Prospect Kepler to get more regular playing time

Outfielder recalled as corresponding move with Sano to the DL

Prospect Kepler to get more regular playing time

OAKLAND -- A day after center fielder Byron Buxton joined the Twins because of a hamstring injury to Danny Santana, fellow top outfield prospect Max Kepler was officially recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday with Miguel Sano placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain.

Kepler, ranked Minnesota's No. 2 prospect and baseball's No. 39 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, started in right field and batted seventh against the A's in Wednesday's 5-1 loss. He went 0-for-4.

Sano to DL

It's the second time Kepler, 23, has been up this season. He hit .167 (2-for-12) with two walks and two doubles in nine games while seeing limited playing time in early April. Twins manager Paul Molitor said he plans on giving more regular playing time to Kepler, who was batting .282/.367/.455 with four doubles, six triples, a homer and 19 RBIs in 30 games with Rochester.

"He's just a big strong kid who is still learning," Molitor said. "His baseball life hasn't been very large in terms of games and at-bats at his young age. But he's going to get a chance to play here now, at least more than he did the other time around, and we'll see how he does."

Kepler's great running grab

Kepler had just been activated from the Minor League disabled list after missing a week with a groin strain before returning on Monday. He went 3-for-8 with two RBIs in his two games since his return.

"I thought it would be a couple days to get back into things and see the ball better, but I seemed to see it fine my first day back," Kepler said. "I hope to bring that vision up here."

Buxton rejoins club

Kepler, who found out he was getting called up late Tuesday night and caught an early flight from Indianapolis on Wednesday, said he's excited for the chance to get more playing time in the Majors. He feels more comfortable, as it's the third time in his career he has been called up.

"I feel more relaxed," Kepler said. "I used to be more jittery when I got up here and couldn't really focus on what I need to do. But now I feel more level."

The Twins decided to go with Kepler over fellow outfielder Eddie Rosario, who is hitting .333 with a homer and six doubles in 12 games since being sent to Rochester on May 19. Rosario, though, has yet to draw a walk in 51 plate appearances, and the Triple-A coaching staff recommended Kepler over him.

"Max had been swinging really well before the groin injury and came back and got two hits in his first game," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He can bounce around and play all over the outfield. But that's just like Eddie, so that wasn't the deciding factor. But they just thought Eddie has things to work on."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.