Pitchers and catchers report to Minnesota Twins Spring Training on Sunday and position players will debut in Ft. Myers, Florida, next Friday.
All eyes will be on Byron Buxton as he tries to keep the starting job in center field all the way to the regular season opener April 4 in Baltimore.
According to Twins reporter Rhett Bollinger, the center field job is Buxton's to lose – but there's no guarantee he'll be the Opening Day starter.
Others in the mix to start include Eddie Rosario, Danny Santana and rising prospect Max Kepler, although Rosario is likely to start in left field, Bollinger says.
More on Buxton's starting chances from Twins Daily's Seth Stohs:
"Two things are apparent based on comments from Twins Fest. First, the Twins really, really want Byron Buxton to show up to spring training ready to take over center field starting Opening Day. Secondly, Buxton will not just be handed the job. In my opinion, it won’t be so much about stats, but it will likely be about his ability to take good plate appearances, lay off sliders down and away, etc. If Buxton goes to AAA, Danny Santana likely is the center fielder to start the season."
Buxton is still the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.
In mid-January Nick Nelson of TwinsCentric wrote that none of the three outfield positions are locked down by any player. Miguel Sano could start in right field if his transition from an infielder to an outfielder works out. But that's not a guarantee.
Nelson believes Kepler will start the season in Triple-A, but the reigning Twins Minor League Player of the Year already has the attention of the Twins after hitting .322 with 54 extra-base hits, 19 steals and an impressive 63-to-67 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Double-A New Britain last season.
Opening Day starter?
Here's another decision manager Paul Molitor will have to make: Which of his starting pitchers will get the nod on Opening Day?
There's three pitchers in contention for the role, according to MLB.com, including Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson.