FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are using the early part of Spring Training to get a look at their pitching prospects, as lefty Stephen Gonsalves threw two innings against the University of Minnesota in an exhibition on Thursday, while right-hander Aaron Slegers will start the Grapefruit League opener against
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are using the early part of Spring Training to get a look at their pitching prospects, as lefty Stephen Gonsalves threw two innings against the University of Minnesota in an exhibition on Thursday, while right-hander Aaron Slegers will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox on Friday at JetBlue Park.
Gonsalves, the No. 78 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, looked sharp against the Gophers, throwing two scoreless innings with a strikeout in the Twins' 2-1 walk-off win. The lone hit he allowed was a leadoff infield single and he later had the runner picked off, only for the Twins to fail to execute the rundown.
"I felt great," Gonsalves said. "It felt good to get out there. But it's a process and I'll keep going and keep working. I just want to use my fastball to get ahead. I struggled with it a little bit in the first inning today but I was a little anxious and rushing to the plate. But I talked with [pitching coach] Garvin [Alston] about how to fix it and I threw only eight pitches in the second inning."
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Thursday's roster didn't feature any regulars for the Twins, but Slegers will have several familiar faces such as center fielder Byron Buxton, shortstop Jorge Polanco, right fielder Max Kepler and left fielder Eddie Rosario playing behind him on Friday.
"We're going to start getting some guys in there starting tomorrow," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But up until that first week, it'll be a little hit or miss putting [lineups] together. I'm glad they don't have the rule requiring regulars until March 1."
Slegers, 25, got a taste of the Majors last year, posting a 6.46 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, including an impressive start against the Indians in his debut, allowing two runs on two hits over 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 17.
Slegers, a 6-foot-10, 245-pounder, has put impressive numbers in the Minors with a career 3.50 ERA in 106 appearances (97 starts). He went 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA and 119 strikeouts and 29 walks in 148 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester last season.
Like Gonsalves, Slegers is expected to open the season at Triple-A, as the Twins have added depth to their rotation this spring, trading for Jake Odorizzi and signing Anibal Sanchez. But Slegers can help his cause with a solid spring against Major League competition.
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Other pitchers expected to throw on Friday include left-handers Dietrich Enns and Gabriel Moya and right-handers Felix Jorge, Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss and Tyler Kinley. Moya, Busenitz, Curtiss and Kinley, a Rule 5 Draft pick, are competing for spots in the bullpen, while Enns and Jorge are starters.
The lineup won't have starters such as first baseman Joe Mauer, second baseman James Dozier and third baseman Miguel Sano, as they'll be eased into Spring Training games. Dozier returned Wednesday after missing three days with a kidney stone, while Sano continues to work on his conditioning after undergoing offseason surgery to place a titanium rod in his left shin.
• Emma Charlesworth-Seiler served as first-base umpire on Thursday and is one of two women umpires in Minor League Baseball. The other, Jen Pawol, was the home-plate umpire for Friday's Tigers game against Florida Southern College.
• First baseman Brock Stassi, who is expected to add depth at Triple-A Rochester, drove in the game's first run with an RBI single with two outs in the first. Catcher Brian Navarreto went 2-for-2, including a single in the ninth to help set up the walk-off wild pitch with the bases loaded. LaMonte Wade scored the winning run after drawing a leadoff walk.
• Gophers leadoff hitter Luke Pettersen, the younger brother of former Twins Minor Leaguer A.J. Pettersen, went 2-for-5.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.