Prospects in Rochester, AAAA players in Minnesota?
by, 03-28-2012 at 10:06 AM (1302 Views)
Is it really too much to ask for?
That is, it seems odd to sign a bunch of older AAAA type players who have some significant MLB experience to keep at Rochester while hoping on prospects and young players who aren't even AAA players yet to play with the Twins at the start of 2012. And with the news that Willingham can't make a simple transition to RF as a veteran professional baseball player, I am lumping in Ben Revere here even though he is no longer a prospect.
Let's look at the candidates. First the young:
Chris Parmelee: He did have a solid year at AA New Britain last year, and he seemed to finally begin to mesh in his old tendencies for power with his 2010 batting average capability into a solid overall hitter. Then September came and he demonstrated that in a very non-pressure role (skipping a level to join a 63-win team) he could hit very well. And this spring he has hit fairly well again, albeit often times against minor league pitching. This sample size does not have the kind of predictive value that his entire season at AA does, though. More caution is needed than it appears the Twins are going to show here as Parmelee is contending for a starting RF/1B spot and seems guaranteed to be on the roster.
Brian Dozier: Dozier began the year in A+ and hit very well. He put up similar numbers for the second half of the season in AA. He's turning 25 soon, so he isn't too young, but he was 24 at A/AA last year. Dozier has never been regarded as an elite or great prospect. He only recently became a good one. And there is speculation about Dozier competing for either starting job or a utility role for the Twins in April. Granted I hope this is Alexi Casilla's last year with the Twins, but I still think that Casilla is going to outperform Dozier this year when he is healthy. And Jamey Carroll certainly will.
Ben Revere: I has assumed that, after clearly being rushed too soon to the Majors due to Span's injury last year, that Ben Revere would be the starting LF and we could hope that this would be limited to a platoon role. Now, it has changed dramatically with the declaration by Gardenhire that Willingham is the LF. Revere seems relegated to 4th OF status, backing up LF and CF (never RF, please, Gardy) and to pinch-running late in games. But he still hasn't hit his ceiling as he can learn to take better routes in the OF, take more pitches, and bunt. He isn't going to do that spending 2/3-3/4 of the time on the Twins bench.
Now let's look at potential replacements (including those already sent to Rochester or minor league camp):
Sean Burroughs: Burroughs is a decent LH bat and corner infielder. He has significant experience in the big leagues and was an elite prospect before underperformance and drug abuse derailed his career. He isn't going to develop any more. He is likely not going to be very good, but he will likely be replacement level and maybe a bit better if used to spell Valencia against tough RH pitching.
Michael Hollimon: A lot has been made of Hollimon's spring performance. And analyzing spring stats is rather silly if doing so for any predictive value. Seriously, there are studies about this. But Hollimon was not terrible all-around last year in the minors. He hit 18 homers and played four different positions. He is not going to develop either. But he might be able to hit a few homeruns in a limited role as a super utility player for a few months while those who can develop do so in AAA.
Aaron Bates: Already gone from Twins camp, but was a candidate for the 25th spot on the roster because of his major league experience, his success at Rochester last year, and is 1B/LF ability. Like Darin Mastroianni below, I wouldn't say that any improvement is out of the question for Bates, but the ceiling is likely reached. If the RH bats of Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes turn out to be plastic (or foam), Bates would be needed, one would think, more than Parmelee.
Darin Mastroianni: Mastroianni is very much like a Jason Repko, but younger and without true defensive prowess at all three OF positions, but he can play above average defensively at all three positions and is very fast. He still is 26 so that leaves some room for improvement, but he is a marginal replacement player who isn't going to develop more at AAA then he would in a limited role with the Twins.
Other guys to mention as possible players here would be Pedro Florimon, Wilkin Ramirez, Matt Carson, Ray Chang, and even Brian Dinkelman (and would have been Dustin Martin if he were not recently released).
Using, say, Bates or Burroughs, Mastroianni, and Hollimon for April and May while watching the other three play every day while not in over their heads at AAA is very unlikely, but it is what I would do. I don't think much is lost performance-wise for the Twins (perhaps this would be a more productive start, in fact) and I actually want to see how all the prospects at the upper levels of the minors look together on the field.
1. Ben Revere, LF
2. Brian Dozier, SS/2B
3. Chris Parmelee, 1B
4. Joe Benson, CF
5. Rene Tosoni, RF
6. Burroughs or Bates, DH
7. Ray Chang, 3B
9. Nishioka, 2B/SS
playing together and playing every day, showing what they can actually do and will do in the future.
Too much to ask for?