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It's been a long time since we've circled the bases with a Three-Bagger, which explores three different Twins stories in the news.
As Spring Training 2.0 swings into gear, let's unpack a quirk in the timing of Michael Pineda's return, the implications of top prospects playing just minutes away from Target Field, and the saddening uncertainty surrounding Fernando Romero.
Image courtesy of David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports (Alex Kirilloff)
Michael Pineda: It's Just Like Making a Trade!
During the latest episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron and John made a connection that I hadn't noticed: the conclusion of Pineda's carryover suspension will coincide almost exactly with MLB's rejiggered August 31st trade deadline. This brings to mind the classic utterance for Twins fans, "It's just like making a trade!" – often used to mock the team for sitting out deadlines, and pointing to players returning from injuries as impact additions.
Interestingly, as Patrick Wozniak wrote here last week, this is basically a script-flip on the original plan for Rich Hill, who was supposed to join the fold around the standard deadline and negate a possible need for the team. Now, the veteran lefty is expected to be ready to go from Day 1.
By being forced to serve his full remaining suspension in a shortened year, Pineda is getting a raw deal. It's almost hard to believe the league would stick to such a penalty, and that explains why reporters keep getting asked about it over and over again. Just doesn't make sense. Alas, the Twins are almost guaranteed to get one big addition around the strange new deadline.
Twins Across the Twin Cities
On Monday, the Twins shared publicly their 60-man player pool, which includes the entire 40-man roster plus 19 non-roster players. As expected, the discretionary "taxi squad" list is filled mostly with experienced minor-leaguers, along with a handful of top prospects.
I gotta say that all this talk about "Summer Camp" and pools is not helping with me normal summer FOMO, but I digress. It's exciting to see all these names and to think about the possibility of young talents like Trevor Larnach or Brent Rooker making an impact. (Cody Christie wrote about the chances of various top prospects to reach the majors in 2020.)
It's quite interesting to me that the auxiliary group will be based out of CHS Field in St. Paul, just miles away from Target Field. I've always thought it would be fun to have a minor-league team in the same vicinity as the big-league club, giving fans an opportunity to see upcoming talent without traveling. (Red Sox fans, for example, need drive only 40 minutes or so to see their Triple-A team in Pawtucket.) That won't really be in play this summer, obviously, but it's cool that Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff and other premier upcoming prospects will be staying sharp so nearby.
On that note, I'm very curious: what is "staying sharp" going to look like? In order to be ready to step into legitimate major-league action on short notice – not to mention simply develop skills appropriately throughout the season – these extra players need to be routinely competing at a very high level, which exceeds the typical intrasquad scrimmage or sim game. What will that look like? Games? Stats? Will there be coverage? I have no doubt there'll be appetite for it.
Wherefore Art Thou, Romero?
One player who, like Pineda, is on the team's summer roster but currently unavailable: Fernando Romero, also on restricted list. In this case, though, the underlying reason is unclear. Romero didn't report to camp in March due to visa issues, and those issues evidently haven't been resolved.
To my knowledge, there still haven't been any details reported on exactly what's going on here. I suppose it would make sense if the visa application system is currently bogged down and out of whack due to everything going on. Hopefully that's the case, and Romero isn't embroiled in something serious. Either way, it's a really tough situation for a guy at a key spot in his career. Romero was set to exhaust his final MLB option in 2020. At this point, you've really gotta wonder if we are going to see him pitch again in a Minnesota uniform.
The former No. 1 Twins Daily prospect and forgotten flamethrower averaged 97 MPH with his fastball in the majors last year, ranking in the 95th percentile among all pitchers.
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