Alex Kirilloff Quickly Rediscovers His Swing
Missing an entire year of development is a setback that takes time to overcome, especially for a teenager. So the Twins understood that 2016 first-round outfielder Alex Kirilloff would be rusty upon his return from Tommy John surgery, that he would need time to get his timing and batting eye back.
That took him a whole weekend.
"It was pretty impressive how quick it was,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "You always worry when a really young guy has a major injury, because it takes away your playing time, your learning time, when you need it the most. Some guys never recover.”
That wasn't the case for the 20-year-old Kirilloff, a product of Pittsburgh's Plum High.
He missed the entire 2017 season, and then went 1-for-15 to open this season at low Class A Cedar Rapids. Then Kirilloff suddenly regained the form that made him the 15th overall pick in his draft class.
He ended his slow start by reeling off a double, single and two home runs in his next four at-bats, all driving in runs. After a slow start, the right fielder batted .345/.395/.633 with seven home runs in his next 35 games, displaying a smooth lefthanded swing.
"He’s just got a great swing. It really sets him apart at that level,” Radcliff said. "It’s a fluid, adjustable, terrific swing. His dad (Dave) is a hitting guy, so he’s always been advanced in his skills.”
Kirilloff used the recovery time to work on more than his elbow. He reported to spring training visibly bigger, having added muscle to his frame. It had paid off with 23 extra-base hits that ranked him second in the Midwest League.
"We threw him right in the middle of the lineup,” Radcliff said. "We put some pressure on him and he responded.”
Twins 2020 MLB Draft Preview: Minnesota Boasts Talent, System Depth
Examining the Twins' organization strength and weaknesses entering the 2020 MLB Draft, plus recent trends and their best/worst picks of the decade.
>> Shortstop Wander Javier will miss the 2018 season after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. The 19-year-old spent last season at Rookie-level Elizabethton.
>> The Angels returned Rule 5 righthander Luke Bard to the Twins. Los Angeles designated him for assignment after he allowed seven runs, six of them in one ugly outing against the Red Sox, in 11.2 innings. The Twins assigned Bard to Triple-A Rochester.