The on-field highlight of the Twins’ recent nine-game homestand was Mitch Garver’s two-run home run to center field in the eighth inning for a 2-0 victory over Kansas City.
A half-hour later in the clubhouse, Garver said of his thoughts when the ball was in flight: “That’s probably the ideal launch angle and exit velocity to get it out of here.”
As mind-boggling as that was for crusty old baseball watchers, it was also an unintentional snapshot into the thinking that the Twins’ new baseball operation has been able to instill into much of the big-league roster and numerous prospects.
The new Twins have been able to take hitters and make them better. Garver, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, C.J. Cron, others — improvement that goes beyond maturity.
It remains hard to define for me, but I’d say: “Communication + demonstration = improvement.”
There are failures: The largest, in both size and still-lost potential, is Miguel Sano.
There was optimism in late February when Sano walked into the home clubhouse in Fort Myers carrying the fewest pounds since his rookie season in 2015. He looked great.
What the media didn’t know until the next day was Miguel had a gruesome gash above his right foot that was open after 12 stitches came loose. For all the workouts in the offseason, Sano still was obtuse enough to watch this cut worsen rather than take the Twins’ advice to travel to Fort Myers to have it treated.
He didn’t make it back to the Twins lineup until May 16. Five weeks later, his flailing was setting a new standard for horrendous: 14 strikeouts in 20 at-bats into Saturday.
And, yet, for one pitch Friday, he performed a Miggy Miracle: Rather than yanking haplessly (or taking) a strike away, he stayed on the ball and smashed it to right-center in spacious Kauffman Stadium for a tying home run.
Hitting coaches James Rowson and Rudy Hernandez had to show that video to Sano a dozen times before Saturday’s matinee, when he hit another home run, saying: “Do this, Miguel, and join the success.”
Twins followers are permitted to remain skeptical as to whether Miguel can retain that thought from one at-bat to the next.
Read Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick.
NCAA tournament, Timberwolves No. 1 draft picks and grades for my opinions:
2008: I saw UCLA freshman Kevin Love get mugged by Memphis’ rugged Joey Dorsey in Final Four and didn’t want him. Grade: F-.
2013: Saw UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad in opening loss to Gophers and wouldn’t have touched him with 10-foot pole. Grade: A+.
2019: Saw Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver’s offensive futility vs. Virginia in title game and was thumbs down. Grade: incomplete.