Prior to this year, only two players in the modern era have made their Major League debuts in the postseason. One was Mark Kiger, who made two pinch-running appearances for the A’s in the 2006 American League Championship Series. The other was Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who pinch-hit in Game
Prior to this year, only two players in the modern era have made their Major League debuts in the postseason. One was Mark Kiger, who made two pinch-running appearances for the A’s in the 2006 American League Championship Series. The other was Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who pinch-hit in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series in his debut. Because of injuries at the big league level, the Twins have potentially added a third: No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff.
The Twins’ first-round pick in 2016, taken No. 15 overall out of the Pittsburgh area high school ranks, Kirilloff brings a very advanced bat to Minnesota's roster. It’s unclear how much time, if any, MLB's No. 27 overall prospect will receive in the postseason, but he gives the club an option as a left-handed bat off the bench, as well as someone who could man first base or a corner outfield spot if needed.
Injuries are the only thing that have slowed the 22-year-old down. Kirilloff missed all of 2017 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and wrist issues really curtailed his production in '19. His one fully healthy season, in '18 was an example of what he can do: .348/.392/.578 with 20 homers and 101 RBIs across two levels of Class A ball. Even in Kirilloff's “down” '19 season, he hit .311/.351/.500 in August.
In other words, when Kirilloff is healthy, he hits. Here’s a little more detail on what Kirilloff, who participated in the 2018 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, has to offer the Twins during the playoffs and beyond, with his grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale in parentheses (20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average).
Hit (60): We might be light on his hit grade, truth be told. Kirilloff has a .317/.365/.498 line in his Minor League career, he hit well at Summer Camp before this year began and all reports were that he was flat-out raking during his time at the Twins' alternate training site. He makes hard contact all the time and drives the ball to all fields. Kirilloff doesn’t strike out much (16.1 percent strikeout rate) and has a career 6.5 percent walk rate, which went up a bit in Double-A a year ago.
Power (55): While Kirilloff is a hitter first, there’s plenty of power for him to tap into. In 2018, he led the Minors with 71 extra-base hits and there’s reason to believe that the 20 homers he hit are a starting point and that many of the 44 doubles he had will land over the fence. Kirilloff is capable of hitting the ball out to the opposite field almost as consistently as he is to his pull side.
Run (50): Speed isn’t a big part of Kirilloff's game, but he’s a good baserunner and is athletic enough to play the outfield corners and has played more right field than left in his career, showing more than enough range for the spot.
Arm (50): Kirilloff's arm is solid enough to profile will in right field and it’s an asset at first base, with Tommy John surgery firmly in his rearview mirror.
Field (50): The Twins introduced first base to Kirilloff in 2019 and he took to it well, with the organization feeling he could be an above-average defender there in time. He’s an average defender in right field as well.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly MLB Pipeline Podcast.