Thursday, August 8, 2013

Waitin' With the Wings: Josmil Pinto

With the calendar already flipped over to August, there could be some shake-ups coming to the Twins roster. These might not be immediate changes but the club is on the way to their third straight losing season and different players should be given an opportunity at the big league level. In the next couple of weeks, I will look at some of the names on the Triple-A roster that could earn a call-up before the end of the season.

This series called "Waiting With the Wings" will profile multiple minor league players and the journey each of them has taken to get on the brink of making their big league debut. For some of these players, their path to this point has been full of plenty of ups and downs. That's one of the things that makes following the minor leagues so intriguing. There are only 25-men on a big league roster at any one given time and some men work their whole lives to get a taste of baseball's highest level.

The first profile in the "Waitin' With the Wings" series was left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers and he had a terrific MLB debut this week. Now it's time to look at a position player and a bat that could be asked to make an impact. Profile number two in the series looks at catcher Josmil Pinto.
Player Profile
Name: Josmil Pinto
Born: 3/31/1989 (24 years old)
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent (2006)
HT: 5'11"---WT: 210
2013 Stat Line: .311/.410/.480, 14 HR, 25 2B, 70 RBI, 61 R

Pinto had been considered a solid prospect before this season but his run through the Eastern League and the International League has him moving up the Twins top prospect rankings. The 24-year old catcher has been with the organization since he was 17 and he has worked all the way from the Venezuelan Summer League to the Triple-A level. One thing has been clear through all of the levels and that is the fact that he can hit.

Out of all of the levels from where Pinto has been promoted, the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues provided the most challenges at the plate. In over 220 plate appearances during his time in the VESL, he had to work to hit .251/.336/.344 with 11 extra-base hits. These struggles would continue in the DOSL as his batting line dipped to .193/.327/.269 over 171 at-bats. The Twins were looking for more out of Pinto and they hoped he would be able to find his swing when he started playing in the States.

The next two seasons would be fantastic for Pinto in the rookie leagues. He would hit for average (.329 BA) and power (.541 SLG and 13 extra-base hits) with the GCL Twins but this was only the beginning of what was to come. In 2009, he moved up to Elizabethton and really found his power stroke. He knocked 13 home runs and 14 doubles in a little over 200 plate appearances. By the end of the season, Pinto was hitting .332/.387/.610. Things were moving in the right direction and now it was time to tackle a full season schedule.

Pinto would spend parts of the next two seasons in the Midwest League with the Beloit Snappers. There can be some adjustment to a full slate of games on the schedule and it took some time for Pinto to feel comfortable at the dish. He batted .227/.293/.383 with 11 home runs and 24 doubles over 109 games. The Florida State League was his next level on his path to the big leagues and this can be a tough league for hitters to find success. Pinto continued to make adjustments and he hit .282/.340/.440 with 53 extra-base hits in 570 plate appearances at High-A. The time was right to move to the upper levels of the Twins farm system.

At the end of the 2012 season, Pinto got a brief taste of life at the Double-A level. He found success almost immediately and this could have helped his breakout year in 2013. New Britain was very good for Pinto as he had a batting average over .300 for the first time since rookie ball. Even with the higher batting average, he was still able to hit for consistent power. His .896 OPS was the highest for him at any full season league and he hit 16 home runs and 27 doubles in 505 at-bats. It was a great run through the Eastern League and the time was right to move him to Rochester.

So far, Pinto has been limited in his time at AAA. He has played in six games since being promoted and he has 23 plate appearances. It is a very small sample size but Pinto is hitting .364/.391/.455 with two doubles. He has yet to hit a home run with Rochester but it seems safe to say that won't last too long. Minnesota has used a lot of the players on the 40-man roster at some point this season and Pinto is now only a phone call away.

The defense side of the ball has continued to be a work in progress for Pinto. During his time in the minor leagues, he has thrown out potential base stealers 33% of the time. To put that number into perspective, Joe Mauer has a career 33% caught stealing percentage and he has multiple Gold Gloves in his trophy case at home. Since leaving Beloit in 2011, Pinto has allowed 13 passed balls in 165 games behind the plate. He needs to continue to work on his game calling skills but his offensive threat might be too much to ignore.

It helps that Pinto is already on the 40-man roster and Ron Gardenhire loves to have extra catchers on his bench. This could mean a September call-up for the young catcher. Pinto had the option of becoming a minor league free agent at the end of last season but he decided to stay with the Twins organization. For both parties involved, this move seems to be paying off and he could make his big league debut in the coming weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pinto did not have the option of becoming a six-year minor league free agent after last season since he was added to the major league roster.