The Twins lost 103 games in Terry Ryan's final year as general manager, but a month before that 2016 season ending Ryan hit a home run by drafting Alex Kirilloff.
Kirilloff was selected with the 16th overall pick and even though he had some question marks at the time, his offensive ability has helped him skyrocket through the organization heading into this season, and the rest of the world has noticed, too, highlighted by Kirilloff being ranked as the ninth-best prospect in all of baseball by The Athletic's Keith Law.
But what could Kirilloff add to a team that hit 307 home runs last season, and could he break through a crowded outfield to make an impact as the Twins charge toward another postseason berth in 2020?
An offensive powerhouse
Dating back to his senior year of high school, scouts were amazed with what Kirilloff could do with a bat in his hands. He won a home run derby during a Perfect Game showcase in the months leading up to the draft and MLB.com's scouting profile confirmed that if a team was enamored enough to take him in the first round, it would be because of his bat.
"While there is a little length to his swing, he's shown the ability to barrel the ball consistently and has considerable raw power," MLB.com's Cash Kruth wrote at the time.
"For him be an everyday corner outfielder, Kirilloff will have to fit the offensive profile. The team that takes him, perhaps as early as the middle of the first round, believes the Liberty University commit will do just that."
It didn't take long for Kirilloff's bat to translate in professional baseball as he hit .306/.341/.454 with 7 HR and 33 RBI with rookie league Elizabethton. Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2017 season before he returned to post monster numbers in 2018.
Between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, Kirilloff destroyed any pitcher put in front of him, hitting .348/.392/.578 with 20 HR and 101 RBI. That campaign put the hype train in full motion.
A rough 2019 season
Kirilloff was slated to head to Double-A Pensacola to begin the 2019 campaign but injured his wrist in April. Although it was thought to be a minor wrist injury, it landed him on the shelf the first two months of the season and a second injury put him back on the injured list for a short stint in June.
Once he got things in order, however, Kirilloff again flashed his ability to rake with the Blue Wahoos. From June 1, Kirilloff hit .299/.346/.439 for Pensacola and helped lead a late playoff charge that ended with a loss to Biloxi.
Although Kirilloff only hit nine home runs over the course of the season, it was another promising development for the 21-year-old and even put him on the radar as a potential September call-up, although the Twins opted to use patience over throwing him into a playoff crucible, a la Jason Kubel in 2003.
How can he help the Twins?
The Twins have plenty of offense on the roster, which makes the possibility of Kirilloff forcing his way to Minneapolis seem a little far fetched. However, he has more upside than Jake Cave and Lamonte Wade, and with the injury history of Byron Buxton, he could find himself at the major-league level sooner than later.
There's also the wild card of Eddie Rosario's status with the club. Despite hitting a career-high 32 home runs and 109 RBI, his 2019 season was considered a disappointment because of a .300 on-base percentage and a finishing last among all MLB outfielders with -17 outs above average.
Still, the offensive numbers earned Rosario a raise to $7.75 million this offseason and if he continues to put up power numbers, he could draw interest from teams looking to shore up a corner outfield position with the Twins probably seeking pitching in return.
If the Twins can get Kirilloff to the major-league level, he has the ability to do some serious damage while also providing quality defense.
With a swing that Jim Bowden compared to Christian Yelich earlier this offseason, Kirilloff's star is bright. It just depends on when that star is slated to arrive in Minnesota.