Slugging Carlos Santana could be a leadoff option for Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Carlos Santana hasn’t hit leadoff in a regular-season game since 2018. But if Twins manager Rocco Baldelli’s spring training lineups are an indication of what’s coming, that could soon change.

Santana, a middle-of-the-order bat for most of his career, has hit leadoff recently in two games against lefties. While Edouard Julien is expected to fill that role against righties, Santana is among those Baldelli is considering against southpaws.

Last year, Donovan Solano, now a free agent, primarily settled into the leadoff spot against lefties. With him gone, there are “a few” options on the table, Baldelli said.

“It’s something I’m definitely thinking about and considering,” Baldelli said of Santana. “I think he will hit leadoff. I don’t know if it’s going to be the whole year. Our lineups really rarely hold for that long, but I think he’s a good candidate to do it. I think he can certainly handle it and he could do it.”

The switch-hitting first baseman, who said he enjoyed hitting leadoff, has historically been more successful from the right side of the plate. Last year, he slashed .266/.354/.453 against lefties with an .807 OPS.

Though his overall on-base percentage of .314 last season took a dip from his career number of .356, Santana has twice led the league in walks and is known for having a disciplined approach at the plate.

“They know that I’m taking a lot of walks and I’m getting on base all the time,” Santana said. “Everything that the team needs me for, that will help the team, I’ll do it.”

Spring Breakout on tap

The Twins’ top prospects will take center stage on Saturday, participating in the Spring Breakout against the brightest up-and-comers in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system. The game, which will start at 3:05 p.m. CT and will be seven innings, will be broadcast on Bally Sports North.

While top prospect Walker Jenkins is sidelined because of a quad strain, most of the organization’s top prospects will participate in the game, including Brooks Lee, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Gabriel Gonzalez.

David Festa, one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, is slated to start the game, with 18-year-old Charlee Soto, whom the Twins drafted 34th overall last year, also expected to pitch.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity for them, especially some of them who didn’t play in big league camp and haven’t been brought over to just get in front of a slightly bigger crowd to get that feeling that they are being showcased for the future,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “Hopefully it’s a reflection of their status in the industry but also my hope is that they come out of it with the desire to work harder. This isn’t the end point.”


Former Twins center fielder Michael A. Taylor has reportedly reached an agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates on a one-year, $4 million deal. The Twins had been interested in a reunion with Taylor before pivoting to Manny Margot. … The Twins will play a Grapefruit League game against the Rays on Friday before the Spring Breakout. Pablo López will start that game.

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