Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Next Twins Bat Is Ready

As the summer has drug on, the Minnesota Twins have been noted to need some right handed hitting help. Whether the roster is constructed with eight relievers, or the more efficient seven, a boost could be given to the 25 man with a strong hitter on the right side of the plate. For quite some time, Mitch Garver has made a case to be that guy, and it's time to take notice.

Thus far this season, Kennys Vargas has been shuttled between Triple-A Rochester and the big leagues six times. He's often been the guy sent down when a spot is needed, and he's been the easy choice with his production lacking. While the home run power is obvious, Vargas has posted a .723 OPS in 176 at bats, but owns just a .291 OBP in 2017. He has hit eight long balls, but his 54/10 K/BB ratio continues to drag him down. Add in the fact that he's been well below average defensively, and Minnesota simply can't find a reason to carry him.

If there's an opportunity for a new name the next time the big club decides to make a move, it's absolutely worth considering Garver. A 9th round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Mitch Garver has predominantly been a catcher in the Twins system. This season at Triple-A, he's branched out to playing first base and left field more often, only expanding his flexibility. Behind the dish, he's at worst an average receiver, and he's consistently thrown out one-third of would-be base stealers in his time as a pro.

Garver started to gain some real intrigue after a strong second season as a professional with Cedar Rapids. Postin an .880 OPS with 16 homers, there was excitement surrounding the New Mexico native heading into 2015. After scuffling for Fort Myers, he used a strong Arizona Fall League showing to bolster the last two years of his career. With a .764 OPS at Double and Triple-A a year ago, Garver's .915 OPS in 2017 takes his career up a notch. Consistent all season, Garver has already hit 13 homers, and ripped 20 doubles for the Red Wings in 2017.

When looking at his numbers as a whole, it may be easy to overlook just how good Garver has been of late as well. Over the course of his last 31 games, Garver owns a .328/.389/.630 slash line with 12 doubles and eight long balls. On the season, his .884 OPS against righties is solid, and his 1.005 OPS against lefties is downright incredible.

With the Twins currently opting to go the extra pitcher route, they've found themselves using the likes of Jorge Polanco and Eduardo Escobar as the designated hitter. Bench bats have included Chris Gimenez and Ehire Adrianza. When on the roster, Kennys Vargas has played first poorly. Robbie Grossman has shown significant limitations in the outfield, and the 25 man as a whole continues to clamor for a more versatile righty.

It would be foolish to expect Garver to come up and be some sort of a savior for the Twins club. A catcher first, any other position will see some drop off as a secondary position. Also, while hitting the snot out of the ball at Triple-A, he's a 26 year-old rookie that would likely need some time to adjust to the next level. What's also foolish to expect, is that Garver isn't up to the task.

Thanks to the lackluster play of the Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins find themselves in the thick of the AL Central division race. Squeezing out extra wins by raising the water level on the roster with players from within seems like a solid strategy. Mitch Garver represents a clear upgrade for the hometown nine, and it's time he gets his shot.

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