Few minor leaguers broke through in a bigger way than Max Kepler did last season, demonstrating exceptional plate discipline by walking (69) more than he struck out (68) and piling up extra-base hits. He always showed a knack for putting the bat on the ball, but now he hits it to all fields -- and with enough authority to profile as a .300 hitter in the majors. He probably won't be a 25-homer guy, but he could maybe be like the good version of Melky Cabrera eventually. Kepler did get a stint in the big leagues late last season, but because he has yet to play a game at Triple-A, he's a long shot for a roster spot this spring. The Twins shouldn't have much trouble finding a place for him when he proves ready, though, making him someone to target in AL-only leagues.
Kepler should have an easier route to playing time in 2016 now that the Twins have traded Aaron Hicks to the Yankees in exchange for John Ryan Murphy. Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton seem like locks to start most days, and while Miguel Sano has been talked about as a potential corner outfielder, the Hicks trade removes one or Kepler's potential road blocks. Kepler saw time at all three outfield spots, first base, and DH last year in the minor leagues, so his versatility should help him stay on the field. It's hard to argue that Kepler is not one of the Twins' nine best hitters on the 40-man roster, so one way or another he should find his way to 400-plus plate appearances in 2016.
Minor-league outfielder Max Kepler was called up by the Twins after Monday's game. The MVP of the Southern League, Kepler has pop and speed alike. It's unclear how he'll factor into the Twins' lineup down the stretch, as he can play all three outfield positions and first base, but all those spots are occupied
Twins outfielder/first baseman Max Kepler was placed on the seven-day disabled list at Double-A Chattanooga. The prospect suffered a shoulder injury in Wednesday's game, per the Star Tribune. Kepler is hitting .335 with three home runs and 34 RBI at Double-A.
The Twins reassigned eight players to minor league camp on Sunday and optioned outfielder Max Kepler to Double-A. Kepler was one-for-nine in four games this spring. Jose Berrios and outfielder Byron Buxton were the top names on the list of players reassigned. Berrios, a first-rounder in the 2012 draft, gave up one unearned run on seven hits in six innings this spring, striking out four. Buxton, also a 2012 first-rounder, hit .125 in eight at bats. The Twins also cut catchers Stuart Turner (2-for-4 in spring) and Mitch Garver (0-for-4), RHP Tyler Duffey (no appearances), LHPs Taylor Rogers (no appearances) and Ryan O'Rourke (9.00 ERA in one inning); and infielder Heiker Meneses (.125).
The Twins made a slew of roster moves Sunday. The team announced pitchers Logan Darnell, Edgar Ibarra, Brooks Raley and Trevor May were optioned to Triple-A Rochester. The Twins also announced first baseman Kennys Vargas was optioned to Double-A New Britain, while infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler were optioned to Class A Ft. Myers. The Twins also reassigned pitchers Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Yohan Pino, catchers Kyle Knudson, Matt Koch and Stuart Turner, outfielders Byron Buxton and Chris Rahl and infielder Miguel Sano to minor-league camp.