Michael Helman’s Strength, Versatility Bring Him Closer To Twins Callup

Michael Helman was already 26 years old when he finally earned a promotion to Triple-A last summer, making the former Texas A&M second baseman a prime example of a player whose baseball future was damaged by the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season.

Or was it?

“Well, like a lot of guys, the pandemic did a number on his climb up the ladder, for sure,” Twins assistant general manager in charge of player development Jeremy Zoll said. “But I can’t think of anyone who helped himself more during the time off.”

That’s because Helman, a speedy middle infielder with a contact-based approach at the plate, spent the shutdown reworking his body, his swing and his position. When his career resumed in 2021, Helman, an 11th-round draftee in 2018, had substantially more strength, more power and more versatility.

“He devoted himself to getting bigger and worked really hard with (hitting coordinator) Bryce Berg to unlock some things in his swing path that helped him drive the ball farther and more consistently,” Zoll said of Helman, who clubbed 19 homers in 2021 and 20 more in 2022, after connecting just seven times during his first two professional seasons.

“His power really spiked, and he did it while keeping his strikeouts in a manageable spot and drawing a ton of walks. Michael deserves a lot of credit for his hard work during the year away. He’s put himself in position to potentially make his big league debut” in 2023.

The Twins tried Helman at all three outfield positions at High-A Cedar Rapids two seasons ago and were impressed. Then they gave him playing time at seven spots at Double-A and Triple-A last summer.

“Michael is a good athlete, well-suited to that utility role, and he adapted right away to the outfield. You’d never know it was new to him,” Zoll said. “He’s really maximized his opportunity. I’d be pretty shocked if he doesn’t play in the big leagues at some point soon.”

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