DETROIT -- Even as it remains a mystery as to whether Carlos Correa will be back in a Twins uniform next season, he already knows he’s going to be spending this offseason helping ensure a brighter future for one of the organization’s rising stars.
One thing is certain: Jose Miranda will play a significant role in the years to come for the Twins, as he’s followed a breakout campaign in the Minors with a productive rookie season in the big leagues, leading the team with 66 RBIs as a 24-year-old in his first taste of the game’s highest level. Already, he has established himself as a mainstay in the heart of manager Rocco Baldelli’s lineup.
Correa saw the potential in the youngster’s bat throughout the season, even beseeching the front office at the Trade Deadline to keep Miranda in the organization at all costs. Correa feels a kinship with the young infielder, a fellow Puerto Rican, and this offseason, he’s bringing Miranda to his home in Houston to improve his training regimen.
“He was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got no options. You’re going to Houston [to work with me],’” Miranda said with a smile.
Even after the relative success that Miranda has had this season with a .272/.325/.432 slash line, 15 homers and 25 doubles in 121 games -- he finished 1-for-4 in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Tigers -- he’s already looking ahead at how to build on it. He specifically cites his 5.7 percent walk rate -- well below the league-wide rate of 8.2 percent -- as a need for improvement.
In the Minors, Miranda was able to rely on his natural bat-to-ball ability to put the ball in play, but the Twins wanted him to identify good pitches that he could drive and damage with authority. While he feels like he’s been able to do that to some extent, he wants to continue honing his selectivity and his patience.
“Obviously, in the big leagues, they pitch you different,” Miranda said. “There are some better pitchers overall, but it's a game of adjustments. They make adjustments with you. You make adjustments with them. I think I have the same plan as last year, but there's some days where, obviously, you get out of the plan.”
Another part of Miranda’s improvement in which he can be more proactive, he says, is that he wants to work on his body. He said he’s trying to work with a nutritionist, chiropractor and gym to overhaul his diet and get in better shape, hopefully improving his movement in the field and on the basepaths to help in all facets of the game.
Now that he’s had a taste of the big leagues, Miranda says he’s able to bring more specific goals and mindsets into his offseason work.
“Strength-wise as a whole, normally, the offseason is when you’re going to have a chance to improve yourself in those ways,” Baldelli said. “It’s something that I think is going to be important to him. It’s not something that’s been overly developed with him.”
Miranda is also trying to work on his defense, especially in his newer position at first base -- and that’s where Correa comes in.
Correa has seen firsthand the clunkiness at times of Miranda’s actions in the field as the younger infielder has worked at both corner positions, where the Twins want to continue moving him around for the near future. Correa has spent past offseasons working with the likes of Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander, Alex Bregman and George Springer, and says he has fun with intense mornings that involve work from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., five days a week.
It’s one thing for him to explain it. It’s another thing for Miranda to watch him do it and participate -- and Correa hopes the work structure will propel his young teammate to greatness.
“I feel like he can be a 4, 5, 6 WAR player if his defense matches his offense. He will be one of the best players in the league if he can master that. I just want the best for him and his family. I've grown to love him a lot. Obviously, he's a fellow Puerto Rican. I try and look after him. I want him to be the best possible player that he can be.”
“It means a lot to me that he wants to help me,” Miranda said. “It doesn't matter where he's going to be next year -- he's showing me that he cares about me and he wants me to get better.”