Twins

5 Twins Non-Roster Invitees Who Could Make An Impact Next Year

Photo credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

Spring Training games are underway for teams across Major League Baseball, and many non-roster invitees and minor leaguers are getting playing time early in camp. Their performance in spring will help determine whether they will be part of the organization as the season starts.

By mid-March, the players will know their Opening Day roles, including the 19 non-roster invitees in camp. All 19 players will not be on Minnesota’s active roster this season. However, some will see playing time at one point of the season or another.

Some players like Jordan Balazovic, Randy Dobnak, and Niko Goodrum reached the majors. Twins fans are familiar with them, and they spend time on the active roster in 2024.

But some non-roster invitees could make an impact in 2024. Below are five names to get acquainted with before the season starts.

Daniel Duarte 

The Twins acquired Duarte from the Cincinnati Reds off of waivers on Feb. 2. He pitched well as a rookie last year, appearing in 31 games out of Cincinnati’s bullpen and posting a 3.69 ERA. Duarte also has strong velocity on his fastball, averaging 95.6 miles per hour.

But Duarte needs to work on his command. He averaged 5.7 walks per nine innings in 2023, totaling 20 walks in his 31 ⅔ innings of work. His Baseball Savant page doesn’t glow as brightly as other pitchers in camp due to his limited time on the mound. But Duarte’s expected batting average against hitters is his one outstanding stat in a shaded red hue.

Hitters only had an xBA of .193 off Duarte’s pitches, which puts him amongst the top 20 pitchers in the league among qualified pitchers. As long as he threw his pitches in the strike zone, hitters had difficulty finding the ball and making contact.

Duarte will start the season in St. Paul if the Twins don’t cut him. Duarte must earn his way into the Twins bullpen later in the season, but he has time in St. Paul to improve his command.

Ronny Henríquez

Henríquez had a brief stint with the Twins at the end of the 2022 season as a long reliever. But injuries and a poor transition to a full-time reliever kept him in the minors last year, and he finished the season with a 5.93 ERA in 60 ⅔ innings between Ft. Myers and St. Paul.

Henríquez spent his off-season in his home country, retooling himself in the Dominican Winter League. While his time on the mound was brief, he had an even ERA of 2.00 in nine innings of work, showing signs of progress from his 2023 season.

At his best, Henríquez can invoke memories of Pedro Martínez because they are 5’11” and throw a fastball, slider, and change. But Henríquez must improve his command to return to the majors.

Now that it’s certain he will be a full-time long reliever, the Twins need to see what they can get out of him in camp. He must show them he can become a reliable reliever they must call up by the middle of the season.

Chris Williams

Williams had a sneaky good season in St. Paul last year, leading all Saints with 21 home runs and 75 RBI in 95 games. His defensive depth is valuable because he’s a right-handed hitter who splits time between first base and catcher.

However, Williams struggled with contact and trying to lower his strikeout numbers after leading the Saints with 122 strikeouts last season. But Williams’ power numbers and clubhouse presence sets him apart. Even though CHS Field is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the International League, Williams hit 14 of his 21 homers on the road.

The Twins have a greater need for right-handed bats in the outfield. But a potential injury to Ryan Jeffers, Christian Vázquez, and Jair Camargo behind the plate could be the easiest path for Williams to reach the majors this season. Still, his time in St. Paul this season will be worth watching for any Twins fan who wants to indulge their curiosity on the next wave of Twins players.

Anthony Prato

Prato started his season with a .171 batting average in 129 Double-A at-bats. While his counting stats didn’t indicate that he earned a call-up, the change of scenery from Wichita to St. Paul in June was exactly what Prato needed.

He posted a .345/.478/.582 triple slash with a 1.060 OPS in his first 16 Triple-A games. While he regressed as the season continued, Prato finished the year in Triple-A with a .302/.452/.539 triple slash and .991 OPS.

Prato faces a challenging path to the majors, though. His primary positions are in the infield. But unlike Williams, Prato played in the outfield in 18 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year.

Suppose Prato can replicate his success with St. Paul in spring training and beyond. Then there’s a good chance he’ll crack into the Twins roster for a pinch-hit or defensive role at some point in the season.

DaShawn Keirsey Jr.

Keirsey is the only outfielder among Minnesota’s non-roster invitees this spring. Kiersey’s 2023 season was outstanding at Double-A. He had a .305/.363/.488 triple slash and .851 OPS in 91 games with the Wind Surge before getting called up to St. Paul on Aug. 3.

Keirsey’s solid defense has earned him a full-time role in center field throughout his minor league career. But he still has a way to go before making it to the majors.

Still, that shouldn’t dismiss his abilities and how he can improve himself in spring training to earn a call-up to the Twins by mid-summer. However, the Twins recently traded for Manuel Margot, which will delay Kiersey’s callup.

All five players will likely see some playing time with the Twins or another major league team this season. That’s why Twins fans should get acquainted with their names and abilities while they still get frequent playing time in spring training games.

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Photo credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

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