Triple-A IL impacting Twins at Major League level

April 14th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Do-Hyoung Park’s Twins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

DETROIT -- When the Twins send players to Triple-A out of camp, they tell those guys to always be ready, because there’s no way to know when opportunity will come knocking.

As this front office has built its Triple-A rosters over the years, it’s clear that the Twins do so with the primary goal of making sure they have the depth in the right areas they need to address their needs on the MLB roster -- but one thing we’ve learned early this season is that there really, really is no such thing as enough depth, even at this level.

Yes, the Twins are dealing with a plethora of injuries at the moment, with Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, Max Kepler and at least five members of a possible Major League bullpen on the IL -- but they were supposed to have a first line of defense ready to backfill as needed, as they did successfully with the likes of Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner and Louie Varland last season.

Instead, here’s what the Triple-A St. Paul injured list looks like:

Jeff Brigham (left oblique strain)
Matt Canterino (right rotator cuff strain)
Brent Headrick (left forearm strain)
Michael Helman (left hamstring strain)
Trevor Larnach (turf toe)
Brooks Lee (low back pain)
Austin Schulfer (right forearm strain)

Among that group, Lee, the No. 2 prospect in the organization, would almost certainly have been called up to the Majors at this point for everyday playing time. Larnach would likely be seeing plenty of opportunity in the outfield with the injury to Kepler alongside the continued struggles of Wallner.

And with Headrick, Brigham and Canterino unavailable, the Twins have had to go outside the organization to pick up Michael Tonkin and then DFA him to bring up Matt Bowman instead of perhaps maintaining some roster flexibility by backfilling with an optionable player.

So the rash of injuries impacting the Twins’ 40-man roster situation -- and their availability of that first line of next men up in general -- is fairly dire at this point, which led to a bit of a scramble when Correa hit the IL with a right intercostal strain on Friday.

With Lee and Larnach unavailable, Yunior Severino struggling and Emmanuel Rodríguez still developing in Double-A, the Twins had to instead call up third catcher Jair Camargo in Correa’s place.

In a funny twist, Camargo had actually been joking around with Triple-A St. Paul infielder Diego A. Castillo by taking grounders at shortstop during pregame warmups -- then he actually got the call up to the Majors in place of an injured shortstop, because the Twins were simply running out of healthy players they could bring up.

“Then whenever I got the call [up to the Majors], I just FaceTimed him and I was like, 'You know, that's why they called me up, because they saw me play at shortstop,’” Camargo said.

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey has long maintained that for top prospects, they’re perhaps “in the picture” when they hit Double-A -- and never might that perhaps be more true than early this year.