The Twins announced they’ve recalled catcher Ryan Jeffers and outfielder Gilberto Celestino. Catcher Mitch Garver is going to the 10-day injured list with a severe groin contusion, while utilityman Rob Refsnyder has been placed on the 7-day concussion IL. Jeffers and Celestino are starting at catcher and in center field, respectively, tonight against the Orioles.
Garver underwent surgery after being struck with a foul tip last night. Manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters (including Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com) this evening that Garver will be out for “a bare minimum of a couple weeks.” So long as he’s on the IL, Minnesota is expected to roll with Jeffers as the primary catcher, Park adds.
Ben Rortvedt and Willians Astudillo are also on the active roster. Jeffers, though, is generally viewed as a more well-regarded prospect than Rortvedt, while the Twins have been more willing to bounce Astudillo around the diamond as a utility player than deploy him as a true regular catcher. Jeffers, 23, got off to a strong start to his MLB career last season but scuffled in 37 plate appearances earlier this year. With Garver picking up the lion’s share of playing time behind the dish, the Twins optioned Jeffers to Triple-A St. Paul so he could continue to receive regular playing time.
Celestino is also one of the organization’s more talented farmhands and will now pick up his first major league opportunity. Acquired from the Astros as part of the 2018 Ryan Pressly deal, Celestino entered the year as the Twins #10 prospect in the estimation of both FanGraphs and Baseball America. Those outlets suggest the 22-year-old could blossom into a plus defensive center fielder with a hit-over-power approach. Thanks to last year’s cancelled minor league season, Celestino hasn’t gotten much high minors experience. Over 96 plate appearances with Double-A Wichita, he’s off to a .250/.344/.381 start with a pair of home runs. During his last full minor league season (2019), Celestino slashed a productive .276/.350/.409 with ten homers in 503 Low-A plate appearances.
While Celestino has never played at Triple-A, a series of injuries in center field have forced the organization’s hand somewhat. Byron Buxton has been out since early May with a hip strain. Max Kepler slid over to center in his absence, but Kepler went down with a hamstring strain last weekend. That led the Twins to turn to Refsnyder, a journeyman who’s surprisingly gotten off to an incredible start this year, at the position. Unfortunately, he’s out now too after colliding with the outfield wall in pursuit of a Ryan Mountcastle home run ball on Monday.