Pitchers and catchers across the MLB reported for Spring Training this week. That meant the Minnesota Twins are in Fort Myers, FL, but that’s not the only thing happening in the local baseball world. The Saint Paul Saints, who will play as the Twins’ AAA affiliate for the first time, released their 2021 schedule as well.
The Saints’ first game is April 6 and the schedule stretches 142 games long. All of them will take place vs just SIX Midwest regional opponents (because COVID). 70 of them will be at CHS Field in St. Paul.
Get your Saints tickets early and often
Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, the Minnesota Twins farm system is pretty stacked. Their minor league stockpile of youngsters is ranked 8th in the MLB by Bleacher Report, 8th by The Athletic (Keith Law), 5th by ESPN and 8th by Baseball America.
Most of that top talent is knocking on the Big League door and most of their highest-ranked prospects will start their seasons at either ‘AA’ or ‘AAA’, meaning CHS Field will be a fun place to watch baseball games this summer.
The St. Paul Saints outfield should be full of future MLB maulers throughout the 2021 season.
(OF) Alex Kirilloff – 23 years old : It’s already being reported that the Twins top prospect (#26 by MLB.com) will start his 2021 season at ‘AAA’ so the organization can gain an extra year of control over him in the future. He’s expected to be called up by the end of April so get your tickets early if you want to see Kirilloff in a Saints uniform.
(OF) Trevor Larnach – 23 years old: Here’s a guy who some people have compared to the guy listed above. MLB.com ranks Larnach the #80 prospect overall, but Baseball America ranks him #39. Trevor has a decent glove and he hits the shit out of the ball. He’ll actually start in Wichita (AA), according to MiLB.com, but it won’t be long before he finds St. Paul. Both MLB.com and Baseball America expect Trevor to find the big league roster by 2021.
(OF) Brent Rooker – 26 years old : It’s quite possible that Brent Rooker starts his season with the Twins, especially if they do hold Kirilloff down for the first few weeks of the season. It’s also very possible that Rooker dawns the Saints uniform for quite a few games this season.
(OF) Gilberto Celestino – 22 years old : Celestino has been the player mentioned as the heir apparent to Byron Buxton in center field. Celestino is already on the Twins’ 40-man roster so he could start the season in St. Paul, though Wichita would make more sense from a distance. You should see him in St. Paul eventually this summer, especially if the Twins start pulling outfielders to Minneapolis.
(SS) Royce Lewis – 21 years old : Another top-30 MLB prospect (#29), Royce Lewis was the #1 overall pick in the 2018 draft and he’s now knocking on the door of the MLB. Some have even projected Lewis will take his first major league at-bat in 2021. Hopefully, that’s not the case because I’m not sure how good of a place the Twins would be in, should they find themselves calling up Royce Lewis this summer. That’s good news for St. Paul Saints fans, who could get much of this summer with the next Minnesota Twins star shortstop. He however, like Larnach, has already been assigned to Wichita (AA).
(2B) Nick Gordon – 25 years old : Once upon a time, Nick Gordon was Minnesota’s top pick. That was 2014 and times have certainly changed. It’s been years since Gordon has graced baseball’s top-100 lists but he’s just one call away from swinging a big league bat now. He’s expected to start his season in St. Paul and already sits on the Twins’ 40-man roster.
(SP) Jhoan Duran – 23 years old : Duran could be the future of the Minnesota Twins rotation. He stands at 6’5″, 230 pounds and throws a high-90’s sinker with pretty good command. Whether or not he sticks as a starter remains to be seen, but nobody who’s seen him throw a baseball doubts his talent. For 2021, he hasn’t yet been assigned an affiliate, but is in big league camp with the Twins right now in Fort Myers and already sits on the team’s 40-man roster, making St. Paul his likely destination.
Jhoan Duran established himself as one of the best starting pitching prospects in the Twins' system last season. Here's a preview of some highlights I uploaded to YouTube.— Tom Froemming (@TFTwins) January 19, 2020
Check out the #MNTwins Prospect Handbook: https://t.co/USNmvTeedw
Full video here: https://t.co/dFuQUnhhh7 pic.twitter.com/4xmc4WxUXx
(SP) Jordan Balazovic – 22 years old : Balazovic is the lower-ceiling but more likely to stick starting pitcher prospect. His fastball is nothing to sneeze at but he’s known more for his ability to throw any four of his pitches for strikes, in whatever count necessary. Jordan is also on the 40-man roster and down in Fort Myers as I type this. If you don’t see him at CHS Field right away, you will soon.
(P) Lewis Thorpe – 25 years old : Lewis Thorpe is sitting on his last opportunity with the Minnesota Twins. Aaron Gleeman (The Athletic) has been told that Thorpe was granted a rare 4th minor league option by the MLB. That means he’ll get one more chance to prove he can live up to the hype he once held in this organization. Gleeman thinks he’ll spend more time in St. Paul this summer, than he will in Minneapolis.
Fun on the East side
The players listed above won’t play at CHS Field during the same time this summer but there’s a very good chance all of them do, at one time or another. Grab your tickets now because it could be awhile before this many top prospects are this close to busting into the big leagues.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan