Skip to main content

Is Jose Miranda the Twins' wild card at first base in 2024?

The former top prospect had a lost season in 2023 but could be poised for a rebound this summer.

A lot of the excitement surrounding the Minnesota Twins comes from a young core that's starting to find its way to the majors. Last year, Royce Lewis, Matt Wallner and Eddy Julien became regulars in the lineup and other homegrown talent such as Bailey Ober and Louie Varland carved out key roles down the stretch.

But when it comes to young players that could make an impact for the Twins in 2024, it might be a forgotten player that becomes their wild card.

At this time a year ago, Josè Miranda was set to become the Twins' Opening Day third baseman, but a shoulder injury suffered in spring training resulted in a lost season. After undergoing surgery, Miranda is looking to pick up where he left off and could become a dark horse to be a key player by the end of the year.

Miranda's path to the majors has been littered with obstacles since being selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2016 draft. Miranda hit .258/.311/.395 with an average of 12 home runs and 68.5 RBI in his first two full minor league seasons between Low-A, High-A and Double-A, but had his 2020 season wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miranda looked like a different player when he returned to game action in 2021, hitting .345/.408/.588 with 13 homers and 38 RBI in 47 games at Double-A Wichita to open the season. Miranda continued to hit in St. Paul with a .343/.397/.563 batter's line with 17 homers and 56 RBI in 80 games and finished the year hitting .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBI.

Producing one of the greatest seasons by a Twins minor leaguer over the past 20 years is a great way to get yourself on the radar and after opening the 2022 season ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, Miranda made his major league debut that May.

Miranda's rookie year was a solid one, hitting .268/.325/.426 with 15 homers and 66 RBI in 125 games and there was reason to think he could be even better in 2023. With Gio Urshela traded to the Los Angeles Angels, Miranda was ready to go until suffering a shoulder impingement in spring training.

The injury initially caused him to miss the World Baseball Classic and bled into the regular season, where he hit just .211/.263/.303 with three homers and 13 RBI in 40 games. Miranda spent time on the injured list before returning to St. Paul but the injury continued to linger as he hit .255/.326/.360 with three homers and 23 RBI.

While Miranda battled the injury, several Twins began to cut in line. Lewis became the Twins primary third baseman and Alex Kirilloff began to establish himself at first base. Donovan Solano took over for Kirilloff when he suffered his own shoulder injury and Miranda became an afterthought in the minds of Twins fans.

The under-the-radar status could be a blessing in disguise entering this season. Miranda underwent surgery last offseason to correct the injury and told's Joe Trezza that he felt healthy coming into spring training.

“Thank God, I'm 100% right now and ready to go,” Miranda said after Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. “[Last year was] super frustrating. I couldn't go to the World Baseball Classic, which was a dream of mine, because of the injury. Then the season started, and things weren't going my way. I ended up having surgery. It was a tough one. But you learn from stuff like that, and you get stronger mentally. Now, I'm ready.”

Miranda has also backed up the claim by going 6-for-13 (.462) at the plate with a double and two walks this spring, but there are some issues at play including his lack of exit velocity.

Perhaps this is an issue Miranda can solve by starting the season in the minors, which could give the Twins insurance if their plans go wrong at first base.

The Twins are hoping Kirilloff can stay healthy after hitting .270/.348/.445 with 11 homers and 41 RBI in 88 games last season and free-agent addition Carlos Santana should also serve in the same role that Solano did last season – especially against left-handed pitching.

But with Kirilloff's career marred with wrist and shoulder injuries and Santana set to turn 38 next month, Minnesota's plans go awry and give Miranda an opportunity.

If Miranda can regain his form from his rookie year, it could be enough to get him back to the majors. Should that happen, Miranda can slug his way back into the minds of Twins fans who may have forgotten about him over the past year.