This offseason is going to be a pivotal one for the Minnesota Twins . Tops on Minnesota’s winter to-do list — yes, even above overhauling a last-place roster — is hiring new leadership. The Twins fired longtime executive Terry Ryan earlier this summer, and they reportedly have eyes on co-opting the two-headed decision-making structure that’s caught on throughout the league — the Los Angeles Dodgers , Chicago Cubs , A’s, and Toronto Blue Jays are among the arrangement’s progenitors.
We don’t know yet who the Twins will hire — though we know someone they won’t hire — but that’s the supposed plan for now. It’s clear that whoever takes over will inherit a pressing issue: figuring out what’s wrong with Minnesota’s player-development methods.
When the Twins were at their best, they were lionized as talent producers. Realistically, the Twins had to excel at nurturing Torii Hunters and Joe Mauers and Brad Radkes, because they couldn’t afford the market prices for similar talent. Still, Minnesota baseball became synonymous with the idyllic small-market approach, along with playing the right way and all that nonsense.
Nowadays? The Twins are located on the other end of the player-development spectrum. If they’re a machine, it’s defective.
Consider that back in November 2013, then-Baseball Prospectus writer and now-Cubs scout Jason Parks wrote that the Twins’ farm system was the best in baseball, one “with impact players at every level and enough depth to restock after some of the monsters graduate.” Almost three years later, what do the Twins have to show for their best-in-show ranking?
Take a look at their top 10:
|1||Byron Buxton||73 OPS+ in 187 MLB G|
|2||Miguel Sano||125 OPS+ in 184 MLB G|
|3||Alex Meyer||No longer with org|
|4||Kohl Stewart||4.6 K/9 in Double-A|
|5||Josmil Pinto||No longer with org|
|6||Jose Berrios||9.21 ERA, 1.71 SO/BB in 10 MLB G|
|7||Eddie Rosario||96 OPS+ in 209 MLB G|
|8||Lewis Thorpe||Missed ’15-’16 due to injury|
|9||Felix Jorge||3.9 K/9 in Double-A|
|10||Jorge Polanco||111 OPS+ in 57 MLB G|
Or, not as much as the Twins would’ve liked. Sano, Rosario, and Polanco are the successes of the bunch — and Sano and Rosario each face position-related question marks. Meyer and Pinto provided minimal value to the big-league club before being exiled. Berrios has endured growing pains in the majors, while Stewart and Jorge have experienced the same at Double-A — the level that’s supposedly the best at sieving the real from the fake prospects. And, oh yeah, there’s Buxton.
Of all the prospects listed, Buxton has disappointed the most. He was ranked as baseball’s No. 1 or No. 2 prospect by BP, Baseball America, and MLB.com three springs in a row for good reasons — namely his well-rounded game and explosive athleticism. Buxton has since failed to deliver, and has struggled to the extent that we all get excited whenever he has a hot streak.
Obviously there’s no point giving up on Buxton yet — he’s 22 and still has impact-level potential — but it’d be nice if his hot streak lasts longer than a Snapchat. We’ll see.
While there’s certainly an element of luck involved in prospect success, you can’t ascribe the Twins’ failings to mere chance. Their handling of Sano, Rosario, Buxton, and Berrios has seen them yo-yo the youngsters back and forth from the minors seemingly on a whim. Whereas most teams stand by their young players and allow them to work through their struggles (within reason, anyway) — as if to say “I love them more than my luggage” — the Twins have employed little such patience.
There’s no evidence indicating Minnesota’s perform-or-pack approach is working, either. And let’s not start on their pitching ideology. Oof.
The bright side for the Twins is this: For all the disappointment, their core could still make us all say, “Gah!” in the near future. Add Buxton, Sano, Rosario, and Polanco to Max Kepler , and the Twins could have most of a lineup in place. “Could” is the operative word, because for that idyllic scenario to come to fruition and produce results, the Twins will first have to reassess how they handle young players.
In that case, a new set of eyes — or sets, as it is — might just be what’s needed. Here’s hoping the Twins pick the right pairs. The alternative outcome is too bleak to ponder.
Source: CBS Sports / Here’s how badly the Twins have misfired at developing their top prospects