Friday, March 15, 2013

Two Weeks to Go - Ten Players to Watch

Up until now players have been working themselves into shape and shaking off the winter's rust. From here on out the competition will get a lot tougher as the major league players are in playing form and ready to focus on the season. The guys who have shown promise and are still fighting for jobs will need to prove themselves. 

 Here are ten players to watch over the last two weeks of spring training.

Joe Benson

Benson was named as one of the candidates for center field when spring training started. He got off to a slow start, while his main rival Aaron Hicks, got off to a good start. But he has had a couple of good games recently. Most encouraging, they did not include a lot of strikeouts. He needs to continue that.  At the very least he could have a shot as a fourth or fifth outfielder if he does.

Eduardo Escobar

Escobar seems to have moved himself up on the list of middle infielders. He is very likely to be on the roster as a utility infielder, but he has a shot at taking the starting spot at either second base or shortstop.

Sam Deduno

Deduno has been pitching well in the World Baseball Classic. In particular, he has been avoiding the walks that have plagued him as a big league pitcher. If he can continue to show he has mastered his control when he returns to major league camp, he will have a shot at a spot in the rotation. As Baseball Outsider points out, he still needs to show he can pitch deeper into games. But his stuff is nasty and if he can control it he will get a hard look for a rotation that is pretty thin.

Liam Hendriks

Hendriks has pitched well enough that he would have a spot in the rotation if the decision were made today. He needs to use the next couple weeks to cement his spot.

Aaron Hicks

After his three run homer game, a lot of people handed Hicks the center field spot. He cooled off a bit after that. He is still the front runner, but he will need to demonstrate he can lead off against major league pitching and avoid rookie mistakes on defense.

Brian Dozier

Dozier looks like the front runner for second base. His defense at second appears to be much better than it was at shortstop. He still needs to show he can hit major league pitching over the next couple weeks.

Alex Burnett

Burnett went into spring training as one of the established guys in the bullpen. He has really struggled. He has an option left, so  he needs to turn it around or he may start the year at AAA. I still don't think he really needs to win a spot in the bullpen so much as avoid losing one. His major league experience gives him a leg up on other options.

Ryan Pressly

Pressly is Rule 5 draft choice who has to be returned to the Red Sox if he doesn't make the team. He has pitched very well so far. He needs to show he can continue to do that as the competition heats up. If he does, he will very likely have a spot in the bullpen.

Tyler Robertson

Perkins and Duensing are the lefties set in the bullpen. The Twins would like to carry a third lefty and Robertson is the only lefty still competing for a bullpen spot. He had a rough start, but seems have settled down. In the past, he has been very hard on left-handed hitters, but has struggled against right handers. He needs to show  he can at least do nominally well when facing a right hander. If he can, he will probably have a spot in the bullpen.

Chris Colabello

Colabello was hitting well when he headed off the WBC. He hit well in the WBC. He is still a real long shot to win a roster spot. He needs to continue to hit these last couple weeks and hope he can claim a place as an extra bat on the bench.


Jim H said...

Good post. I think that Butera probably ends up on the roster. He isn't the liability some bloggers think he is. My opinion is that he really doesn't take AB's from Mauer or Doumit and probably his presence guarantees that they get more AB's than they would if he or someone like him, was not on the roster.

As far as Benson and Escobar go, while it possible their major league ceiling is backup, I doubt if the Twins want them there, just yet. If they don't start, they probably go to AAA, at least for awhile. I don't think there is really a need for a utility backup to Carroll and Benson probably needs regular AB's.

Deduno is very interesting. He could easily be the 5th starter. I think he will end up at AAA. But there are a lot of ways for him to make the 25 man roster. Devries is another interesting case. I really think he will make the opening day roster, either as the 5th starter or long reliever.

I believe you are right about Burnett, he has a spot, but he needs to pitch well enough not to lose it. If Pressly doesn't fall apart, he should make the team. With 7 relievers, the Twins will probably try to keep him around. His upside is likely higher than a Wood or Roenicke.

TT said...

Jim -

I think the question of Butera is up in the air, especially if they decide they want Jeff Clement's bat on the bench. He can probably catch enough to do the job until Butera arrives from AAA if someone is injured.

I think Escobar's (or Olmedo's) spot depends in part on how comfortable they are with Carroll at shortstop. With Florimon's weak bat, its likely the backup is going to be out there at the end of some close games.

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