Inbox: Santana's dip in production a normal correction?
Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers Twins fans' questions
After starting out the year with a 1-6 record, the Twins have bounced back to win five of their last eight, including series wins over the Royals and Indians.
The offense has yet to click and the defense has looked shaky, but Minnesota has received some solid pitching performances from starters such as Tommy Milone, Trevor May and Mike Pelfrey.
So, plenty of questions still remain about the Twins early this season, and with that in mind, here's today's Inbox.
What's going on with Danny Santana? He was one of the Twins' better players last year, but he hasn't looked like the same hitter.
-- John L., Roseville, Minn.
Santana was never likely to match his impressive rookie season that saw him hit .319/.353/.472 with 20 stolen bases in 101 games. But it's still a surprise he's struggled this much in the early going, batting .218 with no walks and two doubles.
Although Santana was regarded highly by the organization, he was never an elite prospect in the Minors, hitting a combined .273/.317/.391 in 548 career games. It was more a pleasant surprise that he fared so well as a rookie.
And if you dig a little deeper, much of Santana's production was fueled by an unsustainable .406 batting average on balls in play, which led the Majors. For context, Mike Trout -- a speedy player with a high line-drive rate, and considered by many to be the best player in the game -- had a .346 batting average on balls in play.
Santana was expected to regress a bit, but not this much. The issue has been his propensity to chase pitches -- he's swinging at 51.2 percent of pitches outside the zone, compared to 40.3 percent last season, according to Fangraphs.com. The league average is 30.1 percent, and only the Brewers' Aramis Ramirez has swung at more pitches outside the zone than Santana, so he needs to work on his plate discipline going forward.
Any thought to moving Santana down in the order? Seems a mental health break is in order.
-- Joe R., Minnetonka, Minn.
Twins manager Paul Molitor remains confident that Santana will bounce back and still likes him atop the order, given his speed. Minnesota doesn't really have another true leadoff hitter in its lineup, but if Santana continues to struggle, Brian Dozier could be moved up to No. 1 with Santana hitting ninth. But it's still premature, and he did look better on Wednesday with two hits and a hard-hit out to right.
How long before the Twins call up Eddie Rosario?
-- Lee K., River Falls, Minn.
With a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training, Rosario has become a fan favorite, but it's easy to forget he struggled at Double-A last year after serving a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse. The former top prospect hit just .243/.286/.387 with eight homers in 87 games last year.
Rosario, No. 9 among the club's Top 30 Prospects, moved up to Triple-A Rochester this year, and he homered on Wednesday in front of general manager Terry Ryan. But even with the homer, he's still hitting just .255/.293/.436 with two homers in 13 games, so he still needs to show improvement before he gets called up.
Rosario has actually been outplayed by Aaron Hicks, who is hitting .286/.375/.490 in 12 games and went 3-for-5 with two doubles on Wednesday. Both have seen time in center, so if the Twins do recall an outfielder, Hicks is more likely to get the call than Rosario at this point, but it's still early.
How have top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano fared so far at Double-A?
-- Matt T., Maple Grove, Minn.
Both are off to slow starts, as Buxton (ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com) is batting .180/.241/.300 with three extra-base hits and two steals in 12 games, while Sano (ranked as the No. 12 overall prospect by MLB.com) is batting .175/.340/.350 with two homers and a double in 12 games. But it's certainly not time to panic, as both are simply rusty. Buxton missed most of last season because of several injuries, while Sano missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.