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Twins' young outfield stocked with 'dangerous' arms

Buxton, Rosario, Kepler all have plus range
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

SARASOTA -- Twins manager Paul Molitor clearly wants to see what he has in youngsters Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, as all four have appeared in the same four games together early this spring.

The Twins project to have a young and athletic outfield led by 23-year-old Buxton, 24-year-old Kepler and 25-year-old Rosario, and they're counting on Polanco, 23, to be the everyday shortstop. Third baseman Miguel Sano, 23, is a part of that youth movement, but he didn't make the trip to Sarasota to play the Orioles on Thursday.

SARASOTA -- Twins manager Paul Molitor clearly wants to see what he has in youngsters Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, as all four have appeared in the same four games together early this spring.

The Twins project to have a young and athletic outfield led by 23-year-old Buxton, 24-year-old Kepler and 25-year-old Rosario, and they're counting on Polanco, 23, to be the everyday shortstop. Third baseman Miguel Sano, 23, is a part of that youth movement, but he didn't make the trip to Sarasota to play the Orioles on Thursday.

Molitor has been experimenting with the lineup. Buxton has led off in all four games he's appeared in, and Polanco has been hitting second. Rosario has bounced around in the fifth, seventh and ninth spots, while Sano has hit third and fourth.

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Buxton could be ready to hit leadoff to open the season, but Molitor said he's not sure how the top of the lineup will look with veterans Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer also expected to hit up top, although Mauer could be out of the lineup or slide down against lefties. Polanco helped his cause with a three-run double and a solo homer in Thursday's 6-6 tie with the Orioles, but he also made his third error in his past four games.

Video: Kepler discusses the team's impressive youth

"It's tied into the discussions with Joe and Doz and everyone else," Molitor said. "We'll see how it fits. You could see it working out as Buck, Doz, Joe and Miguel. Or do you put Miggy in the five-hole and make the other parts work [with Polanco second]? We're still figuring it out."

One thing Molitor does like, however, is the outfield defense that Rosario, Buxton and Kepler provide. All three have plus range, especially Buxton. Collectively, they had the best outfield arms in baseball in 2016, averaging 92.6 mph on competitive throws, per Statcast™ data.

"I think it would be fun to see those three guys together," Molitor said. "We've got young athletes that have multiple ways to influence a game on the defensive side, between instinct and range and fearlessness and strong throwing arms. Potentially, that's three dangerous guys."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario