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  • Position Analysis: Right Field

    Likely Starter: Chris Parmelee
    2012 Stats: .229/.290/.380, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 18 R

    Potential Backups: Darin Mastroianni, Wilkin Ramirez, Ryan Doumit


    One of the big storylines for the Twins this year will be the trio of former first-round draft picks getting opportunities to prove their worth in the majors. Aaron Hicks is the headliner, and Trevor Plouffe has plenty of fanfare after launching 24 homers last season, but Chris Parmelee has slipped under the radar to some extent.

    Unlike Plouffe and Hicks, Parmelee has had a heck of a time finding a place to stick. The Twins cleared out two center fielders to make room for their prized prospect, and Plouffe has been handed the reins at multiple positions. Conversely, Parmelee has spent much of his time in the majors buried on the depth chart. His overall numbers in the big leagues thus far havenít been impressive, but heís never had a sustained chance to settle in. Now, thatís about to change.

    Clearly right field isnít the ideal position for Parmelee. Heís slow-footed and will have to rely on quick reactions and smart routes to provide competent defense in the outfield. Heís better suited for first base and itís possible heíll land there before seasonís end.

    But defense wonít be the measuring stick for this 25-year-old. Regardless of where he ends up Ė whether itís right field, or first base, or DH Ė Parmelee is not going to be a defensive asset, so he needs to hit in order to last as a major-league regular.

    Fortunately, heís shown plenty with the bat over the past couple seasons to inspire hope that he can be a long-term fixture in the lineup. In the earlier portion of his minor-league career, Parmelee was more serviceable than spectacular at the plate, which largely prevented him from gaining prominence as a prospect, but somewhere along the line at New Britain in 2011 he seemingly turned a corner. Late in the year, he joined the Twins as a September call-up and went on an obscene tear, posting a 1.035 OPS with four homers and six doubles in 21 games to instantly push himself into the teamís plans.

    He followed up the brilliant MLB debut with a 2012 season that was spent shuttling back and forth between Minnesota and Rochester. In the majors, he showed occasional flashes of promise but was largely ineffective, undoubtedly hampered by sporadic playing time. In Triple-A he was outright brilliant, raking to the tune of .338/.457/.645 with 17 homers in 64 games while walking as he often as he struck out. Among players who accumulated 250 or more plate appearances in the International League, he ranked first in batting average, OBP and slugging. It was the type of performance weíd never seen from Parmelee over a lengthy stretch: complete and utter dominance at the dish.

    Granted, that was Triple-A, and the majors are another matter entirely. But those kinds of numbers Ė from a 24-year-old who entered the season with only a smattering of at-bats above Double-A Ė canít be overlooked.

    While it's probably best to remain cautious in our optimism, there are plenty of signs that Parmelee has begun realize the potential that the Twins saw when they drafted him 20th overall in 2006. The polished approach the plate. The sweet lefty swing. The ability to spray line drives to all fields.

    His next step will be transferring it to the big leagues. Heíll have the opportunity to do so in right field this season, but itís a good bet he wonít remain there for too long. Either heíll scuffle and be pushed aside for another of the organizationís numerous rising young outfielders (Joe Benson and Oswaldo Arcia are the leading short-term candidates) or heíll handle the challenge and establish himself as Justin Morneauís successor at first base.

    Wherever he's standing in the field, it is at the plate that Parmelee commands attention, and that's where he'll seek to make his mark this year. I, for one, am excited to see what he can do.
    This article was originally published in blog: Position Analysis: Right Field started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Lesser Dali's Avatar
      Lesser Dali -
      Nick, nice write up.

      For me personally, you left no room for argument/debate/whatever. That's a good thing.

      It seems as if it has been a long time since the Twins have had a breakout performance from a position player offensively. This year we have 2 or 3 that could fit that mold. If one of these guys breaks through, that would be great. If two break through and the whole of the line-up stays healthy - it might be a pretty damn good offense to watch while they try to out score their opponents.

      Parmelee has the ability to be a good MLB hitter with some thunder in his bat. Hopefully this season is the first of many solid offensive seasons in the career of Mr. Parmelee.

      We shall see...
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I'm sure his bat will make the decision for TR whether Morneau will get traded or not.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      I'm sure his bat will make the decision for TR whether Morneau will get traded or not.
      I think it's more complicated than that. Morneau might be begging to be traded if this team is as bad as I fear it may be. Beyond that the performance of Toronto's 1B will play a factor. There's the Yankee 1B drama. Then you also have to wonder couple other thing, this is all assuming Morneau is really back to pre-concussion form for the first half of 2013, 1) What does Justin's representation think his value is going forward vs Terry Ryan's idea of his value 2) Does he really want to stay with an org. that won't spend money to get championship quality pitching? Every player wants a ring.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      When Parmelee came back from Rochester, he seemed to be swinging the bat well, but just when he seemed to be settling in, it seemed the team faced a bunch of lefthanders, followed by an injury and then his wife having a baby. I think it will be fair to give Parm more than half the season to establish himself. If given that much time, I expect Parmelee to show he is a capable major league hitter.
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