Twins first baseman/outfielder Alex Kirilloff started swinging a bat earlier this month, and is currently taking 50-60 swings a day according to Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com. Kirilloff underwent season-ending wrist surgery in August last year.
Kirilloff has long battled wrist injuries, landing on the IL four times for that reasons since making his big league debut in 2021. The once highly touted prospect hasn’t hit much in his time in the majors, compiling a combined .251/.295/.398 line with 11 home runs over 387 plate appearances. That’s a disappointing return for a bat-first player, although it is fair to wonder just how much these wrist issues have hampered his output even when he’s been on the active roster.
The Twins have a crowded outfield picture at the moment, particularly after acquiring Michael A. Taylor from the Royals, but the trade of Luis Arraez has seemingly opened up first base for Kirilloff. Given the injuries and output to date, there’s quite a bit of risk in relying on the 25-year-old as the primary first baseman, but there’s also significant upside too. Kirilloff was one of the top prospects in baseball before reaching the big leagues, and if he can show he’s past his wrist issues and unlock some of his potential that Twins could find themselves with a valuable middle-of-the-order bat.
Here’s some other notes from around the league:
- Sticking with the Twins to begin with, starter Kenta Maeda is set for a normal spring training with no restrictions, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. Maeda missed the entire 2022 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Maeda, 35 in April, is entering the final year of his contract and set to earn a modest $3MM salary. Given he underwent internal brace TJ surgery which typically requires a slightly shorter recovery time, and that initially been hope that Maeda would be available towards the backend of last season, so it’s not a huge surprise that he’s shaping up nicely for 2023. Maeda’s most recent sample of work came in 2021, when he worked to a 4.66 ERA over 21 starts.
- As he works his way back from shoulder surgery, Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed has begun hitting and throwing, per Nick Piecoro of AZ Central. Piecoro adds that Ahmed is not expected to have any restrictions by the time spring training rolls around. Having been hampered by shoulder problems for the past few years, Ahmed underwent season-ending surgery in June last year having been restricted to just 17 games in 2022. Ahmed has never been a huge threat at the plate, but has been one of the game’s best defenders at shortstop, amassing 154 Outs Above Average since 2016, trailing only Francisco Lindor’s 161 for best in baseball in that timeframe. Ahmed, 33 in March, is entering the final year of his contract and will take home a $10.375MM payday in 2023.