Twins prospects working their way back from injuries

April 23rd, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS -- Needless to say, the injury situation up in Minneapolis has had a significant impact on the Twins thus far, with early issues for Royce Lewis, Carlos Correa, Jhoan Duran, Caleb Thielbar and Justin Topa playing some role in the Twins’ scuffling start to the season.

It’s been equally tough in the Minor Leagues, with some injuries impacting players who might actually have helped out in the Majors had they been healthy and others holding back some noteworthy players deeper down in the system.

Here’s the latest on some of the noteworthy cases, from president of baseball operations Derek Falvey:

INF Brooks Lee (No. 2 in the organization, per MLB Pipeline)

Lee, ranked as baseball's No. 17 prospect, began the season on the Minor League injured list with a herniated disc in his back, stemming back to the March 21 scratch from a Spring Training game with what had been described at the time as back spasms.

He is still not close to returning -- likely at least another month or so away -- as Lee works through the return-to-play protocol from the herniated disc and is still only participating in “very light baseball-type activity,” Falvey said. Once the disc problem resolves, there’s likely still a month or so of baseball buildup needed for Lee.

“Our view of it is, it’s just a one-off situation that [spine specialist Dr. Robert Watkins IV] assessed as the disc herniation and it’s not necessarily connected to anything else he’s dealt with historically,” Falvey said. “He’s been really good with his back programs and making sure he’s in a good place. Just an unfortunate injury that happened right at the end of camp.”

This is a particularly tough injury for the Twins, as Lee would almost certainly have been playing an immediate everyday role on the Major League roster due to the injuries to Lewis and Correa.

“With this, you’ve just got to kind of get it taken care of on the front end and then make sure when you’re building him up you’re building him up pretty slowly,” Falvey said.

OF Walker Jenkins (No. 1)

Falvey did not have a meaningful update on the recovery timeline for Jenkins, the No. 9 overall prospect who exited his Opening Day game for Single-A Fort Myers with a left hamstring strain after running into the outfield wall. Nothing appeared imminent as of Tuesday’s update.

“Nothing new on Jenkins other than still recovering from the hamstring,” Falvey said. “Standard hamstring strain.”

RHP Matt Canterino (No. 13)

Canterino had been one of the most positive stories in Spring Training, as he’d returned from Tommy John surgery that had represented the latest in a long line of setbacks that had limited him to 85 competitive innings since he was taken in the second round (No. 54 overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft.

He started the season on the IL with a right shoulder strain, but is already on the road to recovery, throwing from 40-60 feet as of Tuesday’s update. He will likely need another Spring Training-type buildup before he joins Triple-A St. Paul.

“We caught it pretty early,” Falvey said. “It was a pretty mild sub-scap strain. If that had gotten a little bit worse, those things take a lot longer. The fact that he’s already throwing in less than a month’s time from when it originally happened, I think, is a good thing.”

LHP Brent Headrick

Headrick is another prospect who would almost certainly be in the Majors now as starting or bulk bullpen depth had it not been for his injury, a left forearm flexor strain that has sent him to the Minor League 60-day IL. There is not yet any timeline for his recovery, but the Twins do expect him to build back up.

Headrick allowed two earned runs in 8 2/3 innings (a 2.08 ERA) in two starts for St. Paul with 15 strikeouts and three walks before the injury impacted him following his April 6 outing.