade deadline, the Twins lived up to their status as 100/1 longshots in World Series betting at the online sportsbooks, producing just five hits in an uninspiring 4-0 loss.
It is a storyline that Twins fans will likely hear again and again this season, and one they have become accustomed to in recent years. Minnesota enters the new season looking to build on a meager 70-win performance in 2014. While that sounds bad enough, it is important to remember that last year’s 70-92 record was the best the Twinkies have produced since winning the AL Central in 2010.
Minnesota posted a dismal 63-win record in 2011, followed by a pair of 66-win seasons prior to last year’s mediocre performance. But not all hope is lost for long suffering baseball fans in the North Star State. The upside of the Twins’ dismal performance has been the opportunity to stockpile young talent that could contribute with the big club as soon as this season.
Leading the list of young stud prospects is center fielder Byron Buxton. Selected second overall in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, the 21 year-old product of Baxley, Georgia has been described by veteran OF Torii Hunter as “Mike Trout 2”, crystallizing the youngster’s promise as a five-tool outfielder with superstar upside.
However, after incurring a wrist injury in Spring Training that dogged him throughout last season, along with a concussion suffered in a violent outfield collision with a teammate shortly after his promotion to the AA New Britain Rock Cats, Buxton was mercifully shut down for the year, and given a chance to heal.
Buxton opens the 2015 campaign as the MLB’s top prospect for the second year in a row, according to Baseball Prospectus. As expected, Buxton starts the season in the minors, where he will look to build on the impressive numbers that earned him Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2013, before his inevitable call-up to the big club later this year.
Joining Buxton at the top of the Twins’ prospect list is third baseman Miguel Sano. Ranked No. 12 among top prospects, Sano is also coming off a lost season in 2014. The 21 year-old from the baseball hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic underwent Tommy John surgery last spring after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow while attending Spring Training with the Twins.
However, Sano looked to be quickly returning to form at this year’s camp, where he appeared in six games, and tallied a pair of homeruns including a shock-and-awe blast to deep center field off of Pirates hurler Gerrit Cole.
Like Buxton, Sano will see plenty of playing time on the farm with AA Chattanooga, with it only being a matter of time before he gets his chance with the Twins.