• Josmil Pinto and September Performances

    There is a baseball adage among scouts and evaluators that you get fooled in spring training and in September.

    In both cases, teams are giving opportunity to evaluate younger, inexperienced players to often face other younger, inexperienced players. Have a big Grapefruit League performance, like outfielder Aaron Hicks, and suddenly you may find yourself with a starting position in April. Similarly, have a big September call-up performance, as Chris Parmelee did in 2011, and the following year you may be at the top of the depth chart. Success (or failure) in these environments can cause even the best evaluators to make ill-advised decisions.

    Former manager Bobby Valentine had been vocal about avoiding evaluating players based on September play. As did former Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who scoffed at the idea of evaluating players on a twenty-two game sample in 2011. Twins general manager Terry Ryan, a former scout himself who has seen plenty of September baseball, agreed.

    “I’m not so sure you can’t equate it to success or failure,” Ryan said recently in terms of evaluating his call-ups performance in the season’s final month. There are players who will excel and those who tank miserably, and this sampling should not be reflective of their long-term expectations.

    Even so, it is hard not to want to embrace players like catcher Josmil Pinto.

    Much like Parmelee did in 2011, Pinto has grabbed the remaining Twins fans’ attention by hitting 13-for-23 (.565) with six extra base hits over his first seven games. Since 1980, only Jay Bruce (.577) had a better start to his career through seven games. Beyond just the numbers, Pinto’s offensive skill set has certainly been impressive. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the A’s, he had demonstrated solid strike zone judgment while making excellent contact. In fact, he had seen 49 fastballs and swung-and-missed at only one. In addition to that, the Venezuelan backstop had ripped line drives all over the field – proving that he was not just an eager rookie swinging from his heels.

    Now, it is sad, depressed jerks like me who have to use this platform to point out that this production is unsustainable. When it comes to the numbers, seven games is absolutely nothing. And so are the next baker’s dozen or so after this. Nothing that Pinto does statistically makes him the automatic heir to the catcher’s throne in 2013.

    Like Parmelee, Pinto has not received the full-out advanced scouting treatment. In September 2011, people loved Parmelee’s approach and his ability to put a charge into the ball. Meanwhile, in 2012, opponents created a better game plan suited to getting him out. While they adjusted, Parmelee struggled to keep up. Since that magical month, he has hit just .226/.301/.374 in 149 games.


    In Pinto’s case, he’s been very successful in counts in which pitchers attack the zone, like when he is ahead in the count (6-for-8, .750) and on even counts (5-for-7, .714). In last night’s game alone, the A’s staff threw Pinto 18 pitches, of which 15 were fastballs. As advanced scouts begin to see this pattern, they will likely advise their pitchers to change their approach – maybe more off-speed stuff or pitches on the edges of the plate.

    The Twins will travel to Oakland next week and for the first time in his major league career, opponents will have a second chance to game plan him. By that time, expect some changes in the pitchers’ approach. That match-up will be a milestone in his player development – will he be able to adjust at the plate along with the pitchers?

    This is not to say that Pinto cannot have a solid career in baseball. Over his eight minor league seasons, he has posted a 790 OPS. For comparison, former top catching prospect Wilson Ramos managed a 756 OPS in his six minor league seasons. Ramos, who started his major league career two years younger than Pinto, has continued to hit above-average for the Washington Nationals.

    Pinto can be a solid contributor for 2014 but do not base it on his performance in this month alone.
    This article was originally published in blog: Is Josmil Pinto The Twins Starting Catcher In 2014? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Interesting that we would be loving Colabello if we hadn't seen him up until now.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Catcher is primarily a defensive position. How good is Pinto at calling a game, settling down pitchers, throwing out runners, fielding bunts, setting up outside when the batter is obviously looking for an inside pitch (as in Pelfrey's last start against Toronto)? So far, he looks like a cheaper version of Doumit.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      How good is Pinto at calling a game
      So far, all the pitches are signaled in from the dugout.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      All pitches are called from the dugout? That's got to really slow the game down, doesn't it? For a team that espouses a good pace from the pitcher they take the time to signal pitches from the dugout, which then gets relayed to the pitcher by the catcher, who may shake it off so that the dugout has to then try and get him to pitch the pitch they want, to get shaken off again...
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      Catcher is primarily a defensive position. How good is Pinto at calling a game, settling down pitchers, throwing out runners, fielding bunts, setting up outside when the batter is obviously looking for an inside pitch (as in Pelfrey's last start against Toronto)? So far, he looks like a cheaper version of Doumit.
      If a guy can hit they will find a place for him. Who knows he may catch the second game of doubleheaders or DH. He certainly appears to be no worse than Doumit defensively, who has found a way to stick in the bigs for 9 years. Way too early to assume he will be limited by his defense.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Two articles here--with different headlines, but the same body--here is what I wrote in response to "Josmil Pinto The Twins Starting Catcher in 2014?"

      I base my optimism for Pinto on 1) minor league performance--he swung at strikes in NB and Roch. He was very consistent--not many o'fers and a lot of game with a hit or walk. A lot of extra base hits. 2) Eyeball test--compared to Colabello, he looks like Paul Molitor. Quiet at the plate, not off balance, able to adjust to hit off-speed stuff. He hasn't appeared to be fooled very often. 3) Almost all of his hits have been hit hard--when he had three doubles, the ball was stung each time. He isn't dropping bloopers over the infielder's heads.

      In addition, I would comment about Pinto's defense: While I haven't watched a ton of Pinto catching, from what I've seen I don't see any red flags. Pinto seems to have pretty good communication with the pitchers, throws well enough, and looks like he receives the ball well.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      What I've seen from Josmil Pinto has been very encouraging. He looks like a guy that wants to learn.

      At the plate, he's got what appears to be excellent poise and an almost delicate, fingertip grip on the bat. He's not just up there to see how hard he can swing, which is sometimes the impression I get from guys like Plouffe and Arcia, as well as Willingham. Pinto's swing appears to have good potential for adjusting to pitches. I've seen him lace a couple of line drives on high outside pitches that other Twins would whiff on. That means he's able to delay his wrist flip better than most hitters. I'm pretty sure that's what Brian Dozier was working on with Bruno.

      Behind the plate, I see good balance and a strong arm, but from what I've been reading, he still needs to learn how to call games. Well, he'll have lots of good advice from Joe Mauer and whoever else is still catching next year. I like this kid.
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Darn you for wet-blanketing, Hageman. And just when I was penning my "Josmil Pinto > Joe Mauer" article. Like you, I hope he proves to be the exception, and produces at a high level for 2014 and beyond.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      Catcher is primarily a defensive position. How good is Pinto at calling a game, settling down pitchers, throwing out runners, fielding bunts, setting up outside when the batter is obviously looking for an inside pitch (as in Pelfrey's last start against Toronto)? So far, he looks like a cheaper version of Doumit.
      I have been following his games and the strike zone at Brooks Baseball. I am encouraged to see the called strikes in the bottom quarter of the zone. In yesterday's start, Hendriks had no balls called on pitches in the strike zone. There were four called strikes in the bottom quarter of the zone. I posted the graphic of his first start at catcher which was also very solid. Sure it is a small sample, but I am not sure we could find any Doumit game as solid.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Let's cut the "heir apparent to catcher" thing. Mauer's value is tied to being behind the plate. I don't mind him getting reps wherever they have a need to keep his bat in the lineup more, but he still needs to catch quite a bit, unless Pinto suddenly becomes as good or better of a hitter, and I'm not seeing that just yet.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Let's cut the "heir apparent to catcher" thing. Mauer's value is tied to being behind the plate. I don't mind him getting reps wherever they have a need to keep his bat in the lineup more, but he still needs to catch quite a bit, unless Pinto suddenly becomes as good or better of a hitter, and I'm not seeing that just yet.
      The Twins can't cut it. Mauer has a brain injury. It may not be responsible to play Mauer at catcher any longer. Even if they do, he may be one shot to the mask away from ending a career in baseball or at least as a catcher. The Twins have to have a plan. They need to know if Pinto can handle the spot defensively. If not, they need to find someone who can.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Let's cut the "heir apparent to catcher" thing. Mauer's value is tied to being behind the plate. I don't mind him getting reps wherever they have a need to keep his bat in the lineup more, but he still needs to catch quite a bit, unless Pinto suddenly becomes as good or better of a hitter, and I'm not seeing that just yet.
      Even if Mauer can't provide enough value at 1st base, would you rather have him at 1st, or not at all? Because if he keeps catching and taking more fouls to the head, the "not at all" could become reality.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      There have always been caution flags about Pinto's defense, but ALWAYS these end up to be assumptions. Look back at what Seth said about him in 2011. The defense was supposedly questionable, but then he performed.

      I will say that Pinto is surpassing what Parmelee did both in AA and in the 2011 callup. Pinto is legitimate, at least legitimate enough to help make Doumit a bye-bye. He is definitely a better defensive catcher than Doumit. The Twins may now end up having the best overall defensive catching for 2014 with Mauer (very above average), Herrmann (above average), and Pinto (average).
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      This past spring, I noticed a guy in the Matt Tolbert batting cage almost daily hitting off a tee after practice. I finally asked a friend who is really up on the minor leaguers and a ST holder for the Miracle who he was. "Pinto, he's a catcher and he's pretty good". I'd watch for 5 minutes or so and he'd pull the ball, then go the opposite way, and then up the middle. He just worked and worked, being the last man around most of the time, just like Tolbert did, and Koskie before him. He's certainly not afraid to put his time in, and has a good work ethic. It's nice to see him get a look up here and I really wish him well.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I am hoping he's the catcher 100 games next year, with Mauer there the rest, but Mauer mostly at 1B/DH, and I disagree 100% that Mauer does not have "sufficient" value at 1B.

      edit: or mauer not at C at all, frankly.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Mauer had a "bad day" yesterday and was sent home. He had a concussion as a kid and is taking a long time to recover from this episode. If you ask me, the Twins should give him a first baseman's mitt and say "that is your position". If he wins a couple more batting championships, it probably would be worth it. It is kind of a risk to start a rookie catcher, but Pinto looks up to the task.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Anyone know how many foul tips to the head catchers average per year? Someone, somewhere, has to have found that out.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.