TwinsFest is one of the most fun weekends for fans of the Minnesota Twins and this past weekend was no different. There is excitement building for the new season, fans can gather to talk about their passion, and the players are happy to interact with fans of all ages.
During the last couple of years, one of my favorite parts of the weekend has been the fan question and answer session with Terry Ryan, Jim Pohlad, and Dave St. Peter. It offers fans the opportunity to ask any of these men a question about the offseason changes and the team's new direction. It is still a very unique opportunity to interact with the Twins organization's top men.
One of the more interesting quotes to come out of this session surrounded next year's middle infield. Ryan was asked a general question about the four men that will be fighting to play shortstop and second base. He talked about Pedro Florimon, Eduardo Escobar, and Jamey Carroll but he made one statement about Brian Dozier that stood out.
Ryan said that it was his fault for Dozier's poor rookie year performance. He thought Dozier was rushed to the big leagues and the team pushed him too hard to find success at that level. He added that the Dozier that fans saw in 2012 was not the player that the organization knows he can be.
Let's turn the clock back a year to last year's TwinsFest. At that point, Dozier had to be sitting pretty. He was coming off of his best season in professional baseball and he was named the Twins inor league Player of the Year. Ron Gardenhire had spoke well of Dozier to the press and it seemed that his stock would continue to rise.
Fans of the team wanted to forget about the disaster that was Tsuyoshi Nishioka. This might have gotten hopes higher for Dozier than they should have been but he was coming off of a very good season. A lot of faith was put into him before he found success at a level higher than Double-A.
He started the 2012 season in the middle infield for the Rochester Red Wings and things didn't exactly get off to a roaring start. He hit .232/.286/.337 with 14 extra-base hits over 48 games. There were also a few issues in the field as he had six errors in 159 chances at shortstop. As a 25-year old player, he hadn't found success at Triple-A but that didn't stop the Twins from calling him up at the beginning of May.
As I wrote in an article featured in the Twins Prospect Handbook
, his first year in the big leagues didnít go exactly as planned. There were plenty of struggles as he tried to adjust to the pace of MLB action. When Dozier did find his swing, there was some pop in his bat but his inconsistency on the defensive side of the ball was tough to take for the club. By the end of the year, he was demoted to Triple-A and a little luster had rubbed off of his once promising stock.
2013 is a new season and the Twins have another opportunity to help Dozier find success. It now seems much more likely that he'll settle into second base. This might help him to become more successful on the defensive side of the ball and hopefully that good vibe would transfer to his time in the batter's box.
He turn 26 years old near the beginning of next season and there might not be a whole lot of time left for him find success in the minor leagues. The Twins need him to put it all together with the big league club and for him to take hold of a middle infield position.
If Ryan was right and the Dozier on the field last year wasn't the true version of that player, it could be a bounce-back season for the player whose stock was so high one year ago.