Image courtesy of Tommy Gilligan, USA Today (photo of Deibinson Romero)The Twins will likely call up five to eight players when rosters expand and the Rochester season comes to an end, whether that's on Monday or after a playoff run. They will want to add at least one catcher, an infielder, an outfielder and several pitchers.
There are a lot of players on the 40-man roster who could be called up, but here are five players you should know about and not be 100% surprised if they get a shot. Remember last year, we were all pretty surprised when Eric Fryer and Shairon Martis were added to the 40-man roster and called up for September.
Doug Bernier - Bernier spent most of the 2nd half of 2013 with the Twins. He was designated for assignment following the season, but he came back and, at age 34, put together the best season of his career. He is hitting .284/.354/.406 (.760) while playing his usual good defense. He has played 62 games at shortstop and 41 games at third base, and has also spent time at second base, first base and both corner outfield positions. He has set career highs in games (118), plate appearances (444), at-bats (384), hits (109), doubles (25), home runs (6) and RBIs (53) with five more games to play.
James Beresford - The 25 year-old signed with the Twins in 2005 and has gradually worked his way up the system. 2013 was his breakout season, and 2014 has also been a terrific year for him. He spent the full season as the Red Wings second baseman. He has hit .281/.329/.358 (.687) with a career-high 28 doubles and two home runs. He continues to flash terrific defense and knows how to play the game.
Deibinson Romero - The 27 year-old from the Dominican stayed healthy this year and hit well. He had a strong showing in spring training, impressing the big league staff with his potent bat. He has hit .268/.367/.414 (.781) with 31 doubles and eight home runs. The third baseman has been a minor league free agent the last two year and chose to stay with the Twins.
Eric Farris – The 28 year-old got time in the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers: one game in 2011 and 13 games in 2012. He has one big league hit, a single off Eunario del Rosario. He came to the Twins as a free agent infielder. Last year, he spent a little time in centerfield. This year, he has been the regular Rochester centerfielder all season. In 127 games, he has hit .276/.314/.343 (.657) with 23 doubles and two home runs, while playing very good defense.
Reynaldo Rodriguez – The 28 year-old spent all of 2013 in New Britain playing first base. He returned to the Twins this year at a new position, as an outfielder. He has spent time at both corner outfield positions while still getting plenty of time at first base. He did receive a short promotion to AAA Rochester this year where he hit his first AAA home run. He was named an Eastern League Postseason All-Star. He hit .286/.345/.509 (.853) with 37 doubles, two triples and 21 total home runs. When I talked to New Britain hitting coach Chad Allen a month ago, he raved about Rodriguez, talking about his work ethic and his ability to be a good influence on the likes of Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario.
There are five hitters who are not on the 40-man roster who are deserving of mention. Maybe, just maybe, one of them can get a September call-up to the Twins.
Of course, there are challenges for each of them. For Beresford and Bernier, their “competition” for a September call-up could come from Pedro Florimon, who is on the 40-man roster. Aaron Hicks would appear to be a given for promotion in September, which makes it less likely that Eric Farris will get his shot. Deibinson Romero could get called up, but would he play? Trevor Plouffe is the regular third baseman with Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez capable of playing there. Reynaldo Rodriguez is a hitter and a first baseman/corner outfielder, kind of like Chris Colabello and Chris Parmelee and Chris Herrmann.
I didn’t mention the pitchers who are not on the 40-man roster now who could be considered for big league call-ups in September. There are a few.
Although he’s struggled in the 2nd half, AJ Achter has put up impressive numbers again in Rochester. Lester Oliveros had a hiccup last night, but he’s been tremendous for the last month or more in Rochester. Alex Meyer certainly is the name that everyone wants to see, although most rumors indicate that he will not be promoted.
Some are against promotions of players who may not be part of a long-term plan, who may never be a big league starter. But there are good reasons to give guys like this an opportunity. The Twins have done a terrific job the last several seasons with minor league signings. Casey Fien, Yohan Pino, Jared Burton and Sam Deduno were all signed by the Twins as minor league free agents. Calling up some of these guys would indicate to other six-year minor league free agents that the Twins will reward quality play, even if players are not on the 40-man roster. In general, it’s also nice to know that an organization will reward good players and good teammates if management believes they can help the organization.
Will any of these guys get called up for a September with the Twins? Most likely none of them will. Hopefully at least one of them will. In another frustrating season, having a couple of good stories is a good thing.