Future of Minnesota Twins Infield Looks Bright

MLB: Wildcard-Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins had their best season in nearly two decades in 2023 and they will look to build on that in 2024. They’ll have to do that as they cut payroll, however. Almost feels like a ‘competitive rebuild’, huh?

But if any team in the Minnesota sports market is built for a competitive rebuild, it’s probably the Twins. Not only do they have Carlos Correa locked up for most of the next decade and Pablo Lopez secured at the top of their pitching rotation, but they also have a plethora of young talent coming up through the ranks, at just about every level of their minor league system.

Related: Minnesota Twins Could Receive Financial Lifeline Soon via New TV Deal

Future of Minnesota Twins infield looks awfully bright

Projecting the Twins’ future outfield is a little bit tricky. We do not know what the future holds for Byron Buxton, which makes it really difficult. Max Kepler is expected to be on his way out and nobody really knows what youngsters like Matt Wallner will eventually become.

The future in the outfield isn’t void of hope, by any means. Hell, the Twins’ best young prospect Walker Jenkins (19), is an outfielder. But if you’re looking at this team’s future and trying to pinpoint what to be most excited about, look no further than what projects to be an ELITE infield, both offensively and defensively.

1st Base

Projected Starter(s): Alex Kirilloff, Edouard Julien

Others in the mix: Jose Miranda

MLB: ALDS-Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros
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The future at 1st base for the Minnesota Twins is probably the murkiest part of the infield, if we aren’t including catchers. Alex Kirilloff seems like the most logical option but he has struggled with injuries and hasn’t proven he’s the prolific middle-of-the-order monster offensively that he was once projected to be

That brings us to Edouard Julien, who played mostly 2nd base and some 1st base in 2023. If Jorge Polanco isn’t traded by Spring Training, Julien will be without a position for 2024. But in the next 1-3 years, his best shot at regular playing time appears to be 1st base, given Brooks Lee is already knocking on the door.

Related: Brooks Lee Continues Meteoric Rise Through Twins’ System

For Miranda, it’s about hitting the ball. He’ll be fine at first base. Actually, that message can be sent for all the possible candidates. My father once provided a great piece of baseball advice that I should have taken more seriously back then: ‘If you can hit, you’ll play’.

Unfortunately, I was never a very good listener, thus never really a good hitter either. But it’s a piece of baseball truth that holds true here. All three of these guys made their way to the MLB because of their consistent success in the batter’s box at every minor league level. Whichever of them proves to be the best MLB hitter will probably be the Twins’ long-term answer at first base.

2nd Base

Projected Starter: Brooks Lee

Others in the mix: Edouard Julien

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays
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Brooks Lee was listed as the #2 prospect currently in the Minnesota Twins system, by Aaron Gleeman (The Athletic) earlier this week, just behind their 2023 top-5 pick Walker Jenkins.

Lee is coming up through the system as a shortstop. But with Carlos Correa already occupying that position for the Twins and Royce Lewis slotted in at 3rd base, Lee is expected to really start honing his skills at 2nd base this spring, and when the St. Paul Saints begin their season.

Related: Minnesota Twins Starters Project Top-10 in MLB; Near Best in AL

Edouard Julien is expected to get plenty of run at 2nd base in 2024, but once Brooks Lee arrives for good, the 24-year-old Canadian is going to have to find a new position. Most likely, that’ll be 1st base, if not designated hitter. Brooks Lee is a tweener shortstop who will give the Twins a much better glove at 2nd, than what Julien offers.

He’ll probably be even better at the plate too. The 22-year-old will start the season at Triple-A but could see a call-up from the Twins at any time this summer, depending on how the roster shakes out this offseason and how much injuries come into play early on.

Lee could play his way onto the big league roster pretty quickly, once the season starts. But no doubt, especially if the Twins deal Jorge Polanco, he’ll be just one injury or swoon away from his first Major League call-up.

Lee is a solid shortstop, making up for middling athleticism and arm strength with excellent instincts, but Carlos Correa’s presence means a position switch is coming. Twins officials are split about whether he’s best suited for third base or second base, believing he can thrive at either spot. But with Lewis comfortable at the hot corner, Lee now seems on track to be Correa’s double-play partner.

Given his track record and well-rounded skill set, Lee safely profiles as a quality big-league regular at minimum and could work his way into the Twins’ plans as soon as this summer. He’s become somewhat overshadowed by Jenkins, but Lee is a consensus top-50 prospect and would rank as the clear-cut No. 1 prospect in many other farm systems, and for the Twins in many past years.

Aaron Gleeman – The Athletic

3rd Base

Projected Starter: Royce Lewis

Others in the mix: Carlos Correa

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins
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Royce Lewis blew onto the scene again in 2023, returning one year after suffering a torn ACL the season prior, and started back up right where he left off. We do not know if Royce Lewis can stay healthy for an entire baseball season but he’s proven that, if healthy, he’s going to rake and play great defense.

In 70 games big leagues played, Royce Lewis is batting .309 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI. His OPS is a staggering .913 and he’s already collected 2.8 WAR (baseball-reference). It’s one of the best starts to any Twins in franchise history.

If the Minnesota Twins are going to be successful in 2024, they will need Royce Lewis to blossom into one of their best players. Not just a youngster who provides a spark when healthy, but a legitimate middle-of-the-order stick that every pitcher fears and one that’s in the lineup nearly every day.

Carlos Correa is ‘in the mix’ because this is a list of the foreseeable future. Correa is still a really good shortstop, thanks to having one of the best arms of any position player in baseball. But eventually, his lack of flexibility and athleticism will move him to 3rd base (where he’ll win more gold gloves). It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s a question about ‘when’.

Shortstop

Projected Starter: Carlos Correa

Others in the mix: Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins
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Shortstop is Carlos Correa’s position to lose. And when father time eventually catches up with him, he’ll move third base where he will most certainly win more Gold Gloves. He has one of the best arms in the league and rarely makes errors. His throws are perfect, nearly every time, and he takes pride in the way he plays the position.

All of those things are what have kept him at shortstop and what will keep him there for at least another season or two. Once he moves to 3rd, I’d expect Royce Lewis to take his place. But depending on how far away that is, it could be Brooks Lee or someone else who is not currently on roster.

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