Monday, April 27, 2015

Josmil Pinto And His Bat

Through the early part of the season, the Minnesota Twins knew they were going to be without the services of Josmil Pinto. After taking three swings to the back of the head in a spring training game, there's no doubt the time lost due to injury was going to cost him a roster spot. After a largely unimpressive 2014, Pinto needed to earn his way on, and time simply ran out. Knowing that it's his bat the will carry him at the next level, the promotion is coming, but what will it look like when it does?

Currently, the Twins have a two man catcher rotation with Kurt Suzuki splitting time with Chris Herrmann. Suzuki was signed to an extension a season ago, but even by backup standards, it remains a relatively modest deal. After being a prime candidate for offensive regression, the former Athletics backstop has failed to break the Mendoza Line for much of the season. Hardly a defensive whiz in his own right, it's fair to say that the Twins were hoping for more from Suzuki in 2015.

On days where Suzuki rests, and there haven't been many, Herrmann has slotted in behind the plate. While hitting for a respectable average, he hasn't had the plate appearances to put much weight into his numbers. Serviceable behind the plate, it was just a season ago that neither the Twins nor Herrmann himself saw catcher as his most valuable role to the team.

Out of the gate in Rochester, Pinto has gotten it done at the plate. Although the power numbers haven't been what the Twins would have hoped, he's hit for average and gotten on base. Behind the plate, he's made strides in both his ball receiving and his controlling of runners on the base paths. It was probably unfair to speculate how long the Twins would go without what would appear to be at least their second best catching option, but it seems as though the door is quickly opening.

With the calendar turning towards the second month of the season, Pinto's role with the big league club should be quickly defined. As has always been the case, his bat should once again prove to be the most valuable asset. The catching situation is something I ran through above, but unlike his comrades, Pinto should see time solely as a hitter through DH at bats. Kennys Vargas has struggled mightily in his second big league season, and as of right now, there doesn't appear to be an end in sight. Whether or not the Twins send Vargas to Rochester with Pinto making the return trip or not, losing at bats is something the switch hitting slugger is now becoming prone to.

Both Pinto and Vargas being young hitters, confidence remains as one of the most vital aspects to their success. Although Herrmann filling a roster spot isn't ideal, the best practice may be to allow both Pinto and Vargas to use confidence to their advantage. Kennys crushing some Triple-A pitching could ignite the spark, and Josmil employing an already hot bat on a team looking for an offensive jolt would be a nice reward. It would seem fair to argue the Twins are reaching decision making time, and Josmil Pinto's bat is probably going to be at the center of the discussion.

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