Twins 2017 preview: Expect growing pains, development from Minnesota's youth

After a 103-loss season in 2016 there's only one way for the Twins to go, and that's up.

The Twins won only 59 games last season. After not making any key additions to its roster, Minnesotaappears headed for another losing season.

The good news, however, isthat the team's core group of young players will be able to get another season under its beltand, the front office hopes,take a step forward.

After a 103-loss season, there's only one way to go, and that's up. If the Twins want to reach their goals faster, then they should take a play out of the White Sox's playbook andtrade All-Stars Brian Dozier and Ervin Santana for prospects.

According to Nevada's Atlantis Casino Resort, the Twins are projected to win 70 games this season, showing improvement with a serviceable rotation and solid defense. We think the Twins will improve as well and finish fourth in the AL Central.

Minnesota Twins schedule 2017

The Twins beginthe 2017 schedule on baseball's opening day April 3 at Target Field against the Royals (4:10 p.m. ET). The first weekend of the season has the Twins in Chicago to face the White Sox before taking on the Tigers in Detroit.

The Twins open a 10-game homestand April 14 against the White Sox with first pitch scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.

Minnesota Twinsroster

Twins projected opening day lineup

1.Brian Dozier, 2B

2.Jorge Polanco, SS

3.Joe Mauer, 1B

4.Miguel Sano, 3B

5.Max Kepler, OF

6.Kennys Vargas, DH

7. Byron Buxton, OF

8.Eddie Rosario, OF

9.Jason Castro, C

Twins projected rotation

1.Ervin Santana, RHP

2.Hector Santiago, LHP

3.Kyle Gibson, RHP

4.Phil Hughes, RHP

5. Jose Berrios, RHP

Twins projected bullpen

Closer:Brandon Kintzler, RHP
Setup:Ryan Pressly, RHP
Setup:Taylor Rogers, LHP

Twins fantasy baseball sleeper

Byron Buxton, OF: The once-hyped outfielder has disappointed so far, but a big September/October last season (.287/.357/.653, nine HRs) showed his potential. Only 23, he remains a 20-20 threat. If he can get on base at any sort of consistent rate, ashe did in the minors, 30steals isn't out of the question.

Twinstop prospects

Tyler Jay, LHP: He isMLB.com's No. 3 left-handed pitching prospect and for good reason. A reliever at heart, the 22-year-old had a3.33 ERA in the minors last season and looks to grow into a starter.

Nick Gordon, SS:Dee Gordon's younger brotheris the Twins' No. 2-ranked prospect. The formerNo. 5 overall pick hit .291 in advanced Single-A last season while stealing19 bases. Like Dee, Nick should be able to hit for average and steal plenty of bags once he reaches the majors.

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