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  • Position Analysis: Shortstop

    Pedro Florimon will man short for the TwinsLikely Starter: Pedro Florimon
    2012 Stats: .219/.272/.307, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 16 R

    Potential Backups: Eduardo Escobar, Jamie Carroll


    On April 1, Pedro Florimon will become the Twins' ninth Opening Day starter at shortstop in 10 years. Will he be able to become the first player since Cristian Guzman to hold the title for consecutive seasons? Magic 8-ball says: outlook not so good.

    The path that brought Florimon to the Twins is brushed with a hint of irony. He had been drafted and raised by the Orioles, who watched him rise through their minor-league system and even sip a cup of coffee in the majors before removing him from their 40-man roster after the 2011 campaign. Shortstop had been a problem for the Birds in past years, much like with the Twins, but luckily Baltimore had found its answer at the position in one J.J. Hardy.

    The Twins claimed Florimon, and subsequently outrighted him from their own 40-man roster, exposing him to waivers and giving every organization a shot at him. Twenty-nine teams passed.

    It seemed clear that at this point in time Florimon was considered a marginal talent, but the Twins continued to see something in him. And last year, others started to see it as well. Playing in Class-AAA Rochester, the shortstop was voted onto the International League All-Star team in July as folks took notice of his flashy glove work. His bat remained typically unimpressive, but Florimon’s glowing defensive reviews earned him his first extended big-league stint the following month.

    His 43 games with the Twins in 2012 were a mixed bag. Unsurprisingly, he was a mess at the plate, as evidenced by a .219 batting average and .579 OPS. His defensive contributions are a bit trickier to judge; no metric could be trusted in such a small sample and the eye test registered plenty of good and bad moments. Team brass liked what they saw enough to ignore the shortstop position during the offseason and appoint Florimon starter without any real competition, so there’s that.

    Clearly, the guy has the athleticism and tools to be a quality defensive shortstop. But he’ll need to be well above average -- and perhaps even elite -- to offer meaningful value as a regular starter, because he’s simply not going to hit. Over the past two years, between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors, he has struck out in 23 percent of his plate appearances. Such drastic contact issues are alarming, especially for a guy who offers little in the way of power or patience to make up for them. Odds are he’ll have a tough time maintaining even a .600 OPS, which would make him a liability in the lineup even at the No. 9 spot.

    If he plays great defense and the rest of the lineup carries weight, it’s probably a liability the Twins can afford. And that seems to be what they’re counting on. If Florimon can’t hack it, they’ll likely rely on his backup Eduardo Escobar – who carries a similar profile – in the same way.

    While it’s a bit frustrating to see such a blatantly bad hitter inked into the lineup, I can understand the team’s thinking. Shortstop has been a miserable pain point for the Twins in recent years, and while they stand little chance of extracting much offensive production there from any viable candidate, they can at least hope to shore the position up defensively. Plenty important, in light of the pitching staff’s ground ball tendencies.

    Florimon is as good a bet as any to fulfill that expectation, but he’s not a long-term answer. Identifying a player with a chance of becoming a lasting asset at the infield’s most important position should sit right next to starting pitching atop this organization’s list of ongoing priorities.
    This article was originally published in blog: Position Analysis: Shortstop started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. Lesser Dali's Avatar
      Lesser Dali -
      Obviously SS is going to be a hemorrhoid for the Twins this season. I would imagine when all is said and done Carroll will get the majority of playing time at that position this season.

      It seems like the Twins are somewhat optimistic about Daniel Santana as a possible answer to this void a few years from now, but that's a crap shoot.

      Barring a trade or free agent signing, Shortstop looks to be a statue of inequity for the Twins in the foreseeable future.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Eduardo Escobar has a little more potential than Florimon does, so I really hope Esky performs well enough to earn the starting spot by mid-season. They're pretty similar players as you mention Nick, yet Escobar is Pedro 2.0. There is a small hope that Escobar will be able hit the ball not terribly (.600+OPS?), but really none for Florimon.
    1. Mauerpower's Avatar
      Mauerpower -
      Yeah, Escobar should be starting ahead of florimon.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Is being a SS for the Twins like being a drummer for Spinal Tap?
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      Sure would be nice to still have Hardy around, but that still doesn't solve the pitching problem.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      The area where I'm expecting improvement in the Twins this year is defense. I think that either Florimon or Escobar will provide plus defense at the crucial position of SS. While I don't expect either guy to hit much, I would hope the aggregate at short could hit .230 with 5+ homers. Too optimistic, I suppose.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I agree that Escobar has a better chance of hitting .230. Hope he will get a chance
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Is being a SS for the Twins like being a drummer for Spinal Tap?
      So your prediction is that Florimon will die in a bizarre gardening accident?

      It does seem like Dozier spontaneously combusted last year...
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Escobar is better and I expect he will end up the starting SS before June. I don't dislike Florimon and I hope I'm wrong because he has incredible defensive skills. He reminds me of Casilla in that way. Hopefully it works out better for Pedro than it did for Alexi.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      On the bright side, Levi Michael has a chance to solidify New Britain's MI for years to come.
    1. E. Andrew's Avatar
      E. Andrew -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      The area where I'm expecting improvement in the Twins this year is defense. I think that either Florimon or Escobar will provide plus defense at the crucial position of SS. While I don't expect either guy to hit much, I would hope the aggregate at short could hit .230 with 5+ homers. Too optimistic, I suppose.
      Yeah, both solid gloves, hopefully one gets a hot bat. Anything even approaching .250 would be awesome, as would 15+ SB.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by E. Andrew View Post
      Yeah, both solid gloves, hopefully one gets a hot bat. Anything even approaching .250 would be awesome, as would 15+ SB.
      In looking at Escobar and glancing at his stats, I get the feeling that while he has good hands and a strong arm, that he isn't fast--"average" but not much more--and I think this is why he is looked at as only a utility guy.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      At equivalent ages, Escobar's batting line has always been better than Florimon's, until last year. Escobar is younger and if 2012 was a fluke then he's still got the potential to be a better hitter than Florimon, and I would like to see him have the chance.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Escobar sucks as a hitter, but his glove had him rated as the best defensive MI in the White Sux farm system for years. He will be 24 years old this year. He could get better offensively.
      I, too, hope something special happens for Florimon. Alas, he will be 27 years old this year and I suspect that such an event is unlikely.

      old nurse - Spinal Tap - hehe
      tjsyam921 - Yeah, I wish we still had Hardy, too.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      Escobar sucks as a hitter
      As a 22-year-old in AAA he looked like he might have a ceiling on offense like Pat Meares, with better defense. That's no all-star, but a far sight better than Florimon's ceiling which looks more like Chico Ruiz. His 2012 was bad, no doubt about it, but players have bad years and bounce back and he may have suffered from being moved around a lot. I think he's too young to say he sucks.
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