‘Stretch’ for Buxton, Sano to open with Twins, but debut in 2015 possible

Miguel Sano (left) and Byron Buxton, two of Minnesota's top prospects, will have a hard time making the team out of spring training, according to the Twins' general manager.

Kim Klement/Mark J. Rebilas

MINNEAPOLIS — There were plenty of housekeeping items at Friday’s media luncheon at Target Field, where team president Dave St. Peter and general manager Terry Ryan spoke to a gathering before TwinsFest to address the state of the club.  But after the luncheon, Ryan was asked a question that is surely on the minds of plenty of Twins fans:

What are the chances prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano make the team out of spring training?

Ryan shot down that notion rather quickly, saying it would be "a stretch" for either player to earn a spot on the 25-man roster out of camp.

Sano missed all of the 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery on his elbow, and Buxton had an injury-plagued year that resulted in the tools-laden outfielder playing in just 31 total minor-league games. Fans have continued to wait for the arrivals of two of baseball’s best prospects, and it appears they may have to wait a bit longer. While they may not start the year in the majors, Ryan anticipates one or both could debut at some point in 2015.

"That would be a realistic point of view from my vantage point," Ryan said Friday. "They’re both very talented. If they have the types of years that you would hope with their type of skillset, there’s no reason not to say, ‘Oh, they have a chance.’ They do."

Buxton, 21, was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball in 2014 while Sano, also 21, was the 14th-best prospect before the season, according to Baseball Prospectus. Neither player has played above Double-A, however, and Buxton’s only game at that level last year resulted in a season-ending concussion when he collided with a teammate while diving for a ball.

The Twins have promoted players from Double-A to the majors in the past, including the 2014 season, so Ryan wouldn’t necessarily rule that out as a possibility for Buxton or Sano.

"I don’t think any of us would be opposed to having players skip over Triple-A," Ryan said. "We’ve done it with plenty of players over the years. Some have succeeded, some haven’t. But usually a player will pretty much dictate whether or not they need a Triple-A stop or not. We’ll let the player decide that for himself."

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No Twins Hall of Famers in 2015: Local media members have voted on candidates for the Twins Hall of Fame every year since its inception in 2000. For the first time ever, there will not be any player inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame, as none of this year’s candidates received the 60 percent of the votes necessary to qualify.

Twins president Dave St. Peter said the top vote-getters in 2015 were Dan Gladden, Cesar Tovar and Jim "Mudcat" Grant.

"With voting now complete, I’m disappointed that no individual on either the player ballot or the non-player ballot received the necessary number of votes to gain election," St. Peter said Friday. "To that end, we will not have a Twins Hall of Fame inductee in 2015."

Former second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was the lone player to earn enough votes for last year’s Hall of Fame, but his induction was canceled due to Knoblauch’s off-the-field legal troubles that occurred before the ceremony was scheduled.

Ticket and promotions updates: St. Peter said Friday that the Twins have sold about 1.2 million tickets for the 81 regular-season home games in 2015. Additionally, approximately 70,000 tickets for Minnesota’s 17 home spring training games have been sold as of Friday.

Included in those ticket sales for Target Field are a 75 percent renewal rate of the 2014 full-season equivalents. The Twins will also be introducing a new 13-game package called the "Weekend Warrior," which includes Friday through Sunday games. Prices start at $348. When all is said and done, Minnesota anticipates its season ticket base will be between 13,000-14,000 for 2015.

St. Peter also mentioned a few of the giveaways the Twins will have this year at Target Field. All fans in attendance on Opening Day on April 13 against Kansas City will receive a hooded sweatshirt. The team is also bringing back more bobblehead giveaways in 2015, including ones of pitcher Phil Hughes, second baseman Brian Dozier, and manager Paul Molitor.

Target Field will also look a bit different in 2015. The Twins are renovating the section in left field near Gate 6. That area will now include standing room seats — "some would call it a bar," St. Peter said.

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