6 Minnesota Twins Poised for a Breakout Season in 2013
The Minnesota Twins' crop of young players in 2013 is much more exciting than years prior simply because they won't be filling in for injured or ineffective big leaguers. Instead, there will be a team full of healthy, young competition vying for spots on the major-league roster.
Nearly every position player will have a battle on their hands during spring training. This is good, because competition breeds success—and success is something Minnesota needs dearly.
So who's most likely to jump out as a new everyday player?
2013's roster could be full of surprises both on the field and on the mound. But only a few will step up and leave an indelible mark on the franchise.
Perhaps an everyday role is what journeyman Chris Parmelee needs to be successful in the bigs. He's shown flashes of success—most notably his 2011 September call-up where he mashed .355 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI in 21 games.
But Twins fans have seen much more mediocre play as of late from the newly-donned right fielder. Parmelee hit .229 in 64 games at the major-league level while being yanked back and forth between the bigs and AAA Rochester.
But the story was entirely different in the minors. With regular playing time in Rochester, Parmelee hit for a slash line of .338/.457/.645 totaling a staggering OPS of 1.102.
The Twins are hoping he'll breakout in a big way in 2013 with everyday at bats—and a plot of land in right field with his very name on it.
Acquired in the trade that sent Ben Revere to Philadelphia, Worley is a young and controllable starter with middle rotation potential.
He posted a 3.01 ERA in his rookie campaign of 2011 that saw him place third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. But like Parmelee, his 2012 season brought him back down to earth.
The righty posted a 4.20 ERA in an injury-shortened season and left Philly fans with a big "What if?"
Now a member of the Twins with a perfect opportunity to prove himself, Worley will be healthy and ready to take the mound in 2013.
Trevor Plouffe may have had the hottest bat in all of baseball during the summer last season. He blasted 11 home runs in the month of June alone. But he cooled down considerably afterwards when a thumb injury landed him on the disabled list, ending up with 24 home runs in 119 games—still good enough for second most on the team.
Plouffe has a lot to prove in 2013: Can he adequately field the hot corner? Can his average climb up from his career .231 mark? What will his power output look like?
Plouffe answered many questions last year and solidified his spot on the roster, but the 2013 season will be his proving ground.
If healthy, Plouffe could be a force in the middle of this Twins lineup.
Drafted 22nd overall by the Twins in the 2009 MLB Draft, Gibson has moved quickly up the Twins' farm system while seeing success at every level.
Even after his November 2011 Tommy John surgery, Gibson has remained virtually the same pitcher. He may even be better for the wear after impressing in the Arizona Fall League and earning an invite to spring training.
As far as how 2013 shakes out, I doubt even the Twins brass know the answer to that. He'll definitely have an innings limit (see Strasburg, Steven in 2012), but whether we'll see him right away or down the stretch remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure, however: Gibson has the stuff to stick in a major-league rotation. With the best slider in the system running off a mid-90s fastball, Gibson is a tall and lanky right-hander who can dominate.
The only question behind Kyle Gibson? When.
Aaron Hicks saw his stock as a top prospect drop in the years leading up to 2012, but last season he put it all together. Hicks hit .286 and scored 100 runs for the AA New Britain Rock Cats and found himself back in top-prospect territory.
Now with a vacancy in center field, it's Hicks' time to shine. With only Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson fighting for the same spot, Hicks has the tools at his disposal to earn the starting center field job right away in 2013.
Even if he doesn't, we'll see a hungry and rejuvenated Hicks in Minnesota at some point during 2013.
He's patient at the plate, he hits for average and scores runs. He's even a switch-hitter. Denard Span who? Hicks sounds like a perfect fit at the top of the Twins lineup.
We saw Glen Perkins gain a foothold on the closer position halfway through 2012. But like others on this list, 2013 will be the first big test for the Twins' new closer.
Taking the reigns out of the gate is something new for Perkins, who has set up for former closers Matt Capps and Joe Nathan.
Now the last man standing, Perkins will be the full-time closer for the foreseeable future.
It's a good thing. Perkins has been one of the best left-handed relievers in all of baseball the last two years, pitching to a combined 2.52 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 132 innings.