Wednesday, March 18, 2015

40-Man Roster Dissection: Corner Infielders

Minnesota's corner infield group includes two veteran players and two up-and-coming prospects. Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe are both former first round picks who have a strong presence on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas will both be trying to prove they can stick long-term at baseball's highest level.

Out of all of the groups profiled in the "40-Man Roster Dissection" series, the corner infielders might be the most solid. Mauer and Plouffe will be penciled into the Opening Day line-up with something to prove. Sano and Vargas offer hope and the possibility of a bright future.

Joe Mauer
.277/.361/.371, 4 HR, 27 2B, 55 RBI, 60 R
Mauer is coming off a transitions year where he shifted from behind the plate to first base. The hope was that this move would result in some more power and fewer injuries. His batting average was the lowest of his career and he struck out over 95 times for the first time in his career. Mauer will be 32-years old this season and fans are going to look for him to get back to his old offensive ways. The Twins were able to have a top tier offense last season without Mauer performing at his best so a bounce back season could be just what the doctor ordered. 25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

Trevor Plouffe
.258/.328/.423, 14 HR, 40 2B, 80 RBI, 69 R
Plouffe is coming off of arguably his best season at the big league level. He was finally able to combine some solid offensive numbers with much improved defense at third base. His 40 doubles were good for fourth in the American League. It will be interesting to see what the long-term plan is for Plouffe with a healthy Sano lurking in the minors. He might follow the path of former Twin Michael Cuddyer and be asked to move to a corner outfield spot.  25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

Miguel Sano
Didn't Play in 2014 (Tommy John surgery)
Sano is back this season and ready to prove he's healthy. A year removed from Tommy John surgery, Sano will likely start in the higher levels of the minor leagues with the assumption that he'll make his debut in the second half of 2015. His powerful swing has always been his ticket to the big leagues even if there have been questions about his defense. This might have been the biggest drawback from missing an entire season as he would have been able to continue to improve at third base. He should be among a strong core of players starting at Double-A. 25-Man Roster Prediction: No

Kennys Vargas
.274/.316/.456, 9 HR, 10 2B, 38 RBI, 26 R
Vargas made a splash in a limited amount of playing time last season. His smile and powerful swing have quickly made him a fan favorite. Before being called up, he compiled some of his best numbers in the minors and started at first base in the Futures Game. He could use some more seasoning in Triple-A and there could be some issues finding him regular at-bats in the big leagues. Mauer is penciled in at first and players like Josmil Pinto, Oswaldo Arcia, and Torii Hunter might need to fill-in at DH. 25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

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