• Dozier, Rosario and the Future at Second Base

    It has been quite the 12-month span for Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.

    On August 14th of last season, the Twins had seen enough of him at shortstop with the big league club. They demoted him to Rochester after 340 plate appearances in his rookie campaign. Many thought he would be back as a September call-up but the call never came. Dozier was forced to live with a bad taste in his mouth for the entire offseason.


    Brian Dozier entered the 2013 season not knowing if he would have a starting job with the Twins. The 26-year old middle infielder was shifting to second base and the club was having a competition in spring training for the starting role. Dozier would beat out other light hitting options like Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar. Dozier had flopped when he had previously been giving a starting job but the Twins were willing to give him a second chance at a new position.

    April and May weren't outstanding for Dozier. He combined to hit .214/.259/.299 with seven extra-base hits in 168 plate appearances. Unfortunately, he had more strikeouts (35) than hits (33) and he was only able to draw nine walks. It was a rough start to Dozier's sophomore season and the Twins were going to need to see some kind of improvement to keep him in the line-up on a daily basis.

    Things started to go in the right direction during the month of June. In 26 games, Dozier found his swing by hitting .257/.389/.514 with five home runs and four doubles. He posted a .902 OPS for the month and the Twins were even willing to give him some at-bats in the lead-off spot. His batting average for the season went from .214 to .228 and he raised his OPS from .558 to .673.

    In recent weeks, Dozier has been on quite the hot streak on the offensive side of the ball. Since July 21st, he is batting .304/.364/.595 with three home runs, two triples, and 10 doubles. In this span of 18 games, the Twins have posted an 11-7 record and Dozier' presence at the top of the line-up has helped the club along the way.

    Second base is an interesting position for the Twins as the organization starts to look to the future. Dozier seems to be settling into a nice groove at the big league level but he soon might be feeling a little pressure from the minor leagues. Minnesota was unhappy with their lack of talent in the middle infield a couple of seasons ago and the organization decided to move Eddie Rosario, one of the club's best hitting prospects, from the outfield to second base.

    Rosario has played parts of this season with the Fort Myers Miracle and the New Britain Rock Cats. In 102 games, he has hit .311/.363/.479 with nine home runs, eight triples, and 26 doubles. He has struck out a career high 75 times with 46 of those Ks coming in 50 games at Double-A. Rosario had a huge month of July for the Rock Cats. He batted .353/.394/.549 with three home runs and nine doubles.

    The Twins will look for Rosario to be the second baseman of the future but how soon will the future arrive at Target Field?

    Dozier's recent hot streak makes it easier for the Twins to keep Rosario in the minor leagues. Earlier this season it would have been easy to think that Dozier wouldn't have a job for Opening Day 2014 because Rosario would be making his debut. That plan might have changed and this could give Rosario time to master the Triple-A level before being asked to face the pressures of the big leagues.

    It seems likely that next spring there could be slough of top prospects in the Twins major league camp during spring training. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Eddie Rosario could all get a taste of what it's like to be one step closer to the big leagues. Sano and Rosario could be fighting for a starting job or they could be on their way to Rochester.

    In the end, Rosario is only 21-years old and he will be 22 at the beginning of next season. There isn't exactly a rush to get him to the big leagues and to start his arbitration clock. If Dozier continues to play the way he is, the Twins will be happy to give him at-bats until Rosario is busting down the door to the major leagues.

    With the Twins recent history of middle infielders, it's certainly better to have multiple solid options at second base than a bunch of question marks.
    This article was originally published in blog: Dozier, Rosario and the Future at Second Base started by Cody Christie
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      and don't forget James Beresford, who is only 24 years old and has a combined AA & AAA BA of .306 for 2013. He played for Australia in the WBP.

      2013 Season
      Team
      League Avg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
      NBR Eas .316 45 158 21 50 5 0 0 19 55 14 22 5 0 .373 .348 .721
      ROC Int .293 41 133 25 39 3 1 0 12 44 13 22 4 0 .362 .331 .693
      .306 86 291 46 89 8 1 0 31 99 27 44 9 0 .368 .340 .708
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      I certainly hope that Dozier keeps this up. That catch he made last night was spectacular. If Rosario keeps coming, they might have a trade possibility in 12 or 16 months.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by AM. View Post
      I certainly hope that Dozier keeps this up. That catch he made last night was spectacular. If Rosario keeps coming, they might have a trade possibility in 12 or 16 months.
      Rosario or Dozier might end up being a very important trade chip to add a front of the rotation SP. Walker and Arcia might end up in this position too. Let's hope even more of the scenarios show up in the next couple of years because I think we are going to need to use or depth in position players to come up with SPs.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I have to think they will give Dozier another shot at SS. If this season is for real and he can make it work at SS, the Twins will be looking alright up the middle. Really, the only spot on the INF in question going forward would then be 1b, which has Harrison and Vargas coming.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      If Dozier continues to hit, you have to give him a shot again at SS. He's posted a .900 OPS for the last two months now. If he can keep an OPS for a season over .800 and provide average defense at SS, he's a huge asset.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      I agree with the SS talk.
      I like Florimon, but with Carroll gone we now have no one other than the 33 year old Bernier to back him up. Escobar and Beresford have to spend some time there.
      (maybe Plouffe, too? Sometimes that makes sense, sometimes that thought scares me)

      Also, I have been a big Rosario fan. If Dozier keeps posting an OPS > .800 I don't see how Rosario sneaks into a starting role at 2B unless Dozier moves to another position.

      It is not written in stone that Rosario will be better than what Dozier is turning into.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Dozier to SS only makes to much sense.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      I think there will be enough innings and at-bats for a three-man middle infield of Dozier, Florimon, and Rosario. We have been waiting for this sort of talent, and it would be a crime to trade away one of the three before we see what we've got.

      Dozier is sitting on 692 major league at-bats. We won't see him "seasoned" as a professional hitter until that number reaches 2000. I can see him mature into a J.J. Hardy type of middle infielder with a consistent on-base percentage over .300, with twenty or more dingers. He's on that pace right now. He could slide into the DH spot on days when Rosario and Florimon are in the starting lineup, or he could be a solid pinch-hitting option in the late innings.

      As for giving Dozier another shot at shortstop? I think we've got our shortstop of the future already. Pedro Florimon is putting up better offensive numbers than Ozzie Smith displayed over his first four seasons. (The Wizard of Oz---the gold standard for MLB Shortstops) Florimon leads the American League in Total Zone Runs and Range Factor among shortstops. Florimon also has only 431 major league at-bats, and has room for a modest offensive upside. Still, Dozier could slide over to SS to give Florimon a break. Finally, I think we will need a shortstop with dynamic range with Miguel Sano at third. Sano has a cannon arm, but his range is a bit more suspect. Florimon helps solve that issue.

      Dozier and Florimon aren't eligible for free agency until 2019. Rosario's clock isn't even ticking, yet. Why wish away what we've already got--a solid middle infield for years to come.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      If it's not broke don't fix it. You don't mess with Dozier head by moving him back to SS. You just got his confidence up after working his butt off learning a new position this off season. Fortunately I believe the Twins think this way too. Dozier and Floriman work great together. When Rosario is ready in 1,2,3 years then you cross that bridge then (sounds like Rosario has a lot to work on defensively anyway).
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Three years? ugh. Rosario will be ready sometime next year.....it's nice they have this potential problem. But I'd like to see a bit more sustained success from Dozier before I gave up on one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball being likely to be better than him.....
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Three years? ugh. Rosario will be ready sometime next year.....it's nice they have this potential problem. But I'd like to see a bit more sustained success from Dozier before I gave up on one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball being likely to be better than him.....
      Yeah pretty much this.
      I think at worst you could keep Rosario in AAA all year next year if Dozier and Florimon do well, but if Rosario continues doing what he's doing, he's going to force the issue by 2015. I'm not against that, but no need to let the kid languish either.

      Also, I don't see how we are messing with his head by moving him back to SS. I don't have a problem keeping him at 2nd for now as he gets more comfortable hitting, but if Dozier continues to hit (and Rosario does too), I think it makes a ton of sense. He came up as a SS, so it isn't as if he has to learn the position, he's just going to have to work a bit more on defense and probably wont' be a GG. That's a fair trade if he can be average.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Yeah pretty much this.
      I think at worst you could keep Rosario in AAA all year next year if Dozier and Florimon do well, but if Rosario continues doing what he's doing, he's going to force the issue by 2015. I'm not against that, but no need to let the kid languish either.

      Also, I don't see how we are messing with his head by moving him back to SS. I don't have a problem keeping him at 2nd for now as he gets more comfortable hitting, but if Dozier continues to hit (and Rosario does too), I think it makes a ton of sense. He came up as a SS, so it isn't as if he has to learn the position, he's just going to have to work a bit more on defense and probably wont' be a GG. That's a fair trade if he can be average.
      Yeah there is a definite trade off you can live with at SS, if Dozier can put up some nice numbers at the dish you can certainly live with "average" defense. Hell, a Sano, Dozier and Rosario MI/3B would be deadly at the plate, and at least could be "average" in the field.

      Also with the Twins FINALLY getting some strike out pitchers, defense importance should become a bit less. (But also keep in mind, the OF defense should be pretty damn solid from here on out)
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Also what should be noted, is that if Rosario pushes the issue quickly and the Twins aren't ready at the time to move Dozier to SS for whatever reason, Rosario could take over in CF for a bit.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      We all hope that this run is for real and sustains itself, but it's possible that Dozier cools off and settles in with production that is more in the "meh" category. Whatever the result, isn't it pleasant to be discussing the MI problem in such a different light than we were just two months ago? Gotta love baseball.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Disagree with the moving him to SS talk. His highest and best use is a second baseman where is an absolute elite defender and good offensive contributor. Why move him back to SS where he was really substantially below average. When Rosario is ready, best value is to use him as a trade chip or keep him and trade Rosario. We still need to add pitching and it ain't going be with free agents next year.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Dozier has an extra-base hit in each of his last seven games, which is just one game shy of the Twins' record.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Having a surplus of something other than corner outfielders or 1st basemen is a pretty nice problem to have. Dozier has been Pedroia Lite out there lately.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      I think Dozier's troubles at SS last year stemmed from is trouble at the plate, pretty hard to focus on the field when you're thinking about how crappy your last at bat was, again.
      He's been a SS his whole career, now that he seems to be figuring it out at the plate, I think he could be successful there.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Also what should be noted, is that if Rosario pushes the issue quickly and the Twins aren't ready at the time to move Dozier to SS for whatever reason, Rosario could take over in CF for a bit.
      Absolutely! Hicks is not longer the "sure thing" he appeared to be out of Spring Training. He's batting .209 in AAA with only one extra base hit. Position switches--even from outfield to infield and vice versa, can occur at the MLB level too, ala Robin Yount and others. We know Rosario can play at the keystone postion eventually. Let him break in at his natural position, then Buxton can push him back into the infield in two years.

      Also, back to the three-headed middle infield, why can't Rosario play a few in the outfield while Dozier and Florimon team up. Let's keep the band together!
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Buxton is only one level behind Rosario. It won't be two years between their debuts.
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