SAN DIEGO — There has been some chatter around the winter meetings about how an additional roster spot will affect Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, and while having that 26th player to work with could lead to more teams being open to carrying a player who might not be entirely ready for the majors, it seems unlikely that the Twins will be making any selections.
“We’re going to go over a couple of players,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “I’m not sure if that is likely with, to be honest with you, with where we are right now, but we’ll see.”
The Twins have open space on the 40-man roster but don’t pick until 27th in Thursday morning’s draft. Falvey said they have looked at a few different guys and “it could happen,” but with where the Twins are in trying to defend their division title makes it seem less so.
So, it’s potentially more likely that somebody gets picked from the Twins. The Twins added five players — Dakota Chalmers, Jhoan Duran, Travis Blankenhorn, Gilberto Celestino and Luke Raley — to their 40-man roster last month ahead of the draft.
Wander Javier, the Twins’ No. 7 prospect per MLBPipeline, is their highest available player. But Javier, just 20, hasn’t played above Class A Cedar Rapids yet while dealing with injuries over the years.
Javier hit .177/.278/.323 last season with the Kernels in 80 games. He has just 552 minor league at-bats since 2016. That makes the odds he gets picked and stashed on a team’s active roster for an entire season seem slim.
Griffin Jax, the team’s third-round pick in 2016, is the team’s second-highest prospect available, per MLB Pipeline. Jax, a 25-year-old right-handed pitcher, started 20 games at Double-A Pensacola before finishing the season in Triple-A. He posted a 2.90 earned-run average in his 23 starts across the two levels and has a 3.18 career minor league ERA.
“I hope not, but you’re always concerned about it,” Falvey said of a player getting drafted. “Tonight’s the night every team in their suite hears from their scouts or people who are down in the lobby, ‘We’re going to lose like five guys.’ Every year I’ve been at the winter meetings, every team feels that way, and there’s usually not that many selected but you could, you could lose a few.”
Report on baseballs
Talks of a “juiced ball” ran rampant last season as home runs spiked around the league. The Twins led that chase, finishing the year with 307 home runs. That mark set a new MLB record, smashing the record of 267 the Yankees set a year before. Across baseball, the 30 teams combined for 6,776 home runs, also a new record.
“We have never been asked to juice or dejuice a ball, and we’ve never done anything of the sort, never would on our own,” Rawlings president and CEO Michael Zlaket said during a Wednesday morning press conference.
A study commissioned by Major League Baseball that was conducted by a committee of scientists concluded that the home run spike was 60 percent due to “a decrease in drag,” as a result of the baseball’s seam height and other factors and 40 percent due to “changes in launch conditions,” which was attributed to “batter behavior.”
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli received the Minnesota Sports Awards’ Coach of the Year honor Wednesday night at the annual event in downtown Minneapolis. Baldelli, who has been with Twins officials in San Diego this week, was not on hand to accept the award, but pitchers Taylor Rogers and Devin Smeltzer were there.
Earlier this offseason, Baldelli was named the American League Manager of the Year as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In his first season at the helm, Baldelli led the team to 101 wins —the second-most in club history — and a division title.
Tickets on sale
Tickets for the 2020 home opener April 2 against Oakland, as well as April home games and TwinsFest went on sale on Wednesday morning.
The Twins are offering a holiday deal in which fans who buy tickets to Opening Day before 10 p.m. Dec. 31 will receive two free tickets to any other home game in April.
TwinsFest will be a two-day event this year and is set for Jan. 24-25 at Target Field. Tickets are $25 per day for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.