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Article: Cody's Top 30 Prospects: Part 2 (20-11)

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 08:14 AM
One of the highlights of the off-season for a core of Twins fans is the release of the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Seth Stohs has...
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Who's the back-up catcher on this squad?

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Kurt Suzuki is the Twins everyday catcher, but even as the everyday catcher, someone else is going to need to kneel behind the plate a co...
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Thank you Moderators

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Hi everyone,   It's been a while since I've been able to participate significantly in the Twins Daily forums. The truth is that it's...
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The 25th man for 2015

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OK....we're all still waiting for that ONE MORE MOVE that we JUST KNOW TR is going to make. And we all think and hope it's going to be fo...
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The Future of Twins' Catchers

Besides swapping Sam Fuld for Tommy Milone, the Twins didn't make a major trade at the non-waiver trade deadline. But one move made by the front office signals a lot for the future make-up of the franchise: Kurt Suzuki signed a two-year, $12 million contract extension.

After Joe Mauer’s move to first base this past off-season, the Twins didn't have a clear plan at catcher. There were rumors the club tried to sign some of the bigger free agent names but ended up settling for Suzuki. He’s now in the midst of his best professional season and he will be the Twins catcher for multiple years.

Josmil Pinto is one person whose future might be most impacted by the Suzuki signing. He made the Twins roster to start the season but saw limited playing time. The Twins send him to Rochester to get some more catching experience and Glen Perkins called him out for not being the best person to throw to behind the plate. Perkins is one of the clubhouse leaders and I doubt he would call out a younger player unless it was necessary.

Pinto might not see a lot of time at catcher moving forward. There are other catchers in the system that should be ready by the time Suzuki’s contract expires. Here are some names to watch for the next two years.
Stuart Turner, Fort Myers Miracle

Turner was the Twins third round pick in 2013. The college-experienced catcher was expected to move through the system quickly and he is already at High-A. His offensive numbers are adequate but he has been known more for his defensive skills. If he continues to move at his current pace, he'll be making his debut near the end of Suzuki's current deal.

Mitch Garver, Cedar Rapids Kernels

Garver has had over 35 extra base hits in his first full professional season. These totals put him near the top of the Midwest League in home runs, doubles and slugging percentage. He was a ninth round pick in 2013 so he has turned into a nice surprise. If Turner fails to make it all the way to big leagues, Garver is shaping up as a viable offensive threat.

Alex Swim, Cedar Rapids Kernels

Swim has spent most of this season in Cedar Rapids and his average would rank second in the league if he had enough at-bats to qualify. While his average has been great, he hits for very little power. In over 135 plate appearances, he has yet to hit double digits in extra base hits. Pitchers are going to be able to attack him as he moves up the ladder especially if he doesn't hit for more power.

For more from Cody Christie make sure to follow him on Twitter @NoDakTwinsFan and to read his other work at http://www.NoDakTwinsFan.com


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18 Comments

I'm surprised Graver hasn't moved up. I haven't seen reports on his defense or how it compares to Turner's but he has earned a promotion imo. I wish their draft spot didnt determine their hierarchy in the org so much. He was only 3 rounds lower, lets see them compete and split time in Fort Meyer.
"Pitchers are going to be able to attack him as he moves up the ladder especially if he doesn't hit for more power" I don't know what that means. How are they going to attack him and how would it be different if he did have power?

Josmil Pinto has been cited as a catcher with deficient defensive skills,

 

Since Thursday, July 17 (AAA All-Star Game break) Pinto has played 20 games. He has caught 12 times (60%). Including tonight's unfinished game.

He has been the catcher when Darnell, Hamburger (2), Wheeler, Gilmartin &

Meyer( 2) won games.

 

These are some stats to think about as we look to our future catching prospects.

I'm surprised Graver hasn't moved up. I haven't seen reports on his defense or how it compares to Turner's but he has earned a promotion imo. I wish their draft spot didnt determine their hierarchy in the org so much. He was only 3 rounds lower, lets see them compete and split time in Fort Meyer.

 

 

Garver finished second to the Johnny Bench winner two years in a row at New Mexico, once behind Turner.  Our on-site correspondent SD Buhr gives Garver's plate-work a thumbs-up at the Low-A level. It looks like it's going to take a Turner injury for Garver to catch up to him for the time being. 

    • Willihammer likes this
Call me naive, or overly optimistic if you will, but I don't think the door is shut on Pinto. He has a strong arm, and despite questionable or inconsistent footwork, did a good job of throwing out runners in his milb career thus far. And there is little question that he posses a potentially quality bat overall, especially for the position. But even if he only develops in to an OK backup who brings a potent stick off the bench or at DH, that's not necessarily a bad ending. Plus, Suzuki's contract is not problematic to trade potential or even backup potential if Pinto makes a move. I do think having a quality, veteran game caller backstop, for veteran and young pitchers alike, is not a bad thing. I'm still in the Herrmann camp as a guy who could be a very useful player. I still point to his earlier success in the minors, and BA ranking him as a quality defensive player, before the Twins began to yo-yo him so much the past couple of seasons. Remembering that the most important part of being a catcher is defense, game calling, receiving, and to some degree, on field leadership, I like Turner's potential. If he can be any sort of average hitter, can tap some of his power potential, he could be anything from a top backup to a really good starter+. Garver might have an even better bat, and according to reports from SD, not to mentioning just behind Turner in college rankings defensively, he might be an even better player and potential steal. If Swim can play good defense, call a game and hit .290-.300, not sure I care if he has the power potential of Turner and Garver. And I'm still holding out some hope that Koch could be a quality backstop. From Pinto on down, there is nothing proven or guaranteed with any of these guys. But this is some of the best catching depth I can remember the Twins having since...since I suppose AJ and Mauer come to mind. Miller about the same time AJ took hold of the job. And that turned out quite well.

Garvers's main nemesis may be that he was drafted in the 9th round instead of the 3rd.  It is like the pundits (management) choosing the best college teams for the polls.  They won't let you past the competition because they already picked you better, even if perhaps you become better, which might have meant, you were better to begin with and the pickers just didn't see it.  His bat should take him past Turner.  You aren't a finalist for the Johnny Bench award if you don't have a fine glove and throw.  Turner is proof of that as well.

Thanks for the article on the young men that should become the next Twins' catchers after the transition years of Suzuki.  Pinto should be traded.

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Paul Pleiss
Aug 07 2014 11:52 PM

I think Pino has a shot to be a backup or 3rd catcher for the Twins, but most likely a DH/Bench bat will be his likely tag. yes, he can catch, but I think the Suzuki signing says a lot about Pino's future as an everyday backstop. When Joe Mauer had to move from behind the plate a big gap opened up. Hopefully the Twins can bide their time with Zook and Pino until the next great Twins catcher comes through the system... which could be awhile.

I still believe that Pinto and Herrmann could hold it down until Turner and Garver arrive (if they do).

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Paul Pleiss
Aug 08 2014 05:36 AM

Herrmann hold it down? If the Twins were left with Pinto and Herrmann I think the front office would be scrambling to find a replacement anyway they could. Pinto may yet have value behind the plate, but I don't think you want Herrmann on the roster unless it's as an emergency 3rd catcher... which is something you don't actually need.

In many ways it appears Pinto's defensive abilities shadow those of Matt LeCroy.  Whether or not they can improve that waits to be seen.

    • birdwatcher likes this

I have a hard time getting overly excited about catching prospects.  Seems like we always have a few that can hit and have decent reports defensively, then at some point the Twins lose all trust in them.  The two that come to mind are Pinto and Jose Morales. 

 

The same could be said about short stops.

I have a hard time getting overly excited about catching prospects.  Seems like we always have a few that can hit and have decent reports defensively, then at some point the Twins lose all trust in them.  The two that come to mind are Pinto and Jose Morales. 

 

The same could be said about short stops.

 

I think that's true, to a degree, in that it seems there's always a couple of low-minors backstops who people get excited about and then never really see develop in to legit big league catchers. I'm not sure it's so much that the Twins lose trust in them as it is that catching at the professional level is just tough damn work.

 

By the time they've survived 3-4 years of minor league catching, some of those bodies are already pretty beat up and that affects their hitting as well as their defense. It's really a war of attrition. (And also why I'm not at all concerned about the Twins appearing to have an abundance of catching prospects across the high-A, low-A and rookie levels.)

I think that's true, to a degree, in that it seems there's always a couple of low-minors backstops who people get excited about and then never really see develop in to legit big league catchers. I'm not sure it's so much that the Twins lose trust in them as it is that catching at the professional level is just tough damn work.

 

By the time they've survived 3-4 years of minor league catching, some of those bodies are already pretty beat up and that affects their hitting as well as their defense. It's really a war of attrition. (And also why I'm not at all concerned about the Twins appearing to have an abundance of catching prospects across the high-A, low-A and rookie levels.)

 

Yeah, but both Pinto and Morales saw some reps with the big club, so I figured they passed all the tests.  Definitely tough work though and it is a good thing to have a lot of them.

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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 08 2014 11:17 AM
My guess is that Pinto will be the 2nd catcher to Suzuki for the next two years. He'll probably catch 60-70 games and spend some time DHing to keep that bat in the lineup. I could also potentially see him getting a few reps in the OF as well if needed to keep his bat in the lineup. I still think he's the catcher of the future, and I think his primary focus this year in Rochester is working on his defense.

I think the comparisons to LeCroy are unfair. LeCroy was very 1 dimensional. Pinto is a much better athlete.

I'm not sure about the concern of him working with our young pitchers... that's exactly what he's been doing this season. Meyer and May seem to be doing just fine in Rochester with Pinto behind the dish.

I think that's true, to a degree, in that it seems there's always a couple of low-minors backstops who people get excited about and then never really see develop in to legit big league catchers. I'm not sure it's so much that the Twins lose trust in them as it is that catching at the professional level is just tough damn work.
 
By the time they've survived 3-4 years of minor league catching, some of those bodies are already pretty beat up and that affects their hitting as well as their defense. It's really a war of attrition. (And also why I'm not at all concerned about the Twins appearing to have an abundance of catching prospects across the high-A, low-A and rookie levels.)


 

 

Excellent analysis about the war of attrition behind the plate.  It might be important to point out, Pinto's professional career is now in its 9th year, will he use up all of his 9 lives behind the plate before the Twins deem him "ready" to be the full-time guy? For every guy like AJ, Suzuki or McCann, who appear to be indestructible out there, how many guys wash out during their minor league years or are eventually forced from the position like Mauer, V-Mart, Donaldson, Napoli?  It seems like Pinto is right about 50-50 odds to be in the latter groups.

 

Now I have a couple of "What If?" questions for you and Tobi....

 

1a and 1b)  One year...and also again for the sake of argument, two years from now,,,to the day, who will be the Twins #1 and #2 catchers?

 

2a and 2b) Let's say that one year from now....and also again for the sake of argument, two years from now...to the day, let's say that Kurt Suzuki breaks a hamate bone and is out for the season, just after, and on the same day that Eric Fryer is traded to the Dodgers for Miguel Sulbaran's younger brother. Let's also assume that the Twins are 3.5 games out, behind the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers.  Who would/should be the Twins #1 and #2 catchers from among this group......Pinto, Hermann, Rohlfing, Koch, Knudson, Turner, Garver? 

Excellent analysis about the war of attrition behind the plate.  It might be important to point out, Pinto's professional career is now in its 9th year, will he use up all of his 9 lives behind the plate before the Twins deem him "ready" to be the full-time guy? For every guy like AJ, Suzuki or McCann, who appear to be indestructible out there, how many guys wash out during their minor league years or are eventually forced from the position like Mauer, V-Mart, Donaldson, Napoli?  It seems like Pinto is right about 50-50 odds to be in the latter groups.

 

Now I have a couple of "What If?" questions for you and Tobi....

 

1a and 1b)  One year...and also again for the sake of argument, two years from now,,,to the day, who will be the Twins #1 and #2 catchers?

 

2a and 2b) Let's say that one year from now....and also again for the sake of argument, two years from now...to the day, let's say that Kurt Suzuki breaks a hamate bone and is out for the season, just after, and on the same day that Eric Fryer is traded to the Dodgers for Miguel Sulbaran's younger brother. Let's also assume that the Twins are 3.5 games out, behind the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers.  Who would/should be the Twins #1 and #2 catchers from among this group......Pinto, Hermann, Rohlfing, Koch, Knudson, Turner, Garver? 

 

Good questions.

 

1a & 1b) I think Suzuki would have to be the guess for #1 both years. I'd guess Herrmann for #2 a year from now and probably 2 years (you didn't list Fryer as someone we can choose from, or I'd say he's the odds-on favorite), but I'd give Turner a chance to get to that level if he turns out to be as good defensively as his potential seems to be.

 

2a & 2b) I think in the event of a serious injury to your #1 catcher while in contention for postseason, with those as your internal options, you make a trade with someone. I don't think any of the guys you listed should be the starting catcher on a contender within the next 2 years.

 

I haven't seen Turner other than a short look in spring training, but he seems to be the real deal. I'm a believer that Garver can become a MLB starting catcher. My feeling is that one (or both) of them could be starting catchers in the big leagues 3 years from now. Sooner than that seems like a stretch.

I want Kyle Knudson and the return of the .191 fan club. 

I have to agree with Jokin here.

As a dreaded 3rd C option, Herrmann might also make the roster. Especially if the Twins rotation is strong enough to drop back to a 6 man bullpen. It's not that they need a 3rd catcher, but he could be a LH bat off the bench who could fill in here and there, with Pinto as a C and sometime DH.

If Turner's defense is as good as advertised, and he posses decent power, even hitting from .225-.250 could make him a valuable backup. If he can hit .250+ he could be the starter. Thus far, seems Garver may have the better bat however, and if his defense is even close, probably the better option as a future starter. But yes, they're both just too far away for now to be counted on.

Any opinion on Koch? I know he's down a bit this season offensively, but does anyone see him as a solid backup option?

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