FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top prospects Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer were among the 16 players sent to Minor League camp on Sunday in the first round of roster cuts before the Twins' game against the Phillies at Hammond Stadium.
Buxton and Meyer, who are both not on the 40-man roster, were reassigned along with right-handers Lester Oliveros and Yohan Pino; catchers Kyle Knudson, Matt Koch and Stuart Turner; outfielder Chris Rahl and infielder Miguel Sano, who is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in New York.
Seven players on the 40-man roster were also optioned, including right-hander Trevor May and left-handers Logan Darnell, Edgar Ibarra and Brooks Raley to Triple-A Rochester. First baseman Kennys Vargas was optioned to Double-A New Britain, while infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler were optioned to Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
"They need to get down and get their at-bats [and innings] and get settled in with their teams," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "We need to get more playing time, more at-bats and innings for the players who are going to make this team."
Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com, hit .158 (3-for-19) with a homer, a double and two RBIs in seven games in his first extended stint in Grapefruit League play. Buxton, 20, hit his first homer on Saturday -- a solo blast off Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison. He's expected to start the season at New Britain.
Meyer, who is ranked as the No. 28 overall prospect by MLB.com, made one appearance in Grapefruit League play, giving up one earned run on four hits with one strikeout in two innings. The 24-year-old also threw a scoreless inning in Friday's "B" game against the Pirates. Meyer is likely to start the year at Rochester.
Sending Sano to Minor League camp was more of a formality, as he's scheduled to have Tommy John surgery performed on his right elbow by Dr. David Altchek. Sano is ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB.com and could see time as a designated hitter late in the Minor League season if all goes well with his surgery.
May is another top prospect who was sent to Minor League camp, as he was rated as the club's No. 7 prospect in 2013. He posted a 6.00 ERA with two runs allowed on six hits over three innings. The 24-year-old will head to Triple-A for the first time in his career.
Meyer and May remain two of the club's top pitching prospects, and Antony explained to both of them that being sent to Minor League camp will help them get more innings to get ready for the start of the season.
"It really doesn't matter they're in the first round of cuts, because two years ago, Scott Diamond was in our first round of cuts and he was the first guy we called up when we needed somebody," Antony said. "You have to have those guys stretched out. If you keep them in camp, they might not get stretched out, and if you need a guy, they might not be ready to go."
Kepler, Polanco and Vargas also all impressed as youngsters in big league camp for the first time.
Kepler, who was rated as the club's No. 8 prospect, batted .500 (6-for-12) with a double and two RBIs in seven games. The 21-year-old will stay in Fort Myers to play at the Class A Advanced level for the first time.
Polanco, ranked No. 9, hit .273 (3-for-11) with one double, two RBIs and two walks in six games. The 20-year-old second baseman will also head to Fort Myers.
Vargas, 23, showed off tremendous power in batting practice and hit .286 (2-for-7) with two RBIs in five games. He'll start the season at New Britain after hitting 19 homers and 33 doubles at Fort Myers last year.
"I thought Max Kepler handled himself extremely well and had a good spring," Antony said. "Polanco did very well. Buxton showed his tools. Alex Meyer had his moments. [Same with] Trevor May. I thought Lester Oliveros threw the ball as well as he could throw it yesterday. He was tremendous. But those guys weren't going to make the club."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.