Twins' depth is key entering Spring Training

February 15th, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The upcoming World Baseball Classic has moved up the timeline of several players’ buildups this spring, but a large number of players not slated to represent their home countries in the tournament next month were also in full training mode at the Twins’ Spring Training complex on Tuesday -- one day before pitchers and catchers are officially supposed to report to camp.

And as Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey surveyed the roster around him at the Lee County Sports Complex, he saw a group he feels is better equipped, depth-wise, than any other he and general manager Thad Levine have put together since they arrived to the organization following the 2016 season.

“It feels like the deepest pitching group that we've had for sure,” Falvey said. “Certainly with the starting, I look down and think about, if all are healthy, fingers crossed, probably the deepest group of starters we've had since I've been here.”

Lack of depth at key spots around the roster -- starting rotation, bullpen, outfield -- played significant roles in the Twins’ 2021 downfall, but they’re hopeful that this spring, they’re positioned differently. Falvey reaffirmed that will not have any restrictions this spring following his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and that  “feels fantastic” after making some changes to his offseason programming following a visit to Driveline.

 is well ahead of that group as he prepares to represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, ramping up two weeks ahead of schedule starting in January to prepare himself to throw 45-60 pitches during the tournament. He threw a 20-pitch bullpen and a 20-pitch session of live batting practice on Tuesday.

And though the Twins didn’t make any offseason additions to their bullpen -- and, in fact, lost Michael Fulmer to free agency -- Falvey says the Twins feel they have plenty of depth there and are more focused on building out more non-roster depth for that group.

“We’ve been open to the right bullpen fit, but we aren’t necessarily just looking to maybe plug somebody with a little bit more service time that’s going to not fit towards the middle to back end of a game,” Falvey said. “We’ve kept kind of a high bar on what we’re going to prioritize there. … Focusing on roster additions in that space has not been our focus of late.”

The official report date for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday will mark the beginning of a long, arduous journey that has not been kind to the Twins’ roster depth over the last several seasons, but on both the pitching and position player sides, the club is poised to begin that trek, they feel, in far better shape than they’ve seen before.

“When I think about and , both of those guys were everyday players last year, and good ones,” Falvey said. “So the idea that there's a shot, on Opening Day, neither of those guys could be playing in that game on Opening Day, that's a good problem to have, because it means we have real depth. … So yeah, I would say it's probably the deepest we've been.”


• Perhaps there’s no bigger storyline in Twins camp than the wrist health of , who is in search of finally swinging without pain following two consecutive seasons ended by right wrist surgeries. So far, so good -- as Kirilloff, who owns a home in Fort Myers, has been among the early reports to camp and a participant in live batting practices.

“AK has been in a great spot,” Falvey said. “Our strength guys said [the wrist is] probably in as good of a spot as they've seen him coming into camp, where he's at. The early returns on swinging are very positive.”

 said an abundance of caution for some minor pain in his right hamstring during the offseason played a part in declining to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the WBC. He now feels fully healthy this spring, he said.

“I need to be safe if I’m going to be ready for the season,” Duran said. “The season is a big season for me.”

• The non-WBC players already working out at camp on Tuesday included Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Sonny Gray, Max Kepler, Griffin Jax, Louie Varland, Bailey Ober, Simeon Woods Richardson, Ronny Henriquez, Kyle Farmer, Matt Wallner, Josh Winder, Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, Jorge Alcala and Duran.