5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About The 2014 Minnesota Twins
The last three years have been rough for the Twins and their fans. The Target Field experience has been soured by lousy pitching, weak hitting, and a lineup that just can't seem to stay healthy. General Manager Terry Ryan has done his best to get this team out of the AL Central cellar, and while they might not be World Series bound any time soon, there are still reasons to get excited about the upcoming season.
The Overhauled Starting Rotation
Starting pitching has been the biggest weakness on this team for years, and GM Terry Ryan finally did something about it by adding veteran free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes in the offseason. While they may not be elite, number one starters, they will certainly be a big upgrade over what the Twins were putting out on the mound in years past.
A Healthy Joe Mauer Playing First Base
10 years at the most physically demanding position in the game seemed to take its toll on Joe last year. He was competing for yet another batting title before a concussion in August cut his season short. The decision was made to move him to first base permanently, and you have to believe the lightened workload will lead to an uptick in offensive production from Joe, who is still in the prime of his career.
Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Alex Meyer Are Almost Here
Outfielder Byron Buxton is the best prospect in all of baseball. And he's just barely 20 years old. He's been invited to Spring Training this year, and if he continues to produce at the torrid pace he did last year, the Twins could be tempted to give him a shot in September. Miguel Sano is the best 3rd base prospect in the game, and despite being just 20 years old, there's a good chance you'll see him in a Twins uniform sometime this season. Pitcher Alex Meyer is the most promising young arm in the Twins system, and if he impresses in the Spring, he just might land that 5th starter role in the rotation.
3-12-14 Update: Miguel Sano's arrival in Minnesota will have to wait for another year, if not longer. He's scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, which will basically end his 2014 season before it even got started.
Oswaldo Arcia and Josmil Pinto
Oswaldo Arcia flew under the radar for a couple years before a fantastic 2012 season in the minors opened the eyes of the Twins and their fans. He dominated in AAA last April, and basically forced the Twins to promote him to the Major League squad. Other than some shaky defense, he didn't disappoint. Between AAA, the Majors, and the Venezuelan Winter League, the 21 year old hit 32 home runs in 2013. Josmil Pinto only played in 21 games with the Twins in September, but he displayed promising potential, especially with the bat. He hit .342/.398/.566 with 4 HR's in just 76 at bats. Pinto should get the majority of the playing time this year at catcher, and Arcia is already penciled in as the Twins starting right fielder.
The All Star Game at Target Field
Minneapolis will become the center of the baseball universe on July 15th, as Target Field hosts the MLB All Star Game. Don't forget that the Home Run Derby, as well as the Futures Game (which will no doubt feature some Twins prospects) will be at Target Field as well.