Monday, June 17, 2013

The Future of Trevor Plouffe

Plouffe reentered the Twins line-up this weekend with a bang. This was great to see from the former first round pick but one has to look at the future of Twins baseball and wonder what his place will be with this organization. It seems as if the Twins are still a couple years away from contending and that could mean some changes for the 27-year old Plouffe.

Twins fans will best remember Plouffe for his Ruthian like hot streak during the middle of last season. In a stretch of 14 games, he hit .375/.397/.982 with 10 home runs and four doubles. It looked like the Twins had found their man at third base but a hand injury would slow him down. Fans were left wondering what version of Plouffe the Twins would have in 2013.

So far this season, Plouffe has missed time on the 7-day concussion DL and this was quickly followed by another DL trip for a leg injury. He has played in 39 games and he has hit .264/.344/.457 with five home runs and 10 doubles. His batting average is higher than any point at last season and this has helped some of his other numbers to improve.

One of the problems facing Plouffe in the future could be the players coming up through the minor league system behind him. Deibinson Romero has put together strong numbers this season at Double-A and Triple-A. This leaves him a step away from the big leagues and the Twins might be willing to give him a look at some point this season.

Further behind in Plouffe's rear-view mirror is uber prospect Miguel Sano. The Twins recently promoted Sano to Double-A and some of the best prospects in baseball don't even make a stop at Triple-A. Sano will probably be in New Britain for the rest of this season but that doesn't mean he couldn't be in the mix for the starting third base job in 2014.

In the past, there have been some questions about Sano's ability to stick at third base. He was a little raw at the hot corner and one of his biggest improvement areas over the last couple of years has been his defense. Last season, he had 42 errors in 361 chances at third. This season he has 12 errors in 170 chances.

As we gaze into our crystal ball and look toward the future of Twins baseball, there are a few different situations that could transpire for Plouffe...

1. Move to a corner outfield spot: When Michael Cuddyer didn't work out at third base, the club moved him to a corner outfield spot and this is where he truly began to flourish. He would earn his lone All-Star selection as an outfielder and he became a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse. Plouffe would need to continue to make improvements at the plate and if he can make those adjustments, this seems like the most likely path.

2. Stay at third base: If Sano has to be moved from third base to first base, this would leave a hole at a corner infield spot. For the majority of his minor league career, Plouffe was a shortstop so he has been learning some of his third base skills on the fly. Plouffe has been below average on defense when compared to the rest of the league so he would need to continue to improve.

3. Find another team: There is a strong crop of minor league players moving through the organization and this youth movement could push Plouffe to the side. The Twins have control of Plouffe through the arbitration process until 2018. He would be 32-years old and his production level might be less than what the Twins would have to pay him. This could mean a new organization for Mr. Plouffe.

Overall, the Twins hope Plouffe's performance on the field makes it an easy decision to keep him around and in the line-up on a daily basis. Sano might have a lot to say about Plouffe staying at third base but a corner outfield spot might be a welcome sight for Plouffe as he gets closer to 30.

There are a lot of variables to the equation of Trevor Plouffe's future. Fans can hope he figures things out at the plate and in the field to become a strong veteran player on some Twins team's that should be back near the top of the American League Central.

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