Diving into the depths: Minnesota Twins

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Minnesota Twins
Rotation
1. Scott Baker
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Carl Pavano
5. Francisco Liriano
6. Glen Perkins
7. Brian Duensing
8. Anthony Swarzak
9. Jeff Manship
10. Mike Maroth
11. Tyler Robertson
12. Carlos Gutierrez
I had Liriano seventh when I did the depth chart for the draft guide a month ago, but I think there’s greater reason for optimism now following his successful stint in the Dominican Winter League. If Liriano does manage to walk away with a rotation spot, then a trade involving Perkins would become a more likely possibility. Maybe he’d fetch the backup center fielder the Twins need.
Bullpen
1. Joe Nathan
2. Matt Guerrier
3. Jose Mijares
4. Jon Rauch
5. Jesse Crain
6. Pat Neshek
7. Francisco Liriano
8. Clay Condrey
9. Brian Duensing
10. Glen Perkins
11. Anthony Slama
12. Kyle Waldrop
13. Carlos Gutierrez
14. Mike Maroth
15. Rob Delaney
16. Alex Burnett
17. Ryan Mullins
Liriano should round out the pen if he’s not in the rotation. Otherwise, it would seem to be a battle between Condrey and Duensing, though Duensing is another possibility for the rotation. Or maybe Crain will be traded if the relievers below him impress.


Catcher
1. Joe Mauer
2. Jose Morales
3. Drew Butera
4. Wilson Ramos
First base
1. Justin Morneau
2. Michael Cuddyer
3. Erik Lis
Second base
1. Orlando Hudson
2. Nick Punto
3. Alexi Casilla
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Brendan Harris
Third base
1. Nick Punto
2. Brendan Harris
3. Danny Valencia
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Luke Hughes
Shortstop
1. J.J. Hardy
2. Nick Punto
3. Matt Tolbert
4. Alexi Casilla
5. Brendan Harris
With Morales iffy for Opening Day after wrist surgery, either Butera or the 22-year-old Ramos could open the season as Mauer’s backup.
Left field
1. Delmon Young
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
Center field
1. Denard Span
2. Delmon Young
3. Ben Revere
4. Jacque Jones
5. Rene Tosoni
Right field
1. Michael Cuddyer
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
5. Rene Tosoni
Designated hitter
1. Jason Kubel
2. Jim Thome
3. Justin Morneau
With Thome, Harris and the backup catcher set to occupy bench spots, the Twins have just one spot open. A legitimate backup center fielder would be nice, but the team will likely go with either Casilla or Tolbert. While Casilla is the greater talent and has the advantage of being out of options, the organization seems to prefer Tolbert.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.