The Twins signed an interesting player to a minor league contract Wednesday. They agreed to a minor league arrangement with Nick Buss, according to Nate Rowan, the P.R. person for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
Buss won the Pacific Coast League batting title last season with Triple-A El Paso, an affiliate of the Padres.
— Nate Rowan (@njrowan) January 3, 2018
Buss hit .348/.395/.541, which is a juicy stat line on its own. But remember that the numbers were posted in the PCL, a league that notoriously “inflates” offensive performances. Buss did hit that well, true. But the league as a whole typically posts eye-popping numbers, which makes it harder to judge a player’s future value based on his minor league batting line. Remember former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia? He went bonkers at the plate in the PCL last year, batting .326/.410/.639 with 24 homers and 87 RBIs. That offensive performance apparently wasn’t enough to warrant a big league call-up — just to help give a little context to PCL stats.
Buss, 31, is an outfielder originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 8th round of the 2008 draft. To date he has just 110 plate appearances in the Majors, where he’s hit .180/.229/.300 in parts of two seasons with the Dodgers. From 2014-16, Buss hit well in the minor leagues. He batted at least .290 each season, with an OBP in the .350 range each season. His biggest year for power came in 2016, when he slugged .462 on the strength of 23 doubles, 8 triples and 6 home runs.
Given Minnesota’s current oufield alignment, it’s unlikely Buss will get a lot of playing time with the Twins this season. But other players in the recent past have earned their spot on a minor league deal. Reliever Criag Breslow and catcher Chris Giminez made the club out of spring training last year, despite only having minor league contracts. And Robbie Grossman joined Minnesota on a minor league deal and has carved out a niche for himself with strong offensive performances.
Based on the minor league stats, Buss can hit. Whether or not he can hit his way onto the 25-man roster at any point this season remains to be seen.