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Baldelli looks to connect with Buxton, Sano

Twins' new skipper has trips scheduled to visit former top prospects
December 12, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- It's been a tough year for Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano -- and for those that hoped to see two key pieces of the Twins' young core continue to tap into their tantalizing potential.While first-year manager Rocco Baldelli has been busy reaching out to all of his

LAS VEGAS -- It's been a tough year for Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano -- and for those that hoped to see two key pieces of the Twins' young core continue to tap into their tantalizing potential.
While first-year manager Rocco Baldelli has been busy reaching out to all of his players this offseason, he plans to go a step further with Buxton and Sano, with trips planned to both Georgia and the Dominican Republic to share some personal time and understand how to best prepare their mindsets for the upcoming season, as the Twins' front office continues to build the team's future around them.
"I think it's all about the individual," Baldelli said. "And having, doing everything we really can to get these guys in a good frame of mind, ready to go. And kind of as prepared for the new staff coming in and new group coming in as well. If we can do that and get guys ready and feeling good coming into camp, we'll do whatever we have to do."
After Buxton took a promising step forward in the second half of 2017 by hitting .300/.347/.546 with 11 homers and 13 steals, he hit .156/.183/.200 in only 28 games this year due to injuries, and the 24-year-old publicly expressed anger at the Twins' decision to not recall him to the Major League roster in September.
Buxton still big part of Twins' plans
Sano, 25, hit 71 homers with a 125 OPS+ over his first three seasons but slumped in 2018. He was hitting .203/.270/.405 with seven homers in mid-June when he was sent to Class A Advanced Fort Myers for continued development.
"I've seen these guys play since they were teenagers and watched them grow from afar and have always been kind of enamored with them as players," Baldelli said.

Comfort level with his players is a significant factor in how Baldelli wants to manage the team. During his Wednesday press conference at the Winter Meetings, Baldelli, formerly with the notably progressive Rays, was asked about the opener, his views on player rest and recovery and other stategic nuances. But later, he noted that making sure his players are relaxed and happy, on and off the field, is a greater priority than any on-field strategy.
Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said Baldelli led a meeting with the Twins' staff in which they discussed the kinds of behaviors and culture they wanted to project when working with the club.
"I know the in-game stuff is extremely important and challenging at times, but I think the most important part of the job, at least in my opinion, is making sure that people can come to the field and have a great environment to show up to and have a smile on their face and the conversations that you have, and taking your experiences and sharing them, I think, are a big part of that," Baldelli said.

Twins likely not active in Rule 5 Draft
The Twins filled up their 40-man roster with the signings of Ronald Torreyes and Jonathan Schoop prior to the Winter Meetings, and Falvey doesn't anticipate the Twins clearing up a spot before Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft. That means that Minnesota will likely not make a selection in the Major League phase of the Draft.
Though the Twins protected top prospects Nick Gordon, LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez by adding them to the 40-man roster prior to the Nov. 20 deadline, they could potentially lose left-hander Tyler Jay, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. Jay was 4-5 with a 4.22 ERA in 38 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga in 2018.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.