Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dozier's hot start is hard to ignore

At the end of spring training when Brian Doizer was sent down to the minor leagues, he seemed to leave the Twins facility with a chip on his shoulder. His time in the big league camp had been sufficient with him hitting .277/.333/.511 with three home runs and nine RBI in 47 at-bats. With him only having spent part of a season at the Double-A level, it seemed like a very long shot for him to make the club out of spring training. Dozier felt like he had played well enough to be on the team and now he has been determined to show the Twins they won't be able to hold him down for too long.

The 24-year old middle infielder for the Red Wings has gotten off to a hot start in the first five games of the season in Rochester. He has been a spark plug for the offense by batting .474/.545/.789 with three doubles, a home run, and three runs scored in five games. In all but one of those games, he has multiple hits with his best game coming yesterday when he was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and three RBI. He is hitting like a man on a mission and he mission is clearly to get to the big leagues as soon as possible.

Last year was a breakout season for Mr. Dozier in the minor leagues as he won the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. Since he left the rookie leagues, Dozier had tried to find his swing at the Low-A and High-A level but he never hit over .278 and his power numbers weren't outstanding. Something clicked for Dozier last year when he started the year back in the Florida State League. With the Miracle at the start of last season, he hit .322/.423/.472 and he had 18 extra-base hits. The Twins promoted him to New Britain and his hot hitting continued to the tune of .318/.384/.502 with seven home runs, seven triples, and 22 doubles. The Twins didn't have many positives in 2011 but the season of Dozier might have been near the top of their list.

During this past offseason, the Twins sent Dozier to the Arizona Fall League to better prepare him for the 2012 season. His time in this highly touted prospect league seems to have eased his transition to the Triple-A level after playing only 78 games for New Britain last year. The Twins organization has struggled in recent years to produce much in the middle infield so Dozier could be a beacon of hope for the future of the franchise. If he can lock down one of the middle infield positions for the foreseeable future, he can bridge the gap to some of the other talent in the lower levels of the minor leagues.

While Dozier has been hitting the cover off of the ball in Rochester, the offense of the Twins has struggled to do anything in their first four games of the year. The players who have started in the middle infield for the Twins are a combined 1-for-24 with three strikeouts at the plate. There are plenty of other question marks with the Twins offense at this early point in the year. But if Dozier continues his hot start and the middle infield continues to struggle, it will be hard for the team to hold him in the minor leagues.

It is good to see Dozier finding success at the Triple-A level during this very early junction in the season. The short amount of time he spent at the Double-A level could have meant he would go through some problems with the transition to Rochester. This has not been the case so far this year and that is a great sign for one of the top prospects in the Twins organization. If he continues to hit well and the Twins offense remains stagnant, it will only be a matter of time before Dozier is making his debut with the Twins.

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