2020 Twins non-roster spring training capsules
The Minnesota Twins will have 20 non-roster players at spring training this season, the same number they brought in last year. Some are prospects getting their first taste of the majors while others are veterans hoping for another chance. Don’t discount these guys — among last year’s non-roster spring training camp players, four – all pitchers — were with the big club at some point during the season (for what it’s worth the four who made it of the 20 at 2017 spring training were all position players).
Here’s a look at each of this year’s 20 invitees to Minnesota’s camp.
LHP Charlie Barnes
A fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2017, Barnes has quickly moved up the chain, pitching at three levels in 2019. He mainly appeared for Double-A Pensacola, where Barned posted a 3.60 ERA and 13.6 WHIP with 73 strikeouts in 75 innings over 14 games (13 starts). He got a taste of Triple-A Rochester in August, but was hit hard, allowing 29 hits in 18 2/3 innings.
RHP Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin went from opening day starter for Milwaukee in 2018 to being released by the Brewers in August 2019. Chacin made 35 starts for the Brewers in 2018, recording a 3.50 ERA and 1.163 WHIP. But home runs were his downfall, among other things, last year (as they were for many pitchers). He saw his HR/9 rise from 0.8 in 2018 to 2.2 in 2019. His career rate is 1.0 HR/9, so perhaps this was an aberration and Minnesota will be getting the guy who had a 3.86 ERA from 2010-18. He’s certainly worth a flyer and look in spring training.
LHP Sam Clay
It took a while, but Clay, who turns 27 in June and was Minnesota’s fourth-round pick in 2014, finally made it to Triple-A in 2019, although most of his year was spent at Double-A Pensacola. Clay had a 2.70 ERA with the Blue Wahoos in 46 2/3 innings and 4.37 in 22 2/3 innings with the Red Wings, although he did whiff 26 batters with the latter. Let’s just say this: It helps to throw left-handed.
RHP Edwar Colina
Colina pitched mainly for High-A Fort Myers last season, where he had a 32.34 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 61 2/3 innings, so he might seem like a strange addition at camp. He did get into 31 innings at Double-A Pensacola, where he had a 2.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 37 strikeouts and also was promoted to Triple-A Rochester, where he did not fare well in two appearances. Still, he has a career 2.80 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in the minors while striking out nearly a batter an inning, so Minnesota will get a deeper look at what it has in Colina.
LHP Danny Coulombe
Another left-hander, although Coloumbe has major-league experience having pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland from 2014-18, compiling a 4.27 ERA, 1.326 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 over 143 1/3 innings. The 30-year-old Coloumbe is strictly a reliever – he has one start in his career and that came in the minors in 2018. His best season probably came in 2016 with the A’s when he had a 1.133 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 in 47 2/3 innings. In 2019, he pitched solely in Triple-A for the Phillies and Brewers organizations, combining to record a 4.71 ERA but with 61 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.
RHP Ryan Garton
Like Coloumbe, Garton is 30 and has major-league experience. He totaled 57 games and 61 1/3 innings for Tampa Bay and Seattle in 2016-17 and had a cup of coffee (three innings) with the Mariners last season. His MLB career numbers: 4.90 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 7.0 K/9. Last year with Triple-A Tacoma he had a 3.99 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 over 65 1/3 innings. Garton has a career 3.00 WHIP, 1.248 WHIP and 9.4 K/9 in the minors.
C Juan Graterol
Every team needs that veteran backstop in camp and down in Triple-A just in case he’s needed at the major-league level. Graterol appears to be that guy for the Twins in 2020. He’s played in 67 MLB games – 48 of those came in 2017 with the Angels; he also got into three games for Minnesota in 2018, just in case you recognized his name. He’s not much of a hitter — .272/.320/.336 with 15 homers in 547 career minor-league games and .216/.227/.266 in his brief major-league forays but he has thrown out 37% of attempted basestealers in his time down on the farm.
LHP Blaine Hardy
After pitching for Detroit from 2014-18, Hardy became a free agent and signed a minor-league deal with Minnesota. He sports a career ERA of 3.73 with a 1.329 WHIP in 289 2/3 innings. Last season with the Tigers he fell to a 4.47 ERA in 44 1/3 innings but still had a 1.1540 WHIP. Over his career, he’s had an OK success against right-handers, allowing a slash line of .271/.329/.407 compared to .232/.297/.411 vs. lefties. Hardy pitched in the minor last year only on a rehab assignment and appeared in just nine Triple-A games in 2018, so he might be majors or bust (gone, trying his hand elsewhere).
RHP Griffin Jax
A third-round pick out of Air Force in 2016, Jax’s military commitment might have thwarted his progress through the system a tad, as he reached Double-A for the first time in 2019. With the Blue Wahoos he had a 2.90 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 23 starts. Jax also made three starts at Triple-A Rochester in August, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) on 19 hits in 16 innings.
C Ryan Jeffers
You need catchers in camp to help share the load due to so many pitchers being around, so why not bring in a former high draft pick (second round in 2018) who had a stellar 2019 campaign. Jeffers started out at Single-A Fort Myers in his second year of pro ball and hit .256/.330/.402 with 10 home runs in 79 games. He was promoted to Double-A Pensacola, where he fared even better, slashing .287/.374/.483 in 24 games.
OF Alex Kirilloff
It’s not a question of if but when the left-handed hitting Kirilloff will make his debut in Minnesota. Considered one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, Kirilloff hit .283/.343/.413 as a 21-year-old in Double-A last season. Injuries have slowed him somewhat – he did miss the entire 2017 season – but his career minor-league slash line of .317/.365/.498 makes one take notice. With the Twins’ lofty goals, it will be interesting to see how they deal with a potential Kirilloff call-up.
OF Trevor Larnach
After splitting time in 2019 between High-A and Double-A, the 2018 first-round pick gets his first major-league spring training invite. Like Kirilloff, it seems just a matter of when he’ll make his debut in Minnesota. Last year, Larnach hit .316/.382/.459 in 84 games with Fort Myers before being promoted to Pensacola, where he slashed.295/.387/.455 with seven homer runs in 43 games. In 623 career minor-league plate appearances, Larnach has hit .307/.385/.468 with 43 doubles and 18 homers. Larnach turns 23 on Feb. 26.
SS Royce Lewis
Like Larnach, the 2017 first-round pick spent time at both Fort Myers and Pensacola in 2018, although he struggled more offensively. In High-A he hit .238/.289/.378 with 10 homers in 94 games and at Pensacola .231/.291/.358 in 33 games. Keep in mind, though, that Lewis is still only 20 years old (21 in June). It’s nice to have him in camp (again; he also was invited in 2019) but his major-league debut seems farther away than Kirilloff’s or Larnach’s.
RHP Jake Reed
This is the third straight year Reed has been given a spring invite. Last year he was coming off a 2018 season in which he had a 1.89 ERA, 1.154 WHIP and 9.4 K/9 at Triple-A Rochester. Back at Rochester in 2019, the former fifth-round pick in 2015 saw his numbers all increase – 5.76 ERA and 1.467 WHIP but also 11.0 K/9. Walks have always been an issue for Reed, who owns a minor-league career 3.4 BB/9 with a 4.0 or greater each of the last three seasons.
SS Jack Reinheimer
Signed as a minor-league free agent after spending last year with Baltimore’s Triple-A team in Norfolk, where he hit .246/.323/.326 in 106 games while mainly playing second base and shortstop. Reinheimer has also played third base and left field in his minor-league career as well as his brief time in the majors, which included 35 plate appearances with the New York Mets in 2018. Reinheimer appears to be veteran organizational depth, but perhaps the new expanded 26-man roster will be helpful for someone like him who can play all over the field.
OF Brent Rooker
A competitive balance first-round pick in 2017, Rooker is back in camp for the second straight year, His 2019 season was cut short by injury – he played in only 65 games for Triple-A Rochester, but he hit .281/.308/.535 with 14 homers. Rooker is 25 years old, so he probably doesn’t need much more, if any, time in the minors. While he has played first base in the past, Rookie appeared only in the outfield in 2019.
C Ben Rortvedt
It’s another spring invite for Minnesota’s second-round pick in 2016 as well. Rortveldt played in High-A and Double-A in 2019. He’s known more for his glove – and arm – than bat, although he did slug .438 in 24 games with Fort Myers. He also threw out nearly 2/3 of attempted basestealers with the Miracle (11 of 17) and almost half with Pensacola (19 of 41). Rortveldt turned 22 last September.
C Tomas Telis
This might seem like a trend, but the veteran Telis, who turns 29 in June, is back in MLB camp with the Twins. Tellis has 122 games of major-league experience, playing for Texas (2014-15) and Miami (2015-18). He didn’t make it to Minnesota in 2019, but he did hit .330/.364/.490 in 82 games at Triple-A Rochester. He could be on the radar for the Twins if and when they need another catcher.
LHP Caleb Thielbar
The 33-year-old reliever pitched in 109 games for the Twins from 2013-15 (2.74 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 7.2 K/9) but since then spent two years pitching for independent St. Paul and hurling in the minors for Detroit and Atlanta. In 2019, he pitched in 50 games and 76 1/3 innings for Triple-A Toldeo, posting a 3.30 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 (he also pitched two scoreless innings for Triple-A Gwinnett).
SS Wilfredo Tovar
Another veteran with major-league experience who can play multiple positions, although Tovar has only played shortstop at the MLB level. He had cups of coffee with the Mets in 2013 and ’14 and got 88 plate appearances with the Angels in 2019, batting .193. Tovar has played second, third and outfield in recent years in the minors, plus one inning at first base. In 85 games with Triple-A Salt Lake last year, Tovar hit .321/.355/.446. Tovar stole 30 bases in 2015, 29 in 2016, 19 in 2017 and 11 in 2018, but had just three (with six caught) in ’19. He’ll turn 30 in August.