Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Adding to (but not filling) the 40

The Twins added three prospects to the 40-man roster Monday, the deadline to protect them from the Rule 5 draft next month.

The three: Stephen Gonsalves, Zach Littell and Lewis Thorpe. All are starting pitchers; Gonsalves and Thorpe are lefties, Littell a right hander. Gonsalves and Littell shone in Double A in 2017; Thorpe got back on the mound after a series of lost seasons to injury and again showed strong stuff.

Notable for their absences are RHP Kohl Stewart, the No. 4 overall pick in 2013; 1B Lewin Diaz, who got a $1.2 million bonus when the Twins signed him out of the Dominican in 2013; RHP Nick Burdi, second round pick in 2014; and RHP Jake Reed, who has flashed impressive stuff at times as a reliever.

I'm not truly surprised by their omissions.

Stewart has never lived up to his draft position; he reached Triple A last season, but that's more because of the investment made in him by the previous regime. His K-rate is way too low for him to be considered a real threat to crack a major league staff.

Diaz just had his first season of more than 200 plate appearances, and it came in low A. He's not going to get picked in Rule 5 because he's limited to first base defensively and in this age of 13-man pitching staffs nobody's going to carry a position player of such limited use. (If they do, they deserve the 100 losses they're asking for.)

Burdi had Tommy John surgery last summer; if he pitches at all in 2018, it will be late in the season. A team that Rule 5's him can stash him on the 60-day DL this year, true, but then would have to carry him all of 2019. Probably not happening.

Reed is the one of that trio who might be tapped. But between his inconsisency and some arm issues, the Twins have not really treated him as a fast-track relief arm.

I've focused on who didn't get added partly because I've become accustomed to the Twins stuffing their 40 with minor leaguers. That didn't happen this year; the Twins still have four vacancies on their roster. They've left themselves plenty of space for additions, be they via free agency, trade of prospects for veterans or the Rule 5 draft.

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