The Twins selected outfielder Aaron Whitefield to their Major League roster yesterday in setting their Opening Day roster, per a club announcement. The Aussie speedster will go onto the team’s 40-man roster for the first time with the move.
Whitefield, 23, was signed out of Brisbane, Australia back in 2015. He’s something of a surprise addition given that he’s only played 31 games above A-ball, isn’t considered to be among the team’s top prospects and struggled at the plate this past season. Whitefield was a late addition to the player pool, joining the group just last week. However, he’s also swiped 115 bags in 337 minor league games in addition to 64 bases in 169 games while playing winter ball in the Australian League.
Whitefield has logged the vast majority of his time as a pro in center field, so he’ll give Minnesota a backup option at all three spots — notable with Byron Buxton coming back from a minor foot injury — as well as a pinch-running specialist late in games. Whitefield is a career .238/.299/.338 hitter in the minors, so it’s unlikely he’ll see too much time at the plate. However, we’ve seen a few clubs throughout the league opt to carry what amounts to a dedicated pinch-runner/defensive replacement (e.g. Terrance Gore with the Dodgers) while rosters are still at 30 players.