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How the Minnesota Twins 60-Man Roster Affects the Pitching Staff, Fringe Players and Prospects

Photo credit: David Richard (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins are headed to camp!

Major League Baseball is back for Summer Camp (Presented by Camping World) and the Twins have their roster assembled.

Minnesota collected 59 names; 29 pitchers, 13 infielders, 10 outfielders, six catchers and one designated hitter to make up the allowed roster for the shortened 2020 season. Out of those players there are a few key points to note where the Twins made moves to be as competitive as possible in the long and short term.

Pitchers

Aside from the two restricted players Michael Pineda and Fernando Romero, Minnesota’s pitching staff remains ready to go both from a starting and relieving perspective.

The three breakout pitchers from 2019, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe all made it to the 40-man portion of the roster, with both Smeltzer and Thorpe providing much-needed left-handed help to the largely right-handed staff. The only other left-handers on the main staff are starter Rich Hill and closer Taylor Rogers.

With each of those pitchers, plus the mainstays of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Kenta Maeda on the expanded roster to start the season, the Twins have many options to try as starters or to pick up the slack if Rocco Baldelli and the coaching staff opt to keep them to shorter outings.

Fringe Players?

On either side of the line between the taxi squad and the 40-man roster, there are players that have serious ability to move up or be cut.

Eventually, the starting roster will be cut to a 30-man by opening day in late July, then it will be trimmed to 26 players near the end of July. Some players have a chance to make an impact, especially as effective bench players in the infield and outfield. While most of the Twins’ position players are set into their spots, injuries will arise and those bench/utility players will have to rise up.

For position players, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Nick Gordon have a lot to show the major league club if they want to stick around into August. Jake Cave, the fourth outfielder from last season filled in a lot when Byron Buxton was injured, and if anything were to happen to him or the other outfielders, the fourth or fifth player could end up with significant playing time.

As for Gordon, he has a crowded middle infield to work with. Jorge Polanco is the shortstop and Luis Arraez is the second baseman. Behind that, the bench player to beat is switch hitter Ehire Adrianza.

On the other side of the fence is Jhoulys Chacin, a veteran pitcher the Twins brought in to bring back to form after a down season spending time with the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox. Right now, Chacin is on the taxi squad, but if he takes to what pitching coach Wes Johnson preaches to him, there is potential he could move up to the main roster.

Valuable Assets

The Twins sure want to keep an eye on their top prospects, and that isn’t a bad idea this season, considering there aren’t minor league options.

Some of Minnesota’s prized prospects are on the taxi squad, including Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff. While they are questionably major-league ready, the team has them on the roster so they keep up on their development. If the team hopes that these players are someday the backbone of the roster, they want to keep the players under a watchful developmental system rather than working individually for a seemingly indefinite time.

While it’s highly unlikely the Twins thrust these players into major league play on the main roster in 2020, the possibility remains due to the unpredictability of COVID-19. In the Philadelphia Phillies organization, seven players have already tested positive for the virus, as well as in Minnesota, where several players have tested positive before reporting to camp.

If the league intends to continue as players contract the virus, inexperienced players will need to fill the voids left by players that need to sit out.

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Photo credit: David Richard (USA TODAY Sports)

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