Baseball is back in action! Today, the first five teams reported to their respective camps. Twins pitchers and catchers report February 22 in Florida, with the rest of the team joining them five days later. This year, the Twins hope to end a four-season streak with 90 or more losses. In fact, our club wants to play .500 baseball and perhaps make the play-offs for the first time since 2010.
Here are a few things to watch as players and coaches are prepping for this seven-month marathon.
Unlike in recent seasons, this group of pitchers looks promising. The Twins basically have three starting pitchers locked in, with two spots up for grabs. In reality though, Kyle Gibson will cover the fourth spot unless he has a horrific spring. The three shoe-ins for the starters are Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and newbie Ervin Santana (36 wins combined in 2014). Nolasco recorded 6 of those last year, but look for pitching coach Neil Allen to work with him. Candidates who are competing to be the fifth starter are Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, and Tommy Milone. To me, Meyer and May will get considerable looks, with Pelfrey and Milone as fall-backs.
The Twins offense this season should be one of the best. Last year, a few prospects made appearances. Danny Santana came up last season and had some good months, batting .319 with 129 singles and 40 RBIs. Astonishingly, Santana wasn’t the best rookie to debut in 2014. The Twins brought up a youngster named Kennys Vargas, who looks a little like “Big Papi.” Vargas sure did produce with 38 RBIs and nine home runs in just 53 games. Look for Vargas and Santana to win a spot on the MLB roster out of spring training.
Another exciting addition to the offense is the return of Torii Hunter. Hunter will most likely be the left fielder in 2015, as he still has the batting power. Hunter went .279 with 87 RBIs and 17 home runs with Detroit last year. Finally, and again, Minor League superstars Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano will be making spring training appearances in the upcoming month. Don’t look for Buxton and Sano to start in the Majors this season, but the Twins better bring up their marquee players later on. It’s time!
The Twins will ring in a new era of coaching in 2015. Paul Molitor will bring a fresh voice for coaching, as he brought in five new coaches and re-assigned Joe Vavra to bench coach. As the Twins offense did pretty well last year, Molitor kept Tom Brunansky as hitting coach. The big addition is Allen, who replaces Rick Anderson as pitching coach. Allen, with help from new bullpen coach Eddie Guardado, will bring life to the Twins pitching staff. To learn more about all the new coaches, read my post from December.
Here’s to 2015 and a beginning of a remade ball club! Exciting times are ahead! What are your Spring Training predictions for 2015?
Written by: Michael L. Sack