FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It took until the final day of Grapefruit League play for the Twins to finalize their roster Thursday, but they announced all 25 players who will come north with the club for Opening Day against the Royals on April 3 at Target Field.The biggest surprises were
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It took until the final day of Grapefruit League play for the Twins to finalize their roster Thursday, but they announced all 25 players who will come north with the club for Opening Day against the Royals on April 3 at Target Field.
The biggest surprises were 13 pitchers on the roster, and the reassignment of ByungHo Park, the best hitter (.353/.414/.745, 6 HRs, 13 RBIs) in camp, to Rochester. It means the Twins will open with an eight-man bullpen, with Adalberto Mejia winning the fifth spot, and Tyler Duffey heading to the 'pen.
After projecting the roster before Spring Training and in the middle of Grapefruit League play, here's a look at the current roster and how the projections fared:
Starting pitchers (5):Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Mejia. The first four spots in the rotation were always locks, barring injury, but the race for the fifth starter was hard to predict. Trevor May was the projected starter, but underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in March. Jose Berrios was thought to be the slight favorite halfway through, but didn't get enough innings in the World Baseball Classic. Mejia was a dark horse coming in, but shined throughout camp to beat out Duffey.
Bullpen (8):Brandon Kintzler, Thomas Pressly, Taylor Rogers, Matt Belisle, Craig Breslow, Justin Haley, Michael Tonkin, Duffey. The first projection had six of the eight correct, but Glen Perkins will start the year on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing labrum surgery last year. At the midway point, Ryan Vogelsong and J.T. Chargois were the picks for the final two bullpen spots, but Vogelsong was released and Chargois struggled. It opened the door for the Twins to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Haley, and Tonkin, who was helped by being out of Minor League options. Duffey gives the Twins an extra pitcher with Hughes coming off an injury and Santiago not being fully stretched out.
Catchers (2):Jason Castro, Chris Gimenez. Castro was always a lock to be the starting catcher, but non-roster invitee Gimenez played his way onto the roster, beating out John Ryan Murphy. Gimenez had a strong spring offensively batting .257 with seven RBIs, and the Twins love his leadership skills behind the plate. Murphy was initially projected to win the job.
First base (1):Joe Mauer. Mauer quietly had a strong spring offensively, but didn't play as much as most regulars. He remains likely to see his playing time decrease against tough lefties.
Second base (1):James Dozier. He is the club's best player, and after he wasn't traded in the offseason, he was always a lock at second base.
Shortstop (1):Jorge Polanco. Shortstop was Polanco's to lose, and he had a decent spring, showcasing some power, but still must prove he can stick at short defensively.
Third base (1):Miguel Sano. Sano's strikeout rate (22 K's in 54 plate appearances) in spring was alarming, but he also showed his power with three homers as he's worked to refine his mechanics. Defensively, he was adequate, but like Polanco, he has to prove he can stay at third long-term.
Outfield (3):Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler. There were no surprises in the outfield, as all three were projected to be starters from the beginning of camp. Rosario, unlike Vargas, saw plenty of action in the Classic, and had a strong spring offensively.
Designated hitter (1):Robbie Grossman. Kennys Vargas (1-for-15) was the favorite at DH heading into spring, but by the middle of camp it appeared Park was going to make the roster, however, he was surprisingly reassigned to Triple-A Rochester. Grossman becomes the de facto DH.
Bench (2):Eduardo Escobar, Danny Santana. Both were projected to be bench players from the start, but they were helped by an injury to infielder Ehire Adrianza, as he'll open the year on the 10-day disabled list (right oblique strain). Adrianza showed off his strong defense and came on late defensively. They'll have a decision to make once he's healthy because Adrianza is out of options.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger)** and listen to his podcast.