Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota’s most consistent players in 2022, but that didn’t guarantee him a spot on the 2023 roster. Comments from the front office at the end of the season showed they wanted to hand the reins to Jose Miranda after a strong rookie campaign. Offensively, Miranda struggled along the stretch, but was one of the organization’s top prospects going into the season. His future still looks bright, but where will the Twins go if he struggles or gets hurt?
MLB Options: Jose Miranda, Kyle Farmer, Luis Arraez
Minnesota enters the season with Miranda as the starting third baseman. He’s not the strongest defenseman, so Miranda will likely see time at first base and designated hitter. Last season, he played more than 70% of his innings at first base, but the presence of Urshela forced the Twins to use the better defender at the hot corner.
Last week, the Twins also bought Farmer in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. During the 2022 season, Farmer played 74% of his defensive innings at shortstop, but started 35 games at third base. At shortstop, only two qualified players had lower SDI totals than Farmer. He posted -2 defensive runs which he saved at third base with a 0.1 UZR. He has defensive flexibility, but he currently projects as the team’s starting shortstop.
Arraez is coming off a season where he won the AL Batting title and a Silver Slugger as a utility player. The Twins probably want Arraez to return to the starting spot to try and keep him healthier than last season. During the 2021 season, Arraez played over 400 innings at third, but the presence of better defenses limited him to less than 45 innings last season. Nick Gordon can fill in at third base in a pinch, but he saw very limited innings at that position last season.
Triple-A options: Andrew Bechtold, Yunior Severino, Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee
Bechtold played more than 80 innings on four defensive positions in 2022, but third base was the only position he recorded in more than 400 innings. In 123 games, he hit .233/.329/.400 (.729) with 16 doubles and 19 home runs. Severino split the time between second and third base last season when he reached Double-A. He’s limited to less than 100 games in two consecutive seasons, but he posted a .907 OPS during the 2022 campaign. Neither player is on the 40-man roster, so that adds an extra wrinkle if they’re needed on Major League Level.
Fans can debate whether Lewis or Lee is the Twins’ best prospect, but either could fit into the team’s third-base future plans. Lewis is out after his second ACL surgery until the middle of the 2023 season. He played 21 defensive innings at third base in his professional career. Lee’s played shortstop since the Twins drafted him with the eighth overall pick, but many believe he will move off the position. Lee will probably start the year at Double-A, but the Twins showed last season that they would be aggressive with his promotions, especially with his college experience.
Double-A options: Edouard Julien, Seth Gray, Jake Rucker
Julien was one of Minnesota’s breakout prospects in the 2022 season, and he would likely get a chance in the big league before the other minor league options on this list. He played 113 games at Double-A last season and hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples and 17 home runs. His success continued in the Arizona Fall League, where MLB recently named him AFL’s Breakout Player of the Year. Julien hasn’t played many innings as third in the minors, but his bat performs on any defensive position.
Minnesota won Gray in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft and he spent most of 2022 at High-A. At Cedar Rapids, he had a .740 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 113 games. He splits the time between both corner positions in the field, but he probably needs more upper-minor experience. Rucker played at three levels last season, even getting a brief stint at Triple-A. Last season, he made 47 starts at third base, the position he played most often in college. In 124 games, he hit .236/.333/.378 (.711) with 25 doubles, six triples and nine home runs.
Who do you think the twins will turn to if Miranda struggles or gets hurt? Does Minnesota have enough depth at third base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.