Twins Prospect Call-Up Round-up

Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins Spring Training, March 3, 2019 - photo credit Bryan Green on Flickr

We are just over a quarter into the 2021 MLB regular season, and already we have seen an influx of Minnesota Twins Prospects make some sort of contribution towards the big league club behind the plate. Unfortunately for Minnesota, as of this writing, they are dead last in the league with the worst record in baseball, meaning that if their downward trend continues, we could see more and more of these players in the near future. For now, though, here are the prospect hitting performances that we’ve seen thus far.
*Stats used are for games completed as of the end of May 25, 2021

Alex Kirilloff

Don’t let the low batting average worry you, as his Hard Hit Rate, his Barrel Rate, his Max Exit Velocity and his Sweet Spot Rate are all well above league average. Essentially, what that means is that he hit the ball hard, just not to the right spots to warrant him getting on base. The promising part of his big league story thus far has been his play at first base, which is an additional piece of eligibility too. He also had an incredible weekend of play right before going down with a wrist injury where he hit four home runs against the Royals, exhibiting some of the presence at the plate that I’ve been loving for years.

After that, he was sidelined with a wrist issue after sliding awkwardly into second base. It was somewhat concerning given the fact that he’s had wrist issues in the past, and surgery was originally an option for him at the time the injury happened.  Still, he healed on his own and he himself progressed in his rehab faster than anyone expected. Be wary though: if the Twins continue to struggle, they may hold Kirilloff out for any and all wrist issues and wait until next year in order to ensure that he is safe.

Grade: A-

Trevor Larnach

When I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. I thought that Larnach wouldn’t be up for a promotion until either later in the season or possibly even as far as a 2022 call up, due to him getting more experience in Double-A. However, here we are, and small sample aside, he’s held his own at the plate. I like the abundance of extra bases. I’ve always been an advocate of promoting those as a precursor for future power, and Larnach is known to have a strong bat.

And while it is early, it’s great to see him get the time up with the big league team. He’ll need to maintain some sort of patience at the plate, as he looks to be a little anxious when he’s at bat with an above league average first pitch swing rate, and is striking out at an above average rate. Still, he’s a very smart hitter who should be able to absorb what he’s told and what he experiences into something substantial. If you can stash him away on your fantasy teams, I would do so for the time being, as he is seeing time at both corner outfield spots. The future of his playing time is purely dependent on how quickly Byron Buxton can come back to help the Twins. I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent him back down for refinement at some point if and when the Twins get healthy in order to get more consistent playing time. Then again, he’s proved me wrong before and could very well do so again.

Grade: B

Ryan Jeffers

Jeffers has struggled mightily in 2021, as he was very slow to get out of the gate. He was slated to compete against Mitch Garver for playing time, and has since been demoted due to this struggles. How bad has he been? Let’s put it this way; Mitch Garver is currently batting a bit over .200 and maintains his status as the team’s starting catcher, with no consideration for a change. Jeffers’ 2021 was a disaster to the tune of a 48.6% Strikeout rate, a woeful Launch Angle, a scary high Ground Ball Rate and only one hit against any pitch that wasn’t a fastball. Since his demotion, he has found his stroke again, posting numbers in the minors that are very similar to what he did with the Twins in 2020.

He’ll need to regain his confidence again before he gets the call back up and should be the next man up to try and win his spot behind Garver. Fellow prospect Ben Rortvedt is struggling in his own right and poses no real threat to Jeffers at all right now.

Grade: D

Brent Rooker

This is not the start anyone envisioned, present company included. After a successful debut last summer, there was much promise in the power bat to be an option this year for some development. Instead, he promptly struck out 13 times in only eight games to start the year and was sent down for a chance to regain his stride. Since the demotion, he has shown some patience at the plate, walking almost as many times as he’s struck out, but he is missing the consistent contact needed to be considered for a return to Minnesota.

I’ve always felt that Rooker would be a terrific designated hitter. He has the power in his bat, but he doesn’t necessarily have the best glove. Since being demoted, he has dropped balls, fumbled ground balls and crashed into a wall. Those aren’t close to Gold Glove resume writing qualities, but they don’t look good on paper for a call up. My guess is that he has a shot to take over for Nelson Cruz next season. If the Twins continue on this downward spiral, they may even trade Cruz for some youth to stock up their farm system.

Grade: C-

Nick Gordon

Gordon was called up to replace Luis Arraez on the roster when the versatile infielder was injured and then placed on the Seven-day Concussion Protocol Injured List. In his brief time, he went 1 for 2 and even stole two bases. While his time off didn’t really move the needle either way for him, it did give a brief glimpse into how the Twins may use him in the future. He is someone that has been full of potential for years and could yet provide some worth to the Twins. After he got demoted again, he has thrived in Triple-A:

He has the glove, the bat and the speed to make a difference. He’s slowly but steadily progressed in every year of his professional career, but has never really gone above and beyond. There is potential there, but putting it all together remains the last hurdle for him to really stand out. I worry that he may forever be a Quad A prospect, but he was just recently recalled back to the Twins, and could help them as a pinch runner of sorts. With a potentially long term injury to the aforementioned Luis Arraez, he could finally get a chance to prove himself.

Grade: N/A

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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