Twins' prospects get to dream big in Spring Breakout

March 17th, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As the Twins rallied back from an early deficit to win Saturday’s Spring Training game against the Rays, 6-5, a couple of Minnesota’s prospects took a pass through the big league clubhouse at Hammond Stadium.

In full uniform with their own game scheduled to start after the big league exhibition, the Major League hopefuls pointed to the lockers of veterans such as Carlos Correa as they walked by, perhaps envisioning that one day, it would be their own name on the locker placard.

Roughly an hour later, those players took the field alongside their fellow prospects for the Spring Breakout game, an 8-8 tie against the Rays’ prospects.

“Oh, it’s awesome,” said Twins No. 1 prospect Walker Jenkins, who was scratched from the game with a quad strain on Thursday. “It’s good to be around a lot of guys that are further along than me and learn from them and just watch them play. It was a lot of fun.”

Soto debuts in Twins uniform
With his own cheering section full of family and friends in custom “Soto” shirts seated behind home plate, Charlee Soto took the mound wearing a Twins uniform for the first time on Saturday.

“It was fun,” said Soto, the Twins’ No. 7 prospect. “I had a lot of family here watching me. I didn’t have the outcome I wanted. It was just fun to be out on the field with those guys and just go out there and compete.”

Soto, who was drafted 34th overall by the Twins in 2023, spent July and August of last year working out at the Fort Myers complex, building up and going through a weightlifting program.

The 18-year-old, who has spent the offseason working on a sinker and sweeper to go along with his four-seamer, opened his outing with four fastballs: 98.3 mph, 98.5, 97.7 and 98.3.

“I came into the game amped up,” Soto said. “I was trying to calm down, and my body just didn’t let me. We learn, we keep going. So I think I’ll be good in the future.

“It’s been fun, just being around all those guys,” he added. “I was around Pablo López, [Jhoan] Duran a little bit. Just being around those big guys, you learn a lot from them on the weight room side and on the baseball side as well.”

Offensive outburst
After a quiet start, the Twins came alive at the plate in the third inning, putting up an impressive eight-run frame. The breakout inning featured players who have already had a taste of Major League action, and those who are still chasing their big league debut.

One such player was Gabriel Gonzalez, the Twins’ No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, who came to Minnesota as the headliner in the Jorge Polanco trade with the Mariners. In 2023, Gonzalez had a .933 OPS across 73 games with Seattle’s Single-A affiliate before struggling in High-A.

After striking out in his first at-bat, Gonzalez, ranked as MLB’s No. 79 overall prospect, hit a 1-2 slider to left for a two-run double, scoring Austin Martin (No. 15) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (No. 3). Gonzalez came around to score the go-ahead run on a single from Tanner Schobel (No. 10).

Following Gonzalez was Twins No. 23 prospect Yunior Severino. A power hitter, Severino tied for the Minor League lead with 35 home runs last season. Though we didn’t get to see the power put on display Saturday, Severino followed Gonzalez’s double with an RBI single that rocketed off his bat at a Statcast-projected 105.7 mph.

Forever Vandy
After the last out, Martin and Rays No. 6 prospect Dominic Keegan had a reunion of sorts. The two, who once shared the same jersey at Vanderbilt, met at home plate to swap signed jerseys.

“I don’t know whose idea it was, but they came up to me and asked me about it,” Keegan said. “Austin Martin and I went to school together for two years. It was a cool little thing. Got to have a good conversation out there. It was good.”