Throughout most of the 2010s, dedicated Twins fans looked longingly at prospect lists and the minor league rosters, hoping for the player that would come up and begin to turn things around. Even as recently as last year, with the team experiencing a bit of a downturn after reaching the playoffs the year before, there was the hope that Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero or even Brett Rooker might be able to make a difference with a spot on the roster.
Gonsalves and Romero made appearances in spot starts through the year, and the Twins saw Kohl Stewart and Jake Cave make debut appearances as well, though they didn’t turn the season around. Instead, the Twins longed for Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano and were seen as weaker in their absence.
It is admirable to consider that the Twins front office approached this season the same way they did last year. The difference is that some of the bargain pieces they’ve signed are already working out, and Byron Buxton is on the roster, healthy and performing. The Twins have the best record in the league, and there has been little call for help from Rochester.
You might be saying ‘duh, the team is good.” You’re right. But there is more to it. Less pressure on prospects allows them to develop at their own pace and spend more time learning in developmental leagues, because they aren’t yet the only hope for the big league club to turn it around.
Additionally, the contributions of Gonsalves, Romero and Cave made last year give fans a better perspective. First, it shows that there are unheralded players that are developing in the Twins’ system that may contribute when they get a chance. It also shows that not every top prospect will immediately be a perennial all star, but they will be reliable when given enough time.
The Twins’ system is still full of good prospects, but the team doesn’t need them right this instant. When they will be called on, expectations will be reasonable, which is healthier all the way around.