September is an opportunity for teams that aren’t in contention to showcase their younger talent. While the Minnesota Twins have used their extra roster spots to take a look at Joe Ryan and Nick Gordon, Jose Miranda is the one prospect we should have seen this month.
When we last checked in on Miranda, he was having one of the Twins’ greatest minor league seasons in the past 20 years. That hasn’t changed; Miranda has kicked into an extra gear in September.
In 21 games at Triple-A, Miranda is hitting .371/.411/.551 with four homers and 17 RBI. Miranda’s overall line (.342/.400/.568 with 29 homers) helped him win the Twins Minor League Player of the Year Award earlier this week, and he is a safe bet to be a consensus top-50 prospect next season.
Calling Miranda up would make sense in a year that’s produced disappointment. The Twins could try Miranda out at a couple of different positions, see where he’s comfortable and allow him to compete for a spot on next year’s roster. Instead, they have opted to keep Miranda in the minors. There are several possible reasons why this could have happened.
First, the Twins could have been taking a big picture look at Miranda’s service time. This is the team that once kept Byron Buxton in the minors to buy an extra year of team control, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if that is a consideration.
The other possibility is that this could be a favor to the St. Paul Saints, who are in their first year as an affiliate in the Twins’ system. With St. Paul chasing down a division title, keeping Miranda in the minors could draw some ticket sales and allow fans to trek to CHS Field to see him in action.
But the most likely reason is the lack of bench spots. Rosters traditionally expanded to 40 players, but the rule changed to only two additional call-ups this season. With the Twins starving for pitching, those spots went to Ryan and reliever Jovani Moran, leaving Miranda to play for the Saints.
However, it’s not like Miranda’s path to the majors was blocked. In 25 games this month, the Twins have decided to start the trio of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez, and Willians Astudillo at the hot corner. All have valid reasons to start, but Minnesota would also be justified moving them over to give Miranda an audition.
Donaldson leads the way with 13 starts despite his nagging injuries. While this could be an effort to convince teams he’s healthy before shopping him this offseason, they could have made him the designated hitter to open a spot for Miranda.
Even if the Twins used Donaldson at the same rate, Miranda could have subbed for him on days he needed to DH. Instead, the Twins went with Arraez, who they still want to use in a utility role. That’s fine, but Arraez’s versatility could have paired him with Miranda in the lineup. With Arraez making eight starts at third base, this was another wasted opportunity.
Then there’s Astudillo, because who doesn’t want to see their favorite Turtle-Man playing the hot corner? With the bonus that he could wind up on the mound, the Twins have to find some reason to bring their fans to the ballpark.
Whatever the rationale, there was room for Miranda to come up and continue one of the season’s top stories. Just like Ryan has inspired optimism on the mound, Miranda could have shown a bright future, especially if the Twins go into a complete rebuild next offseason.
It’s not a given Miranda would have had the same success, but it would have at least given fans something to look forward to.