Monday, June 3, 2013

The Future of Twins Catching

At the beginning of the spring, there was a question about what the Twins would do with the men behind the plate. Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit were locks to make the roster. Minnesota carried three catchers for most of 2012 so one would assume that a third catcher would be on the roster in 2013.

The year started with Mauer and Doumit being the only members of the Twins catching core. Drew Butera and Chris Herrmann were in the running for the third catcher role but both players ended up in Rochester for the start of the season.

It would be a short run for Butera at Rochester. In his first at-bat, a pitch hit him on his hand. His pinky finger was broken and he hasn't been back on the field since that point. At 29-years old, Butera isn't exactly up-and-coming. He has over 500 plate appearances at the big league level and fans know what to expect from him.

The front office has made some interesting choices with Butera so far this year. He could have been dropped from the 40-man roster on multiple occasions. The Twins have five total catchers on their 40-man roster and Butera's .183/.232/.265 batting line is far below replacement level. His time might be running out in Minnesota especially with other player's performances.

Herrmann is getting his second taste of the big leagues after being a September call-up last season. His brief MLB stint didn't leave too many memories but he is back with some more positive results. On Sunday afternoon, he hit his first career home run as part of his first multi-hit game.

The ability of Herrmann to play multiple positions also makes him an intriguing roster option. On Sunday, he was starting in left field and this is a trend that has continued from the minors. Over the course of his five seasons in the Twins system, he has played 169 games in left field and 220 games at catcher.

When some other members of the Twins roster begin to get healthy, it could start to get tough for the Twins to send him back down to Rochester. He is 25-years old but he only has 43 games of Triple-A experience. As the long 162-game schedule continues, the Twins are going to want a third catcher and it's looking more and more like that will be Herrmann.

Josmil Pinto is the other catcher on the Twins 40-man roster. He has played the entire season for Double-A New Britain. After a very strong season for Fort Myers last year, Pinto is putting together what might be his best season as a professional. Through 55 games, he is batting .332/.426/.535 with nine home runs, 12 doubles, and 42 RBI.

New Britain has used him as a catcher and a DH this year but he is still very good behind the plate. He has thrown out 31% of potential base stealers. Pinto has also done a good job with some of the best young pitchers in the organization. Pitcher like Trevor May, Alex Meyer, and Logan Darnell could be on the same path to the big leagues as Pinto.

Mauer and Doumit will continue to get most of the time behind the plate in the next couple of seasons. Herrmann can be a solid third catcher and part-time outfielder for the present and he is a viable option to take over the role of Doumit when his contract expires. If Pinto keeps playing like this, it will be hard to keep him out of the big leagues for very much longer.

The present members of the Twins catching core continue to make their mark on the club. Players like Herrmann and Pinto make it fun to look to what could be more permanent fixtures down the line. For now, the future of Twins catching looks to be in good shaping moving forward.

1 comment:

Eric Pleiss said...

You didn't mention Dan Rohlfing, that will make @baseballpirate very sad. 1.244 OPS at AAA (small sample be damned)!