Twins

Keep An Eye On These St. Paul Saints If The MLB Season Is Delayed

Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson (USA TODAY Sports)

As the great Yogi Berra would say, it gets late early out here. Baseball is stuck in a waiting game, and the sands of the off-season hourglass are slipping down the drain at a quickening pace. The lockout is eating away at the precious moments of preparation for players, and it may be time for fans to prepare themselves for an unlikely and gravely-forlorn outcome – that the Major League Baseball season will be delayed.

If that does happen, fans need to know who to follow on the Saint Paul Saints. The Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A club will need to occupy the minds of Twins’ faithful in the season’s early weeks, if not longer. It’s not as easy as looking toward Royce Lewis, Jordan Balazovic, or Jose Miranda because the lockout affects all players on the 40-man roster. That eliminates most, though not all, of Minnesota’s top-10 prospects. But there will be a handful of exciting players looking to shine if they get the proper spotlight.

Curtis Terry

Signed as a minor league free agent in November after getting a cup of coffee with the Texas Rangers, Terry could be the biggest power threat on the Saints in 2022. In 99 games at Triple-A last year, his big right-handed bat blasted 48 extra-base hits, including 22 homers. His .275/.349/.533 slash line was good enough to earn him a promotion to the bigs. However, he was unable to translate that success with the Rangers. Look for him to get regular at-bats and reps at first base and as the designated hitter. Who knows, if he finds a groove during his time at CHS Field, maybe he can get a chance to redeem himself across the river before the year is up.

Spencer Steer

Like many minor leaguers, Steer is an example of someone who lost a full season of work during the pandemic in 2020 but made huge strides behind the scenes. He broke out at High-A to start the 2021 season with a monster .274/.409/.506 line in 45 games. The Twins promoted him to Double-A, where he held his own. However, he had a noticeable dip in his on-base skills. Steer’s strikeout rate rose to a career-high 26.1%, but he still displayed solid power numbers while splitting time between second and third base. He might not start the year in St. Paul. But if he comes out of the gates with as much gusto as he did in 2021, he could get a quick call across town.

Tim Beckham

A former first-overall pick, Beckham is getting a fresh start with the Twins after failing to make the big league roster with the White Sox last year. Take that with a grain of salt, though, because he had a legitimately great year in Triple-A. He hit .279/.330/.545 while playing all four infield positions, and some left field to boot. Depending on the remaining moves that the Twins make when the lockout is over, he could be in a position to seize an opportunity as a utility player with the big league club eventually. First, he’ll need to impress with the Saints. But if Beckham plays the way he did in 2021, he could be an exciting name to watch.

Austin Martin

The centerpiece in the José Berríos trade, Martin represents the highest floor of any prospect in the Twins’ system. Though he hasn’t wowed defensively, Martin has the best on-base skills in this year’s prospect class and has shown glimpses of stellar play since being drafted fifth overall in 2020. At the time, he was seen as the best bat in the draft after Spencer Torkelson, who was selected first overall. He led all of Double-A with a .424 on-base percentage, leading many to think that he could either start the year at Triple-A or at least get an early-season promotion if he starts out on the right foot. With Lewis and Miranda being unable to play until the lockout is over, Martin could be the premier draw for the Saints in the early going.

Jake Cave

Hear me out. Cave is coming off two brutal years with the Twins, and most fans are pretty vocal about the fact that they are tired of seeing him get everyday reps in the majors. However, in his last two stints at Triple-A, he set the league ablaze and is back in the Twins’ system after agreeing to a minor league assignment in November.

Cave hit .352/.393/.592 in 48 games at Triple-A in 2019, and his numbers there were even better in 2021 (though it was a small sample size of just eight games). He is currently a prototypical Quad-A guy. He has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues but hasn’t found a consistent stride in the bigs. If the MLB season is delayed, Cave would be one of the elder statesmen on the Saints. And if he puts up these expected monstrous numbers again, he would be worth the watch for fans as they try to keep their minds occupied.

Sure, this is a hard concept to chew on. Obviously, most fans would want the league and the players to resolve their negotiations in time to have a normal MLB season. But there is a real possibility that fans are left in the cold come late March, and the Saints could be the only professional live baseball in the state. Some of these names are more exciting than others, but each will be tasked with putting on a show if they find themselves in the spotlight without MLB action. There are still grains of hope that fans won’t have to worry about this happening, but they’re slipping through the off-season hourglass with each passing second.

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Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson (USA TODAY Sports)

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