The Minnesota Twins’ Spring of Springs

Edouard Julien, Arizona Fall League 2022. Photo credit Gail Verderico, @baseball_gail on Instagram.

Coming into the new year, the Minnesota Twins were looking to not only rebuild but compete as well. Disappointed by the outcome of their 2022 season, the team looked to rebound in a big way. They solidified their rotation, bulked up with some power, and mixed and matched offensive pieces to hopefully give them the stability they needed. What they didn’t necessarily count on was their farm system exploding in such a big way. During the month of March, two of their better prospects transformed their value into something not even they could have imagined. As it stands, near the end of March, the team may have two (borderline) elite prospects by the end of the year. Who are they?

Edouard Julien

2022: .300/.441/.449, 17 HR, 19 SB, 24.6% k-rate, 19.3% bb-rate

Julien broke out last season by demonstrating power and patience at the plate and balancing it with speed on the base paths. His 2021 numbers are somewhat similar, but it was his batting average that took a massive 53-point jump this past year. He later went to the Arizona Fall League where he won the “Breakout Player of the Year Award”. All of this was a result of familiarizing himself more with the strike zone, the looks of the pitches thrown, and a change in his swing. His next goal is to attack elevated fastballs and hit for more power. He wants to get more extra-base hits while also maintaining that patient approach. Boy, has he ever.

After being sent down to Triple-A on March 14, he was later placed back into their Spring Training lineup ten days later. With injuries to Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, the team was likely trying to give Julien an extended look against better competition. Back at the GM meetings, Twins’ President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said that the last thing for Julien to work on was his defensive fielding. He mentioned second base as a big part of his abilities but did say too that he is advanced for his age and just about MLB-ready with a bat. That is high praise for a player who began his pro-ball career in 2021.

Summary: The Twins currently have a problem at second base, as Jorge Polanco has had lingering knee problems. He has avoided surgery all offseason, but the soreness just doesn’t seem to want to go away. While it’s not considered a long-term injury, it could be something that lingers and reappears throughout the season. The team recently traded away Luis Arraez, and could very well call up Julien at any point to fill that role. The team seems to like to have a player that can do a bit of everything and do it everywhere. Nick Gordon would be the ideal choice right now, but he’d likely fill in for Polanco if he were to miss extended time. Given how important his defense is to the team, it’s unlikely that he makes the team out of camp. That said, he is possibly a month or two away from coming up and helping the Twins by doing his thing.

Emmanuel Rodriguez

2022: .272/.492/.551, 9 HR, 11 SB, 26.1% k-rate, 28.6% bb-rate

Rodriguez came out flying this past season, catching the eyes of fans everywhere. He makes great contact, shows tremendous patience, and has the potential for some speed. Unfortunately for him and the Twins, he suffered a knee injury and had season-ending surgery at the end of June. It was a crashing halt to one of the best prospect seasons in Twins’ franchise history. Coming into this year, the team wanted to see more out of him, envisioning aggressiveness over passiveness. Much like Julien, he impressed when he had the chance.

Everywhere you look, people are raving about Emmanuel Rodriguez. His 2022 season seemingly came out of nowhere, as it wasn’t expected to be this good this soon. The tearing of his meniscus is worrisome enough for his speed, though it’s the hope that surgery will heal that wound. He did strike out a ton last year, so a better approach at the plate to only swing when warranted while not chasing is something else to develop. All that being said, the foundation has been laid out.

Summary: As he grows and develops against better pitching, the team wants him to attack the zone when he sees a pitch that he likes. The danger zone would be for him to keep waiting for pitches against better hurlers, which would take away his best skills. He came into the spring hoping to showcase his health and his bat. He was able to do that on a big(ger) stage than he has before. Some (such as Keith Law and Jim Callis) say that he could be a Top 10 prospect by the end of the season, but it’s health-related. The sky seems to be the limit here for the 20-year-old Dominican, who could be a household name sooner than we all thought.

Dave Funnell covers the Minnesota Twins minor leagues for Prospects1500. Located just south of Toronto in the city of Hamilton, he's an hour away from Buffalo (and the Bisons). He's been a fan of baseball his entire life and doesn't have a favorite team, which hopefully gives way for objectivty in analysis. Dave is in multiple keeper fantasy baseball leagues and is active on Twitter at @sportz_nutt51.

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