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Early exit for Yankees? Our MLB experts predict playoff dark horses and disappointments
SportsPulse: Which Chicago team will surprise? Is there a team from Ohio that could make a run? Are the Yankees primed for an early exit? Our experts predict their dark horses and disappointments for the postseason.
Before he even steps into the batter’s box or makes a catch, Alex Kirilloff will enter baseball’s records books.
The Minnesota Twins prospect will become the first player in league history to make his debut by starting a playoff game. Kirilloff, 22, is playing right field and batting sixth Wednesday against the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series.
Kiliroff is just the third player to make his MLB debut in a postseason game – but the first two to do so came off the bench.
Perhaps Kirilloff’s presence can help the Twins reverse a 17-game postseason losing streak that dates back to 2004 and includes Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the best-of-three Wild Card series.
The left-handed hitter, rated as the Twins’ No. 2 prospect and 27th overall by MLB Pipeline, can certainly hit. Selected in the first round out of high school in 2016, Kirilloff missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
That didn’t prohibit him from batting .348 with a .970 OPS and 20 homers through 130 games across two levels in the minor leagues in 2018. At Class AA in 2019, the Pittsburgh native again battled a wrist injury while hitting .283 with nine homers and 43 RBI over 94 games.
He spent time with the big club at spring training in March and was apparently on fire at the Twins’ satellite training site during the regular season.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.