Here is a list of the profiles that have been covered so far in the "Bench Buddies Series." These are the leading candidates to win a spot on the 25-man roster when the team comes north for the start of the 2012 season.
Trevor Plouffe: Can he find his bat at the big league level?
Tsuyoshi Nishioka: Things have to go better in 2012...Right?
Drew Butera: Will carrying a third catcher be a benefit for the Twins?
Luke Hughes: Is his shoulder injury going to hold him back?
Below is a look at some of the other players who could be called on to fill a role with the Twins in 2012. Some of the names will be familiar to fans of the Twins and others are new to the organization. All of these players have been invited to spring training by the big league club but some of them would have to be added to the 40-man roster before they could appear in a regular season game for the Twins.
Infielders:Sean Burroughs (40-man roster: No): The former highly touted prospect joins the Twins from the Diamondbacks organization after a year in which he hit .273/.289/.336 in 78 games. Burroughs could give Danny Valencia some competition at third base but for the most part he will be a back-up option waiting in the minor leagues. Triple-A manager Gene Glynn told the Star Tribune that he believes Burroughs will make the major league roster when the team leaves spring training. There aren't many spots available on the bench but Burroughs could be a solid option if the Twins need to turn to the minor leagues.
Pedro Florimon (40-man roster: No): When the Twins claimed Florimon from the Orioles at the beginning of December, they quickly added him to the 40-man roster. He didn't spend much time there as the team was forced to move him off of the list since that time. The 25-year old shortstop has only gotten a taste of the big leagues during his September call-up last season. He's a switch-hitter who is a career .247/.322/.354 hitter in the minors and there have been some defensive issues in the field. The front office of the Twins liked his make-up and the versatility he could offer the organization.
If players like Brian Dozier or Chris Parmelee are brought up, the Twins are going to try and use him on an everyday basis. The organization wouldn't call up these two young prospects to dwell on the bench. These players would be used if the Twins need to fill in for an everyday player.
Outfielders:Rene Tosoni (40-man roster: Yes): Tosoni split time last year between the Triple-A level and the MLB squad. It was suppose to be his first full season at the Triple-A level but the injury plague on the Twins roster meant Tosoni was rushed to Minnesota. During his 60 games with the Twins, he managed to hit .203/.275/.343 with 13 extra-base hits. It would have been nice for Tosoni to get an entire year at the Triple-A level because he struggled with the jump to the majors. If any of the outfielders have a hiccup, Tosoni could find himself back with the Twins and getting more playing time.
Darin Mastroianni (40-man roster: Yes): The newest member of the Twins was claimed off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on February 9th. He has only made one career start at the big league level and he split time last year between the Double-A and Triple-A level. In his minor league career, he has batted .279/.370/.372 over the course of five seasons. He has shown some good base stealing ability by leading the Eastern League in steals during the 2010 season with 46 bags swiped. Over the course of his career, he has spent most of his time in center field but he can play both corner outfield spots.
At the end of last season, the Twins gave Joe Benson a taste of the big leagues. He showed a few flaws in his game so it is going to be in the best interest of the organization to give Benson a full season at Rochester. Tosoni and Mastroianni will have to fight for their shot to fill-in for the outfielders who are expected to make the Opening Day roster.
Catchers:J.R. Towles (40-man roster: No): The Twins added Towles out of the Houston organization where he was ranked as a top 60 prospect by Baseball America in 2008. His early minor league career is full of some very good offensive numbers but as he made his way toward the majors there were a few speed bumps. He spent parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level and hit .286/.389/.443 so he could be an offensive improvement over Drew Butera. The coaching staff of the Twins will take a long look at him during the spring and the hope is he will be able to put it all together with his new organization.
Rene Rivera (40-man roster: No): Rivera joined the Twins last year from the Mariners farm system and he was able to get into a handful of games with the big league team. He put up poor offensive numbers by hitting .144/.211/.202 during his time behind the plate in 2011. Over the course of his career, Rivera has shown himself to be a better hitter than his numbers indicated at the MLB level in 2011. His batting line with Triple-A Rochester was better as he hit .268/.325/.450 and he will need to prove to the Twins that he can get back to that level for 2012.
The Twins seem to really like Butera and what he is able to do from the defensive side of the ball but his offense is so putrid that the club might need another option. Both Towles and Rivera will be breathing down the neck of Butera throughout the year as they wait for their shot to prove themselves with the big league squad.