I call this year’s fantasy baseball sleepers,”Rookies that failed to impress last year.” Okay, not all, but Alex Kirilloff is clearly in the same boat as Jarred Kelenic and Andrew Vaughn. By the by, before we start, I can’t properly express how much I must like Alex Kirilloff, because spelling his last name over and over again is like trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. Double L, double F, double R–Damn! There’s no double R! I patted my stomach and rubbed my head, didn’t I? Try again! Okay, double K–ugh, out already. All right, first up, what did he do last year? Not much! Moving on! Okay, fine: 8/1/.251 in 215 ABs. Not fair to put that all at the feet of Kirilloff or his inexperience or nerves or whatever you want to put at his feet — how about a cape so he can walk over puddles? Put that at his feet! Sorry, I lost it for a second. You can’t blame Kkiirriillooff because he was injured in May, and needed wrist surgery in July. There was talk about him returning at the end of the season. Not much talk of it, but some light speculation. I only mention that to say, if he almost returned at the tail end of last year, he should be fully healed by the time we get to March. That’s also the biggest caveat here. Wrist surgery for a hitter isn’t ideal, but he’s young (23 at time of surgery, 24 now) and should be able to heal in a reasonable amount of time. So, what can we expect from Alex Kirilloff for 2022 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Alex Kirilloff first came into the major leagues to join the Twins in the playoffs last year. By the way, he has the same number of playoff hits as Mike Trout. Sorry, I forgot my parasol, so I made my own shade. An important aspect to him starting a playoff game shows — Oh, by the way, in case you didn’t hear, Alex Kirilloff made his major league debut in the playoffs — back to the scheduled program! One thing that him starting a playoff game shows is the Twins are ready to see Kirilloff go, um, off, and *raises hand* same, same. It shows a commitment to him that I love. There’s no way Kirilloff is not playing if he’s healthy.
Here’s what Prospect Itch said previously, “After a tough summer fighting a wrist injury, Alex Kiriloff caught fire in the final month—” Stopping the quote to say, that was in 2019! Yes, this wrist injury has been around a while. Also, Prospect Hobbs wrote about 1,500 words about Alex Kirilloff in his Blind Resume post. So, 2020 and 2021 weren’t great years for Kirilloff–I literally can’t think of anyone who had a good 2020, so join the crowd. A bad 2021 for Kirilloff, however, had no bearing on him or anything. He had wrist issues for a while. That has finally been fixed. Very nice of the Twins to pay for wrist surgery for him about 27 months after it started hurting.
Kiriloff is a 60-grade power and hit tool guy in a Hot Girl Summer. That essentially means he could sorta be Eddie Rosario — 27-30 homers, .280, or, well, better. Kirilloff even showed a penchant for a steal here and there in the minors, but that’s likely smoke and mirrors. Magical if it happens, but don’t count the rabbits in your hats just yet. The year before the wrist issues first appeared for Kiriloff is when he first emerged as a legit contender for ‘Sexy Time.’ He went 20/4/.350-ish (didn’t do the math on the batting average, but it’s around there). That was in A and High A, though. He needs to connect now, but I think he can. If you remove the Hard Hit numbers because he had a wrist issue, and just look at contact, they look fine. 22.5% strikeout rate is decent for a rookie, and low BABIP due to wrist. Oh, and he hit eight homers in roughly a third of his at-bats last year with a bad wrist! He could easily get to 30 homers and a handful of steals with a solid average without a ton of problems. Ya know, a top 20 outfielder. For 2022, I’ll give Alex Kirilloff projections of 76/27/83/.271/4 in 534 ABs with a chance for a lot more.