What will another good September mean for Chris Parmelee?
At this time last year, the Twins called up a couple of young prospects from Double-A to make their major league debuts. Joe Benson was the more highly-touted name out of the two young players but Chris Parmelee came up and made a much stronger impression in the final month of the year. Benson would bat .239/.270/.352 in his 74 plate appearances in September while Parmelee was putting on an offensive show. By season's end, Parmelee was hitting .355/.443/.592 with four home runs and six doubles in 76 at-bats. This strong impression in September left a mark on the Twins that carried over to the beginning of 2012.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
When the Twins broke camp at the end of spring training, Chris Parmelee was on the roster for a variety of different reasons. Parmelee had backed up his strong September with a very good showing during spring training so this definitely helped his cause. The team was also unsure what to expect from Justin Morneau after a concussion shortened season in 2011. It made sense to have Parmelee on the roster to get some time at first base and maybe find outfield playing time as well. For Parmelee, it was most likely a dream come true to skip the Triple-A level and begin the season on the big league roster.
Those dreams wouldn't last for long as Parmelee struggled out of the gate to find his swing. From Opening Day to the middle of May, he hit .179/.250/.262 with no home runs and six extra-base hits in 27 games. The Parmelee that the Twins had seen at the end of 2011 and in spring training was nowhere to be found so the team sent him down. For Parmelee, it would be his first taste of the Triple-A level and he was going to have to hit his way back to the major league squad. He would do just that in the coming weeks.
During the second half of May with the Rochester Red Wings, Parmelee hit .452/.575/.839 with three home runs and three doubles in 31 at-bats. He would be back on the roster for the Twins near the beginning of June but he failed to get into the line-up for most of the month. After hitting the cover off of the ball at Triple-A, Parmelee was relegated to late inning pinch hitting duties as he only started three games the rest of the month. It was a strange and frustrating situation for the young player to be at the big league level but not getting into any action.
He would spend most of the months of July and August in the minor leagues and opposing pitchers got sick of seeing him step into the batters box. He hit over .320 in each of these months and he belted 13 home runs and 13 doubles during this stretch. It was quite the offensive run for the 24-year old but there didn't seem to be a place for him on the big league roster. Morneau had been healthier than originally thought and Joe Mauer needed to spend more time playing first base. The outfield was full with Josh Willingham, Denard Span, and Ben Revere. This left Parmelee in the minors to where he ended up hitting .338/.457/.645 with 17 home runs and 18 other extra-base hits in 64 games.
It's September again and the Twins have finally found a spot for Parmelee to get some at-bats in the line-up at the big league level. Span has been dealing with a pesky shoulder injury and the team decided that he needed time on the DL. This left an outfield spot open and Parmelee was more than willing to take on the role. He hadn't played in the outfield at all in the minor leagues during the 2012 season but the team felt comfortable giving him a shot to prove himself. In previous seasons, Parmelee spent some time as a right fielder so the position was not foreign to him. His bat was the more important thing and his hot September swing seems to have shown up again.
Through the first four of games in the month, Parmelee has three multi-hit performances and a couple of home runs to his name. Since getting called-up from Rochester at the end of August, he has managed a hit in every game that he has played in and he seems to be a man on a mission. It's a very small sample size but it seems that he is starting to regain his confidence at the big league level.
September Stat Summary: .467/.500/1.000, 2 HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI
The question still remains, what will another good September mean for Chris Parmelee?
By looking at the roster for next season, there is going to be the same problem for finding playing time for Mr. Parmelee. The outfield looks packed and first base will still be occupied by the M&M Boys. For Parmelee to get regular at-bats with the Twins, it seems like some kind of move will need to be made. One of the aging outfielders like Willingham or Span could be dealt for some pitching help. Morneau could be traded to take some money off the books and to free up a spot at a corner infield position. Parmelee has proven himself at the Triple-A level and he is a cheaper option than the players mentioned above.
In a story published by the Star Tribune yesterday, it sounds like GM Terry Ryan wants to see who is deserving of a roster spot for 2013. Parmelee is expected to get as much playing time as possible between the multiple positions that he plays and it is up to him to show the front office that he doesn't expect to be making any return trips to Rochester for the rest of his career. A good September will start to wash away any doubts and it could make for some interesting speculation in the offseason.
Where will Chris Parmelee start the 2013 season? Hopefully he will begin the year as a starter on Opening Day at Target Field.