German outfielder/first baseman Max Kepler has been added to the 40-man roster of the Minnesota Twins. The 20-year-old Berlin native is the second German player to reach that level in the past 12 months. Donald Lutz was the first in 2012, who then made his MLB debut for the Cincinnati Reds this year.
Kepler still has a long way to go. After missing the first half of the 2013 season due to an elbow injury, he was promoted to the Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League where he batted .237/.312/.424 with nine home runs, 35 runs scored and 40 RBI in 61 games. Afterwards he received more playing time in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, which was concluded last weekend.
With his promotion to the 40-man roster Kepler automatically gets invited to Major League Spring Training. He is going to be the third German player in recent history to take part in MLB Spring exhibitions after Lutz and New York Mets Triple-A catcher Kai Gronauer.
All Major League teams were required to add prospects to their 40-man rosters on Wednesday to protect them in the Rule 5 Draft next month. Also outfielder Aaron Altherr of the Philadelphia Phillies got promoted. He played alongside Kepler in the WBC Qualifier in Regensburg last year. Left-hander Alex Sogard (played for Czech Republic in WBCQ), who also was a candidate, didn’t get added by the Houston Astros.