There are a few things on my mind as the Twins prepare to play the Red Sox tonight at Hammond Stadium.
1. There is a lot of talent, in varying degrees, in this clubhouse. You see a quality closer in Glen Perkins, a former MVP and batting champ in Joe Mauer, a second baseman with speed and power in Brian Dozier, a third baseman who has made himself into a decent player in Trevor Plouffe.
Then you have three young players in Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas who didn't sink, at least treaded water and, at times, showed they could swim a little with the big fish last season.
Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana should at least stabilize the rotation, there's the emerging Kyle Gibson and the wild card in Ricky Nolasco. The race for a No. 5 starter is refreshing. The candidates for the role are not fighting for the No. 3 or No. 4 spots - which has happened here in the past.
The prospects in camp are impressive. Someone with the club told me that Jose Berrios, who pitched on Wednesday against the Gophers, might be more talented than Alex Meyer. And Meyer has a big fastball and wipeout slider. Then there's Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario,
How will all of this come together? When will the prospects be ready to join the major league roster? And can the Twins make a push toward .500? It's an interesting mix of players with tantalizing talent who are nearly ready.
2. I watched Buxton in the outfield during batting practice on Wednesday. Buxton was ready and in position for every b.p. pitch. He worked on jumps when the ball was hit to the outfield. He would play lefties and righties to pull. You could see why he's considered such a gifted defensive player.
I started to look around the outfield, and no one else is doing this. Now, I couldn't tell who else was in the outfield, they might have been pitchers. But maybe not. All I know is that Buxton does not cut corners and looks to be the player to set the right example for teammates.
3. I was standing next to Twins GM Terry Ryan during infield drills earlier this week and we began talking about Jorge Polanco, who was called up in an emergency role last season and held his own.
Polanco was signed in the same international class as Sano and Max Kepler. I remember hearing how he battled homesickness early on but rarely looked overwhelmed on the field. And he can hit. ``His bat is a little bit ahead of his defense, and it's often the other way around,'' Ryan said. Then yesterday, Polanco turned on a fat pitch and hit over the fence for a home run against the Gophers.
We've hyped Buxton, Sano, Berrios, Meyer and Rosario. But don't sleep on Polanco.
4. Kyle Gibson starts tonight against Boston. I'm curious to see how many change ups he throws and what the results will be. Gibson wants to perfect the pitch to have something to get swings and misses with, as well as to use against righthanded hitters more.
Pitchers often fiddle around with different grips while playing catch. Mike Pelfrey, who has played catch with Gibson, said Gibson been working on the change up and has it moving better than last season. So we'll see tonight if he has command of it.