MLB Team News & Rumors: Minnesota

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Minnesota Twins

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Minnesota Twins Team Projection

For the second time in 3 seasons, the Twins have averaged less than 4 runs per game (3.8). Minnesota has lost 96 games or more in 3 straight years. Their pitching staff allowed the 2nd most runs (788) in the AL with only 985 K's (6.1 per game). Their big loss in the offseason was long time first baseman Justin Morneau. This opens the door for Mauer to move from behind the plate. The Twins signed P Ricky Nolasco and P Phil Hughes to hopefully upgrade their starting rotation. They also added OF Jason Kubel and C Kurt Suzuki to their offense. Minnesota has a below average offense and pitching staff. While they have one elite player in Joe Mauer, he isn't an edge at 1B. I don't know what the over/under is for this team, but I would take the under.

1. OF Alex Presley

Alex Presley fantasy baseball

The cupboard is bare in the land of the Twins. Presley was acquired late last season and appears to be the front runner for the lead off job unless Minnesota signs a free agent. In limited at bats over the past 3 seasons in the majors, Alex has hit .264 with 17 HR's and 20 SB's. His K rate (19.4%) is just over the major league average, but he has a low walk rate (5.0%). Presley has the same exact average against RH (.264) and (.264) pitching, but lacks power against lefties. Alex hit .292 during his minor league career with 54 HR's and 102 SB's in 2783 at bats (about 5 seasons). He really is a decent AAA player and maybe the Twins are only a AAAA ball club. He has low double digit power and maybe 20 SB upside if he ever was able to get 550 at bats. I don't respect his skill set and he is simply a place holder until something better comes along.

2. SS Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier fantasy baseball

I was way off on Dozier heading into 2013. He hit .298 in the minors with only 16 HR's and 46 SB's in 1405 at bats. His walk rate (8.2%) was about major league average in the majors with a above average K rate (19.3% - 11.3% in the minors). Brian struggled over the first 2 months of the season (.214 with 2 HR's and 13 RBI in 154 at bats). He found his stroke in June (5 HR's and 13 RBI), which led to him getting full time at bats over the last 3 months of the season. His batting average was weak all season, but he was able to hit 11 HR's with 40 RBI and 8 SB's over the last 3 months of the year. His K rate (22.6%) over the last 2 months of the season regressed. While he only hit .219 against RH pitching, he had 13 of his 18 HR's against them. His approach (17 walks and 20 K's) was much better against lefties, which led to a .328 batting average. His 2013 season is intriguing for a middle infielder, but it's tough to trust his power based on his resume. Dozier had better control of the strike zone in the minors, so his batting average may improve. His SB's also may have more upside. Tough to really believe in him progressing further, but he hits in a favorable part of the batting order. Possible 15/20 skill set with uptick in average.

3. C Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer fantasy baseball

Mauer had his season cut short in August due to a concussion. His batting average continues to be an asset, but his power has been a no show in every season except 2009. Joe's FB rate (25.4%) remains very low and it restricts his upside in power, however, his HR/FB rate (12.1%) was the 2nd highest of his career. His K rate (17.5%) was a career high and his walk rate (12.0%) remains in a very good area. This year, he will move to first base and is expected to get the most at bats of his career. As a player that qualifies at catcher, he will be an asset in runs and batting average for sure. The overall Twins lineup is weak, so his RBI upside is limited. Joe has had a high RBI % for most of his career, but struggled with runners on base in 2013. I'm really intrigued by his chance to get 600 at bats with a plus batting average. His power may now have a baseline of 15. If his price point is fair, he is going to be one of my top options at catcher as his high average will allow me to buy low average power later in the draft. 2014 will be his 2nd best season in the majors.

4. OF Josh Willingham

Josh Willingham fantasy baseball

Willingham missed six weeks of the season after hurting his left knee (required surgery). Josh was on pace with HR's (9) over the first 2 months of the year. His knee injury sapped his power in June (1 HR) and it never returned after his surgery. Willingham had only 5 HR's in his last 241 at bats of the season, and hit only .189 after April. His K rate (27.2%) was much higher than his career resume (22.0%), but his walk rate (14.0%) continues to be strong. Josh has 20+ HR power and should have decent RBI chances with Mauer getting on base 250+ times in front of him. He isn't getting any younger, but should get more at bats at DH in 2014. I expect a nice bounce back season.

5. DH Jason Kubel

Jason Kubel fantasy baseball

Kubel played well in April (.306 with 3 HR's and 8 RBI), but missed 2 weeks with a quad injury. His season started to slide away in May (.182) as he was still bothered by his previous injury. In June, his chance for regular at bats was gone. In August, he had 17 K's in 33 at bats with no walks. Jason hit .144 in his last 97 at bats with only 1 HR and 7 RBI. However, he'll get a new life as a full time player with the Twins this year. It's almost like he quit on the team last year and maybe he had a rub with Kirk Gibson. Kubel has four 20 HR season on his resume, but he has a declining K rate (31.7% - career high). His strikeout rate has declined in each of his last 6 seasons. If you are looking for low average power, he'll be hiding under some rock at the end of draft.

6. OF Oswaldo Arcia

Oswaldo Arcia fantasy baseball

Arcia is one of the few players in the Twins starting lineup with long term upside. Last year, he had 24 HR's and 73 RBI between the majors and AAA. His K rate (31.0%) with Minnesota was well above his minor league career (18.9%), but his K's have risen in each level in the minors as he has moved up through the system. His walk rate (6.1%) is projected to be major league average or less. Oswaldo was about the same hitter against RH (.249) and LH (.254) pitching. However, he only had 2 walks in 114 at bats against lefties and had more power against RH pitching (11 HR's in 237 at bats). In August and September, his K rate rose to 35.1%. Arcia hit .314 during his minor league career with 63 HR's and 290 RBI in 1544 at bats. His minor league resume suggests upside in power and batting average, but his major league success points to batting average risk until he makes better contact. Oswaldo has talent and upside, but his K rate will hold him back over the short term. I expect him to get full time at bats and he may have a slump or two during the season. Overall, I expect a sub .250 batting average with 20 HR's and short RBI. Speed is not a factor in his skill set.

7. 3B Trevor Plouffe

Trevor Plouffe fantasy baseball

Plouffe's power took a step backwards in 2013 and his skill set has a lot less value as a third baseman than a middle infielder. He has been a terrible run producer over the last 2 seasons (10% in 2012 and 11% in 2013), which is strange considering he has power. His K rate (21.5%) is high, but it is in line with his previous seasons in the majors. Also, his walk rate (6.5%) took a step backwards. Trevor missed 3 weeks in May and June due to a concussion and a calf injury. He also had a sore wrist in September. Overall, his regression in power was due to less success against LH pitching. His .300 batting average vs. lefties was an improvement in skill set, but he finished with only 2 HR's in 110 at bats compared to 12 in 124 at bats in 2012. In 2012, Plouffe had a monster power streak in May (11 HR's and 21 RBI), but never hit over 3 HR's in any other month. Trevor will have a short window to prove himself in 2014 as Miguel Sano may be on the fast track to the majors. There is always the chance Plouffe could play some games at shortstop, which would make him more of a player of interest. He has 20+ HR ability, but isn't a lock to keep a full time job if he struggles.

8. C Kurt Suzuki

Kurt Suzuki fantasy baseball

Suzuki has been a pig over his last 2 seasons, which has led to 2 mid season trades between the Nationals and the A's. His batting average has been a huge negative in 4 straight seasons and his power (11 HR's in 693 at bats) has been short over the past 2 years. Minnesota signed him in the offseason to a 1 year, $2.75 million contract. Kurt has had a low K rate (11.9%) during his major career, but he doesn't take many walks (6.4%). He has hit under .250 against LH pitching for 4 straight seasons and under .250 against righties in each of the last 3 years. His skill set looks soft and it is easy to see why fantasy players value Pinto higher heading into 2014. I'll give the edge to Suzuki in at bats due to his major league experience and his better glove. I expect him to get the high % of at bats, but he is still worthless in the fantasy world unless he find his 2009 season magic.

9. 2B Pedro Florimon

Pedro Florimon fantasy baseball

Florimon emerged in 2013 as the best option at short for the Twins. He had surprising power with decent speed. His K rate (25.8%) supports his low batting average and it was high throughout his minor league career (23.9%). Pedro is a career .249 hitter with 32 HR's and 102 SB's in 2556 at bats in the minors. All of his power (9 HR's) came against RH pitching. He is a career .204 hitter against lefties. While he is expected to get full time at bats in 2014, his low skill set could lead to a split role if he doesn't improve against LH pitching. His K rate will also invite a slump that could lead to job loss. Florimon may have value as an injury replacement during the season, but he offers too much negative downside with higher at bats.

10. C Josmil Pinto

Josmil Pinto fantasy baseball

It's tough to commit to a young player when you can't find his scouting report ranked in the top 30 with his team during his career. Pinto has been a slow developing player with a history of being a negative defender. He has had a couple of seasons during his minor league career where he has shown a plus bat and a solid approach at the plate. Josmil is a career .275 hitter in the minors with 63 HR's and 351 RBI in 2108 at bats. 2013 was his best season overall, hitting .314 with 19 HR's and 86 RBI in 532 at bats between AA, AAA, and the majors. During his minor league career, he only had 70 at bats at AAA at age 25, plus 76 at bats in the majors. His .342 batting average with Minnesota and his 2013 power will put him on many fantasy player's radar, but his resume and career path suggest he doesn't have the skill set to be an everyday catcher in the majors. The Twins signed Kurt Suzuki in the offseason. His bat has faded, but he is a much steadier option handling the pitching staff. Pinto suffered a sore shoulder in winter ball, but is expected to be ready for spring training. His K rate was 26.5% in the majors. Pinto is a part time player at best for Minnesota and I expect him to get less than 250 at bats. He has no fantasy value on draft day.

11. C Chris Herrmann

He has hit .189 in 175 major league at bats with 4 HR's and 18 RBI. He strikes out 27.5% of the time. After a solid season at AA in 2012 (.276 with 10 HR's and 61 RBI), he struggled in his first season at AAA (.227 with 2 HR's and 22 RBI in 247 at bats. Low upside player that will compete with Pinto for at bats at catcher.

12. 1B Chris Colabello

He spent most of his playing days in the Canadian/American league before getting his chance at AA in 2012 at age 28. He has hit .312 over the last 2 seasons at AA and AAA with 43 HR's and 174 RBI. Last year, he showed power with the Twins (7 HR's in 160 at bats), but only hit .194 thanks to a high K rate (32.0%). Possible backup first baseman in 2014.

13. MI Eduardo Escobar

He is a career .269 hitter in the minors with 19 HR's and 84 SB's in 2464 at bats. He doesn't have the skill set to be a starting major league hitter, and will compete for a backup infield role.

14. 3B Michael Sano

He is the Twins best prospect in the system, but he suffered an elbow injury last fall playing winter ball that may require him to have Tommy John surgery. Last year, he hit .280 at High A and AA with 35 HR's and 103 RBI. He is a high upside power player, but his K rate (29.3% at AA) suggests he won't hit the ground running if he makes it to the majors this season. Sano probably has no value in 2014 due to the elbow issue.

15. OF Darin Mastroianni

Last year, he had his season cut short due to an ankle injury that required surgery in May. He will compete for a backup OF role and provide speed off the bench.

16. OF Byron Buxton

He is one of the few bright spots in the Twins system. Last year, he hit .334 at Low A and High A with 12 HR's, 77 RBI, and 55 SB's in 488 at bats. His K rate (18.3%) is about major league average and he will take a walk (13.2%). While his speed is intriguing, he didn't have a great success rate in 2013 (74.3%). The Twins have nothing in centerfield, so he could move quickly in 2014. He'll start the year at AA. Possible September call up.


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