FORT MYERS, FLA. – Top prospects Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer were among 16 players sent to the minor league camp Sunday as the Twins made their first cuts of spring training. The Twins need to give at-bats and innings to some of the projected starters in camp as well as players competing for roster spots.
Buxton, the consensus top prospect in baseball, was 3-for-19 over seven games, but he homered Saturday. He will likely start the season at Class AA New Britain. A strong year could lead to his major league debut during the second half of the season.
With starting pitchers now up to three-inning outings, the Twins reassigned Meyer to the minor league camp so he can stretch out. Meyer gave up one run over two innings in one official outing and worked out of a jam during a scoreless inning in a B game on Friday against Pittsburgh. He showed off his power arm, hitting 98 miles per hour on the radar gun, but hitters were able to square up his fastball.
“I think he needs to use his changeup a little more, get them off his fastball,” Twins assistant General Manager Rob Antony said. “He’s throwing 96-98 and they were getting pretty good swings on him.’ ”
In addition to Meyer and Buxton being reassigned, lefthanders Logan Darnell, Edgar Ibarra and Brooks Raley and righthander Trevor May were sent to Class AAA Rochester. First baseman Kennys Vargas was sent to Class AA New Britain, Infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler were sent to Class A Fort Myers.
Righthanders Lester Oliveros and Yohan Pino; catchers Kyle Knudson, Matt Koch and Stuart Turner; outfielder Chris Rahl; and third baseman Miguel Sano were reassigned to the minor league camp. Sano, out for the season because of Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, was back in the clubhouse Sunday after visiting family in the Dominican Republic. He is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday.
By the end of the week, three recovering players could be back in the lineup.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks, who hasn’t played since last Monday because of a sore elbow, is making progress. Antony said he believes that Hicks will be able to return to action Tuesday, but Gardenhire cautioned that Hicks is still feeling some soreness when he swings a bat.
Oswaldo Arcia, who hasn’t played since Tuesday because of sickness, is closer to returning as well. But Arcia did have to leave the practice field Sunday.
“He’s still having some stomach issues,” said Gardenhire, who nevertheless has been told that both Hicks and Arcia could be ready by Tuesday.
And shortstop Pedro Florimon, recovering from appendicitis, is going to take live batting practice on the minor league side Tuesday with an eye toward playing in his first spring game by the end of the week.
The Twins will enjoy their only off day of spring training Monday. They head to Port Charlotte on Tuesday to play the Rays.
La VELLE E. NEAL III