When he was designated for assignment by the Yankees in March, Jake Cave wasn’t sure where his career was headed. Now he can’t wait to find out.
Cave ended a strong rookie season Sunday with his 13th home run, another 420-footer to straightaway center field that helped carry the Twins to their sixth consecutive victory, 5-4 over the White Sox.
“It was awesome to be able to run the bases in a game like that, the last game of the year,” Cave said. “With everything going on with Joe [Mauer], and to be able to contribute to a win like that, it really meant a ton.”
Max Kepler also homered, a two-run sixth-inning shot that gave him 20 on the season. And Logan Forsythe delivered a two-run single, helping the Twins finish off a sweep.
Taylor Rogers extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings, fifth-longest in Twins history, while Trevor May, with the tying run in scoring position, struck out two batters in the ninth to earn his third save in the season’s final 10 days.
Cave said he looks forward to rest after a long season — but part of him wishes he could continue establishing himself as a bona fide big-leaguer.
“It was a shock to be [designated for assignment] by the Yankees. It’s hard not to take that as rejection, to wonder if [an MLB career] is going to happen,” said the outfielder. “But it couldn’t have worked out better. I couldn’t be happier to be here, playing well.”
Santana says goodbyes
Ervin Santana was his usual smiling self, saying goodbye to teammates he knows probably won’t be his teammates much longer. Santana, his season ruined by calcium deposits in his right middle finger that required surgery in February, becomes a free agent once the Twins decline a $14 million option on his contract for 2019.
Coming off a season in which he pitched only 24⅔ major league innings, Santana, who turns 36 on Dec. 12, knows he has to rebuild his value in order to attract new contract offers. “It’s a lot better now,” Santana said of his sore finger, which prevented him from from throwing his fastball harder than 90 mph or so. “Everything is going to be OK.”
Just to make sure, though, Santana plans to play winter ball for the first time since 2009. He signed on with the Licey Tigers, last year’s Dominican Winter League runner-up, beginning in December.
For mashing 71 extra-base hits and driving in 101 runs in 130 Class A games, 2016 first-round draft pick Alex Kirilloff has been named the winner of the Sherry Robertson Award as the Twins minor league player of the year. And Lewis Thorpe, a lefthanded starter who struck out 157 batters in 129 innings at Class AA and AAA, was chosen as the Jim Rantz Award winner as their top minor league pitcher.
The pair will receive their trophies at the annual Diamond Awards in January.
Thorpe, 22, is an Australian who missed the 2015 and ’16 seasons after having elbow ligament surgery. Kirilloff, 20, also lost a season, 2017, to Tommy John surgery, but he has been a ferocious hitter ever since.