This morning, the Twins made a few roster moves in order to trim their camp crowd a little bit. There are never as many open competitions as we think when camp opens up, but rather an opportunity to set up the line of succession should there be issues during the season. Make no mistake, there will be issues throughout the season.
The Twins have, therefore, divided those players they are demoting into players headed to Rochester and players going to minor league camp. The players going to Rochester should be appreciated as the players that will have an easier path to the major league roster should an opening crop up. Let’s run through those players and see what they have to offer, and a scenario for which they may be called up. All of these scenarios, of course, are contingent on their continued success in Rochester.
OF Daniel Palka – Daniel Palka, acquired for Chris Herrmann an offseason ago, led the minor league system in home runs. That’s what he offers the Twins. A masher.
Scenario – The Twins have Joe Mauer, Kennys Vargas and ByungHo Park in the home run hitter role, but none of them are outfielders. They cycle between 1b and DH, which Palka could certainly do, but it seems more likely that he will be the first line of defense if their outfield bench bat – Robbie Grossman, struggles. He might be option number 7 for DH as well, because the Twins really like Matt Hague and Ben Paulsen. A spot in the outfield seems much easier.
OF Zach Granite – Zach Granite, despite his name, is known for his fleet feet and good glove. A capable bat combined with that speed made him the Twins Minor League player of the league last year
Scenario – The Twins will be leaning heavily on their outfield defense this year. If there are injuries to any of the regular starters – Rosario, Buxton or Kepler, and especially if JB Shuck and Drew Stubbs decide they would rather not be AAA players and opt out of their deals, Granite will be in the Twin Cities.
SS Engelb Vielma – Vielma doesn’t rate highly on prospect lists because he is not expected to provide much on offense. He is very good in the field, however. Rather than glove first, you might instead label him as “all glove.” He is closer to his ceiling than Nick Gordon, and as a result, is closer to his MLB debut.
Scenario – The Twins infield defense is rocky. There are two utility players to spell Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. Eduardo Escobar is better at the plate, while Ehire Adrianza is Engelb Vielma aged a few years. If either of those guys go down, Expect Vielma to be called up very quickly.
C Mitch Garver – The Twins have attempted to find a suitable replacement or stopgap catcher to replace Joe Mauer for quite a while now. Their inability to do so has led to years of Kurt Suzuki and the addition of Jason Castro. Garver is the latest attempt at a home grown catcher.
Scenario – The Twins will go with JR Murphy or Chris Gimenez behind the plate. Both are good defensive catchers, with good framing numbers. Garver projects to be a bit more capable at the plate, so if there is zero offense from one of the catchers, or if Castro gets injured, I can foresee Garver moving to the Big League roster. The Twins will likely keep Murphy or Gimenez on the roster regardless of who the other catcher is.