Darin was Toronto's 16th round draft pick in 2007. The Twins picked him up as a waiver acquisition in February 2012. He was raised in New York, and played college ball in both South Carolina (Winthrop) and Indiana (University of Southern Indiana), so he came to minor league ball already a little well-traveled. He bats and throws right-handed, and is of normal ballplayer stature - 5'11" and 190 pounds, maybe a little small for an outfielder. You can find him easily enough on baseball-reference.com, or you can click here.
He signed right away, and started with promising results in low-A ball (Auburn) in 2007 as a 21 year old, and had steady promotions with recognition as a Florida State League all-star in 2009 and as an Eastern League all-star in 2010. Though never a high-ranking prospect, in January 2012 he was close to Toronto's top 30 according to Baseball America (link). If you like deep stats you probably already have a favorite site where you can go and check, but here is a summary of his batting record:
Age Year Level PA OBP SLG
21 2007 A- 274 .391 .409
22 2008 A 369 .302 .311
23 2009 A+ 274 .426 .390
23 2009 AA 292 .372 .340
24 2010 AA 617 .390 .398
25 2011 AA 198 .342 .355
25 2011 AAA 364 .358 .389
He had the briefest of cups of coffee with Toronto in 2011. He began 2012 at AA New Britain, with rather poor batting results (.231/.171 in 40 PA), and was promoted to AAA on April 14, with a .304 BA (.304/.304 in 23 PA) at Rochester through April 22.
Rather than plagiarize too much on tidbits about Darin, I'll refer you to this link at jaysjournal.com .
He has been an outfielder through most of his pro career, with CF skills and good fielding percentages and range factors. However he was a middle infielder in high school and college, and in his first pro year he saw significant time at 2B. He was tried there again in Spring Training games at Fort Myers this year, perhaps representing his better path to the majors; I happened to watch him take drills with Nishioka and other infielders on the AAA field one day. This does not seem to have panned out, as his position in both New Britain and Rochester games has been exclusively in the outfield, LF mainly.
He's a speed guy, with SB being a significant part of his offensive game. Plate discipline also figures in, as his OBP in typical years includes about .100 beyond his batting average. His power seems limited mainly to hitting doubles.
Darin had an interesting quote that I can't find now, comparing the atmosphere in Toronto's spring training camp to the Twins', in which he said that in previous years if he made a bad play in the outfield he would get "reamed" (his word, I definitely remember) for it when he came back to the dugout, whereas he referred to an incident this spring where he got turned around when trying to make a play on a long fly ball, and when he got back to the dugout at the end of the inning Tom Kelly (I think it was) just said "let's try and keep the 360s to a minimum, OK?" Same message but a lighter touch, apparently.
I have another 2012 Fort Myers anecdote that definitely I've not seen in any article. During batting practice on the AAA field, Mastroianni and Aaron Bates were together (with a third hitter I am forgetting) taking their turns in the cage. Now, I have seen somewhere that Darin was sometimes referred to as Maestro during his time in Toronto's organization. In Fort Myers, coach Tom Brunansky was instead calling him Master - "hey Master, you're up". Fair enough, players and coaches will concoct all kinds of variations on a teammate's name. Then I noticed that Brunansky was calling Aaron by the nickname "Bater" - "c'mon, Bater, hit this one". (I don't know if this has been Bates's nickname throughout his time with the Twins organization.) It took me a few moments to realize what Brunansky was doing there, as he called out the BP order a little more frequently than anybody needed to be reminded. Yeah, this is actually a Bruno anecdote in disguise.
For such a stupid reason, I find myself signing up to follow Darin's progress with the Twins this season. I suspect that an inability to handle 2B well enough in Spring, coupled with the acquisition of Clete Thomas, makes his promotion to the parent club a bit unlikely, and he represents instead the Twins' commitment to giving AAA Rochester a more competitive club than they have had the past few seasons. But, we shall see, and I'm crossing fingers for "my" guy.
Edited by ashburyjohn, 02 May 2012 - 03:43 PM.
Trying to add a photo