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Brent Rooker's Power Will Play

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The Twins didn’t add 24-year-old Brent Rooker to their 40-man roster in November for a simple reason: They didn’t have to.

That might change next summer.

Rooker is the top power hitter in the Twins’ system, having established his credentials by mashing 18 home runs in his first pro summer and then 22 more at Double-A Chattanooga in 2018 to rank second in the pitcher-friendly Southern League.

Rooker is "already on the precipice of being a big leaguer,” according to vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff. "He climbed the ladder about as quickly as a young guy can.”

That’s partly due to his age—but mostly hit bat. Rooker was 22 and a Mississippi State redshirt junior when the Twins drafted him in the supplemental first round in 2017. He earned that draft status after becoming just the second player in Southeastern Conference history to win the triple crown.

"He’s metrically suited to today’s three-outcome game. With his swing, with his strength, he’s a threat to go deep every time he’s up,” Radcliff said. "He’s working to keep from chasing breaking balls, but that’s the last piece of his hitting ability that needs shoring up.”

It’s not the only question mark, though. The Twins haven’t settled on a position yet for the righthanded-hitting Rooker, who jumped from Rookie ball to high Class A after just three weeks as a pro. He started 46 games at first base at Double-A last summer, 44 more in left field and 40 at DH.

"He’s probably adequate at either (first base or left field), maybe a little better than that of he focuses on it,” Radcliff said. "He’s athletic enough to play left field—a little rigid, but he can move around for a big guy—and we don’t have any interest in limiting him to DH.”

The Twins have used similar players, like Josh Willingham or Delmon Young, in recent years, and Rooker’s fielding projects better than those players, Radcliff said. But the game is changing.

"Teams are more inclined to have really athletic outfielders today, to put more emphasis on a well-rounded defense,” Radcliff said. "His bat could make it a worthwhile trade-off, and he’s working hard on his defense, but we’re still figuring out where his best spot will be.”

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