Sunday, July 7, 2013

Just Like 1982

In 1982 four of the best prospects in baseball - 1st baseman Kent Hrbek, 3rd basemen Gary Gaetti, right fielder Tom Brunansky, and starting pitcher Fran Viola - played their rookie season for the Minnesota Twins. The players had varying levels of success and the team lost 102 games, but the seeds for future successful Twins teams were sown.

When another star prospect – Kirby Puckett - joined them in 1984, the Twins had the foundation that would bring them a World Series title in 1987. Brunansky is now considered to be amongst the top 30 Twins of all-time while Gaetti and Viola among the top 20, and Puckett and Hrbek among the top 10. Puckett is a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Hrbek, Gaetti, and Viola are members along with Puckett in the Twins Hall of Fame.

31 years later the Twins have, are, and will be summoning some of the best prospects in baseball just as they did in 1982. Right fielder Oswaldo Arcia, starting pitcher Kyle Gibson and center fielder Aaron Hicks are already here, with 3rd baseman Miguel Sano, 2nd baseman Eddie Rosario, and starting pitchers Alex Meyer and Trevor May expected in 2014. While center fielder Bryon Buxton and starting pitcher Jose Berrios expected in 2015.

Buxton and Sano are already being hailed as Hall of Fame talents. Arcia and Rosario are expected to be All-Stars. Meyer and Gibson are supposed to be top of the rotation starters with Berrios and May being solid pitchers. If Joe Mauer can stay healthy and productive, a Twins lineup of Buxton, Mauer, Arcia, Sano, Rosario, Hicks, and others could make this a Twins team which could be amongst the greatest Twins teams of all-time. Of course history is filled with failed “can’t miss” prospects, so time will tell.

What can’t be missed with this new wave of young Twins players is the excitement they have generated. Certified autographs of Buxton and Sano are going for well over $100 a piece, and demand for items tied to them is in great demand. Meanwhile this year I gone to separate free public autograph signings with Glen Perkins, Chris Parmelee, Josh Willingham, and Pedro Florimon, and was able to go through the line multiple times. That use to not to be the case as Twins players use to draw huge crowds. Fans are not excited about the current players; they want to see the good, young prospects, and soon they shall.

Just like in 1982, the Twins are sowing the seeds of future success. We can only hope this time it will turn out as well as it did then.