Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Into the futures

Kennys Vargas has hit
14 homers in Double A —
and cut down his
strikeout rate.
You really know you're a prospect nerd if you're more interested in the Futures Game than in the All-Star Game.

In which case, I am very much a prospect nerd.

The Futures Game -- an annual USA-vs.-World contest that kicks off the All-Star festivities on Sunday -- will be July 13 at Target Field. When I ordered my tickets last winter, I was figuring that the Twins's two representatives would probably be Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, just as they were in 2013.

But both sustained significant injuries during spring training, and it's been obvious for some time that neither would be involved in this year's game.

The Twins' contingent instead will be J.O Berrios, right-handed pitcher for the Fort Myers Miracle (High A ball) and Kennys Vargas, a switch-hitting "first baseman" for the New Britain Rock Cats (Double A).

J.O. Berrios — or Jose—pitched for Puerto
Rico in the World Baseball Classic
when he was still just 18.
They're both having marvelous seasons, and Berrios in particular has been a highly regarded prospect from the time the Twins drafted him. The two Puerto Ricans are legitimate selections for the World team, even if they aren't Buxton and Sano.

So July 13 figures to be their first taste of Target Field, and maybe their last for the year. Vargas is already on the 40-man roster, but I don't know how likely he is to be called up this year. Joe Mauer is at first base, and Kendrys Morales is the DH, they're the two highest-paid players on the team, and where would Vargas get at-bats? Outfield is NOT an option for him; he's listed at 275 pounds, and that may be an understatement.

Barrios isn't on the 40 and he's in A ball, so he's not coming up this year. Indeed, I doubt he's going to move up to Double A. He turned 20 a month ago, and the Twins are using him in a six-man rotation (that's their policy in A ball and lower). Move him up to New Britain, and he'll have to jump into a five-man rotation. I don't think the Twins are going to subject his arm to that. As it is, he's one of the youngest pitchers in the Florida State League.

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