Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • TD Top Prospects: #7 Josmil Pinto

    A year ago Josmil Pinto wasn’t on anyone’s prospect list.

    Baseball America. Baseball Prospectus. Seth Stohs. None of these minor league mavens saw Pinto coming in 2013. The kid was so far off the radar you’d figure he had drowned in tobacco juice (which has been known to happen in Wisconsin) somewhere in Beloit . And yet, one year later, here he is, number seven with a bullet on our prospect list. What happened? How did everyone miss so badly?


    Part of it is the nature of the prospecting game, to be sure. People can overrate guys for certain elements of their game...like former prospect Joe Benson, for example. Once upon a time he was a Top 10 guy every year because he was the toolsiest tool to ever tool. He had everything: The body, the athleticism, the hair (oh, the hair). In the end, the tools were not able to translate into big league success. Not yet, anyhow. Meanwhile, a guy like Pinto who has a frumpy body, an unorthodox swing and is a bigger liability behind the plate than a competitive eater with lockjaw... well, sometimes those guys keep improving or keep hitting.

    The Rise

    In November 2012, the Twins added the 24-year-old catcher to their 40-man roster, a consortium of ballplayers that was already littered with catchers. The move was originally heralded as curious. In their preseason annual, Baseball Prospectus considered his inclusion a “somewhat surprising addition” to the Twins’ group. After all, he had but 52 plate appearances in AA New Britain under his belt.

    Despite a .295/.362/.482 line in 2012 while playing a position that places emphasis on defense, Baseball America omitted him from the Twins’ Top 10 list. As did Baseball Prospectus. (Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to the growing depth of prospect talent in the team’s farm system.) Even though he demonstrated a good deal of power in the offense-stifling Florida State League, Pinto’s age (24) at the start of the 2013 season, his injury history, his non-jeans model body and his oft questioned defense likely earned him demerits in the rankings.

    Last year in spring training, the 24-year-old catcher began to catch a few eyes as well. Manager Ron Gardenhire professed intrigue in the Venezuelan while prospector John Sickels noted that Pinto has slimmed down some, making the knock on his body shape less of a factor in his projection. Then he just kept hitting and moving. First it was New Britain, where he earned an All-Star berth, followed by a brief stint in Rochester and then having his season culminate with a summons from the big club in September.

    Pinto’s September call-up was preceded by Joe Mauer’s season-ending injury and that allowed him to play almost full-time behind the plate and to hit every day. And hit he did. With the exception of Chris Parmelee’s 2011, Pinto’s 2013 season was the best offensive performance by a Twins’ call-up in a long while. While that is a good sign, much like with Parmelee, the results in the small sampling do not dictate future output.

    Why He Might Struggle

    Teams have little time to prepare game plans to attack call-ups' weaknesses and often are left challenging them with fastballs. In his time with the Twins, Pinto saw almost 60% fastballs -- a very high percentage in comparison with the league average. With his high leg kick, Pinto may prove to be more susceptible to offspeed and breaking pitches or simply have his timing thrown off when he faces a greater variety of pitches.

    With the equipment on, Pinto did not prove to be as much of a liability as previously advertised. In fact, after not throwing out any of five runners in spring training, Pinto, in September, nailed five of 11 would-be base-stealers while not allowing a passed ball (there were nine wild pitches credited to the pitchers). Still, this did not stop general manager Terry Ryan from voicing caution when it came to assessing his overall catching abilities. This winter Ryan told Twins Daily that the team viewed Pinto’s September as good, not great.

    Why He Will Succeed

    While a wider array of pitch types might provide a kink in his development, he has hit at almost every level. Unlike some prospects who need a period of adjustment, Pinto has hit the ground running. Last year, one area of his game that saw improvement was his plate discipline: he saw an increase in walk rates despite playing at higher levels -- perhaps a sign that he will be able to have success against different pitches.

    Having already mentioned that his significant leg kick might be a detriment, it is also a solid timing mechanism that helps him perform well against both hard and soft offerings. Examining his spray chart, you can see that for hard offerings (fastballs, sliders, etc), he stays middle-away. On the other hand, for slower offerings (changeups, curves, etc), he pull them. Some hitters get caught cheating to pull the fastball and find themselves too far out in front to adjust to offspeed (Ryan Doumit comes to mind). Pinto does not do this.



    What’s Next

    Pinto can hit, we know this. The Twins want to see more from him defensively in order to give him the position full-time. His white-hot September aside, he probably could use a few more ABs and defensive refinement at Rochester before taking over the job.
    This article was originally published in blog: TD Top Prospects: #7 Josmil Pinto started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. CK's Avatar
      CK -
      Joe Benson. So much hair.

      Excellent point about how focusing too much on tools sometimes is a mistake. It's easy to be blinded.
    1. Madre Dos's Avatar
      Madre Dos -
      You won't find anyone that works any harder than Josmil. He is very aware that he has been given an opportunity and I am sure that he will make the most of it. The Twins will not be sorry.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Leery of lifetime .275 minors hitters batting .342 in small sample but he did have a great 2013 and very solid 2012. Don't expect .342 from him but would think he is capable of at least .260 which sadly would have made him the 2nd best hitter among regulars on the Twins in 2013
    1. jimv2's Avatar
      jimv2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Leery of lifetime .275 minors hitters batting .342 in small sample ...
      But get rid of his age 17 and 18 seasons in the VSL and DSL--which IMO are meaningless--and he's at .286 Get rid of 2010--his first full season was a tough one for him--and he's at .300. I completely realize that last step was a bit of cherry-picking, but people grow at different rates and just wanted to point out that many year averages in a situation like this can be misleading.

      I certainly don't think he's going to average .300 in the majors, but I think the data support your suggestion that .260 (maybe even .280) is very realistic.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      With the exception of Chris Parmelee’s 2011, Pinto’s 2013 season was the best offensive performance by a Twins’ call-up in a long while.


      An intriguing statement. It was a little tedious going back year by year in b-r.com, cost me probably 5 minutes because I am not a l33t database dude, but the dry spell looks like it went back to 2004, when Jason Kubel and the immortal Terry Tiffee made Twins fans smile (a little more) in September, and not at a level Parms and Pinto reached.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I like Pinto. I don't think his ceiling is very high, but he can hit a bit. He's very strong. He's built sturdy and works out a ton. He also was named (I'm not looking it up, but someone can verify) Baseball America's choice for the best plate discipline in the Eastern League last year.

      People forget that he could have become a free agent after the 2012 season. He could have been a free agent, but he decided to sign back with the Twins quickly. It wasn't until players needed to be added then that he was added to the 40 man roster.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      I don't recall seeing him play, and the leg kick may very well give him trouble, but this tidbit: "Examining his spray chart, you can see that for hard offerings (fastballs, sliders, etc), he stays middle-away. On the other hand, for slower offerings (changeups, curves, etc), he pull them." is huge and the significance should not be overlooked. This tells me he's seeing well and is on the ball all in, what should be for him, a high pressure situation. This bodes well for him and the team.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I like Pinto as well, and I see little reason for the Twins not to give him a shot to win the starting catching job, but the comparison to Parmelee's 2011 call-up may well be apt: the sample size is about the same and both were able to take advantage of late season fastball chucking. Pinto also had a BABiP of .440, which is clearly unsustainable. In Parmelee's call-up year, he had a BABiP of .390; when he lost over 100 pts of that in 2012 & 2013 the results were pretty ugly.

      Pinto is a solid prospect who could be the Twins starting catcher and soon. But I expect him to face a lot of adjustments. but wouldn't it be nice if he turned into Brian Harper?
    1. LimestoneBaggy's Avatar
      LimestoneBaggy -
      Parker,

      In relation to the spray chart, have you looked at pitch location on hard/soft pitches. Are they correlating to hit location or are they divergent (are they pitching hard outside, and soft inside)? I'm wondering if the short scouting report was pitch the fastball outside, and he is simply beating the scouting, or whether he is "Twinsian" and uses the whole field in his hitting.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      An intriguing statement. It was a little tedious going back year by year in b-r.com, cost me probably 5 minutes because I am not a l33t database dude, but the dry spell looks like it went back to 2004, when Jason Kubel and the immortal Terry Tiffee made Twins fans smile (a little more) in September, and not at a level Parms and Pinto reached.
      [/FONT][/COLOR]

      which is why they've lost 90+ games three years in a row.....lack of production from their strategy of build from within.

      As for pinto, hand him the starting job. Let him struggle, learn, grow here, like the stars of the 80s teams did.....they aren't winning any playoff games this year, get the guys up here that are close to ready, so they are ready when they are needed.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Lots of guys work hard, but it seems like they aren't quite sure what to work hard on. Josmil Pinto looks like he does know what to work hard on, and he's getting it right.

      At the plate, Pinto assumes a posture that is delicately poised, perfectly on balanced, yet relaxed. He could do his whole swing standing on a balance beam without falling off. His little leg kick allows him to hold his hands back for a few clicks, but it's under control - he doesn't lurch forward or torque his hips early, and he keeps his butt under him (no "French mistake"). Like Mike Redmond, Pinto's swing has a very flat plane, and his swing starts short, then unwinds from inside to outside. This allows him to a generous power sweep through the zone, which is why he sprays line drives to all fields. However, unlike Redmond, Pinto also can change the plane of his swing to more of an uppercut when the situation calls for a pitch he can drive. That approach isn't going away.

      Behind the plate, Pinto has continued to improve his mechanics, but he also appears to be developing an excellent feel for the game. He clearly takes charge, no hesitation, and he appears to relish the chess match against the hitter, the runners, etc. Again, it's not just that Pinto works hard; he appears to understand what's important, and works hard on the right things.

      It's good to know that there's still room in baseball for the guys that are not built like a blue jeans model. Sometimes the best player is a big fat guy or a little spindly troll. The important thing is knowing how to play the game, and Pinto is getting it.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      Quote Originally Posted by CK View Post
      Joe Benson. So much hair.

      Excellent point about how focusing too much on tools sometimes is a mistake. It's easy to be blinded.
      Oh Joe, how I miss you. Probably my favorite prospect ever, at least until Sano/Buxton came along. But I don't love either of them the way I loved Joe Benson. I still want Joe Benson to figure it out. Come on Joe.

      If Pinto can keep hitting and play passable defense he will be a big plus to the MLB squad. I like his chances more than I ever liked Chis Parmesian Cheese.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I can't see how he is ahead of Polanco. Pinto is a fine prospect but his upside is lower than a Thorpe or a Polanco.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Higher floor, more certain MLB production....that counts too, not just ceiling.
    1. OldTimeTwinkie's Avatar
      OldTimeTwinkie -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      An intriguing statement. It was a little tedious going back year by year in b-r.com, cost me probably 5 minutes because I am not a l33t database dude, but the dry spell looks like it went back to 2004, when Jason Kubel and the immortal Terry Tiffee made Twins fans smile (a little more) in September, and not at a level Parms and Pinto reached.
      [/FONT][/COLOR]
      There is one big difference between Parmlees success and Pinto in that in 2013 the twins schedule was against teams trying to make the playoffs vs Parmalee schedule was mostly against teams that were out of it and playing their callups.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Higher floor, more certain MLB production....that counts too, not just ceiling.
      Hurricane Hazle seemed to have a high floor at one point, and look what happened to him.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      Okay, anybody that remembers Hurricane Hazle stand up, that is if you are still able to. How many years ago now was it that Hazle played? Thanks for my great laugh of this day.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.