Wetmore: 3 players I'm most curious to see as September call-ups
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Terry Ryan, Ron Gardenhire and other with the Twins have a list in mind about which players they'd like to see in September as Major League rosters expand.
Soon they'll refine those lists and come up with a consensus. Ryan is scouting Triple-A Rochester, where he said a player's performance in front of him could influence whether or not that player will earn a promotion for the final month of the season.
Next Monday, rosters expand from 25 players to allow for as many as 40, but in reality teams don't use all the 15 extra spots. It provides teams in the playoff hunt a chance to add some specialists, and it gives non-contending teams like the Twins a chance to further evaluate some players who might be a part of the future. Minnesota currently has two open spots on the 40-man roster.
Here are the three players I'm most curious to see, assuming they earn the call:
3. Aaron Hicks
Hicks won the centerfield job out of spring training last season but has looked overmatched at the plate as a switch hitter in the Majors. In 469 big league plate appearances, Hicks has hit .194/.285/.314, which is well below an acceptable level, even for the most elite defensive players.
Why, then, would Hicks be an interesting September call-up?
Because the 24-year-old still has the tools that once made him a promising prospect and he's hit very well in the minors this season. Since his demotion in mid-June he's hit .297/.397/.456 in about 200 at-bats across two levels (148 ABs for Double-A New Britain and 47 ABs for Triple-A Rochester). That includes a very strong 34:34 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Twins have played him in corner outfield spots, too. That is unquestionably the influence of Byron Buxton, whom the Twins believe will be the centerfielder of the future, despite his injury-marred 2014 season.
If Hicks can figure it out at the plate, imagine an outfield with the speedy, strong-armed Hicks in left field and Buxton in center. Death to fly balls.
2. Josmil Pinto
Pinto has a bat that should be in the Majors right now. Questions remain about his ability to be a catcher. It'd be plenty valuable to have his bat behind the plate, but it's much less appealing if he gives back a ton of the runs with his below-average glove.
In 241 Major League plate appearances, Pinto has hit .265/.349/.464, including his torrid September last season. That's a great batting line considering the catchers as a whole this year have hit .246/.311/.382.
And he's kept hitting in the minors, too. In 168 at-bats for Rochester, he's hit .298/.402/.512, which is spectacular. (Think Miguel Cabrera's batting line this season, only better, albeit against Triple-A pitchers.)
The question, to me, isn't whether or not Pinto can hit, but where the Twins will play him defensively. I'd guess he'll be called up and given the occasional start at catcher and designated hitter. It'd be really interesting if they tried him at first base, but it seems unlikely that they would. Personally, I would want to enter spring training 2015 knowing what position Pinto will play and if that's part of a first base/DH rotation with Joe Mauer, so be it. With the way Kennys Vargas has performed since his promotion, it's possible the Twins will have some difficult decisions to make in the future.
1. Alex Meyer
It's not yet clear whether Meyer will be made a September call-up. Given his innings increase a year after recovering from a shoulder injury, the Twins might prefer to shut him down and get him to spring training next year healthy and ready to take over a rotation spot. (Mayer pitched roughly 100 innings between the minors and the Arizona Fall League last year, and he's at 123 1/3 entering his start Monday.)
Some in the organization have kicked around the idea of using Meyer out of the bullpen in the Majors. That could be a good way to curb his innings the rest of the season. One Twins pitcher in spring training said that Meyer had the best "stuff" of anybody in camp, and he's been dominant at times in the minors this season.
The Twins limited his workload this year, even though it wasn't always comfortable to do so. In 123 1/3 innings at Rochester, Meyer has 149 strikeouts and 60 walks. He has a 3.43 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP and opponents have hit .235 against the tall righthander.
He's scheduled to pitch Monday night for the Red Wings.
Whether or not he earns a September call, Meyer figures to be in the 2015 rotation, so it'll be interesting to see how the Twins decide to handle him.
Here are a few other names that wouldn't surprise me to see as September call-ups: Chris Herrmann, Logan Darnell, Kris Johnson, Stephen Pryor and Michael Tonkin. For reference, the Twins called up seven players last September, including four pitchers.
Names on the 40-man roster that may not interest the Twins as September call-ups include Chris Colabello and Pedro Florimon.