There have been a great deal of issues with the Minnesota Twins in the first month of the season. The Twins will hope they can build on, and fans will remember their 6 homer drubbing of Cleveland, but the rest of the month has been an abysmal, COVID and injury filled 7-15.
The pain points have been obvious. The bullpen, and in particular Alex Colomé, have let too many games get away. Injuries and illness absences have meant too much Jake Cave and Willians Astudillo, and another slow start from Miguel Sano, coupled with a bad beginning from Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco have called into question extensions given to all three.
One particular area of disappointment is perhaps an area of unreasonable expectation. The Twins let Eddie Rosario go this offseason, suspecting they had as much productivity available already in the organization. (Actually, Jake Cave has been worth .1 win above replacement, which is more than Eddie Rosario in Cleveland, but that’s not the point). Fans were enthusiastically pinning the hopes on Alex Kirilloff, and to a lesser degree Brett Rooker.
Kirilloff was promised to be a bat first corner outfielder, whose bat was good enough that a move to first somewhere down the line didn’t dim his star. Rooker isn’t the prospect Kirilloff is, but he is even more bat focused. In total, Rooker’s OPS is .375, and Kirilloff is even more frightening at .269. In a team with some ghastly offensive numbers, Rooker and Kirilloff stand out as the worst.
For that matter, the other rookie to show up on the field didn’t do so hot either.
Travis Blankenhorn gets the grounder to potentially win the game can’t make the play and Oakland only trails by 1 now vs the Twins pic.twitter.com/j9UvZzT9zV
— MLB Walk Offs & Game Winning Plays (@MLBWalk_Offs) April 21, 2021
Nick Gordon was also on the roster for a few games, but couldn’t get onto the field.
This is probably a valuable lesson in patience. Last year was especially strange and difficult for developing prospects, and the already difficult leap into the top level was undoubtedly made more difficult with little competitive baseball under their belts since 2019. Kirilloff, Rooker and even Blankenhorn are still part of the Twins future, but our initial expectations were overzealous.
Still, getting the rookies back up to “bad” instead of “expressly terrible” will be a sign that things are turning around, as the basement for where this team is will be elevated. Maybe by the end of the season, these youngsters might even qualify as “good.”