The Twins announced this evening that first baseman/outfielder Max Kepler will be called up to the big leagues for the first time. The 22-year-old just completed a strong season in which he was named the Southern League’s player of the year.
Kepler, 22, made huge strides upon moving up to the Double-A level for the first time. He owns an impressive .322/.416/.531 slash over 482 plate appearances and has also contributed nine long balls and 18 steals.
The move doesn’t mean much for Kepler’s service time or roster situation. He can only pick up about two weeks of action, of course, and was already on the 40-man. Odds are quite good that Kepler will still open the 2015 season in the upper minors, though he certainly seems to have moved up his timeline — as this call-up would suggest.
MLB.com recently moved Kepler into its top-100 prospect list, rating him 99th. That outlet still doesn’t expect him to be a regular contributor until 2017, noting that he’s shown strides but still requires polish.
One of the key factors that slowed Kepler’s ascent, of course, was the fact that he came to the Minnesota organization from Germany. As with many European ballplayers, Kepler has had a lengthy adjustment period. That results from a variety of factors — a broad and interesting subject that European baseball expert Josh Chetwynd and I discussed on a recent edition of the MLBTR Podcast.