Wednesday, March 25, 2015

40-Man Roster Dissection: Center Fielders

The race for the starting center fielder job is one of the hottest contests in spring training this year. Aaron Hicks has been the Opening Day starter the last two seasons but he hasn't been able to hit at baseball's highest level. Jordan Schafer seems more like a fourth outfielder than an everyday player. While Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario, might not be ready for baseball's highest level.

Rosario has certainly played well enough during the spring to deserve and opportunity but this comes on the heels of a rough regular season in 2014. It seems far more likely for Hicks or Schafer to split playing time until one of the young players in the system proves they are ready for the role.

Aaron Hicks
.215/.341/.274, 1 HR, 8 2B, 18 RBI, 22 R
Hicks has come north with the club in each of the last two seasons. However, he hasn't show offensive consistency and this has resulted in him combining to play 150 MLB games. There was some talk of him switching away from being a switch hitter last season but that talk has cooled. Minnesota has given Hicks plenty of chances so it could be a make it or break it season for him with other younger options getting closer to being big league ready. 25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

Max Kepler
.264/.333/.393, 5 HR, 20 2B, 59 RBI, 53 R (High-A Level)
Since the Twins signed Kepler at such a young age, he had to be added to the 40-man roster while he was still multiple years away from Target Field. Kepler's power numbers dropped last season during his second year of full season ball. The majority of his minor league games have come as a center fielder but he's also played a large chunk of games in both corner outfield spots and a little at first base. It seems likely for him to have to break into the big leagues at a position other than center field. 25-Man Roster Prediction: No

Eddie Rosario
.243/.286/.387, 8 HR, 20 2B, 40 RBI, 45 R (High-A & Double-A Level)
Rosario began last season serving a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test. Once he was able to get into games, he compiled some of his worst hitting numbers of his professional career. Things started to get back on track during his second stint in the Arizona Fall League. He was one of the best hitters in the league and he helped led his team to the championship. His spring training numbers could mean he's finally recovered from last season's disastrous start. However, he'll probably still need to start the year in the minors. 25-Man Roster Prediction: No

Jordan Schafer
.238/.310/.305, 1 HR, 9 2B, 15 RBI, 26 R, 30 SB
With Paul Molitor at the helm, the Twins might be a little more aggressive on the bases. That's where Schafer could provide some positive upside for the club. He stole 30 totals bases last year with 15 of those steals coming after he was claimed off waivers by Minnesota. He's other offensive numbers don't exactly excite anyone and that's probably why he would be most valuable as a back-up outfielder and late inning pinch runner. 25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

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