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Expect Growing Pains

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I am excited to see Chris Parmelee this year. I look forward to seeing Joe Benson and Brian Dozier. I want to see how Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere progress. I also know they are not ready. At some point this season someone will have written, they called him up to soon because they weren't ready.

The reality is that very few are ready. Most cannot get ready for the majors without struggle at the level first. So expect the struggle. Be patient. The plate appearances invested this year will likely have a pay off down the road.

Recall how some previous Twins grew towards all star level and seasons worthy of MVP votes.

Justin Morneau was 24 in his first full season as a Twin. He had a slash line of 239/304/437 that season with an OPS+ of 93. He had playing time the previous two seasons and was had better results at 23 and weaker results at 22. It is a credit to the Twins and Gardenhire that they stuck with him through that season as a 24 year old.

Torii Hunter received significant playing time at age 23 and 24 combining for 780 plate appearances. His slash line over those two seasons was 267/313/393 with an OPS+ of 76. His defense probably kept him in the lineup but with the investment in at bats he became a very good hitter. The Twins patience paid off.

Michael Cuddyer did not have an OPS+ > 100 season until age 27. What was the Twins investment? Parts of 5 playing seasons. Trying him at 3B and 2B before he found a home in RF. 1109 plate appearances with a slash line of 260/330/428 and an OPS+ of 97.

Joe Mauer has never had a season with an OPS+ of below 100. He was an all star and received MVP votes at age 23. The Twins didn't need to invest at bats in him. They did invest a good deal of their budget. You expect guys drafted at the top of the first round to be ready.

Jason Kubel qualifies to make the list receiving MVP votes in 2009. He had the knee injury which certainly impacted his 24 year old slash line of 241/279/386 with an OPS+ of 72 at age 24. It is possible one of our young players will have a start like this. It doesn't mean that they will not be productive major league players.

Denard Span has not been an all star or receive MVP votes but he is worthy of mention. His was very good in his rookie year with an OPS+ of 122 and followed it up with an OPS+ of 114.

Delmon Young is another guy drafted at the top of the first round. Not sure he should be on this list since I was looking for guys that came up with the Twins. Like Mauer, he came up very young and experienced some success. Unlike Mauer, he never really progressed and through age 25 and almost 3000 plate appearances sits at a career OPS+ of 100. When mixed with his fielding, he has not been a useful player most seasons. He did have one outstanding 2010 season. The Rays assessed that he was one player not worthy of investing in.

The Rays did benefit from the Twins investment in Jason Bartlett. He was an all star and received MVP votes with them. As a Twins through age 26 and parts of three seasons, he had an OPS+ of 86 (278/342/364) in 572 plate appearances. He had a small window of success and wasn't a full time starter until age 27.

What's the point?

- We need to be patient and expect to see below league average performance from our young players. Below average performance this year does not mean they can not attain all star level.

- In order to be "ready" to contribute, major league at bats must be invested.

Some thoughts on players...

This is a key year for Valencia. Will he take a step up towards being recognized among the better 3B's in the AL?

Dozier reminds me of Bartlett. I don't think the Twins threw Bartlett out their early enough. I hope Dozier is a regular by June 1.

Benson (and Hicks) have some parallels to Hunter. We may need to be particularly patient with their progress and hopefully the defense will offset inconsistent offense when they get their chance.

Not sure about Plouffe. Some parallels to Cuddyer but not near the performance in the minor leagues. Is he worthy of investment?

Chris Parmelee has all of our hopes up. Not sure if he parallels well with anyone (maybe Kubel). It could be 2014 before we know if he can be among the better RF's or 1B's in the AL.

Are you willing to wait?
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  1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    I'm willing to wait on Parm, but I'm not sure Plouffe will ever be even league average as an OF. Dozier should be league-average or better at SS and projects to be a mainstay in the Twins lineup for years to come, I'm excited. I know that a lot of the big organizations have the Twins in the lower half of MLB organizations as far as prospects go, and while we may not have very many STAR caliber players at the top level of our system, it's just as important to push out league average guys to sustain your team and the Twins are doing that, even some guys who will be all-stars down the road.

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