2009 MLB Preview: #14 Minnesota Twins

Click Here to see Previews of all 30 MLB Teams

Offseason Movement: The Twins were rather quiet this offseason, but they did sign free agent third basemen Joe Crede (formally of the White Sox) and pitcher Luis Ayala, who could contribute as a setup man this season.

Top Prospect: Aaron Hicks, OF
The Twins selected Hicks with the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft in hopes he could become the next Torii Hunter. Hicks is a switch-hitter, with above average power and has demonstrated excellent bat speed. He could turn out to be a five-tool player, but it’ll be a couple years before we see him in the big leagues because he’s only 19. Believe it or not, many teams preferred him as a pitcher in last year’s draft; that’s how good of an athlete Hicks is.

The Big Question: Will Joe Mauer’s back injury keep the Twins from competing?
There’s no question that a lot of the Twins’ success this year will revolve around the health of catcher Joe Mauer. He underwent kidney surgery earlier this offseason and had been slow to recover. But he was also diagnosed with an inflamed lower back in mid March, which is now the chief concern for the Twins. It already appears that Mauer will miss Opening Day and as of right now, there is no timetable for his return. There’s no doubt that Minnesota needs their star 25-year old catcher healthy, or else the Indians, Tigers and/or White Sox will overtake them in the AL Central.

Outlook: The Twins won 88 games last year and it’s hard to believe that the team that they’ll put on the field this year will be any worse. This club has a balanced lineup from top to bottom, with most of its power coming from Justin Morneau, Joe Crede and emerging youngster Jason Kubel, while Denard Span and Carlos Gomez bring the speed. But the nucleus is Joe Mauer, who (as previously noted) has some major health concerns right now. If his back doesn’t become a long-term problem, then the Twins could compete for the AL Wild Card, if not the division depending on whether or not the Indians and Tigers can bounce back from horrid 2008 seasons. But if Mauer’s injury sticks around for a while, it’s hard to see this club being competitive over the long haul, especially considering the starting rotation is a bit unproven. (Albeit the top three of Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and Kevin Slowey are all solid.)

Projection: 3rd AL Central

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts