Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How long will Dozier stay in the minors?

One of the Twins biggest offseason investments was in the form of 38-year old middle infielder Jamey Carroll. The versatile free agent was brought to the organization to help solidify a middle infield that waffled through a gargantuan amount of issues in 2011. He seems to get better with age and the Twins are hoping their two-year investment in the elder statesman can continue to lead to success from this player.

Some look at Carroll as the stopgap to another middle infielder who is working his way through the minor league system of the Twins. Last season Brian Dozier found great success on the field in his time with the Miracle and the Rock Cats. In 2011, he led the Twins organization in runs scored (92) and triples (12) and was third in hits (157), stolen bases (24) and total bases (241). This performance led the Twins to honor him with the team's Minor League Player of the Year Award. Dozier is a former 8th round pick of the Twins back in 2009 and he has spent the last three seasons moving his way up to the Double-A level.

Since he has never seen time at the Triple-A level, there is a good chance he will start the 2012 season in Rochester. But what happens if he gets off to a hot start with the Red Wings? How long would the Twins wait to call him up? 

In the middle of May, Dozier will turn 25 and this comes out of the fact that he was drafted out of college and this makes him a little older than some of the other top prospects for the Twins. Many of the other top prospects that he played with in New Britain have already made their debut with the Twins at the end of last year. Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee were both call-ups in September but they had each been in the Twins system for longer than Dozier and they were higher draft picks. Dozier started the 2011 campaign with Fort Myers and the situation was different for Benson and Parmelee. Benson played all of 2011 with the Rock Cats and Parmelee got a taste of New Britain in 2010 and ended up back there for all of 2011.

Out of all of the players in the same draft as Dozier, none of them have made their debuts with the big league squad. Kyle Gibson, the team's first round pick from 2009, seemed like he was on his way to debuting in 2011 but an elbow injury kept him from reaching the MLB level. Chris Herrmann, the club's best catching prospect, has shown the organization a lot of positive things over the last three years but he might still be a year away from making it to Target Field.

The organization was impressed with the way that Dozier handled himself in the Arizona Fall League at the beginning of this offseason. In 26 game for the Mesa Solar Sox, Dozier hit .296/.358/.454 with 27 runs scored and 11 extra-base hits. In an interview on 1500 ESPN on Monday, Paul Molitor talked about Dozier needing to work on his consistency and this could be one of the reasons the team decided that Dozier needed time in the AFL. If he can continue his patient approach at the plate, the consistency should follow him to the start of his big league career.

In a farm system in desperate need for middle infielders, Dozier stands out as the one player most ready to make an impact for the Twins in 2012. In search of other middle infielders, the Twins have switched Eddie Rosario, one of the organization's top prospects, from outfield to second base. All of last season was spent in the Appalachian League with Elizabethton for Rosario so he still has multiple seasons before he could make it to the big leagues. This move might help the Twins with their long-term plans but right now Dozier is the one middle infield prospect who looks ready to become a major league player.

 How long will fans have to wait for this to happen? Only time will tell...


TT said...

The Twins took shortstop Levi Michael as their first round pick in the last draft. He is a college kid who could be ready in a couple years. Whether he can stay at shortstop is a different question. In any case, I don't think Dozier is the answer at shortstop.

Jim H said...

I don't know if Dozier is the answer at short but I think we will likely get to see him there perhaps as soon as this summer. Carroll is a 38 year old career utility man. He isn't really an everyday shortstop and will likely not make the season as the starting shortstop.

The real question is whether Nishioka can play there. He will get opportunities to be the everyday shortstop, I believe. If he isn't a major league shortstop, Dozier will get his chance and will likely hold the position until Michael or Goodrum or somebody else moves him to 2B or utility.