Category Archives: Custom Minnesota Twins Jerseys

Shaun Anderson Jersey

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On Friday we learned that Devin Smeltzer was already sent to the minor league side of camp while several other fringe starters and Wholesale Minnesota Twins Jerseys relievers remain with the big league club. What does it mean? What does his future hold?

Image courtesy of © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Devin Smeltzer is one of my favorite Twins. His debut in 2019 was electric, he’s interactive with the fan base, and his story is one of the best you’ll find. Smeltzer however is nearing a point where he needs to find his role at the Major League level or risk getting passed up.

Smeltzer’s being sent down already doesn’t necessarily mean he’s fallen out of favor with the Twins. Afterall, newly acquired Shaun Anderson was simultaneously sent down who Wes Johnson has been raving about. The issue is that it goes to show that Smeltzer is firmly behind his two competitors for a swingman/rotation role in Dobnak and Thorpe despite all three finishing 2020 in the minors. There’s little doubt in my mind that we see the soft tossing lefty back in the majors this season, but at this point it looks as if it may require at least 3 injuries for it to be in a starting role.

Smeltzer spent his 2020 at the MLB level as a bullpen arm which rounded out to be kind of odd. By actual performance standards, Smeltzer put up an ugly season with a 6.75 ERA. All the while, his indicators suggested he pitched better than his impressive debut in 2019 with a 4.07 FIP and 4.13 xERA. Regardless, it was hard to argue that Smeltzer was a necessity in the bullpen by years end with left handers Caleb Thielbar and Taylor Rogers available.

All of this leaves Smeltzer in a difficult spot. It’s been made clear that his spot on the depth chart lies behind much if not all of his competition in the rotation as well as almost all of his competition in the bullpen. Meanwhile the young group of arms in the Twins system continues to creep closer to the Major League Level. Where can Smeltzer go from here?

At this point it’s difficult to imagine Smeltzer settling into a rotation role. Pairing the Twins current and upcoming rotation options with Smeltzer’s sub 90 mph fastball just doesn’t make him an obvious fit. While there’s a realistic chance he could make a spot start or two this year, I’m hoping to see the Twins make a dedicated effort to integrate Smeltzer into a bullpen role even without an immediate spot to fill.

Smeltzer does exactly what a soft tossing lefty should do by leading his pitch mix with a changeup to equalize right handed hitters that may be sitting on his fastball. With a .310 slugging allowed on the pitch paired with a 26% whiff rate he has the #1 tool to make it in short stints as more than just a lefty specialist.

Unlike most lefties, Smeltzer’s biggest enemy in his career has been left handed hitters so far. This led to him developing a slider which he threw almost 17% of the time last season. He got unlucky but the 27% whiff rate is encouraging for his first season featuring the pitch. Going into 2021 Smeltzer may just have a strong go to option for hitters on each side of the plate.

If Smeltzer’s performance on his offspeed pitches holds, his fastball would be the final piece to the puzzle, as opponents have slugged around .550 against the pitch in his career. Luckily the Twins have shown an affinity for such a problem, as they often target pitchers with a similar profile and have shown success in fixing it.

Many fans grew underwhelmed by Smeltzer by the end of 2020, but he’s likely to get at least a few shots in 2021. Target Field may not be on their feet for a 100 mph fastball at any point for the left hander, but Devin Smeltzer’s development so far along with his being left handed could mean that his best days are still ahead of him in a Twins uniform.

Kyle Garlick Jersey

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As Spring Training nears its conclusion, the Twins still need to settle a pair of positional battles in the outfield and on the end of their bench. Three candidates for those openings loudly restated their cases for inclusion on the “Bomba Squad” as part of Minnesota’s power show in a 12-7 win over the Orioles on Sunday.

The Twins’ offense has slumbered for much of Grapefruit League play, but the lineup broke out with six homers, including Custom Minnesota Twins Jerseys blasts from Kyle Garlick, Willians Astudillo and JT Riddle, who could all be in the mix for the final few spots on the 26-man roster.

Garlick’s two-run blast in a seven-run third inning was his team-leading fourth homer of Spring Training as he battles Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff for inclusion in a crowded outfield picture. The Twins valued Garlick’s bat to the point where they put in multiple waiver claims for him this offseason — landing him on the second one — and the club feels he can do particular damage against left-handed pitching.

Baldelli on Polanco, Garlick
Mar 22, 2021 · 3:08
Baldelli on Polanco, Garlick
But will that be enough to push Garlick past Kirilloff, ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, or Rooker (No. 13), for a roster spot? The Twins don’t really take Spring Training results at face value when it comes to these decisions, but they’re confident that whatever happens, he’ll see plenty of action in the Majors this season.

“It’s not just that he’s getting these hits and hitting some balls over the fence,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s actually had really good at-bats, putting really good swings on the ball. He’s impacting those. He’s actually hitting the ball really, really hard when he hits it. He’s had a great spring.”

Astudillo likely has an edge for that 26th spot on the roster due to his extreme versatility, and he has ramped up his outfield action this week, making him a particularly appealing option considering Minnesota will open the season in a National League ballpark against Milwaukee with limited roster flexibility due to Nelson Cruz’s presence on the 26-man.

It certainly doesn’t hurt Astudillo’s case that he’s 9-for-25 (.360) this spring with a pair of homers, including his three-run blast in the third inning on Sunday.

Willians Astudillo’s 3-run homer
Mar 22, 2021 · 0:22
Willians Astudillo’s 3-run homer
Happ takes next step

J.A. Happ still needs a reminder sometimes that he can’t hold himself to the same performance expectations as he would at this point in a normal Spring Training buildup. That’s doubly the case when his outing ends as it did against the Orioles, with a four-run third inning that included a pair of singles, two RBI doubles, an error and an RBI groundout.

“You’re trying to not get too frustrated about maybe that last inning in particular or execution,” Happ said. “I think I’ve just got to realize that hopefully that will come. It’s just about the focus and the side work, and then the focus out there.”

It’s more significant that Happ ramped up to 49 pitches across those three innings in his second start of the spring following a late arrival due to a positive COVID-19 test. The lefty had originally hoped to be one of the Twins’ first pitchers on the mound this spring to give himself more wiggle room in his buildup, as he normally likes to taper off his pitch count towards the end of camp.

Instead, Happ will have to go full steam ahead in his buildup and he hopes to be ramped up to 70-75 pitches before Opening Day, which he hopes will set him up directly for his first start of the regular season, likely at the back end of the rotation.

The Twins have expressed optimism throughout the process that Happ will be ready to shoulder the workload, but executive vice president and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey mentioned on Sunday that the club could consider a tandem starter to pitch behind Happ. Lewis Thorpe has entered in relief of Happ in the last two turns around the rotation and could be a candidate for that slot, if needed.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s hard to believe that the Twins are nearing the halfway point of camp, with the big questions in the outfield competition yet to be answered — and, in ways more interesting, considering the early success of Kyle Garlick and Keon Broxton. The new-look infield is also only now getting the chance to Minnesota Twins Jerseys China become whole with the late addition of Andrelton Simmons.

That leaves plenty up in the air down the stretch of the Grapefruit League schedule — so let’s dive right into your questions.

BENCH QUESTION! Assuming Alex Kirilloff is the Opening Day LF, is Jake Cave the fourth outfielder? If so, any chance the Twins can stash Broxton in St. Paul as Buxton insurance?
— @TheBillHaywood

How long does Keon Broxton need to continue keeping this up until his chances of making the team are taken seriously?
— @themattwilke

Assuming health, I find it very tough to imagine any version of this Opening Day roster that doesn’t have Cave on it. It’s obviously a nice sign for the Twins’ depth that Broxton is having such a productive spring, but let’s also keep in mind that the sample size there is a handful of Spring Training games, and that Broxton didn’t see any real game action last season.

Cave has been solid against right-handed pitching throughout his Twins career, can play center field and has been a go-to option for this coaching staff. Regardless of whether it’s Kirilloff, Brent Rooker or even Garlick that rounds out the outfield, I think there’s a place for Cave and his beard on the 26-man.

As to the second part of your question: There’s actually a good chance of the Twins being able to hold on to Broxton without breaking camp with him because he doesn’t have an opt-out at the end of Spring Training. That feels to me like it would a safe bet for depth considering prospects would likely benefit from seeing more live game action in Minor League Spring Training.

Does Jorge Polanco need to step up his game defensively in Spring Training to guarantee he starts at 2B and take time/at-bats away from Luis Arraez?
— @SMSGolfer22

No. Barring injury, Polanco is this team’s starting second baseman.

There’s very little — whether on offense or on defense — that can happen in Spring Training that will do much to change the club’s evaluation of a longtime contributor like Polanco. He’s been in the organization since he was 16 years old. They know who he is as a defender by now — certainly not a superb defender at shortstop, but a solid second baseman, at minimum.

Arraez will consistently find his way onto the field. You don’t need to worry about that — and a slightly lessened workload won’t necessarily be the worst thing, considering his history of knee issues.

Rooker, Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach. How do they rank today vs. the Opening Day roster?
— @LeftyMark1

I’m not 100% sure what you’re asking here, but if you’re asking where they rank in terms of their likelihood of making the Opening Day roster, I’d put Kirilloff with a slight edge over Rooker, with a larger gap between those two and Larnach.

Rooker and Kirilloff already have big league experience (though it’s only one game in Kirilloff’s case) and both are on the 40-man roster, whereas Larnach is not. Larnach is also a slight step behind both of the others in his development timeline.

Twins on Alex Kirilloff’s talent
Feb 26, 2021 · 1:15
Twins on Alex Kirilloff’s talent
With Arraez only playing the infield in Spring Training games thus far, is he no longer a legitimate left-field option?
— @ReasonedFellow

I’d say he’s still an option there to the extent he was before. It’s clearly not the team’s preference, and it doesn’t seem like he was ever going to be a regular in a left-field rotation or anything like that. They played him out there in 2019 hoping that he’d pick it up on the fly, and he did that acceptably. He’ll remain a candidate to play there in a pinch if the club needs him.

Still, his focus will remain on the infield. I’d expect most of his time this season to come at second base and third base, and his usage this spring reflects that.